West 79th Street
(Follow the path all the way down to the Hudson River)
We all know that Internet dating sites are full of people who are "fudging the truth" about themselves. Their profile picture is probably from 7 years ago, they may still live with their parents, and they're definitely not a human rights lawyer. So in this world where 1 out of 5 new relationships start online - let's be honest, you are probably going to end up on a date with some whackjobs / fug-lies.
So what can you do to protect yourself? My advice - meet at a nice, fun place that if that will be great if things work out, but also a place where the exits are EVERYWHERE. For me, there's no better place than the Boat Basin on the upper west side. Perfectly located on the far west side of town, the Boat Basin is an upbeat and relaxing place to meet for drinks and a burger, and the view of the river is spectacular. It's THE spot for a great first date over the spring and summer months - but it's also a great place to escape from if you need it. This is one of the few places in NYC that you can exit by, car, bike, boat, kayak, on foot, or even by helicopter. No matter how much the other person freaks you out, you can pull a Mission: Impossible and get the eff out of there.
The Boat Basin is a casual bar and grill that easily packs in over 300 people on a summer Saturday. You definitely feel like you are on the shore, rather than NYC. There is a beautiful esplanade to take a walk on and see the yachts parked, and for anyone coming from outside the city, the restaurant actually has its own exit on the Henry Hudson Parkway so it's impossible to miss. The food is simple - burgers and sandwiches, but the lively atmosphere along with a bucket of coronas, the two of you sitting under the sun - who knows, maybe you'll warm up to the person across from you - and postpone your dramatic exit.
Tip: The brunch crowd is in full swing by 12:30, so try to arrive by 12 for a seat outside.