Looking for a date spot in Williamsburg is like trying to find a blazer at Brooks Brothers that’ll make you seem boring. Which is to say: there are options. On this guide, you’ll find the best Williamsburg bars and restaurants for all kinds of date-night situations. So whether you’re going out with a hiking enthusiast from a dating app or a person who lives in your apartment, shares your bed, and sometimes picks the morning gunk out of your eyes, you’ll find the ideal spot right here. We’ve divided this guide into bars and restaurants, to help you find that place a bit faster.
If, for some reason, we could only go to one date spot in all of Williamsburg, it would probably be Hotel Delmano. It’s a little cocktail bar that feels like something you’d find on the ground floor of an old, possibly-haunted hotel, and you always get the impression that the servers and bartenders here only sort of care about you. In other words, it’s everything you want Williamsburg to be.
Walk into St. Maize on any given night, and roughly 95% of the people there will be on a date. A lot of this has to do with the fact there’s often live music (usually flamenco, jazz, or folk), but it’s also because the space is dark and comfortable, and you can grab a little table and have a private conversation about your greatest fears or whatever you’re watching on Netflix at the moment. There’s also a back patio for when it’s nice out.
If you planned a last-minute date and you want a place where you’ll be surrounded by a small crowd of attractive people while you drink, go to Loosie Rouge. It’s a little low-ceilinged space that feels a bit like a hideout full of people looking for the Williamsburg version of a scene.
Night of Joy is a somewhat ideal first-date spot. There are couches and cocktails, but it’s about as casual as a dive bar, and the little space is dark and intimate. There’s also a roof that’s open in the summertime, although it’s usually pretty packed up there.
With this neighborhood’s abundance of bars, it’s only natural that some will get overlooked. The Exley, for example, is a perfectly nice spot where you can get a good cocktail and play a board game - and it never seems to get too crowded. It’s just one room with a small bar and a few tables, and it’s great for when you might want to hang out and play Cranium with someone who isn’t pathologically competitive.
Fresh Kills Bar
If you’re going out with someone who says things like “This place has such good cocktails,” go to Fresh Kills. It’s where you’ll find some of the best cocktails in Williamsburg. The bartenders here take their jobs pretty seriously (but not in a pretentious sort of way), the drink list longer than most, and you can take a shot out of a tiny glass boot.
The ceilings at Donna are high and vaulted, the hardwood floors are nicer than whatever you have in your apartment, and the walls are painted white like something you’d find in Santorini. Some nights, there’s also live music, and they also serve a large number of tropical cocktails, in addition to tacos. So if you’re looking for first-date spot that says, “I am open to going on a couples yoga retreat,” this is it.
La Milagrosa is a well-kept secret, and this is partially because it’s behind a fake laundromat on Havemeyer Street. Technically, this place is a speakeasy - but mostly it just feels like a small, casual cocktail bar where you can actually have a conversation. Although, if it’s a weekend, you might end up on the tiny dance floor in the back.
Maybe you aren’t quite sure about the person you’re going out with, or maybe you just want to seem like you aren’t trying too hard. Consider Iona. It’s a pub, and it feels like a cross between something you’d find in small town in Ireland and your grandmother’s Upper West Side apartment. There are a few small tables that you can claim, and, in the very front, you’ll find two small nooks that are perfect for a semi-private hang.
For some reason, Have & Meyer isn’t busy every night. This is very strange, because it’s perfect for any kind of date. They have over 70 types of wine by the glass, the Italian food is very good, and the staff treats you as though you’re a family member who was once presumed missing. Plus, the space looks like a secret room you’d find in a mansion behind a revolving fireplace. Take advantage of the fact that not everyone (or even close to everyone) knows about it yet.
If the Richardson were in the West Village, it would be busy every night. They make great cocktails here, they serve some sandwiches and small plates, and (since it’s in a less-busy part of Williamsburg) you can always find a table here. For a quiet first date when you just want to sit in a dark room and listen to someone complain about work while you stare into his or her eyes, come here.
Little King is an anomaly. It’s tiny cocktail bar that feels like a hotel lobby and it’s about two feet from a bodega and three more feet from the nearest train stop (at Graham Avenue). Bring a date who will be impressed that you know of such an under-the-radar place, claim a little round table, and maybe eat a burger.
When you decide that you really like someone, but you aren’t quite ready to go to a place where there are white tablecloths and waiters who have really good diction, go to Marlow & Sons. This restaurant has been around for years, and it’s still the rare casual place where you can eat excellent food. Also, it feels like a little cabin in the woods that happens to have oysters and great roasted chicken.
The Four Horsemen is a restaurant and wine bar owned in part by the lead singer of LCD Soundsystem, it has great food like steak tartare and patatas bravas, and the little space feels pleasantly Scandinavian. So if you bring a date here, you will seem cool, refined, and more knowledgeable about wine and unprofitable literary magazines than you actually are.
On your second date, you should probably eat something. This sends the message that you aren’t just dating a person because you’re bored or trying to get close to their dog. So go ahead and get a meal at Suzume. It’s a very small, cash-only Japanese place where you can eat sushi, fish tacos, and ramen. They don’t take reservations, so anticipate a wait.
Beco is another option for when you’re pretty sure that you like someone and want to eat some food on a second date, and it’s the sort of place that will make someone say, “I can’t believe I’ve never been here.” The Brazilian food isn’t anything mind-blowing, but the place is small and charming, and it feels like a real neighborhood spot. Just be aware that it’s cash-only.
Let’s say it’s 6pm on Friday, and it just occurred to you that you’re grabbing dinner with someone in two hours (and you have to pick the place). Just go to Sauvage. It looks like it could be in Paris, the food is great, and it’s never too hard to find a table here. You can also just sit at the bar and have snack, if you don’t want to commit to a full meal.
At Sunday in Brooklyn, the food is interesting enough that you’ll be able to talk about it, if it turns out that you and a date have nothing in common. There are things like pastrami-smoked cod and homemade sourdough with salted beer butter - and, if you’re going on a day date, the brunch menu is one of the best in the neighborhood. Plus, the multi-level space feels like it was designed for Instagram, in a way that doesn’t make you mad.
Not every date is a special occasion. Most aren’t, actually - and that’s why you should know about Cafe Mogador. It’s a restaurant on Wythe Avenue where you can sit and eat some good Moroccan food that doesn’t cost too much. The original location is in the East Village, but the Williamsburg space is a little nicer, and it it has a greenhouse-like room in the back.
El Almacen is in prime Williamsburg just several feet from the Bedford L train stop, but it still manages to be somewhat under-the-radar. This is even more remarkable because they serve some great, affordable steak (in addition to many other things like empanadas and avocado fries), and the space is decorated like a little hunting lodge that you’d find in a very nice forest.
So you need a cool place with impressive food and a crowd that’ll make you feel like you’re in a busy-but-not-terrible part of Manhattan. Go with Llama Inn. The food is a modern take on Peruvian, it stays pretty busy (but it isn’t impossible to get into), and the space is extremely well-designed. The dishes here can add up to not insubstantial tab, however, so plan on spending a decent amount.
Tabare is another relatively low-key neighborhood spot in Williamsburg, which means you can grab dinner here when you’re either A) still trying to figure out if you like one another or B) absolutely sure that you both like one another. The food here is Uruguayan stuff like steak and empanadas, there are lots of candles and potted plants, and you can eat some good food without spending a distressing amount of money.
If it’s a special occasion, or you’re trying to creep someone out by bringing them to a hard-to-get-into restaurant on a first date, Lilia is your best choice. The food here is the best you’ll find in Williamsburg, but it’s still casual enough that you won’t have to put on special-occasion clothes that make you uncomfortable. Order a few pastas, get dessert, and start looking for reservations a month in advance.