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Valentine's Day Bucket List: 10 Dream Dinners

By Kelly Dobkin
January 14, 2014

With V-Day still a month away, most folks haven't even thought about making reservations yet - although they should, as it's the second-busiest night for restaurants all year. To help you get inspired, we polled our Zagat community on Twitter last week to come up with our ultimate Valentine's Day bucket list - the restaurants we'd love to visit for V-Day at some point in life, be it for food, ambiance or romance factor (or all three). Check out some of the responses below, and then tell us your picks in the comments.

  • La Tour d'Argent, Paris

    Romance factor: 9

    Perhaps the ultimate romantic dining destination, this legendary Paris restaurant is perched six stories above the banks of the Seine and overlooks Notre Dame. Under the mastery of chef Laurent Delarbre since 2010, this show-stopping restaurant was on at least one of our reader's Valentine's Day bucket lists, and for good reason.

  • One If By Land, Two If By Sea, NYC

    Romance factor: 9

    This classic Valentine's Day destination drips with romance from the candelit rooms, four fireplaces, piano bar and old-world charm, so it's no surprise that has been the site of thousands of proposals and weddings over the years and has been depicted in film and on TV. Set in Aaron Burr's former carriage house in NYC's Greenwich Village, we'd say this ranks near tops in terms of most romantic restaurants.

  • Photo by: Deborah Jones

    The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

    Romance factor: 8

    Perhaps the ultimate bucket-list eatery for just about any food lover, The French Laundry is also among one of the most romantic options we can think of  - the restaurant is inside a cozy stone farmhouse in picturesque Yountville, CA. But just a heads up, the dining environment is ultraformal, so it might not be the best spot for third-date PDA. 

  • Le Chantecler, Nice, France

    Romance factor: 8.5

    Set oceanside in the Le Hotel Negresco in Nice, France, there's no better place to say "Je t'aime" than on the French Riviera. The tablecloths are pink, the ambiance is old-world and the cuisine by chef de cuisine Jean-Denis Rieubland is modern French - doesn't get much more Valentine's-worthy than that. 

  • Carmen Aben Humeya, Granada, Spain

    Romance factor: 8

    Set in a 15th-century Moorish estate with views of the famed Alhambra fortress, Aben Humeya is an incredibly charming dining experience. While the simple Mediterranean menu may not be the most cutting-edge of others on the list, it's the ambiance that makes it worth the trek.

  • Photo by: Mark Holthusen

    Manresa, Los Gatos, CA

    Romance factor: 7

    If California-style romance and first-rate American cuisine sound like a dream V-Day to you, then Manresa is the place to be. Chef David Kinch partners with his own growers to create exceptional produce, which makes for spectacularly flavorful food with stunning presentations. Plus its location in the Bay Area countryside just south of San Jose make for a gorgeous and romantic drive.

    David Kinch's 

  • Faviken, Jarpen, Sweden

    Romance factor: 7

    If you can find/get to chef Magnus Nilsson's farm-to-table eatery located in an old grain store in the remote Swedish countryside, you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you'll find on the plate. The chef's cooking philosophy centers around his hyper-local products, some foraged and many farmed on-site, put together simply and daringly with that unmistakable Scandinavian edge.

  • Per Se, NYC

    Romance factor: 7

    The second Thomas Keller restaurant on this list, his NYC outpost offers stunning views of Central Park and is perfect for cosmopolitan lovers who appreciate inventive New American cuisine that's whimsically plated. 

  • Next, Chicago, IL

    Romance factor: 6

    Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas' concept restaurant changes themes every few months, so if spontaneity is something that heats up your relationship, this may be the V-Day dinner for you. Overall though, the environment here serves mainly for culinary bewilderment than for straight-up romance. Currently the restaurant's theme is Chicago Steak; you can watch a trailer about it here.

  • Noma, Denmark

    Romance factor: 5

    Chef Rene Redzepi's Nordic temple has been showered with just about every accolade known to man, so you can imagine it was tops with our readers in terms of dream destinations. In terms of romance factor, we'd say it was among the least romantic choices of the pack, as the environment is one devoted more to the cuisine than ambiance. Also, Redzepi's been known to serve live prawns and ants - not everyone's idea of romance. 

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