This city feels like it was made to explore hand in hand with a lover and somehow on Valentine’s Day, it feels equally approachable and intimidating. Where to go? What to do? Where to eat? And will my carefully-selected choices effectively reflect my feelings? This city beats and breathes and bleeds everything your heart wants to or dares to desire, and I’m here to you find it.
So step on the good foot and do the bad thing. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Intentionally forget to wear undies and tell him at dinner. Put it all out there, because your lover’s next lover is just a swipe away. And we don’t want that to happen, now do we?
Here are all of the best ways to celebrate love and impress your lover, in Brooklyn, across the river, and outside the city.
Show your Love in North Brooklyn
Cocktails at Ramona in Greenpoint
This place was built for dates and bad decisions. make yours with a new or old lover, or find one just in time, get down and dirty and dangerous with the mezcal-based Hotel Danger and a sparkling Two French Sisters, and then see where the night takes you. Which, if it’s simply deeper into their drink list and into this intimate little affair you’ve found… then stay. Stay. This seductive spot on Franklin St feels like it was made for lovers. Vintage tiles, a long, antique bar and a cocktail list that will loosen you up just fine, let it be your first stop in North Brooklyn this Valentine’s Day. 113 Franklin St. ramonabarnyc.com
Dinner and Music at St. Mazie in Williamsburg
If you can’t fall in love at St. Mazie, then you can’t fall in love. Anywhere. Including Paris. Duck into this intimate and truly transportive bar, restaurant, and venue in South Williamsburg and lose yourself in the beauty and cocktails and music and fare. Look into the eyes of your lover. Know that nothing could ever mean as much as it does right now, in this moment. Tell her that and mean it, genuinely mean it. Until you go outside and then you realize that it was just something in the air there at St. Mazie, and maybe a little extra magic in the cocktail. But it’s better to have loved and lost then to have never loved, or visited this romantic little spot in Williamsburg, at all. Trust me. 345 Grand St. stmazie.com
Dinner and Music at Le Fanfare
This place draws you in with its stunning decor and intimate setting. Live music and a stunningly curated menu keep you there. It has that untouchable balance between fine dining restaurant and cute little neighborhood spot, with pinnacle service and a damn good bartender. Homemade pastas and the type of flavor profiles that could only be built by and inspired from the stunning landscape, culture, and intrigue of Sardinia, where owners Nico, Luca, and Georgia are from. The pre-fixe is only $60 and features a lemon beurre blanc risotto with scallop carpaccio. Oh, and don’t skip the cannoli. Ever. 1103 Manhattan Ave. lefanfare.com *Add “Brooklyn I’m Trying” in the comments of your Open Table reservation anytime for a free glass of prosecco.
Drinks and Comedy at Threes Brewing in Greenpoint
The cozy little outpost for their flagship in Gowanus, Threes in Greenpoint has a humble wood bar and seductive event space that features everything from live brass bands to late-night dj dance parties, small niche markets to some pretty cutthroat trivia. This Valentine’s Day come see the VD Monologues, a comedy about Valentine’s Day and Venereal Diseases. Because maybe we should all lighten up a bit by laughing at something kind of heavy. And hey, maybe it will be an easy segway into that always tough question, “So it’s ok that we haven’t been using condoms, right? Like, you’ve been checked recently?” (hahahaha come on man. laugh at that. just laugh because it’s too true.) RSVP here. 113 Franklin St. threesbrewing.com
Show your love in East Brooklyn
Cocktails at Yours Sincerely in Bushwick
If you think cocktails on tap seems tacky, stop. Just stop thinking that. Yes, there is an artistry to crafting cocktails, a beautiful science behind mixology, but there is also batching artisanal, well-thought-out ingredients mixed to perfection and poured from a tap and topped off, garnished, and served that you will be just as impressed by as you sip. As will your date. And best of all? You can get that buzz on fast. Because it’s Valentine’s Day and time is of the essence. 41 Wilson Ave. yourssincerely.co
Dinner at Le Garage in Bushwick
Bushwick is cool, Bushwick is hip. Bushwick is tough and a little bit edgy and it’s where we want to be. But it isn’t exactly sexy. Make it work for you and your lover this Valentine’s Day with two people who have made something appealing from this grungy, industrial urban facade. Mother-daughter team, Catherina and Rachel and converted 4 garages on Suydam street to form Le Garage and made it into something beautiful, something elegant, something adventurous, something French. The space is stunning, with floor-to-ceiling windows, vintage-minimalist decor, and a bar made from reclaimed bowling lanes. Their pre-fixe menu on Valentine’s Day includes foi gras, so that’s all you really need to know. If you go any other day, get the leeks and chicken for two. And always a bottle of wine. Fall in love this Wednesday and anytime in this charming little 40-seat restaurant. 157 Suydamn St. legaragebrooklyn.com
Little Cinema at House of Yes in Bushwick
Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, but it’s also your chance to impress your date. Show him or her that you know what’s hip. Getting reservations at the hottest restaurant in town is neat. Getting tickets to a 4-shows-only performance that remixes Shakespeare’s classic romance with the provocative prowess of The Love Show’s tribe of burlesque mavens, House of Yes’s own in-house aerialists and a live band remixing and producing its own score to completely immerse the audience in the experience is way, way more your style. And the chance to watch it all, naked, from a bathtub onstage? Now we’re talkin’. Little Cinema is an immersive theater experience that is conducted by the genius hands and brain of Jay Rinsky, who brings together onstage a team of the most talented and ostentatious dancers, performers, musicians, and aerialists you’ve ever seen. Jay himself becomes conductor and dj, remixing the film as it dances upon a live score and brings alive all of the players onstage. Familiar stories explode with life and give the audience, and the performers and creators involved a completely new perspective and feeling about what can often be a one-dimensional art form. His Little Cinema has reinterpreted and reimagined everything on the spectrum from The Big Lebowski to Holy Mountain and isn’t stopping anytime soon. Follow his performances here and get tickets as soon as the next one is announced, like the very seasonally appropriate Romeo + Juliet, in collaboration with The Love Show, happening February 6th (sold out!), 12th, 13th and 16th. Get tickets here now. 2 Wyckoff Ave.
Music and Dancing at Rose Gold beneath Cape House in Bushwick
Hidden beneath your favorite clam shack and outdoor bar in Bushwick is a lush neon-noir disco den & cocktail lounge just begging you and your lover to come, beckoning you down the stairs into its alluring labyrinth of magic and music. It’s sexy and smoky and has plenty of dark, seductive corners to sneak off into. Check out their list of artists here and get there.
2 Knickerbocker Ave. capehouse.nyc
Show Your Love in South Brooklyn
Dinner at La Vara in Cobble Hill
Because nothing is sexier than everything Spanish and everything is better shared, head to this Michelin starred restaurant in Cobble Hill. Southern Spanish cuisine with Moorish and Jewish influences means the flavors are as dynamic as that modern love you share. Owned by husband-and-wife chef team Alex Raij and Eder Montero, their space, menus, and passion for food and wine is all founded, developed, and fortified in love. So find yours there. 268 Clinton St. lavarany.com
Dinner at Camperdown Elm in South Slope
Because your love is always evolving, with the seasons and within the opportunities and limitations that life presents, dine at this new Brooklyn restaurant that has an old soul and a constantly rotating and evolving menu of dishes that will keep you coming back. The inside feels familiar and established, with dark wood, exposed brick, and stained glass over the heavy wooden door to let just enough romantic light in. The menu, a constantly evolving exhibition by the masterful hands of Chef Brad Willits, is equally seasonal and ambitious. Oh, and their Valentine’s Day menu features Jamon Iberico, likely the influence of in-house spanish-born sommelier Nacho Monclus, who also has obviously curated a very Iberian-centric wine list. Read more here and make reservations now. 441 7th Ave. camperdownelm.com
Music at Barbes in Park Slope
Cozy up with your lover in this intimate little music venue in Park Slope. Barbes is a simple, no-frills downstairs bar with a curtain in the back that opens up to a 45 person venue with a small stage, upright piano, and “Hotel D’Orsay” antique sign that will transport you back to Fitzgerald Paris. And that’s even before the music begins. Stephane Wrembel has a Sunday night residency there, which you might have heard him on the soundtracks of Vicky Christina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris. He’s a French-born Spanish guitar aficionado and universal raconteur, so settle into a night of singing and storytelling and a band that, even without his prowess, would blow you away on its own. Have some wine and stay a while, and keep up with their amazing calendar of musicians here. Shows have a strongly encouraged $10 donation per person. 376 9th St. barbesbrooklyn.com
Show your Love in Manhattan
Wine at Epistrophy in NoLiTa
To find something charming, authentic, and with a perfect bit of European romanticism in Manhattan isn’t easy. Stepping foot into Epistrophy in NoLiTa brought me immediately back to one of my favorite wine bars in Madrid, with it’s simple vintage decor, modern italian menu and more often than not, live music to transport you from their beautiful dining room to a cozy wine bar overlooking the glowing Pont de Vecchio. They have a pre fixe menu for Valentine’s Day listed here, but it’s also great for a glass (or 3) of wine, anytime. 200 Mott St. epistrophynyc.com
Dinner at Barbounia in Gramercy
Don’t be fooled by the size of the dining room at Barbounia. Despite it’s size, this restaurant has somehow created one of the most intimate and romantic dining experiences in the city. Barbounia transports you straight to the Mediterranean with bold flavors and inventive plates that make you think that you hear the call of prayer singing from minarets over the traffic outside on park avenue, that make you get nervous about trekking over cobblestone streets as you leave before remembering you’re in New York and the streets are all paved. This restaurant brings a mysticism and beauty to the New York dining scene that will seduce you any day, but will especially charm you and your lover on Valentine’s Day. Oh, and they have foi gras on the pre-fixe menu. Reserve your spot now. 250 Park Ave South. barbounia.com
Music at Django beneath the Roxy Hotel in TriBeCa
This cozy cave-like den beneath the Roxy Hotel produces some of the most acoustically magnetizing sounds within a captivating, seductive space that I’ve ever discovered and settled in to. Oh and the cocktails don’t hurt. Check their list of events here but reserve your table for Valentine’s Day now. 2 6th Ave. roxyhotelnyc.com
Show Your Love Out of Town
Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey
I bet when you think of romantic destinations, New Jersey does not top your list.
Reimagine your idea of a romantic getaway. Crystal Springs Resort in Sussex County, New Jersey
We are always seeking an escape from the city, something that takes us away from our cramped apartments and noisy streets, from the harshness that comes with overcrowding and from the bitter cold. Crystal Springs resort is the escape you’ve been looking for. Located in the picturesque Kittatinny Mountains in Northwest New Jersey, this rustic lodge and resort was built to be a haven of relaxation and luxury. Rooms equipped with full kitchens and washer and dryers, private terraces and sunset views of the valley are nicer than your apartment. Way nicer. The resort itself is ideal for lovers, with a winter-proof glass biosphere that contains a seasonless tropical paradise- pools and waterfalls, a cave-like hot tub, steam room and dry sauna, and steamy hot springs. Oh, and there’s a waterslide too. Putting on sunscreen in February and lounging with your lover while sipping a cocktail poolside is just about as far away from your city life as you can get, and it’s just an hour and a half drive from Brooklyn. Take a tour of what was once the 4th best wine cellar in the world and learn about resort creator Gene Mulvihill’s appreciation for wine while browsing through the resort’s $25 million collection, currently curated by wine director Robby Younes and sommelier Susanne Wagner. All of the bottles nestled in this expansive cellar are available for purchase and enjoyment at one of their four restaurants. Of which, La Tour, located in the resort’s tower and named after the founder’s favorite vineyard in France, is among New Jersey’s best and most seasonally progressive restaurants, boasting a menu of bright, local flavors and internationally inspired dishes that could keep up with even the most expensive bottle in the cellar beneath it. Which, just so you know, is worth $50k.
Book your trip now for Valentine’s Day. Get out of town. Spend the day swimming and soaking and soaking it all in. And spend the night wining and dining without the limitations of a pre-fixe and without the distractions inherent to this city life. Book here now. 1 Wild Turkey Way. crystalgolfresort.com
The Roundhouse in Beacon, NY
This charming artist mecca in upstate New York has become the apple of the big apple’s travel eye, and is an ideal place to spend a night or two with your lover. Book your stay at the Roundhouse Hotel, a romantic, rustic hotel built from a renovated mill overlooking (and thus overhearing) a waterfall. Have a romantic dinner at Kitchen Sink, followed by drinks at Dogwood, and plan to spend all day the next day at Dia Beacon. Read my guide here. Book your room at the Roundhouse now. 2 E Main St. roundhousebeacon.com
With all my love.