Looking for love, but can’t bear to give up the comfort of your closest train? Hey, we get it. But what will you do when you meet someone who lives in Midwood? Don’t you want to give that cutie from Long Island City a chance? Thankfully, there’s no need to schlep all the way to their hood until things get serious. Despite the head-scratching lack of fine dating establishments by some of our premier subway stations there are always those dive bars in the rough, so here are some places where you can meet up halfway and still have a great date.
The beer connoisseurs’ date: St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe (533 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill)
Off nearly every train imaginable, St. Gambrinus is the perfect starter spot for first or second dates trying to meet halfway. It’s quiet, never overly crowded inside, and the respectful lighting and atmosphere means you can get can get a little tipsy without giving up your “probably not insane” capital, which is especially important at this stage. There’s also a very cute and expansive backyard and the beers are all $6-$7!
The candle-lit burger date: Hollow Nickel (494 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill)
Pretty much equidistant from all train lines, the 5-10 minute walk lands you in a classy little spot with a name like an obscure sex act. The Hollow Nickel has soft lighting, beautifully tattooed bartenders, and a great backyard. Their outdoor space is the next best thing to Narnia, with tasteful gravel floors and draped Christmas lights. If you want to be really adventurous and get some food, the fried pickles and burgers are a good call! This is the spot to throw back a couple of $6 spicy picklebacks and say what’s really on your mind. If things are really going well, you can always head to the wonderfully divey Hank’s Saloon down the street for extra cheap drafts (and fun conversations with irreverent Australian bartenders in the event of a date gone south.)
The non-threatening German-themed date: Die Stammkneipe (710 Fulton Street, Fort Greene)
The casual atmosphere permeating this German beer hall may inspire romance nearly as much as it will inspire you to drink an entire boot full of beer! Unfortunately they make you surrender your ID when you order the boot, which is really a shame because nothing conjured true love like petty theft. If you’ve managed to avoid vegetarianism, the currywursts are solid, and the size of the soft pretzels (correctly accompanied by mustard) will fondly make you recall your red state upbringing. For a Brokester bargin, grab a $7.50 half liter of pilsener.
The basic’s date: Alchemy Restaurant & Tavern (56 5th Avenue, Park Slope)
This non-pretentious beer/brunch spot is tabula rasa for date ambiance: there are no gimmicky menus, novelty wallpapers, or kitschy furnishings. Just soft lighting, beers, burgers, and some solid veggie options. It’s a neutral environment for getting to know someone without revealing any of your objectionable traits or strongly-held opinions. If you feel like it’s going well and you’re ready to kick it up a notch, there are always flashier/divier places nearby.
The Japanese food and panoramic view date: Kimoto Rooftop Beer Garden (216 Duffield Street, Downtown)
Downtown Brooklyn is a classy dating black hole, right? Wrong! Kimoto Rooftop Beer Garden offers scintillating views of our beloved post-industrial landscapes, with all of the comfort of legit fusion cuisine. Bulgogi tacos meet takoyaki for some truly delicious culinary masterpieces.
The culture-lovers’ date: The Bell House (149 7th Street, Gowanus)
Like most spaces in Gowanus, The Bell House is situated in a beautifully redone warehouse that seems almost impossibly vast, and provides a much-needed respite from your squishy commute. Beyond the space itself, the main draw at The Bell House are the events—Secret Science Club, NPR’s Ask Me Another, and 90s night, to name a few—where you can impress a date with your unprecedented interest in subatomic particles or news trivia. There are also empanadas and other savory pastries for sale — very shareable finger food.
Cozy with a touch of class date: Halyards (406 3rd Avenue, Gowanus)
Just one block down from the Bell House, Halyard’s is where you can show off your refined taste and beastly pool talents. Draft beer, darts, and jenga round out the attractions. I would recommend jenga over darts, no one besides architects has much of an edge, and there’s less of a chance for dart-related-date-catastrophes. The U-shaped party bench as good a spot as any to make out, provided that an actual party-sized gathering doesn’t kick you out.
Hunter Thompson meets pinball date: The Owl Farm (297 9th Street, Park Slope)
Right next to the 4th Ave/9th St. subway mecca of Park Slope lies The Owl Farm, named for Hunter S. Thompson’s Colorado hideaway and boasting a truly impressive selection of cider and draft beers. Happy hour (weekdays 2-7pm) offers three dollar bottles and cans, so schedule an early date and have at it!
The will-lead-to-sex date: Union Pool (484 Union Avenue, Williamsburg)
Union Pool sounds like a chill swimming hole where twenty-somethings play with balloons and blunts, but it’s actually just a cool bar notorious for its sweaty dancing, its sexual deviance, and its tacos. Yes, for all its intimate ambiance, the main draw is still definitely that taco truck out back by El Diablo, where you can break the ice by sharing your mutual fantasies about one day deciding to move to LA, then rub up on each other until one of you decides to move the party back to his or her place.
The quintessential dive date: Bushwick Country Club (618 Grand Street, Williamsburg)
Still notoriously hip after all these years (and still curiously not located in Bushwick), the Bushwick Country Club ranks among Williamsburg’s premiere dive bars. It’s the perfect spot to save dough with cheap $3 cans, while showing off your short game on the backyard mini golf course (also constructed out of cheap $3 cans). Unpretentious and equipped with a fun black-lit bathroom, this is a top notch spot for some mile-high makeouts and course-side romance.
The ultimate freeloaders’ date: Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg)
Free pizza? Yes, the final frontier beyond dollar slices does still exist in some isolated ecosystems — specifically at the loveably dive-y Alligator Lounge, right off the Metropolitan-Lorimer stop. If your date can appreciate your thrifty savvy, and likes scoring a personal pizza with every beer, you’ll know you’ve found a keeper. Don’t miss Kings of Karaoke on Saturday nights (though you may want to save this as a later date idea, unless you have an amazing singing voice/extremely high tolerance for ridicule.)
Snuggle by the fireplace date: Metropolitan (559 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg)
Gay and gorgeous Metropolitan remains a chill neighborhood standby. Couches, fireplaces, cheap booze, and skee ball, as well as drafts that will never run you more than a few bucks. Bonus if your date is on a Monday, so you can stick around for Hot Fruit, a midnight show of performance art and drag with $2 PBR tallboys. Also, $3 well drinks on Tuesday nights!