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While Jennifer Lopez once sang that “Love don’t cost a thing,” treating your loved one to a romantic dinner will cost at least a few dollars—especially in NYC. But it doesn’t have to break the bank. While New York is known for its high cost of living, it’s also a metropolis with a large amount cheap eats. The next time you’re in NYC with your significant other, consider these six romantic restaurants where you’ll actually have room left in your wallet for dessert.

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Le Barricou
Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood has plenty of hip eateries, but this one stands out for its reliable food and cozy atmosphere. The laid-back bistro specializes in French-style country fare, where you’ll find staples like mussels served in a white wine broth and coq au vin for under twenty bucks. Add a carafe of wine (cheaper than a bottle) to your candle-lit table and you’ll have yourself a sexy little dinner. To up the romance factor, ask for a table in the back room—which features a library and fireplace.

Milk and Rose | Photo courtesy of @bittermelonnyc

Milk & Roses
Speaking of restaurants using a library as decor, this spot in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood features a wall of book-filled shelves in its main room. It’s a cozy ambiance that rivals the charming indoor backyard/garden that’s always inviting—even on the coldest winter nights. The dinner menu at this cash-only restaurant features wallet-friendly versions of salmon tartare, beef stew, and roasted free-range Amish chicken. The restaurant doubles as a coffeeshop/lunch spot before dinner hours, which means you have the option of an even more affordable daytime date.

Aria | Photo courtesy of @ashleylulli

Aria Wine Bar
Taking a stroll on the charming brownstone-lined streets of the West Village is a great way to spend your date night, especially after dinner at this cozy hot spot. White lights line the entrance and sidewalk just outside of the restaurant, adding to the already romantic vibe you’ll discover inside. As for the menu, the focus here is on Italian wine and small plates (think mushroom bruschetta, grilled octopus and, of course, pastas) perfect for sharing. The restaurant’s sister location in Hell’s Kitchen is an ideal spot if you’re looking for dinner after seeing a Broadway show.

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Beecher’s Cellar | Photo courtesy of @ohmyjoshik

Beecher’s Cellar
The upstairs portion of Beecher’s looks like your typical cheese shop. The counter features the company’s handmade cheeses, charcuterie and deli sandwiches, which is fine if you’re just grabbing a bite as you’re passing through the Flatiron District. But if you’re here on a date, head downstairs to the more intimate subterranean restaurant and bar. The dark, cozy space features an impressive wine list and menu full of flatbreads, roasted veggies, and yes, a lot of cheese. The chef’s elevated takes on mac and cheese (think pulled pork with pickled fennel stem) are great for sharing, too.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor | Photo courtesy of @reycuenca

Nom Wah Tea Parlor
This Chinatown mainstay has a lot of charming qualities. The long-standing restaurant—its been in business since 1920—claims to be Manhattan’s first dim-sum house. Translation: You and your date can pretend like you’re time-traveling to a more romantic era as you enjoy pork buns, dumplings and scallion pancakes, as you’re nestled at a checkered cloth-covered Art Deco table surrounded by glam vintage posters of Chinese movie stars.

Photo courtesy of Quartino

Quartino Bottega Organica
Even if you’re not going to eat pasta Lady & the Tramp-style, Italian restaurants are still usually reliable for romantic settings. And this NoHo spot definitely fits the bill. The sleek, 50-seat restaurant has an intimate feel to it, which is made even more cozy with the help of candlelit tables and perfectly-dimmed lighting. The menu features a healthy dose of affordable pastas (most are under $15) with an emphasis on healthy: All are made wholesome and organic ingredients.

Tagged: Food & drink, New York City

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