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First date ideas from the author of the rom-com ‘Match Made in Manhattan’

Amanda Stauffer knows a thing or two about first dates.

The Manhattan writer’s debut novel, “Match Made in Manhattan” (Jan. 23, Skyhorse Publishing), follows 20-something New Yorker Alison as she ventures into online dating. 

The book is inspired by the first year the author was single in NYC.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Amanda Stauffer / Skyhorse Publishing

“I loved that year madly and deeply for all the heady excitement it entailed, as well as for all the corners and enclaves of the city it introduced me to,” Stauffer says. “Part of the beauty and allure of the city is that there are literally hundreds of off-the-beaten path activities, classes, concerts and exhibits to sample on any given day.”

Stauffer shares her go-to first dates, all of which make an appearance in “Match Made in Manhattan”:

Coffee at La Lanterna di Vittorio

Spark a new romance at this Italian cafe
Photo Credit: La Laterna di Vittorio via Facebook

“With vines and foliage creeping up the walls, a garden lit by lanterns, and a blazing fireplace in the winter months, La Lanterna di Vittorio fosters an intimate ambience that contrasts sharply with the bustling Greenwich Village sidewalks outside. Start with an espresso in this cozy Italian café, and if the date’s going well, order one of their divine desserts to share.” (129 MacDougal St., Manhattan,

Games and beer at Barcade

Photo Credit: Barcade

“If you’re going on a lot of first dates, break up the steady stream of cocktail conversation with some friendly competition. At Barcade you can go head to head with your date in a game of pinball, ‘Ms. Pac-Man’ or dozens of other beloved arcade games from your youth. You’ll feel like a kid again, and that never gets old. Plus, the bar serves the old standbys as well as a host of exclusive beers from craft breweries. Win-win.” (148 W. 24th St. and 6 St. Marks Pl., Manhattan; 388 Union Ave., Brooklyn,

Laid-back drinks at Auction House

Photo Credit: Troy Hahn

“Nestled among the brick town houses of the Upper East Side, Auction House is by far my favorite first date spot (or second-date spot, third-date spot, etc.) in the city. With velvet curtains and gilded-frame portraits, its décor is ‘Renaissance palace meets dive bar,’ as my protagonist characterizes it to one her myriad first dates. Despite the effortlessly chic, somewhat European atmosphere, drinks at this little-known gem are cheap (for NYC) and the staff is laid back and friendly.” (300 E. 89th St., Manhattan,

Cocktails with a view at The Press Lounge

Photo Credit: Kris Tamburello

“To quote my protagonist’s paramour who takes her here, ‘God, I love this view.’ I cannot have cocktails at The Press Lounge enough times. This midtown roof deck boasts upholstered banquettes and bonfires, lush greenery, and a reflecting pool — but its pièce de résistance is the dramatic panoramic view overlooking the Hudson River. Take in the twinkling reflection of the New Jersey waterfront as you sip seasonal cocktails that feature homemade syrups of basil, camomile or Earl Grey. Drinks are pricey — but consider it paying for the view.” (653 11th Ave., Manhattan,

Street festival eats and people-watching

A chef makes crepes at the Bastille Day
Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

“If you’re whiling away your single years exclusively in bars, step outside into the great urban outdoors; also, this idea’s free! Street fairs are such a distinctly New York event in that they occur virtually every weekend and often feature the same exact vendors, always in a new neighborhood. Wander the kiosks as you punctuate the more serious, getting-to-know-you talk with people-watching or random observations about the Kashmir carpets and Peruvian sweaters on display for purchase. If the date’s going well, linger a little longer as you order fried pickles or a mozzarepa. I have gone on this first date too many times to count; my protagonist, Alison, has too.”

Inspired brunch conversation at Cowgirl

Photo Credit: Cowgirl

“With red-checked tablecloths, antler chandeliers and horseshoes as decoration, Cowgirl’s relaxed and campy vibe is far more Wild West than West Village. Order up a platter of Rattlesnake Bites (bacon-wrapped, shrimp-stuffed jalapeños, pictured) and several sides of cheesy grits, and pull your conversational prompts from the décor around you. Favorite Spaghetti Western flick? Ever ride a horse or been to a rodeo?” (519 Hudson St., Manhattan,


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