Valentine's Day is just around the corner, but knowing what restaurants are best for romantic occasions is a useful skill year-round. Read on for our top picks in 14 cities around the country.
A stroll along the banks of the Chattahoochee River's a romantic prelude to a meal — plus the perfect thing for some post-dessert strolling and canoodling. And though the bucolic setting may be better suited to spring, there's no denying the pleasant break from the city setting. Add the refined, seasonal American cuisine, and you've got a can't-miss spot for romance.
4199 Paces Ferry Rd. SE; 770-432-2663
Austin: The Preserve at Travaasa Austin
There's nothing more romantic than enjoying a getaway, even if it's still technically in town. The Preserve, the farm-to-table restaurant on-site at Travaasa, is offering a prix fixe menu for Valentine's Day weekend, featuring decadent offerings like lobster bisque and prime rib paired with beautiful views of the Hill Country and Lake Travis. Whether or not you've booked a room for the weekend, consider also indulging in a chocolate scrub or a couples soak with rose petals, champagne and lavender-infused chocolate...not a bad idea for dessert, is it?
13500 Farm to Market Rd. 2769; 855-868-7243
French is the language — and food — of love. Chef Chris Coombs' Back Bay restaurant is unabashedly romantic, set slightly aside of the neighborhood's busier blocks. Ask for seat No. 61, known by staff as the "Alice in Wonderland table," with its wingback chairs, romantic feel and tucked-off location to the side of the main dining area. (It's been a popular spot for proposals.) New pastry chef Shaun Velez (an alum of Boulud's DANIEL) has actually introduced an "off-menu" dessert: a sugar sphere used as a way to present engagement rings.
371 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-517-5915
Dallas: The Ranch at Las Colinas
Let your love take flight (literally) at this Las Colinas favorite for steaks and other popular Texas fare. Call ahead and book a romantic airborne journey ranging from a 5-minute spin above the city ($25 per person) to an hour-long excursion ($300 per person) that includes both Dallas and Arlington skylines. Then settle into a booth for a leisurely meal and recap of the high-flying adventure. Best of all, this can be arranged year-round.
857 W. John W. Carpenter Fwy., Irving; 972-506-7262
Denver: Ophelia' Electric Soapbox
For the lady and the tramp, there's but one choice for a sizzling date complete with racy decor, and that's this Ballpark gastro-brothel that's arguably one of Denver's most bewitching restaurant and bars thanks to its brash, bold and deliberately provocative interior rife with suggestively sexy undertones. Go for the unabashed sensuality and stay for the food, cocktails and live music.
1215 20th St.; 303-393-8023
Houston: The Pass
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.
807 Taft St.; 713-628-9020
Miami: Le Zoo
When you can’t afford to take your honey on an overnight trip to Paris, do the next best thing: book a dinner reservation at the new French brasserie by restaurateur Stephen Starr. The dining room features an unmistakably Parisian feel, complete with vintage furnishings, midcentury lighting and handmade tiles, while the candlelit outdoor seating area evokes the city’s iconic sidewalk cafes. The menu offers an extensive raw bar, plus classics like moules frites and escargots.
9700 Collins Ave.; 305-602-9663
Los Angeles: Faith & Flower
There's something really sexy about this hot spot. Maybe it's the chandeliers, the funky art, the big velvet booths or fantastic wine list and cocktails: the ambiance is truly there in spades. But the modern American fare is not an afterthought, from the ceviche and oysters from the raw bar to the bacon-wrapped tenderloin, grilled rib-eye with bone-marrow bordelaise and wonderful and whimsical desserts. Get the absinthe table service at the end for a nightcap.
705 W. Ninth St.; 213-239-0642
New York: ACME
The recently reopened hot spot (now serving Italian- and French- leaning American cuisine) from chef Brian Loiacono will offer a special Valentine's Day menu on both Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14 for $70 (the sole menu option on the latter date). The four-course menu includes dishes like veal agnolotti with Salva Cremasco and truffle; and a beef duo that includes tenderloin and brasied short ribs, served with caramelized endive and potato gratin. Finish with a late-night drink downstairs at the sexy subterranean cocktail bar.
9 Great Jones St.; 212-203-2121
When it comes to high-end dining for the meat-free set it doesn’t get better than this Midtown Village vegetable-focused stunner (pictured at top). Combine a gorgeous dining room and polished service with fascinating plates like wood-roasted carrots that play off the flavors of a classic Reuben sandwich with bottles of natural wine from Vedge’s extensive list and you’re in for a ridiculously (and incidentally vegan) romantic meal. In addition to the regular menu there’s going to be a tasting on offer with pours from Vedge’s stellar selection of natural wines.
1221 Locust St.; 215-320-7500
San Diego: Solare
Most of Point Loma is filled with chain restaurants, so for a special place to take your sweetie, look to Solare in historic Liberty Station. It's not easy to find as it's nestled in one of a dozen former military buildings, so check the locator map at the entrance of Liberty Station and look for signs directing you to the restaurant. We recommend reserving the restaurant's private wine room for an intimate setting. For Valentine's Day, chef Accursio Lota will be offering a special four-course Italian dinner at $69 per person.
820 Roosevelt Rd.; 619-270-9670
San Francisco: Cadence
The month-old progressive American restaurant’s teacup booths are an invention meant for romantic dinners — residing in the center of the dining room action but with lounge-style tables enclosed in a boothlike wrap that keep couples mostly hidden from view. The entire retro 1930s art deco space is a stunner, and it's matched by the à la carte and tasting menus from chef Joey Elenterio. For date night, having one diner pick the “In the Ground or From a Stem” prix fixe menu and the other choosing the “Above Ground or From the Water” prix fixe menu is a wonderful way to sample a variety of the kitchen’s exciting creations. A lovely bonus: walk through the shared hallway to sister bar Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio for post-dinner drinks and jazz.
1446 Market St.; 415-851-8561
Sitting underneath the glittering strands of lights in Capitol Hill’s Lark is like sitting underneath the stars, only without that pesky winter rain. Settle into the moody dining room for Valentine’s Day this year and you’ll be treated with a four-course meal priced at $110 per person and featuring yellowtail crudo, Quinault River steelhead, snow crab fondue and seared foie gras. Reservations required. Equally as romantic is the upstairs amaro and crudo bar, Bitter/Raw, perfect for a pre-dinner snack.
952 E. Seneca St.; 206-323-5275
Washington, DC: Pennsylvania 6
This new hot spot channels romance via soft lighting, rich red accents and a series of small spaces that maximize privacy. Start the evening in the elevated lounge outfitted with luxurious couches and a working fireplace. Also be sure to explore the outstanding wine list, presided over by well-known local master sommelier Mark Slater. It features at least a dozen bottles of champagne and other varieties of bubbly.
1350 I St. NW; 202-796-1600