Romance comes in many forms. What counts as an intimate night out for one couple may be too stuffy or too casual for another. Fortunately, Cupid’s arrow ranges freely in H-town, homing in on relaxed country bars and swanky spots alike — on Valentine's Day or any day.
One Fifth Romance Languages
This Montrose locale from Chris Shepherd is in its second phase of a five-year concept that changes food and decor each year. The current iteration intertwines Spanish, French and Italian flavors in a dimly lit setting with a soft palette and draped ceiling.
What we love: Dining in a circa-1927 reclaimed church has us humming “Going to the chapel…”
1658 Westheimer Rd.; 713-955-1024
Climb a marble staircase in Downtown's Hotel Alessandra to reach this chic second-level space, modeled after a Viennese vaulted cafe, for refined Continental and Mediterranean dishes from Jose Hernandez. Sink into sleek banquettes and private tables beneath a rib-cage ceiling or snag space at the bar with a view of the kitchen.
What we love: The tasting menu, available in four or six courses ($55 and $75, respectively), offers a tour of global dishes like cauliflower and Gruyère crêpes, lobster and unique desserts.
1070 Dallas St.; 713-242-8555
The intimate 25-seat space at this Downtown second-floor hideaway comes with legendary cocktails and exceptional service, making it ideal for an elegant night out. It's accessed from downstairs bar The Pastry War, which only enhances the sense of seclusion.
What we love: The Floradora Imperial, a sparkling elixir made from apple brandy, lime juice, raspberry syrup and champagne that’s based on a recipe from 1913
310 S. Main St.; 713-321-8242
When Ronnie Killen opened his stylish neighborhood outfit, he combined two culinary passions cultivated at his other restaurants, Killen’s Barbecue and Killen’s Steakhouse in Pearland. The result is a snug kitchen dishing up upscale twists on smokehouse fare accompanied by a killer wine list.
What we love: The smokey flavor that graces just about everything, from appetizers to desserts
2231 S. Voss Rd.; 713-586-0223
Date night doesn’t have to be quiet, as this modern country bar in Montrose proves. Dance to live bluegrass, Americana and country bands, then head outside to the patio fire pit and porch swings for an intimate tête-à-tête while sipping one of 40-plus bourbons or a craft cocktail.
What we love: Instead of the chocolate-covered strawberry cliche, go for a cinco leches funnel cake, served hot and drenched in sweetened milks and local Blue Heron cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce), then finished with whipped cream and powdered sugar.
2531 Kuester St.; 832-986-5151
Variety is the spice of life (and love?), which makes the four distinct atmospheres at this Montrose restaurant particularly appealing for a romantic night out. With a terrace, sunroom, bar area and homey dining room, the result is a little bit bohemian, a little bit Hollywood and timeless as true love.
What we love: The tucked away upstairs terrace filled with sleek low-slung sofas, lanterns and views of the Downtown skyline
3210 W. Dallas St.; 713-523-3210
A lot of love went into designing this posh Downtown dining room where old meets new in dish and decor. Order seafood, steaks or housemade pasta at candlelit tables beneath glittering chandeliers.
What we love: Caviar and champagne in the gold-accented private wine room that seats two to eight guests
1515 Texas Ave.; 713-237-1515
Set inside the “Jewel Box” at the Galleria, this refined modern space offers tea service and dim sum. Shareable plates of dumplings, seafood, noodles and more are available in optional tasting menus that range from $58 to $118 per person (two guest minimum).
What we love: A tucked-away lounge with plush seating recreates the night sky with hundreds of tiny lights that sparkle from the ceiling.
5045 Westheimer Rd.; 713-357-7588