If you’re looking for romance in all the right places — and most likely you are with Valentine’s Day approaching — we’ve sussed out the charmers so you can book a table pronto. Whether your definition of a romantic restaurant means being surrounded by modern art, dazzling table settings, multiple courses of ambrosial cuisine or a crackling fireplace to warm up chilly February, here’s one for every lover in 10 neighborhoods.
When you push through the mammoth black door from casual Provisions to The Pass at this dual concept, you enter another world. The minimalist, beautiful interiors flaunt plush dark seating, bask-worthy lighting and a serene white theater view of the chefs at work. Pencil in at least two hours with your flame to relish the bold and wild tasting menu, which precisely mirrors the sophisticated date-ready surroundings. Sweet news: when you reserve at The Pass, the table is yours for the night.
Valentine’s Day: Regular tasting menu ($95; $160 with pairings).
807 Taft St.; 713-628-9020
At this eclectic outpost dripping in lipstick-red accents and drawn curtains, grown-ups can feast on romantic French cuisine with Southern inspiration in peace and quiet. Bask in dim rosy lighting in dark cozy nooks, gaze through stained-glass windows and admire Gothic-style light fixtures dangling from lofty ceilings while relishing bold plates like salmon cassoulet or the oh-so-European cheese plate for dessert.
Valentine’s Day: Three courses for $85; add wine pairing for $125.
1985 Welch St.; 713-533-0200
From its slick first-floor cocktail lounge to its second-floor dining room aerie overlooking the cabana-lined pool at Hotel Sorella, Radio Milano is seriously chic. Deep velvety booths, overhead natural-wood art structures and dim lighting set the tone for an evening of romance. Anticipate a modern Italian meal that not only tastes decadent but looks artful, like juicy veal cheeks over creamy polenta or housemade tagliatelle with uni cream and sweet chunks of fresh lobster.
Valentine’s Day: Buffet brunch or prix fixe chef’s dinner menu. Call for details.
800 Sorella Ct.; 713-827-3545
Say “bonjour” to this traditional bistro that charms like a handsome Frenchman would sweep you off your feet. Wooden beams stretch overhead, French paintings adorn the exposed-brick walls and sunny windows are festooned with yellow and blue Provence-style fabrics — overall, warm and cozy surroundings for a seamless Provençal repast with your main squeeze. Don’t miss the veal chop in wild mushroom and cognac sauce.
Valentine’s Day: Three-course menu with complimentary sparkling wine ($65).
If sipping world-class wine while nibbling gourmet French fare is your scene, then this swanky Midtown spot is the place to spend your V-Day. Delicate light fixtures and wooden accents set the sophisticated mood, while extensive bar seating surrounds an open kitchen for supplemental dining entertainment. Or just find a snug private spot on a leather banquette backed by fluffy exotic pillows and candlelight.
Valentine’s Day: Pops of chocolate and champagne are spotted throughout the seven-course menu ($140).
3201 Louisiana St.; 713-529-9111
Many a wedding, marriage proposal and dinner date has taken place at this legendary upscale lodge with a gorgeous patio surrounded by greenery, herb gardens and a citrus grove. Enjoy wild game, local produce and Gulf seafood dishes in the elegant log-cabin setting, which is boasts three fireplaces. Snuggle up and let the sparks fly!
Valentine’s Day: Four-course menu with complimentary sparkling wine ($89).
2011 Ella Blvd.; 713-861-8666
State of Grace
Pair stunning European hunting lodge-meets-Parisian brasserie decor with upscale Southern-style fare and you’ve got a warm special-occasion date spot. For an extra touch of romance, duck into the softly lit, forest-green-velvet-curtained room perfect for intimate conversation and indulging in the aphrodisiac-enhancing global oyster selection and the giant K.C. strip steak for two.
Valentine’s Day: Four-course menu ($85).
3258 Westheimer Rd.; 832-942-5080
This jewel box with robin’s-egg-blue walls, gilt framed paintings, Murano chandeliers and rose-graced tables in Hotel Granduca is one of Houston’s prettiest — and quietest — dining rooms. On the Northern Italian menu, start with carpaccio di manzo or share seasonal oysters on the half shell. Move on to the housemade pasta and whole branzino or osso buco milanese. Bar Malatesa is also a sultry hideaway for a rendezvous with soothing live music, cocktails and plush couches in intimate nooks.
Valentine’s Day: Chef’s tasting menu ($85) and regular menu.
1080 Uptown Park Blvd.; 713-418-1104
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
Live and love in luxury at the newest steakhouse from the Pappas Bros., where couples can splurge on the dry-aged New York strip steak for two while sipping wine from the renowned 1,500-plus selection. If you have the urge to merge (ahem, with global wines), reserve way ahead for the private, stone paved, glass-enclosed wine room surrounded by rare bottles of vino.
Valentine’s Day: Three-course menu including filet mignon plus jumbo lump crab or grilled shrimp ($75) and a rose for the ladies.
1200 McKinney St.; 713-658-1995
Newly rechristened La Table (formerly Table on Post Oak) has the ooh la la you need for date night. When you enter, you’ll be smacked with the aroma of fresh-baked sweets from its new French bakery, Macarons. Up the grand staircase of this two-story boîte, find a petite new bookstore with the Chateau dining room on the top level. Think elegant French salon with enchanting modern yellow orbs dangling from the ceiling of a cool blue dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, colorful artwork and velvet banquettes. It will be love at first bite when you try the Parmesan-crusted rack of lamb carved tableside for two or one of the other modern French delicacies.
Valentine’s Day: Three-course menu including lobster and dessert ($86) or regular menu.
1800 Post Oak Blvd.; 713-439-1000