I am the kind of person who actually panics when I have to decide where to go on a date. It doesn't even matter at what point in the relationship it is. I hate deciding. I force the other person to decide, and then I judge them accordingly. If you are ever unfortunate enough to date someone like me, or, for that matter, me—which, don't, it's not worth it—then this list is exactly what you're looking for. It takes all the anxiety out of figuring out where to go when you want to take someone out even though you know you just want sex but also don't want to seem presumptuous by just asking them to come to your place. Because even when you do that under the guise of "having to walk your dog" it's still obvious that what you really want is a cheap fuck. Which, fine. But also might not work as well as taking someone out for drinks first. Anyway, this list isn't just about where to take someone who you want to see naked and then never see again. This list is also about the perfect place for a first date, and the best place to propose to someone, and the place to go for your one-year wedding anniversary and where to go on, like, your 50th wedding anniversary. Because longterm marriage is a thing that can totally happen, or so I've heard. Anyway, this list is all of those things. And more!
Perfect Place to Go If You Just Want a One-Night Kind of a Thing: Metropolitan Bar
Well, I will preface this pick by saying that, ideally, you should pick a bar that's close to where you live. Nothing is more of a spontaneity-killer then a long cab ride, or, worse, the subway. Especially if it's the G train. So, Metropolitan Bar might be a little inconvenient for you if you're not in Williamsburg, but it is really the perfect place to go if you want to do a fun, cheap activity that shows that you're putting in some effort and are not just after sex, even though that's exactly what you're after. Anyway, head to Metropolitan Bar on a Saturday evening and participate in the Craft Magic Happy Hour where you can get cheap, strong drinks and make fun stuff. The craft—and the magic—change every week, so sometimes you can make Shrinky-Dinks and sometimes you can make pornographic buttons. And then you get to have sex. You can't lose.
Best Place to Go With Someone You've Never Met Before In Real Life and Fear You Might Need to Make a Quick Getaway: Commonwealth
This is for when your friends set you up with someone or you meet a person online. This is for when you're not totally sure that you'll have something to talk about with a person. This is for when you want to find out the kind of music that a person will select on the jukebox so that you can figure out what kind of person they really are. Commonwealth is perfect for all of this because it's a relaxed place that anyone can feel comfortable in and it has an amazing jukebox so you can put your date on the spot and see if they are worth hanging out with again.
Best Place to Go When You Actually Want to Impress Your Date, But It's Still Just the Beginning: La Vara
Look at you! Moving beyond straight alcohol consumption and into the world of food. But you don't want a formal dinner, you still want to be having fun. But you want that fun to be special. So you go to La Vara where you can get delectable tapas—food that you can share is always a bonus—and drink glass after glass of Spanish red. Rioja? Tempranillo? Who cares? As long as it's red.
Best Place to Go With a Group of Friends and Your Possibly Loved One: Talde
Talde is perfect for a group of about six people. You'll get a booth and you'll all squeeze in together and your date and your friends will all get to know each other and it'll be a real test that hopefully everyone will pass. Because it would suck to have to get rid of your friends. It's really hard to make friends as you get older, I've heard. Also, Talde is perfect because the food is just so insanely delicious. And when you order the shrimp toast—which you most definitely should—it'll be pretty easy to judge how much you care about who you're with if you let them have the last bite. Giving someone else the last bite of the shrimp toast means true love.
Best Place to Propose Marriage or Whatever You're Into: Vinegar Hill House
This is almost too romantic. It's almost too perfect. But you know what? There's no such thing as too perfect when you're talking about pledging to spend your life with someone. This is the moment in time when everything should seem too perfect, because it will probably never get any better, you will probably never be more in love. S milk that for all it's worth and go to Vinegar Hill House and propose in front of the fireplace and then go walk along the empty-ish streets of late night DUMBO and stand between the two bridges and think to yourself that your relationship—your love—is just as strong as the foundations of those bridges and look at the sparkling lights of Manhattan and the glittering Freedom Tower, but then look away from that because this night is not about freedom. This night is about love. And love is surrender. Which is kind of more beautiful anyway.
Best Place to Have Dinner With Everyone's Parents Because That's a Thing You Do Now, Have Dinner with Other People's Parents: Battersby
Battersby is the perfect place for parents because it was mentioned in Bon Appétit and has really good kale salad. I'm not trying to say that only parents like kale—everyone likes kale—but everyone includes parents. Also, even though you are an adult, your parents will probably pay for this meal, and it can get a bit pricy at Battersby, so this is the perfect time to go. Because you can sponge off your parents. And don't forget to order dessert. Maybe even two since someone else is picking up the check. That'd be my policy anyway.
Best Place to Celebrate Your Anniversary: Calyer
A year is a very long time. CONGRATULATIONS. What better way to celebrate than by drinking some expertly crafted cocktails and then stumbling home for some messy, vision-impaired sex? No better way! There is no better way. The food is quite lovely, but what you really ought to be doing is downing Son of a Guns. Do it. You'll feel better about yourself and your relationship. Not that you were feeling poorly. Who doesn't love being attached to someone? Who doesn't love "love"? Only a sociopath, that's who. And you're not a sociopath, are you? I didn't think so. Bottoms up!
Best Place to Go With the Kids You Suddenly Just Seem to, Like, Have: L & B Spumoni Gardens
It's never too early to introduce your children to the pleasures of the square slice at L & B followed by a generous serving of spumoni. The trick of finding the perfect place to go to as a family is that it has to be casual enough that your kids can be the assholes that kids tend to be, but the food needs to be good enough that you don't start hating your life. L & B fits those requirements perfectly. See also, Tom's Diner. Both of these places are, if not national treasures, at least city treasures.
Best Place to Go If You're Having an Affair: Rhythm & Booze
Oh, this is a sad thing. Don't do it. Or, at least, if you're going to do it, don't wring your hands over it. I mean, acknowledge what a terrible thing it is that you're doing, but either do it or don't. Personally, I don't even think you should be out drinking in public, just frolicking around without a care in the world while you're conducting your illicit business, but I am not here to judge. I am here to offer up advice on where to eat or drink at different stages in your relationship. So, Rhythm & Booze. This is the place. I can almost promise you—without even knowing you—that no one you know will be in this place. Unless you are really good friends with a bunch of old-school Windsor Terrace residents, in which case, I don't know, go to somewhere in Bushwick. Or just meet your special friend at the Holiday Inn Express in Gowanus or something. Go to the Upper East Side for all I care. But if you do go to Rhythm & Booze, you will find a quiet, dark bar, where you can sit in a poorly lit corner and be all tawdry and stuff. Hopefully, you'll feel appropriately guilty, but maybe not. Maybe you are beyond all hope.
Best Place to Go to Break Up With Someone: The Bar at Melody Lanes
Oh, breaking up is a terrible thing. For one, it's so hard to do. I would say avoid it all costs, but then that's what I'd say about most of the stages in a relationship. Feelings complicate everything. Anyway, the important thing about breaking up with someone is to do it in a very public place so that they can't get too crazy. There is a bar in this Sunset Park bowling alley that is run by Peter Napolitano, who was once profiled in a completely amazing way by the New York Times. He is such an interesting guy to talk with, that maybe whoever you break up with will be distracted by Pete and you can just quietly sneak out. It's a possibility anyway. Good luck!
Best Place to Celebrate Living Happily Ever After with Someone: Gwynnett St.
So, maybe you never even needed the break-up spot! Maybe you never consummated a torrid affair in the bathroom at Rhythm & Booze. Nicely done! Maybe you are pretty sure that you're just going to live happily ever after and, if that's the case, you should definitely celebrate with some whiskey bread and some chocolate with rose hips and bull's blood and that dessert sounds like it might have some aphrodisiac qualities and probably you'll need them because by the point you've learned that you'll be with someone for the rest of your life, you're probably pretty old. Because if you're young and you already feel that way? I mean, not to scare you, but you might be lacking imagination. Either way, though, celebrate your love at Gwynnett St. Whiskey bread! Bull's blood! True love! All good things.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen