We were recently asked about recommendations for good first date spots: "she's allergic to shellfish, I hate TexMex - any thoughts?" We have plenty of thoughts. The first is that a first date, depending on how well you know the person, should be limited to drinks or coffee. This way, if things become clear that you don't want to stick around, you can leave politely without having to suffer through appetizers, an entree, and possibly a dessert. If the conversation is flowing and you're feeling a connection, you do want to have the option of eating available to you -- no need to get bombed before you get to know each other a little better.
With those guidelines in mind, plus the shellfish/Tex-Mex restrictions, here are some recommendations. Each could serve as a one-or-two-drink-only destination, but each offers food, mostly of the small plates, variety, that could keep your date going for hours.
Bar Veloce/Bar Carrera: These bars from Fred Twomey are great for dates, assuming you and your date both like wine and beer. Bar Veloce's two locations serve up an Italian wine list, cheeses, salumis, bruschetta, and paninis. If you want to linger for an extra long time, try the nutella panini for dessert. Bar Carrera, which is next door to the East Village Veloce, is its Spanish sister, offering tapas galore, and a Spanish wine list.
175 Second Avenue, between 11th and 12th Streets; 176 7th Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets.
Marshall Stack: Also for beer and wine drinkers only, this Lower East Side joint is good for a casual date during the week -- it gets a tad crowded on the weekends. Nibbles include high end bar snacks including a cheese plate from nearby Saxelby Cheesemongers and a duck club sandwich that is so good you may just ignore your date while you're eating it. Perhaps it would be best to share one. 66 Rivington Street at Allen Street.
Total Wine Bar: This cozy Park Slope favorite offers approximately thirty wines by the glass in addition to cheeses from Blue Apron, pate, smoked sausages, and mac and cheese, among other nibbles. 74 Fifth Avenue at St. Marks.
Angel's Share: for the cocktail lovers out there, Angel's Share has plenty to offer, and they're top notch. Tucked away behind a door in Village Yokocho, this quiet sanctuary serves Japanese small plates, including sashimi and fried oysters. 8 Stuyvesant Street, 2nd floor, at 9th Street.
Let us know how it goes. If the date doesn't work out, come to Check Out: the Gothamist/Whole Foods singles event on August 28th!