Hot potato, the earliest dish designed to be passed, is nearly extinct because of the constant ravages of grade-school appetites. Today's Groupon revives rotating refreshments: for $25, you get $50 worth of tapas, sangria, and Spanish-style eats at Oliva Restaurant & Bar, located on the Lower East Side on Houston Street.
Selected by Citysearch as their 2008 pick for Best First Date Spot, Oliva is a lively and social eatery. Shake things up with a Crayola-hued libation from their cocktail list, including an Oliva margarita in mango or raspberry among others ($10) or the el marlin, a jalapeno-infused Chinaco blanco tequila with cilantro, fresh grapefruit, and lime ($10). Oliva also features wines and bubbly by the glass or bottle, beer, sangria, and tequila to sip on. An extensive tapas menu presents plenty of small-plated possibilities. Nosh on bacon-cuddled dates ($9), mixed marinated olives ($5), or serrano ham fritters ($9). Cater to heavier cravings with grilled skirt steak ($21) or roasted chicken sided with olive-oil mashed potatoes ($21). Soups, salads, and cheese plates round out the menu. For dessert, fork vanilla-bean flan ($6) or Oliva's take on the cheesecake ($7). Oliva's brunch menu features multiple items for $5 with an option to mix and match (3 for $13).
Live music coupled with a seductive dining room bathed in soft light helps to attract a buzzy, vibrant crowd. For almost a decade, the centrally located eatery has served as an epicurean passport to an energetic, internationally spiked evening. Tango, Latin pop, and Cuban salsa sounds take the edge off a blind date, and the finger-friendly menu is ideal for large groups or shy stomachs.
161 E Houston St.
New York, New York 10002