Food & Drink

The Top 9 Places for Date Night in Downtown New Brunswick

16d005e7895e098e07ea_INC_nb.jpg
TAPinto New Brunswick compiles some of the best restaurants to bring a date in the Hub City. This photo shows the dining room of INC, a staple of the city's downtown. Credits: INC American Bar & Kitchen
16d005e7895e098e07ea_INC_nb.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The most difficult part is behind you.

Despite your jitters, shaky voice and obviously faux sense of confidence, you managed to squeeze out the words: Do you want to grab dinner tomorrow night? And, to the surprise of you and your roommates alike, it worked. You’re finally going on that date.

New Brunswick, of course, is made for this kind of thing. In fact, the city’s downtown harbors enough cozy, dimly lit bars and restaurants to make pinpointing the perfect place something of a challenge. So how do you narrow down your options?

Sign Up for E-News

Let TAPinto New Brunswick help. Our team has sifted through the city’s thriving dining scene to come up with nine top-of-the-line choices, each with its own style and charm, for your next date night. It certainly wasn’t an easy task. But here they are, in no particular order.

Clydz, 55 Paterson St.

A Hub City institution for 20 years, this martini bar delivers much more than a stiff drink. Its low-key, comfortable bar and dining room provide longtime couples and first dates an intimate chance to connect. The seemingly never-ending list of martinis and cocktails—including a riesling-based drink called Sex in the Hub City—makes for easy conversation. And Clydz’ menu of exotic meats, from alligator and python to kangaroo and bone marrow, is sure to make this date one to remember.

Catherine Lombardi Restaurant, 3 Livingston Ave.

You can’t go wrong with a bottle of red, some antipasti and a hearty Italian entrée from this joint. With its fireplaces and welcoming decor, Catherine Lombardi gives diners the chance to overlook the downtown cultural district from its second-story perch. Chat over pasta and meat dishes made from fresh, organic ingredients before catching a show.

Veganized, 9 Spring St.

Never ate vegan? No problem. Veganized is the type of organic, veggie-friendly restaurant that caters to herbivores and omnivores alike. Its second-floor, brick-wall dining room offers a relaxed environment to shoot the breeze and chow down on meatless burgers, cheese-free mac and cheese or vegan lasagna—all of which are renowned for, well, making carnivores feel at home. This BYOB restaurant also brings a sense of sophistication at an affordable price.

The dining room of Clydz. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

INC American Bar & Kitchen, 302 George St.

Another ambitious New Brunswick restaurant, INC is all about quality, style and trying something new. Isn’t that what date night should be, too? Its menu contains a number of small plates—including truffle fries, Vietnamese steamed buns and even grilled duck hearts—that encourage light picking, sharing and experimenting. Grab a whiskey or beer from INC’s hefty list of options, sink into a wide-back chair and see where things go.

Due Mari, 78 Albany St.

There’s a lot to like at Due Mari, but it’s most notably a seafood lover’s dream. Chef Michael White recommends going for the $65-per-head, four-course prix fixe menu ($99 with wine pairing), turning a run-of-the-mill date into something more. But if you’re on a date, you can’t pass on Due Mari’s oysters, long said to be an aphrodisiac. The restaurant’s elegant bar and dining room offer a natural setting for a candlelit conversation.

The Frog and the Peach, 29 Dennis St.

After more than 30 years in the business, The Frog and the Peach has repeatedly cemented itself as one of the state’s best eateries. While not necessarily cheap, the menu is sure to fill and excite, offering something delightful even for couples whose tastes clash. Dishes like cacio e pepe, an iconic take on spaghetti, sit alongside roasted duck breast and tuna sashimi. What’s more, this once-industrial building boasts some of the most unique aesthetics in the city—thanks to its shining wood-top bar, wine- and cocktail-inspired decor and collection of diverse dining rooms.

Ramen Nagomi, 49 Bayard St.

Affordable and unlike anything else in New Brunswick, Ramen Nagomi is a rising star in the local culinary scene. This BYOB spot dishes up rich, flavorful bowls of ramen and quirky appetizers to please just about any palate. Its charm rests not only in its food, but also in its warm, laid-back vibe. Why not show your date a good time by breaking routine—but not breaking the bank?

The bar at Steakhouse 85. Photo courtesy of the restaurant and Facebook.

Steakhouse 85, 85 Church St.

This New York-style steak joint is made for couples. Indeed, Steakhouse 85 hosts date nights every Monday and Friday with a $99-per-couple prix-fixe deal that includes a bottle of wine. In addition to classic steakhouse menu items and a fully-stocked bar, this restaurant serves up a classy, refined atmosphere that appears designed for couples hoping to unwind.

The Dillinger Room, 338 George St.

When you walk into The Dillinger Room’s bar area, the candles and strings of lights make it seem like you’re entering an intimate backyard patio. Craft cocktails, local draft beer and high-quality food—whether you want a burger or a salad—further the Dillinger’s trendy, casual ambience. It all adds up to form a hangout that suits star-crossed lovers and relative strangers who want to get to know each other.

Of course, this brief rundown can’t hit every grade-A date spot in New Brunswick. So please feel free to mention your favorite restaurant or bar for schmoozing on TAPinto New Brunswick’s Facebook or Twitter page.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 14, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD - The typical sports fan in New Jersey has until 2026 to get excited about professional soccer. That's because the Meadowlands could be the epicenter of the soccer world, a contender to host the World Cup. It could be  an amazing coup for New Jersey, although expect worldwide marketers to try to convince everyone that the big game would be played in "New ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 13, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY - When the Hard Rock Café and Casino opens June 28, a strip club will also open on the property. But this isn't your typical, dark titty bar. No, it is 36,000 square feet of space, about the size of a typical Marshalls. So, figure the place is wall-to-wall strippers, each jiggling for money. That could equal about 300 jiggles per minute on a ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 12, 2018

STATEWIDE - Perhaps it is time for the state to upgrade to Windows 95, as the second big computer crash in a week spelled disaster for the state's computer systems. The biggest hit came to the state's Motor Vehicle agencies, jamming efforts to renew driver's licenses, or for people to get titles or register vehicles. This mess somehow made the lines at the MVC even longer, the ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 11, 2018

MANTUA - Ever hear of the Wenonah Police Department? Neither did we, but it doesn't really matter because it no longer exists. At 12:01 a.m. on June 1, the department officially disbanded, with the 2,200 residents of this speck of a town in Gloucester County now being protected and served by the Mantua Police Department - other cops we've never heard about. It was high time for the ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_b461bcb5f4e452996ec4_juneteenth_poster

Tue, June 19, 6:30 PM

Mt Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, New Brunswick

Juneteenth - a Day of Remembrance

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, June 21, 8:00 PM

New Brunswick

Sing-a-Long Grease: 40th Anniversary

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to "HighPoint.com Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

Couple netted $8M from fake Uggs, designer bags, prosecutor says

June 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Plainsboro couple could face charges of of selling counterfeit designer shoes and handbags, netting $8 million and sending $3 million to people in China, authorities said today.

Yan Shi, 36, and her husband, Weiping Liu, 40, were arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree money laundering and second-degree conspiracy to violate the New Jersey Trademark ...

OPINION

Hearing Loss Common in School-Aged Children

May 30, 2018

With close to 15% of U.S. children ages 6–19 experiencing hearing loss, New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NJSHA) notes that May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month is the ideal time for parents to learn more about the sometimes-subtle signs of hearing loss, ways it can affect school-aged children, and where to find help.

“Some children are born ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 15, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5  to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...