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Upper East Side: idk tonight’s Top 10 Date Night Picks

By: Lindsay Rothfeld

It should be no news to anyone that the Upper East Side has seen a resurgence over the past few years. There’s no lack of delicious eateries, crowded bars, and interesting folk. But where to begin? There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to UES nightlife, and there are spots for every kind of couple. There are beer bars, and speakeasies and discos—oh my! Let this guide help pave the way for your Upper East exploration.

idk tonight's Top Ten Date Night Picks—UES

303 East 85th Street, Manhattan

This quintessential neighborhood bar will make the perfect setting for your date night. With a nondescript exterior and cozy, dimly-lit interior, this is the kind of place you’ll stay for hours without realizing 10 minutes have passed. While deemed a bourbon bar, Bondurants obviously offers a long list of craft beers, cocktails and a large selection of whiskey. The food menu is pretty great, too, with items ranging from chicken sliders to mac n’ cheese. But, we highly suggest you nom over the homemade tater tots.

bondurants nyc
Credit: Manhattan Sideways
1415 2nd Avenue, Manhattan

If you’re looking for a casual spot on the UES where you can sip on some craft beers and play your favorite board games, Workshop is a must. While definitely known for the beers on tap, the cocktail list is pretty inventive, with one menu section wholly devoted to flavored Mules and another to flavored gin/vodka tonics. Punny chalk art covers the walls, adding some charming character to the ambiance. There’s always a good time to be had at Workshop, no matter the day of the week (note: Tuesday’s are trivia night).

workshop nyc
Credit: Workshop, Facebook
1707 2nd Avenue, Manhattan

🎵 Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination. 🎵

Yes, we just quoted Willy Wonka, and here’s why. Inside the bright pink ice cream parlor of UES, you’ll find, well yes, an ice cream parlor … but there’s more than meets the eye. Behind a door lined with empty ice cream cartons is the shop’s secret bar. This speakeasy ain’t cheap, but it’s certainly memorable. Everything about the bar, from the wittily-named menu items to the wall paintings, is NYC-themed. Drinks to try: The Girls Gossip on the East, served with a flaming strip of corn husk or the Here’s Looking At You Bradshaw, delivered with its own condom and cigarette. Classic Carrie Bradshaw.

ues nyc
Credit: Erik Thomas for NY Post
Ethyl’s Alcohol & Food
1629 2nd Avenue, Manhattan

Walk into Ethyl’s with your boo by your side, and believe us, it’ll feel like you’ve just walked into Studio 54 at its prime, and in the best way possible. Ethyl’s is a one-of-a-kind UES staple, where all kinds of magic and debauchery will transpire underneath the dance-floor disco ball. The TVs are almost always playing Saturday Night Fever, Soul Train episodes are projected onto the back wall and go-go dancers strut across the bar throughout the night. This place can get pretty crowded on a weekend, but if you’re looking to live out your disco date-night dreams, look no further. Cherry on top—they serve delicious $5 burgers all night long. Editor’s note: *Must love Bee Gees.*

ethyl's alcohol & food nyc
Credit: Ethyl's alcohol & food, Facebook
Flex Mussels
174 East 82nd Street, Manhattan

A romantic, delicious meal can be found at Flex Mussels, serving you bivalves shipped straight from the sea (of Prince Edward Island). The sheer number of options you’ll be faced with in terms of mussel treatments might be overwhelming, but that’s why the staff are highly equipped to offer recommendations—and you really can’t go wrong. All mussels are served in a pot, soaked in flavors ranging from sake and pickled ginger (The Geisha Girl) to spicy chorizo, olives and red wine (The Spaniard). Yes, this place is shuckin’ awesome.

flex mussels nyc
Credit: Flex Mussels

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CMX Cinebistro
400 East 62nd Street, Manhattan

What’s the 2019 version of dinner and a movie? Dinner and drinks served directly to you as you recline on your leather movie theater throne ~ahem~ we mean seat. If you’ve been to Nitehawk or Alamo Drafthouse, you’re well aware of this kind of setup. It’s the perfect spot for when you’re feeling too antisocial to do the whole bar scene, but not lazy enough to Netflix and Chill, CMX Cinebistro might be the perfect fit. And there’s a 21+ policy after 6 p.m, which means no screaming children during your date night!

cmx cinebistro nyc
Credit: CMX Cinebistro
2nd Floor
1442 1st Avenue, Manhattan

A great spot to shake up your routine, the 2nd floor is located above the Second Avenue Deli. Yes, a speakeasy above a Jewish delicatessen… you really can’t get more UES than that. The decor is both rustic, with dark, wooden furniture and historic, with Yiddish theater posters hanging on the walls. The food menu is just as you’d expect with an inventive twist: pastrami popcorn, gefilte croquettes and vodka, and dill lox. As for drinks, the names alone will give you a chuckle, but we suggest the Man-O-Manischewitz or the Icarus Parachute, which essentially tastes like an Early Grey Creamsicle dipped in Gin.

2nd floor nyc
Credit: 2nd Floor
The Pony Bar
1444 1st Avenue #75th, Manhattan

The Pony Bar is a no-frills craft beer bar with over 20 American-brewed options on tap. Happy hour is literally just an hour at this place, so to avoid crowds, you might want to head here directly post-work. There’s a relaxed vibe that’s hard to find nowadays, so much so that you might just become a regular. And if you do, ask about the bar’s beer passport program where you can track all the beers you try, and once you hit 100, you get a free shirt! Who doesn’t love free things?

the pony bar nyc
Credit: It Is What It Is...
1452 2nd Avenue, Manhattan

Karaoke night, every night. That’s what you’ll find at Iggy’s, so if belting tunes onstage in front of strangers isn’t your thing, you might want to turn around. But if it is, you’re in for an incredible night. Iggy’s is a great spot for breaking up the normal date-night routine or for couples who just don’t give a f*ck and simply want to belt out a duet to Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Straight-up: This is not a place for the faint of heart, so choose to live a little.

iggy's nyc
Credit: Iggy's, Facebook
1744 2nd Avenue, Manhattan

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for smores? At DTUT, cozy up on some couches and make eyes at your lover as you roast marshmallows and try to perfect that golden crisp. Dip strawberries in chocolate fondue, and sip on some hot toddies. Now, isn’t that romantic? During the day, DTUT serves as a local coffee shop, and that vibe carries over into the night. It’s intimate, quirky and definitely memorable. Need we say more?

dtut cafe nyc
Credit: DTUT Cafe, Facebook

See Our Curated Date Ideas This Week