Date Night In The Ironbound
Dating can be hard. I believe that is considered a universal fact. Besides the common stress factors of a first date (Will they like me? Will I like them? What if they’re crazy? What if they don’t look like their picture? What if I don’t look like my picture?) one also has to factor in reoccurring stressors like finding the perfect venue, geographic location, budget consciousness and etc. Now you take those date-night worries and you multiply them by the common everyday worries like running on time, finding a parking spot, and being at the mercy of traffic of the metro system – you have a recipe for an anxiety attack.
Sure, that may seem exaggerated to some. But for those that believe that a successful date lies in the details, here are some spots and ideas in the Ironbound that are sure to be a hit.
For The Classic Dinner Date
Iberia Tavern and Restaurant (80-84 Ferry St)
This dinner date is for the out-of-towner. Have you bragged about the amazing Portuguese and Spanish food you’ve had in the Ironbound? Well, not to humblebrag – but you’re not wrong. If your date is from out of town then treat their taste buds to irresistible classics like paella and sangria.
Adega Bar and Grill (130 Ferry St)
For the date that wants to keep the cuisine classic with a more modern twist. Although neither restaurant strays off the beaten path of Ferry Street, they both remain a safe bet. Adega has more of a vibe than just a restaurant setting, so it’s a perfect place to bring a date for dinner, and then a glass of wine next door their separate bar. The cool and casual lighting and ambiance will be a perfect place to end the night.
For the Cultural Nose-Dive
Casa d’Paco: ( 73 Warwick St)
Skip the normally large portioned plates associated with the Ironbound and dive head first into the Spanish tradition of tapas. Each delectable small dish will allow you to keep the conversation free and flowing with your date – hopefully like the perfect pairing of wine that they can recommend to you. The casual and vibrant atmosphere is a great place for a first date and any subsequent repeats.
For Last Minute Cleverness
Mompou Tapas Bar and Restaurant (77 Ferry St)
Instead of inviting your date to “grab a drink” why not try some out-of-the-box thinking and ask them to grab a dessert instead? Mompou is a very popular spot because of its amazing dishes, great sangria, and regularly occurring flamenco shows. So if you didn’t make a Friday night 7 pm reservation beforehand, you might be out of luck. To avoid waiting around for a table, ask your date to meet you after the dinner rush and split some tasty desserts and dessert drinks.
The churros are to die for with hot, melted, dark chocolate. The chocolate lava cake melts in your mouth and it is a sin to leave without trying their signature tres leches. They also serve spiked coffees, like the well-known Irish Coffee (with whiskey and crème de menthe) and variants such as a Spanish Coffee (with brandy and Licor 43) and a Portuguese Coffee (with brandy and Licor Beirao). If you do want to visit Mompou for a normal/tapas dinner or their flamenco show, then make a reservation ahead of time and check their website for scheduled show dates.
For the Adventurous
Hell’s Kitchen Lounge (150 Lafayette St)
This is the ultimate date spot to bring a date that is (or claims to be) adventurous, kind of a risk-taker, and slightly unconventional. The risqué and decor and subdued red lighting create a very intimate and environment. Grab a bite to eat, and try one of their signature cocktails. They usually have daily specials that can be found on their website and on their menus.
If you really want to get into their scene, and if your date is up to it, try taking them to Hell’s burlesque night (Thursdays and other extra days – check website for details) with Brick City Burlesque. The shows start around 10:00 pm and there are usually 3 musical sets. If not, check their website or give them a call to find out about upcoming live bands and other performances.
Don’t let the above limit you. There is plenty to do in the neighborhood. So take a deep breath, forget about what may be stressing you out, and just have a good time. And at the very least, if your date isn’t good – at least the sangria will be.
Shayla Castrelos is the founder of fashion and lifestyle blog, SundayShay.com. She works in New York City full time as a legal assistant as well as being in full-time pursuit of trends, restaurants, and nightlife. She has a degree in Journalism from Rutgers University Newark Campus. She is based out of Newark, where she currently resides.