The 75 Most Romantic Restaurants in America
January 15, 2019
Love is in the air at these romantic restaurants
Whether it’s to impress a date, celebrate Valentine’s Day, pop the question, commemorate an anniversary, or simply just because, sometimes the occasion calls for a romantic restaurant.
Building on our previous list of the most romantic restaurant in every state, our ranking of America’s 75 most romantic restaurants includes the loveliest restaurants in 48 states (plus the District of Columbia) and 63 cities.
It can be tough to pin down the specific particulars of a romantic restaurant, because we tend to just know it when we see it. But on our quest to find the absolute top restaurant for romance in every state, there were a few benchmarks that we kept in mind: The tables had to be well-spaced, out of earshot of the table next-door. The lighting had to be dim (and preferably provided primarily by candlelight). The tables ideally were draped in white tablecloths. The restaurant couldn’t be loud and boisterous, overwhelmed by large groups or children. Service had to be professional and discreet. While few restaurants require jackets, these all needed to be restaurants worthy of dressing to the nines for. The décor had to be elegant and unobtrusive, and the views from a windowside perch should be sweeping. And as for the food, a bit of French influence certainly didn’t hurt, but as long as it was upscale and well-prepared (preferably with a nice wine list and dessert selection), it worked for us.
The next time you have something worth celebrating with your significant other (or are just looking to make date night extra special), we suggest you add a spark of romance at one of the 75 Most Romantic Restaurants in America.
#75 Pirogue Grille (Bismarck, North Dakota)
Owned by the husband-and-wife team of Stuart and Cheryl Tracy, Pirogue Grille’s approach is cooperative. Balanced by both culinary expertise and natural aesthetics, Pirogue Grille is an inviting, 70-seat restaurant that features an interior of wood, exposed brick walls, original artwork, and metalwork. An open archway with views of the chefs at work adds a bit of drama to the main dining room, allowing guests to employ all five senses while observing the preparation of their food. The menu changes seasonally, offering a mix of new and signature dishes, inspired by great food from around the world. The kitchen staff crafts our stocks, sauces, breads, desserts, and ice creams from scratch with food sourced from top quality seasonal ingredients, featuring local and organic components whenever possible. A few of the most popular and characteristic offerings include walleye prepared in three different ways (smoked, prosciutto-wrapped, and cake), house-made venison sausage, pheasant pasta with artichoke hearts and mushrooms, grilled lamb loin chops with chokecherry, and sautéed North Dakota bison medallions with Bordelaise sauce.
#74 Crow's Nest (Anchorage, Alaska)
Crow’s Nest is located atop Tower III of The Hotel Captain Cook. The restaurant affords diners panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and downtown Anchorage. Chef Reuben Gerber prepares a seafood-focused menu with offerings like crudo with fennel, chile flake, preserved lemon, and olives; octopus with avocado, dried corn, dill, raisin, and sherry jam; king crab legs with drawn butter; and arctic char with late summer peas, fava beans, braised chestnuts, foraged mushrooms, cipollini onions, fermented garlic, and morel broth; and bananas foster llambéed tableside. Sommelier Tom Laret manages the 10,000-bottle wine cellar expertly pairing the perfect wine for the occasion.
#73 Hot Tin Roof at Ocean Key Resort & Spa (Key West, Florida)
Overlooking the pristine waters where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean, Hot Tin Roof, named for frequent Key West traveler Tennessee Williams’ play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” is the signature restaurant of Ocean Key Resort & Spa in Key West. Captivating couples with romantic views of Key West’s famed sunset celebrations, the oceanfront restaurant is marking its debut on our list thanks to its romantic setting and exceptional epicurean endeavors. The menu is a mix of local seafood and land fare prepared in the unique culinary style of “conch-fusion,” a mélange of tastes and fragrances, combining traditional Florida with Caribbean influences with options like sofrito mussels with olive oil, grilled bread; grilled “Al Ajillo” shrimp with poblano chile, maduros, and avocado; island-spiced tuna with coconut rice, tostones, and mango coulis; and plantain-crusted swordfish with grilled corn salsa, and tequila-poblano chile sauce.
#72 VUE 24 (Mashantucket, Connecticut)
Nestled atop the 24th floor of Foxwoods’ Grand Pequot Tower, VUE 24 offers a lavish and romantic dining experience along with stunning panoramic views of the lush Mashantucket Pequot Tribal lands. Enjoy dinner or Sunday Sky Brunch while the Masantucket restaurant’s jazz pianist’s melodies ascend throughout the restaurant. VUE 24 offers Continental-based cuisine with modern flair like Stonington lobster poached with roasted corn and green onion flan and Colorado lamb with Dijon-glazed lamb chops, zucchini, squash, red onion, and tomato tian, goat cheese and minted jus. Dishes are perfectly paired with wines from the on-site 500-bottle wine cellar.
#71 Iridescence (Detroit, Michigan)
#70 Scalini Fedeli (Chatham, New Jersey)
Located in a 260-year-old farmhouse, Scalini Fedeli is undeniably romantic. Opened in 1995, the Chatham location is the second restaurant by chef Michael Cetrulo. The romantic interior features high vaulted ceilings, antique pine floors, and a Tuscan feel that pairs perfectly with the modern Italian fare with French flair. Standout menu items include Ecuadorian shrimp in a Roma tomato, mustard and basil reduction with honeydew melon, prosciutto, and buffalo mozzarella; soft egg yolk raviolo filled with spinach and ricotta topped with Parmigiano and melted truffle butter; branzino in a sundried tomato, picholine and kalamata olive sauce with a Roma tomato and fennel confit; and veal chop with a porcini-Dijon sauce served with braised vegetables.
#69 Château (Houston, Texas)
Texas’ loveliest restaurant continues to spark romance in Houston. Château continues to offer top-notch romance with signature tableside experiences for two during lunch and dinner like Dover Sole Meunière, which is flown in daily from France and filleted tableside; whole roasted organic heritage chicken cooked in pinot noir and carved tableside with seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, and potato purée; and a 42-ounce Texas Long Bone Akaushi Rib-eye, which is flambéed tableside with cognac and served with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and a peppercorn sauce. The ever popular maître d’ Valerio Lombardozzi pulls out all the stops with his signature tableside service at the cozy banquettes. His gracious, attentive manner makes everyone feel cosseted and pampered. While Château offers elegant progressive French cuisine upstairs, there is also a laid-back option in the downstairs French bistro, Marché.
#68 Utah: Powder (Park City)
The richly colored wood flooring, romantic lighting, and stunning views of Powder’s alpine paradise offer an ideal setting for an intimate evening in Park City. Nestled within the Waldorf Astoria Park City, Powder serves “elevated comfort food” inspired by mountain regions from around the world, with dishes like herb rubbed buffalo tenderloin paired with ratatouille and a burgundy reduction. Powder is perfect for après ski and a romantic dinner.
#67 Sidney Street Café (St. Louis, Missouri)
Sidney Street Café in St. Louis’ historic Benton Park neighborhood is a perfect place for passion. The elegant dining room features exposed brick walls, rich hardwood floors, and an antique bar. James Beard Award-winning chef Kevin Nashan, along with his wife and co-owner Mina Nashan and brother and co-owner Chris Nashan, prepares a globally influenced New American menu. Notable dishes include a play on bouillabaisse with eel and uni; foie gras with olives and citrus; and posole and aji paired with chiles rellenos. Inspired by the seasons, dishes incorporate ingredients from the café’s 100-yard garden that graces the perimeter of the parking lot.
#66: Rolf's (New York, New York)
Rolf’s has been a beloved institution near Manhattan’s Gramercy Park for 50 years. The New York restaurant features Oktoberfest décor in the fall and an abundance of Christmas decorations from late fall to May — perfect for those who love Christmas and winter wonderlands — which form a festive backdrop to the Alsatian and Bavarian menu. The menu is populated with traditional dishes that feature sausages, pork, chicken, trout, goose fat, duck, and sauerkraut. Don’t miss the schnitzel a la Holstein with capers, egg, anchovies, vegetable, and spätzle, and the three-day, slow roasted sauerbraten with red cabbage and mashed potatoes.
#65 One Eleven at The Capital (Little Rock, Arkansas)
One Eleven at The Capital is nestled in The Capital hotel, considered "the front porch of Little Rock" since opening in 1877. The hotel invested $3.1 million in its restaurants, including One Eleven, which is helmed by chef Joël Antunes. The restaurant underwent an expansive renovation in 2016 replacing carpeting, draperies, and gilding with hardwood plank floors, a striking set of nine whimsical screenprints by Joel Schapiro, and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide sunshine-splashed front-row seats to the vitality of downtown Little Rock life. Antunes’ cooking style is adapted from his experience on five continents with starters like oysters Rockefeller, which Atunes prepares in a style that is between Rockefeller and Bienville; main courses like venison ravioli with seared venison tenderloin; and desserts like Parisian chocolate cake created exclusively for The Capital by famed Parisian pastry chef Sebastien Degardin.
#64 The Peppertree (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Colorado’s most romantic restaurant offers a beautiful view from high above the Colorado Springs skyline. Tuxedo service from experienced wait staff with 10 or more years of experience has offered exemplary experiences since The Peppertree’s opening in 1983. Signature dishes like pepper steak (center-cut filet served with Indian-mango chutney and cracked pepper and flamed with French brandy), steak Diane (center-cut fillet finished in a demi-glace and heavy cream sherry sauce), Chateaubriand for two (16-ounce center-cut filet mignon served with bearnaise sauce and bouquetière of vegetables), traditional Caesar salad for two, bananas Foster, and cherries jubilee are prepared tableside.
#63 Green Room (Wilmington, Delaware)
The most romantic restaurant in Delaware, Green Room is tucked inside Wilmington’s Hotel Du Pont. The luxe dining room that harkens to the grandeur of the Gilded Age and features fumed oak paneling, an oak-beamed ceiling and gold chandeliers and is sumptuously appointed with textured draperies, Italian mosaics, and oil paintings. The experience is enhanced with live music Friday and Saturday nights and during Sunday brunch.
#62 Michael’s Santa Monica (Santa Monica, California)
Loved for its impressive art collection curated by proprietor Michael McCarty and his wife and artist Kim McCarty, Michael’s Santa Monica’s simplified design acts as a canvas for both the artwork and the bold cuisine. An adjacent garden patio, at the center of the downstairs dining room, is ensconced in green foliage that has evolved over the 39-year-old Santa Monica restaurant's tenure in the heart of Southern California (the restaurant, making its debut on our most romantic restaurants list, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in April). Overlooking the patio, plush couches and dramatic artwork line both sides of a candlelit lounge. The restaurant, which is new to The Daily Meal’s most romantic restaurants list, was an early pioneer of California cuisine. The menu blends culinary innovation with the principles that inform California cuisine with dishes include “small” offerings like dumplings with pork shoulder, ginger, black vinegar; and gazpacho made with Hachiya persimmon, jamón and quail egg; and “large” dishes like duck confit with white turnip, parsnip, carrots; and pork collar with yogurt Caesar, dandelion, and ginger.
#61 Canoe (Atlanta, Georgia)
Canoe is known for its extravagant wine program, led by Wine Director Jared Lorenz, as well as its unique location on the banks of Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River. Guests can dine on the patio, surrounded by lush greenery, or cozy into a secluded booth inside the dining room for a romantic meal prepared by executive chef Matthew Basford, who uses traditional Australian ingredients in pan-Asian and American dishes like peppercorn-crusted kangaroo served with arame salad and a peanut-miso satay; jerked Australian octopus; slow-braised rabbit; and popcorn ice cream sundae with house-made Cracker Jack.
#60 Chandlers (Boise, Idaho)
From the outside looking in, it’s the glow of elegance, sophistication, and delicacy that draws lovers into the softly lit entrance of Chandlers. Once inside, the sound of Boise’s best jazz music fills the air. At Chandlers, intimate seating allows for a romantic ambiance providing just the right amount of intimacy for couples looking for something private, with the option of a more social scene for those seeking a shared experience. Idaho’s most romantic offers class, comfort, expert service, and classically prepared steak and lobster. The steakhouse and fine seafood restaurant features tomahawk rib-eye; oysters Rockefeller; filet mignon á moelle; Hawaiian ahi tuna, and prime rib along with a three-course prix fixe dinner featuring Idaho-sourced ingredients. Don’t miss Pat Carden’s Ten-Minute Martini, which is shaken, not stirred and rested for 10 minutes (It’s surprisingly superb — and not watered down) and the expertise of in-house sommeliers who will help select the perfect wine and Champagne.
#59 The Eagle's Nest (Indianapolis, Indiana)
The Eagle’s Nest is Indiana’s only revolving rooftop dining venue with spectacular and romantic views overlooking the Indianapolis skyline, rotating 360 degrees approximately every 75 minutes. Evening sunsets, changing weather patterns, and ever-changing views create a very romantic atmosphere. Located in the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, the space was renovated with a contemporary style in late 2017. The New American farm-to-table menu features the signature herb-crusted prime rib (which has been a house favorite for over 40 years) and a seasonal menu with appetizers, such as thick Nueske’s bacon; blue crab cake; baked Brie; and shrimp cocktail. Entrées include pistachio-crusted sea bass; tamarind chipotle-glazed Scottish salmon; prime New York strip and Duroc pork chop. Popular sides include caramelized Brussels sprouts; grilled asparagus, truffle macaroni and cheese; and roasted wild mushrooms. Our in-house pastry chef creates an array of desserts, such as pineapple rum cake, snickerdoodle cheesecake; and crème brulee.
#58 Centro (Des Moines, Iowa)
Located in the historic Temple for Performing Arts in the heart of downtown Des Moines, Centro was one of the first restaurants that led to downtown Des Moines’ renaissance when it opened in 2002. The romantic restaurant features a wall of windows looking out to a lively urban streetscape while the restaurant’s candlelit interior offers a cozy respite. Large, seasonal floral arrangements anchor the dining room and white table cloths and outstanding service elevate the dining experience. Iowa’s most romantic restaurant, Centro’s menu features a variety of Italian-inspired dishes, from hearty pastas and coal-fired pizzas to steaks and salads. Popular dishes include chicken saltimbocca, steak Centro, and handmade gnocchi.
#57 Bavette's Steakhouse and Bar (Chicago, Illinois and Las Vegas, Nevada)
Glowing chandeliers, sultry jazz, rich woods, red banquettes and a mix of vintage art and murals all inhabit this intimate Chicago space that pays homage to Gilded Age opulence. Bavette's Steakhouse and Bar serves timeless steakhouse fare with a dash of French flair, such as multi-tiered seafood towers; dry-aged bone-in rib-eyes; and zestfully seasoned lamb chops. Side dishes, like the bacon, which is served thick-cut and gleaming under a sinful maple syrup glaze, manage the trick of seeming both familiar and all-new. Desserts include a hot fudge sundae royale accompanied by a buffet of candy toppings; a silky chocolate cream pie with Oreo crust; and a classic lemon meringue pie. In the back of the original Chicago Bavette’s, a hidden parlor lounge awaits guests who want to begin their evening early, or let it run late, exploring the cornucopia of cocktails.
#56 Elske (Chicago, Illinois)
The Michelin-starred Elske is a cozy restaurant that is easy to fall in love with. New to our list, Elske means love in Danish, a nod to chef David Posey’s Danish mother and to Copenhagen, where he and his wife, co-owner and pastry chef Anna Posey were engaged. New to The Daily Meal’s most romantic restaurants list, the Illinois restaurant is located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. The modern American restaurant has a strong focus on an evolving philosophy, centering on simplistic fare, seasonal ingredients, and energetic hospitality. Together, along with general manager and beverage director Kyle Davidson, the team combines contemporary and classic techniques while showcasing local and seasonal ingredients on the à la carte and tasting menu. David Posey’s signature dishes include duck liver tart with salted ramp and buckwheat; soft scrambled eggs with mushroom-braised kale, confit maitakes, and scallion. Anna Posey creates signature desserts like sunflower seed parfait with sour honey, licorice, and bee pollen; and frozen shiso with dark chocolate and concord grape.
#55 Michael's Gourmet Room (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Opened in 1982 at the Barbary Coast and then transferred over to South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa a year after the property opened, Michael’s Gourmet Room has stayed true to its principles and has not changed in the past three decades. Set in rich red velvets, this jewelry box of a restaurant that makes its debut on our list this year, offers an intimate setting with 15 tables, 50 seats, and romantic vibes. Unlike most fine dining restaurants, Michael's Gourmet Room has his and hers menus. What makes Michael’s stand apart from the other restaurants is that the focus isn’t on volume. At the Nevada restaurant, the dining experience takes an hour and 45 minutes to two hours with attentive and interactive tableside service by a tuxedoed captain and two waiters, proving chivalry is alive and well at the American steakhouse and seafood restaurant. The his and hers menus feature cold appetizers like smoked Scottish salmon and Maryland lump crab cocktail; hot appetizers like Coquille Saint-Jacques and baked escargot; entrées from the charcoal broiler including filet mignon, double rib spring lamb chops and Chateaubriand bouquetière; and seafood dishes including broiled Maine lobster and imported Dover sole prepared tableside. House specialties include veal saltimbocca sautéed in butter and topped with prosciutto and veal piccata prepared with lemon butter sauce and retro desserts like Michael’s Pastry Cart Fantasies, cherries jubilee for two, and bananas Foster for two.
#54 Gautreau's (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Gautreau’s is hidden in a lush New Orleans garden. Proprietors Rebecca and Patrick Singley oversee the charming restaurant that presents an inventive yet approachable menu with offerings like marinated hamachi and avocado with mango and aji sauce; duck confit with caramelized pears and sherry jus; Chiriboga blue cheese, lentils, and piquillo peppers; pan-roasted steelhead trout with satsuma gastrique, Brussels sprouts, bacon lardones, pearl onions, rissole potatoes and hazelnuts; and roasted duck breast with mole reduction, corn truffle, cipollini onions, and sweet pea risotto; and chocolate bouchon with burnt sugar ice cream and wet walnut sauce.
#53 ElCielo (Miami, Florida)
The Miami outpost of ElCielo (there are also locations in Bogotá and Medellin that have a similar décor of leather, wood, and vegetation) is a must. Located in Brickell in downtown Miami, Colombian chef Juan “Juanma” Manuel Barrientos fuses an avant-garde style with neurosciences to surprise and delight diners. Reservations are required to indulge in Barrientos’ award-winning and exciting cuisine.
#52 The River Café (Brooklyn, New York)
The New York restaurant is new to our most romantic restaurant’s list. Perched on the riverside and nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge, The River Café offers stunning views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, but don’t mistake its enviable location as a tourist trap. Opened in 1977, the Brooklyn restaurant serves exceptional fare made by executive chef Brad Steelman and his team. The six-course $168 chef’s signature tasting menu is a favorite.
#51 Redbird (Los Angeles, California)
Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser’s flagship restaurant Redbird, located in downtown Los Angeles, is carved into one of the city’s most historic architectural gems, inside the former rectory building of Vibiana — the cathedral-turned-event-venue also owned and operated by the Frasers. Designer Robert Weimer and Amy Knoll Fraser have created a dynamic space that pays homage to the cathedral next door and the existing timeless architecture by inserting simple modern forms to complement rather than overtake the feel of the rooms. The result is a warm and comfortably considered space. New to The Daily Meal’s most romantic restaurant’s list, the California restaurant features modern American cuisine that is refined yet approachable and highlights the multi-cultural influences of Fraser’s native Los Angeles. Fraser’s menu features seasonal plates ranging from “kickshaws” (snacks) to entrées meant to be enjoyed by the whole table. Signature dishes include: the Porterhouse for two, with 32 ounces of Colorado beef, king oyster mushrooms, and aceto balsamico; and hamachi crudo with hijiki, house ponzu, crispy ginger, and nashi pear. An extensive cocktail menu by bar director Tobin Shea features well-balanced, bespoke renditions of the classics. Sommelier Ben Teig’s wine list is well rounded with great finds from both established and emerging wine regions throughout the world.
#50 Palme d'Or (Miami, Florida)
Ensconced in The Biltmore hotel, the intimate Palme d’Or overlooks the luxury hotel’s pool, providing a memorable dining experience at Miami’s longest-running fine French dining restaurant, which debuts on the most romantic restaurant list. The menu, created by Michelin-starred chef Gregory Pugin, reinterprets French classics fashioning them with a twist of modernism using fresh, local, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients. The restaurant offers two distinct tasting menus that change each season. The restaurant is currently serving a six-course tasting menu that includes options like veal tartare, quail egg, raspberry, chives, and mustard Comte cheese; sea urchin royale with light fennel cream, Meyer lemon confit, and fennel pollen; venison cooked in cigar leaf, coffee beet purée, pear, Roquefort, and grand-veneur sauce; and chestnut bavaroise, hazelnut meringue, hazelnut Chantilly, grape marinated in muscato, Frangelico ice cream, and a 12-course chef’s tasting menu with selections like Kumamoto oysters, passionfruit vodka granite, green apple, and horseradish; poached Maine lobster, kabocha squash, red onion, bacon, chocolate crumble, and lobster emulsion; Kobe beef tenderloin A5+, bone marrow crust, sunchoke purée, asparagus, Bordelaise sauce; and blackcurrant marmalade with blackcurrant sorbet, and Champagne mousse.
#49 Harry's (Manhattan, Kansas)
Kansas’ most romantic restaurant, Harry’s is an institution in Manhattan. Named for lifelong resident Harry Pratt Wareham (among his contributions to the city were establishing a sewer system), the cozy restaurant features comfort classics like prime rib and filet mignon.
#48 The English Grill (Louisville, Kentucky)
Kentucky’s most romantic restaurant, the intimate The English Grill inside The Brown Hotel is adorned with equestrian artwork and provides the perfect backdrop to a luxurious night out with your significant other. The décor along with The English Grill’s contemporary American cuisine and robust 400-wine wine list offer the perfect ambiance for a romantic date night. Menu highlights include the dry-aged New York strip with bacon roasted fingerling potatoes and bordelaise; Verlasso salmon with grilled broccolini and basil-pesto risotto; and The Brown Hotel’s original Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce that has been a Louisville legend since 1926. Save room for dessert because the flaming (literally) Chocolate Striptease with chocolate mousse, espresso steam cake, and salted caramel is a finale you won’t want to miss.
#47 August (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Located in a historic 19th-century French Creole building in New Orleans’ Central Business District, August boasts an interior rich with original architectural details, gleaming hardwood floors, soaring columns, mahogany paneling, and antique mirrors. The main dining area is comprised of three breath-taking rooms: the elegant main dining room with its signature crystal chandeliers, the two-story wine room, and the intimate Gravier room. The Contemporary American menu at August is constantly changing with the seasons as every dish is created with intention and freshness using what the surrounding area provides. August offers a traditional à la carte menu, as well as highly popular tasting menu including five courses and wine pairings from sommelier Erin White.
#46 Charleston (Baltimore, Maryland)
Maryland’s most romantic restaurant, Charleston was opened by restaurateurs Tony Foreman and chef Cindy Wolf in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood. The prix fixe-only menu showcases Wolf’s elegant French-influenced Lowcountry cooking style in seasonally changing offerings that range from three to six courses you won’t soon forget.
#45 No. 9 Park (Boston, Massachusetts)
Located in a townhouse in Boston's historic Beacon Hill, No. 9 Park's dining room and bar room overlook the Massachusetts State House as well as Boston Common. With the Common and Boston's skyline as a backdrop, the Massachusetts restaurant is one of the most beautiful restaurant views in the city, especially at sunset. The timeless and elegant decor, combined with No. 9 Park's warm and polished service, lends itself perfectly to a romantic dinner, making it an obvious addition to The Daily Meal’s most romantic restaurant list. The menu at chef Barbara Lynch’s flagship restaurant showcases an artful blend of regionally-inspired Italian and French dishes with an emphasis on simplicity and flavor. Chef Lynch's signature dish, prune-stuffed gnocchi with foie gras, almond, and vin santo, is a must-order.
#44 Meritage (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Meritage (a portmanteau of merit and heritage) is a Paris-style street cafe in summer (the Minnesota restaurant has outdoor dining on the terrace), and a jewel box in winter when the restaurant decorates for the season. Located on the ground floor of the Historic Hamm Building in the heart of downtown St. Paul, guests enter through the Oyster Bar, where they can experience casual fare, including freshly shucked oysters. The main dining room resembles a grand brasserie with high ceilings, large mirrors, and luxurious burgundy banquettes. The menu of traditional French and French bistro created by chef-owner Russell Klein includes Billi Bi saffron-mussel soup; crab Louie; Minnesota Magret, a duck breast dish; steak frites, and duck a la presse.
#43 Mary Mahoney’s (Biloxi, Mississippi)
The most romantic restaurant in Mississippi, Mary Mahoney’s has attracted locals, celebrities, and U.S. presidents. The New Orleans-style courtyard centered in one of the oldest homes in America is the perfect setting to dine on seafood freshly caught in the Gulf. The Biloxi restaurant’s menu includes signature dishes like half lobster Georgo, a masterful combination of diced lobster and shrimp mingled in a cream sauce that is teased with a hint of brandy and presented en coquille; broiled jumbo shrimp topped with cheese and sautéed lump crabmeat and served on a bed of pasta; and lightly seasoned baked snapper stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat au gratin accompanied by crawfish étouffée.
#42 TEN at the Northern Hotel (Billings, Montana)
Montana’s most romantic restaurant, TEN at the Northern Hotel is a perfect ten. Named for Thomas E. Nelson, the father of Chris and Mike Nelson, who own the Northern Hotel, the hotel restaurant in Billings specializes in “Montana” cuisine, incorporating regional flavors in dishes like deep-fried panko-crusted green tomatoes topped with burratta, basil chiffonade, and balsamic reduction and a 48-ounce Montana tomahawk rib-eye served with seasonal vegetable and potato.
#41 é by José Andrés (Las Vegas, Nevada)
New to The Daily Meal’s most romantic list, é by José Andrés is tucked away in a small private room adjacent to Jaleo’s bustling bar and paella grill in Las Vegas. Accessed through a glass door emblazoned with the letter é, the room is dominated by a steel topped bar with seating for nine. Set against a dramatic red glass wall and red velvet curtain, the space is a nod to Andrés’ concept of cooking as performance. A constantly evolving $275 avant-garde Spanish tasting menu, driven by innovation and seasonality, guides guests through more than 20 courses during their dining experience. Past favorites have included Cava Sangria Sphere; “Fabes” Con Jamon; Kokotxas al Pil Pil; Torta Pascualete with Cotton Candy; and Crema Catalan Egg. Reservations, which may be booked up to 90 days in advance, are required at the Nevada restaurant. Guests receive a personalized golden ticket prior to arrival. There are two seatings nightly, at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
#40 Firefly (Studio City, California)
A new addition to The Daily Meal’s most romantic restaurants list, the candlelit Firefly is a richly romantic restaurant in Studio City. The unpretentious seasonally-changing menu includes a simple two-course prix fixe menu with simple yet satisfying appetizers like a seasonal soup of the day and endive salad with apples, walnut, Fourme D’Ambert, watercress, fine herbs, and Champagne mustard vinaigrette and mains like scallops with savoy cabbage, king trumpet mushroom, smoked trout roe, dashi beurre blanc; and winter vegetables with salt roasted carrots, baby squash, burnt pepper garlic sauce, pepitas, and pomegranate.
#39 Trattoria Delia (Burlington, Vermont)
Trattoria Delia has been serving homestyle Italian fare for nearly a quarter century in Burlington. Located in the historic Vermont House, a former hotel, the restaurant’s dining room was once a sugar house. A Panton stone fireplace welcomes patrons to get cozy over seasonal Italian classics like tagliatelle al ragù, lasagna, and lobster fra diavolo.
#38 Canlis (Seattle, Washington)
Canlis is a place to dress for the occasion (suits or sports coats are required for gents). Housed in a stunning building that overlooks Lake Union, Seattle, and the Cascade Mountain range, the setting is ideal to fall in love with the views, the food, and your significant other. Don’t miss the voluminous 88-page James Beard Award-winning wine list.
#37 Cafe Cimino Country Inn Restaurant (Sutton, West Virginia)
The family-owned Cafe Cimino Country Inn Restaurant is West Virginia's most romantic restaurant. Housed in a turn-of-the-century mansion overlooking a gently flowing river, the award-winning food, wine and service come from the heart at this Sutton establishment: Southern hospitality, candlelight, fireplaces, romantic music, and elegant surroundings. The menu is Mediterranean with a splash of Salvadoran and New American with the chefs sourcing the finest local, organic, and farm-raised foods to create dishes ranging from classic Southern Italian dishes, seafood and pastas, and slow cooked meats to Salvadoran specialties and homemade sauces, breads, and desserts. The restaurant is part of a full-scale country inn with 10 elegant B&B guest rooms for any dinner guests who want to extend their stay to enjoy the complimentary three-course breakfast in the morning.
#36 Ristorante Bartolotta (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin)
Ristorante Bartolotta is a cozy and intimate space. On any given night, the hearth is burning in the heart of the Wauwatosa, a tiny village outside of Milwaukee. Located in a historic cream city brick building, the Wisconsin restaurant only seats about 60 and has been bustling since opening 25 years ago (the restaurant underwent a refresh last year that coincided with the quarter-century anniversary). Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993 serves handmade pasta and rustic Italian cuisine. Executive chef Juan Urbieta has studied and cooked Italian cuisine extensively and works in the kitchen alongside proprietor, co-owner, and James Beard award-winning chef Paul Bartolotta. Signature dishes include mozzarella di bufala D.O.P alla pizzaiola, a hearty starter with baked buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, garlic, nocellara olives, and fresh oregano served with grilled bread; and pappardelle al ragu d’anatra, hand-crafted wide Tuscan ribbon pasta with slow-braised duck ragu and grana. The restaurant also serves a daily chef’s menu that changes with the season; the restaurant is one of few in the region to bring in white truffles during the season.
#35 The Dining Room at Jenny Lake Lodge (Moose, Wyoming)
The Dining Room at Jenny Lake Lodge is a gem inside Grand Teton National Park. Housed in a 1930s-era log cabin, The Dining Room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner from June to October. Dinner, which competes with the incredible views, is a rotating five-course menu prepared by executive chef Josh Conrad and his team.
#34 Michel’s at the Colony Surf (Honolulu, Hawaii)
At the foot of Diamond Head just outside of Waikiki, Michel’s at the Colony Surfserves French haute cuisine with legendary oceanfront sunsets and live music (most nights). Signature dishes include Michel’s Ocean Bounty (grilled mahi mahi amandine, oyster Rockefeller, and blackened ahi, Tristan lobster tail, scampi-style Caledonian, and Kona baby abalone) and Michel’s Steamed Onaga (red snapper topped with ginger, garlic, green onion, Chinese black bean and turnip with somen noodles and stir-fried mushrooms and chard from the Big Island. The six-course tasting is a seasonally changing indulgence. Flashy desserts like cherries jubilee (fresh Bing cherries marinated in cognac and amaretto flambéed over vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate shavings); Hawaiian apple-banana flambé with locally grown bananas flambéed in dark rum over vanilla ice cream; and Strawberries Foie Gras Forever (strawberries flambéed with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar foie gras, and cognac over vanilla gelato) are show-stopping finales to a perfect evening.
#33 Norman’s at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (Orlando, Florida)
The famed restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes is run by celebrated chef Norman Van Aken, a James Beard Award recipient and notable author of six cookbooks and a memoir, is the “founding father of New World Cuisine.” Van Aken is largely credited with introducing “fusion” to the culinary world, and his eponymous Florida restaurant serves some of the best in the world with dishes infused with Hispanic, Caribbean, and touches of Asian flavors and notes. Van Aken was honored alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme, and Mark Miller as the “Founders of the New American Cuisine” at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy in 2006. With so much fanfare, Norman’s retains refined service in Orlando, the epicenter of theme parks that is teeming with fast-causal restaurants. It helps that along with superb service and an extensive wine list, the décor beckons diners to stay for a while and linger over dessert and drinks while admiring the dining room’s classic rotunda with cathedral walnut ceilings and surrounding white marble. Modern and luxurious charcoal velvet seating adds a touch of elegance and comfort. Views of sunsets on Grande Lake and the surrounding 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course are unparalleled.
#32 The Anasazi Restaurant (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
New Mexico’s most romantic restaurant, The Anasazi Restaurant is an intimate affair. Executive chef Peter O’Brien serves Santa Fe-inspired cuisine in the charming 38-seat dining room. Located at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, the smart casual restaurant has an agave tasting menu (with multiple options and price points) that includes a surprise seasonally inspired dish. The restaurant partners with local farms and purveyors who supply top-quality components for mains like heritage pork chop with summer squash, blistered shishito pepper, red Russian kale, and Calvados-Port glaze; and Native American prime striploin with pearl onion, artichoke, pommes dauphine, and béarnaise sauce.
#31 Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Tarrytown, New York)
Located within the bucolic Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, the Normandy-style Blue Hill at Stone Barns boasts refined decor and service, making it one of the most romantic dining spaces in the country. Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pasture as well as other local farms, Blue Hill at Stone Barns highlights the abundance of the Hudson Valley. There are no menus at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Instead, guests are offered a multi-taste seasonal American feast featuring the best offerings from the field and market.
#30 Fearrington House Restaurant (Pittsboro, North Carolina)
Fearrington House Restaurant is located at the 32-room Fearrington House Restaurant and Inn. Located on a historic farm in Pittsboro, the pastoral setting, understated elegant décor, and roaring fireplace in the lounge are the perfect setting for romance. The seasonally-changing contemporary American menu is influenced by Southern and regional cuisine. The restaurant offers three- and four-course prix fixe and tasting menus while the bar serves a casual à la carte menu. Recent courses on the tasting menu included venison with baby Brussels sprouts, rye, celery root, and pistachio; and maple-glazed duck breast with apples, shiitake mushrooms, mustard greens, and turnip. Save room for the chocolate soufflé, which has been served since day one and remains on the menu.
#29 Lola (Cleveland, Ohio)
Award-winning celebrity chef Michael Symon (of “Iron Chef America” fame) and executive Jacob Micale lead the culinary team at Lola. In the heart of Cleveland's East 4th Street neighborhood, the Ohio restaurant features stunning decor and sustainable New American cuisine. Highlights include beef cheek pierogies; beef hanger steak; smoked pork chop; and an extensive wine list featuring over 400 selections.
#28 Cheever’s Café (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
Oklahoma’s most romantic restaurant is housed in a cozy home once owned by the Cheevers, a local Oklahoma City couple who ran a flower shop out of the historic home. Heather and Keith Paul named Cheever’s Café in honor of the couple who formerly owned the charming space, and the glass floral case the Cheevers once sold flowers from now holds wine, beer, desserts, and, of course, flowers. The menu of contemporary comfort food includes blue cheese potato chips (Kennebec potato chips, bacon, green onion pesto, and bleu cheese fondue); short rib melt with cheddar, Monterey jack, queso Chihuahua, pickled onion on sourdough bread; and Cheever’s chicken fried steak with jalapeño cream gravy and garlic red-skinned mashed potatoes.
#27 Ariana (Bend, Oregon)
Ariana is a small restaurant in the Westside area in Bend. Opened in 2004 by husband-and-wife chefs Ariana and Andres Fernandez and Ariana's parents Glenn and Susan Asti, the Oregon restaurant serve modern interpretations of classic dishes using the bounty of the Pacific Northwest with emphasis on local farmers and fishermen. The charming restaurant offers an à la carte menu as well as a curated chef's tasting menu daily. One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the beef carpaccio with horseradish cream, Parmesan, and scallion.
#26 Vetri Cucina (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Vetri has wowed us since opening two decades ago. Housed in a quaint Philadelphia townhouse, chef Marc Vetri’s eponymous restaurant serves simple, elegant Italian-inspired cuisine in a multi-course $165 surprise tasting menu which begins with snacks and a cocktail. The tasting menu is the only option at the Pennsylvania restaurant, but it’s all you’ll need. A recent menu included dry-aged rib carpaccio; Swiss chard gnocchi with ricotta salata and brown butter; salt-baked branzino; and chocolate polenta soufflé with chocolate ganache and vanilla gelato.
#25 The Dining Room at Castle Hill Inn (Newport, Rhode Island)
The Dining Room at Castle Hill inn is a Newport gem housed in the 19th-century Agassiz Mansion in the Castle Hill Inn. Executive chef Lou Rossi prepares a globetrotting menu of thoughtful and thrilling New England dishes set against dramatic panoramic views of Narragansett Bay. The two-course chef’s tasting menu is a great way to sample exceptional dishes like chilled New England oysters with shallots, Sichuan peppercorn, and Banyuls vinegar; grilled Atlantic swordfish with confit potatoes, chouriço, and saffron nage; and Atlantic cod cioppino with Point Judith squid, mussels, fingerling potatoes, and tomato broth.
#24 Peninsula Grill (Charleston, South Carolina)
The most romantic restaurant in South Carolina, Peninsula Grill is tucked away in a lush moonlit garden in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. The Relais & Châteaux restaurant (South Carolina’s sole culinary member of the collection of renowned restaurants and boutique hotels) has a longstanding tradition that takes place every evening at dusk: A gentleman emerges from Peninsula Grill’s exquisitely restored 1844 building to light the garden’s carriage lanterns by hand, one-by-one, until the alfresco dining area comes alive. Palmetto trees are illuminated and tea lights flicker in this magical twilight tableau. Inside, guests are welcomed into the glittering jewel-box-like ambiance of the candlelit Champagne bar where an extensive array of rare and popular vintages are served nightly. The dining room’s chic oyster-tone-velvet-lined walls, seagrass flooring, and custom chandeliers are accented with lighthearted details like a series of captivating 19th-century oil portraits and a painting of a mule. The restaurant serves refined American cuisine with a hint of a Southern accent. No matter what you order, save room for dessert. No visit to Peninsula Grill is complete without a slice of The Ultimate Coconut Cake, a 12-layer cake enveloped in golden-toasted coconut (the cake’s popularity has led to a booming mail-order business with whole cakes delivered nationwide year-round).
#23 The Barn at Blackberry Farm (Walland, Tennessee)
The Barn is housed in a 200-plus-year-old bank- style barn with large wooden beams and posts complemented by antique-style linens, custom chairs, and a large fireplace that reaches up to the 45-foot ceilings. James Beard Award-nominated executive chef Cassidee Dabney leads The Barn in creating its trademarked Foothills cuisine, which is rooted in the Walland restaurant’s Appalachian ingredients from around the region as well as farm products harvested just a few feet from the Tennessee restaurant’s front door. Signature dishes include farm grits with preserved summer vegetables; rib-eye cap with smoked beet purée and roasted beets; and farm egg with North Carolina trout and crispy potatoes. Complementing the cuisine is the James Beard Award- and Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine program with more than 9,000 selections housed in the cellar and the newly built wine tunnel. Overall, the program has more than 160,000 bottles to choose from. The Barn’s bar program also boasts an impressive spirits list with over 300 whiskies and brandies.
#22 The Grey Plume (Omaha, Nebraska)
The Grey Plume serves New American cuisine with traditional French influence. Eco-friendly practices and locally-sourced ingredients are the cornerstone of the Omaha restaurant’s concept. Adding to the romantic ambiance is contemporary farmhouse decor with white linen tablecloths and local artwork. Banquettes line the restaurant to provide cozy booth seating to a majority of the tables. The Grey Plume is devoted to creating innovative cuisine on the forefront of modern culinary art while also maintaining traditional culinary roots in showcasing the food source and practicing a no-waste attitude in every aspect of the restaurant’s operation. Some 80 percent of the menu is sourced from the Midwest Heartland region. What cannot be sourced locally is sourced sustainably and organically. The restaurant has created an extensive pickling and preserving program to utilize the best of the summer’s produce and preserve it for use in the winter months to supplement a menu that is significantly root vegetable-based. The restaurant practices whole-animal butchery and, in the process, has created an extensive charcuterie program utilizing the less desirable cuts of meat. The menu’s entrées focus on proteins represented in many different cuts and preparations like TD Niche Farm’s heritage pork tasting, which comes with a pork loin, pork sausage, pork pressé, and pork belly. Don’t miss house specialties like Blue Valley whole roasted trout; duck fat fries; duck fat doughnut; and charcuterie utilizing the whole animal from head to tail.
#21 Alta (New York, New York)
Alta occupies a charming 19th-century townhouse in the heart of New York’s West Village. The main dining area has a soaring 27-foot ceiling, and two wood-burning fireplaces keep guests warm in the winter. In the summer, the New York restaurant’s doors are open, lending a Mediterranean feel that enhances the menu of Mediterranean small plates, which are perfect for sharing with the one you love.
#20 The Marine Room (La Jolla, California)
The Marine Room’s spectacular location on the sands of La Jolla Shores, along with its inspired cuisine, have made this La Jolla restaurant one of the California’s most iconic. The Marine Room’s award-winning executive chef Bernard Guillas and chef de cuisine Thomas Connolly offer global cuisine rooted in the French classics, featuring inventive seasonal dishes from the land and sea. Signature dishes include center-cut Black Angus filet mignon; herbes de Provence lobster tail; togarashi sesame-spiced ahi tuna; leek fennel-crusted Alaskan halibut; and Georges Bank diver scallops. The romantic restaurant offers High Tide Dinners, during which guests are treated to an amazing display of nature as waves splash against the floor-to-ceiling windows on select evenings starting in April.
#19 The French Room (Dallas, Texas)
The French Room has been one of the most revered fine dining restaurants in Dallas since 1912. Rich in history, the Texas restaurant has preserved its original French plasterwork and architecture characterized by high ceilings, gold trims, marbled floors, and custom velvet banquettes spread across multiple rooms. Cozy up by the fireplace at the bar, a sultry spot for signature cocktails and shareable plates created by The French Room team. Get a true picture of the local art scene in the salon, which features a 42-piece art collection ranging from drawings and collages to paintings, all by artists with deep ties to Texas. Chef Anthony Dispensa has preserved the classic tastes the restaurant has become known for with an elevated yet approachable shift to contemporary French dining. For the first time ever, The French Room offers an à la carte menu alongside an eight-course prix fixe tasting menu. The reinterpreted menu showcases a modernized selection of classics and fun, dynamic new offerings with notable dishes, such as seared halibut with beet purée, roasted fennel and horseradish cream; poached egg with foie gras cream; seared duck with butternut squash gel, Brussels sprouts and duck jus; and cauliflower risotto with royal shassetra caviar, cauliflower gel and brown butter. End on a sweet note with a coconut soufflé topped with matcha crème anglaise. The French Room also offers a robust wine program led by sommelier Leslie Hartman that offers a curated wine pairing option to complement the tasting menu.
#18 Tree Room (Sundance, Utah)
Tree Room at the Sundance Mountain Resort is a romantic setting for a memorable meal. Tree Room features an eponymous tree in front of one of the most striking art pieces in the dining room, a large Native American rug. Candlelight and beautiful Native American art from Robert Redford’s private collection enhance the romantic ambiance. The seasonal menu revolves around refined American and mountain comfort with modern techniques. The signature dish is the pepper steak with spinach, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and mango chutney.
#17 Restaurant at The Inn at Dos Brisas (Washington, Texas)
Restaurant at The Inn at Dos Brisas features an intimate dining room with elegant Spanish country manor décor. The centerpieces are a grand, 18th-century fireplace from France's Loire Valley region and a handcrafted alder and mahogany bar. To enhance this singular dining experience, each dish is served on custom Bernardaud china. The restaurant overlooks the property's 313 acres, with indoor and outdoor seating offering views of the rolling Texas foothills behind a gorgeous infinity pool. The Inn at Dos Brisas is a nine-room luxury hideaway boasting a 42-acre farm. The culinary program is led by executive chef Zachary Ladwig. The only Forbes five-star restaurant in Texas, the restaurant blends a vegetable-centric focus, using organic ingredients from the property's 42-acre farm, with creative Texas flair. The cuisine at the Washington restaurant is made from ingredients cultivated on the property's organic farmland and orchards. The menu changes daily, with items like white Vienna kohlrabi with organic Russian caviar, Meyer lemon, and Jersey cow’s milk crème fraiche; sunchoke tortellini with roasted veal sweetbread, maitake mushroom, hazelnut cappuccino, and cacao-cured fallow venison with garden beet, red cabbage, pickled apple, and Banyuls; Tristar strawberries with ricotta dumplings and strawberry chamomile consommé; greenhouse heirloom tomatoes with pink grouper; garden celery root with hazelnuts; and the local pasture-raised wagyu beef, a wood grilled strip loin with heirloom carrots, charred onion, and bordelaise sauce. In late 2018, the property welcomed nationally-acclaimed sommelier Charlie Berg, who most recently was on the wine team at Eleven Madison Park in New York.
#16 Oak Valley Vineyard Restaurant (San Antonio, Texas)
Oak Valley Vineyards is a Texas bistro with rustic elegance located just outside the San Antonio city limits on the edge of Texas Hill Country. Nestled in a small but beautiful vineyard, the restaurant and vineyard together feel like a country getaway; the atmosphere is relaxed and warm with lots of wood and Texas-themed ambiance. Diners set the pace, and service is never rushed. Enjoy dinner in the patio room overlooking the vineyard and gardens or perhaps in the more intimate wine cellar. A signature item is the cold-smoked, dry-aged, black pepper rib-eye. Start dinner with the crab cakes served with a three pepper slaw, followed by the rib-eye with an award-winning Texas cabernet, and finish with the house signature cheesecake, a family recipe that is said to have been Al Capone's favorite. The romance package features dining on the grounds in the vineyard at a table for two with roses and chocolate covered strawberries. There is a small, intimate gazebo for the romance package dinners.
#15 Nostrana (Portland, Oregon)
Nostrana translates to "ours" in Italian, and the name is indicative of how comforting the food is and how at ease guests feel at this Portland Italian restaurant from six-time James Beard finalist chef Cathy Whims. Nostrana offers beautifully simple dishes made with honest ingredients sourced locally that is fueled by an 800-degree wood-burning oven from Tuscany that serves as the heart of the kitchen and is visible from the dining area. The main dining room is a warm blend of modern and rustic, with a soaring wood ceiling, cork floors, and a wall of spirits and Italian liqueurs. Additional seating, both at the bar and pizza oven, gives couples a chance to snuggle up and watch the kitchen work its magic. Family-style dining and shared plates are encouraged at the Oregon restaurant. Offering lunch weekdays and dinner each night, the menu offers classic regional Italian dishes driven by the farmers and the ingredients they cultivate. The restaurant specializes in wood-fired, hand-tossed pizzas, creative handmade pastas like a goat cheese-stuffed pappardelle (as well as beautiful, fluffy gnocchi each Thursday), robust meat and fish dishes like rolled pork arrotolato, and an award-winning selection of wines from Italy and the Northwest. Signature dishes include the Insalata Nostrana, a bright and savory version of a Caesar salad using radicchio, and the impressive two-and-a-quarter-pound grilled bistecca alla costata designed for sharing.
#14 Wisteria (Atlanta, Georgia)
Located one mile from downtown Atlanta, this Georgia restaurant’s historic building was a grocery store from the early part of 20th century Wisteria is a cozy neighborhood eatery that has been serving exceptional Southern comfort food — like iron skillet-fried chicken with bacon-braised collard greens, sweet corn pudding, and roasted mushrooms and herb broth — for 20 years.
#13 Plume (Washington, D.C.)
One of Washington, D.C.’s few Michelin-starred restaurants, Plume serves prix fixe and tasting menus inspired by the harvest from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens — all within the namesake hotel gem The Jefferson. Within stately Washingtonian- and European-designed interiors, the restaurant features a menu by chef Ralf Schlegel that celebrates Jefferson’s impact on U.S. tradition, through the Founding Father’s love of French cuisine. Plume offers interactive items, such as king salmon marinated tableside in Amish beeswax and the smoking Jefferson Cup as well as the largest Madeira collection in the United States.
#12 Ristorante Massimo (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
For 25 years, Ristorante Massimo has embraced “food as the essence of life.” The New Hampshire restaurant serves fine Italian fare from all regions of Italy in a quaint brick dining room with mahogany-beamed ceilings. Nestled in historic downtown Portsmouth in a building that was the federal government’s customs house in the 19th century, Ristorante Massimo’s warmly lit brick and stone grotto walls, fresh flowers, and oil paintings of magnificent Italian landscapes transport guests to Italy. The kitchen cures its own meats, bakes its own bread, makes pasta from scratch and locally sources seasonal ingredients like Maine lobster and Bangs Island mussels.
#11 The White Barn Restaurant (Kennebunkport, Maine)
The White Barn Restaurant is celebrating its 45th year. The menu is updated every week to showcase the very finest ingredients of the season. The menu combines contemporary New England cuisine with exemplary service to create an elegant yet relaxing dining atmosphere. The Kennebunkport restaurant’s menu includes an exceptional $125 four-course menu with appetizers like beef tartare with crispy quinoa, mustard emulsion, caperberries, potato flatbread, and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and Kennebunkport lobster alla chitarra with red kuri squash, Calabrian chile, Parmesan mousse, bottarga, and Burgundy truffle; intermezzos like apple cider celery sorbet and broccoli and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar velouté; and main courses like roasted venison loin with Robin’s Koginut squash, cocoa stout jus, and mushrooms and Kennebunkport lobster with roasted parsnip, pumpkin, lobster cappellacci, and lobster cream.
#10 The Restaurant at The Inn at Little Washington (Washington, Virginia)
This three Michelin-starred restaurant located inside the 24-room The Inn at Little Washington is a wondrous cocoon of luxury; it is sumptuously appointed with textiles and tapestries and rose-colored silk and fringe chandeliers. Reserve one of the two kitchen tables known as “The Inner Sanctum,” at which guests are seated in full view of the kitchen, which features a manorial fireplace, hand-painted blue and white Portuguese tiles, an enormous Vulcan range, and a massive bay window that overlooks a garden. Chef/proprietor Patrick O'Connell's approach to cooking pays homage to classical French cuisine, while delving into eclectic, imaginative, and unrestricted “refined American cuisine.” There are three tasting menus: one dedicated to classic recipes, including poached coho salmon on leek fondue with cider mousseline and pistachio-crusted Long Island duck breast with vegetables, pomegranate, and persimmon; the seasonally driven “Gastronaut’s Menu” created as a collaboration between O’Connell and the kitchen’s rising stars that includes Apparently a Pear, a signature cheesecake dessert; and “The Good Earth” menu, which comprises vegetarian creations like Brussels sprouts with braised chestnuts and green grapes and grilled shiitake “Steak Diane” with black garlic purée. The restaurant features an award-winning 14,000-bottle wine cellar, which includes the finest wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, and Virginia. Don’t miss the restaurant’s mooing cheese cart (an udder delight!) presented by the Inn's resident cheese guru, “Cheez Wiz,” who serves up tableside double entendres and puns along with wondrous cheeses, such as Nettle Meadow Farm’s Kunik, a voluptuous, mesmerizing triple crème.
#9 The French Laundry (Yountville, California)
The famed California restaurant is the culinary masterpiece of chef Thomas Keller, who brings exceptional French dining to Yountville in Napa Valley. Among The French Laundry’s accomplishments is having held three Michelin stars for 12 years in a row (Keller is the only American-born chef to have two three-Michelin-starred restaurants). The menu changes daily with no single ingredient repeated during the multi-course feast of textures and tastes. The impressiveness factor of choosing this legendary restaurant to woo your date is only eclipsed by an epicurean experience so amazing you might (temporarily) forget your date with memorable morsels like bitter cocoa-laminated brioche and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm Butter; charcoal-grilled Japanese wagyu with Marcho Farms “Ris de Veau” Brussels sprouts and “Bordelaise Mignonette”; and gougère with Andante Dairy “Etude” and Perigord black winter truffle “fondue.”
#8 Cress on Oak Creek (Sedona, Arizona)
Cress at Oak Creek is a serene spot for sublime Sedona dining. Adjacent to the babbling Oak Creek at L’Auberge de Sedona, Cress on Oak Creek serves three-, four-, and six-course prix fixe menus inspired by Northern Arizona. Recent dishes on the seasonally inspired menus included 24-hour pineapple-braised pork belly with bacon poached potato, charred sweet pepper chutney, and pineapple aigre-doux; Sedona Rainbow Farm trout tartare with poached Granny Smith apples, blood orange segments, sage dust, pine nut tuile, and citrus sabayon; and “Popped-Corn,” vanilla caramel sauce, rich milk chocolate crèmeux caramel corn, Sable Breton, and popcorn gelato.
#7 Costa Di Mare (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Costa Di Mare offers a lovely dining room as well as private cabana seating that surrounds the Nevada restaurant’s serene lagoon at Wynn Las Vegas. The Las Vegas restaurant serves fresh Mediterranean seafood and Italian cuisine with house-made pastas and more than 40 varieties of fresh fish and shellfish flown in daily from Italy’s coastal waters. Led by chef Mark LoRusso, Costa di Mare works with local fishermen and markets from every region in Italy. In addition to guest favorites, such as langoustines, losters (Mediterranean blue, spiny, and slipper), imperial red prawns, and daily specials like Venetian soft-shell crab, LoRusso’s menu reflects an increased level of seasonality. Notable dishes include fresh pastas like handmade cuttlefish ink tagliatelle with shrimp, lobster, and spinach; and a selection of crudo including the playful Monte e Mare presentation of hand-chopped beef and prawn tartare. Costa di Mare offers an extensive cordial cart, including Italian dessert wines, grappa, and amaro along with an extensive selection of port, Madeira, and other rare cordials.
#6 Casa Tua (Miami, Florida)
Casa Tua is a sanctuary from bustling Miami. Whether guests are dining on the exceptional Northern Italian fare under the soft glow of the lantern-lit courtyard, in the chic and stylish library, or at the 20-seat chef’s table with a front-row view of the kitchen action, every inch of this Mediterranean villa is ultra-romantic. Dinners are inspired by the seasons with classic options like octopus carpaccio with artichokes, tomato concasse, and potatoes in Dijon mustard dressing; and Pio Tosini prosciutto di Parma.
#5 River’s End Restaurant (Jenner, California)
Established in 1927, The River's End Restaurant & Inn is located on the Sonoma Coast where the Russian River spills into the Pacific Ocean. The restaurant has a warm, inviting and nostalgic feel from the moment guests enter the lodge restaurant. From the redwood burl bar to the expansive windows overlooking the Sonoma Coast State Park (every seat has a view to the river and ocean), the decor is understated and rustic. While the warm lighting was designed to be functional for the guest to read a menu or appreciate the art of plating, the highest priority when designing the lighting was to provide each dinner guest with warm light to make each diner look his or her best. The California cuisine features ingredients from Sonoma County in dishes like the Chinese-influenced duck confit rolls; Mexican-influenced ceviche; and French-influenced Land & Sea Ravioli. Depending on the season, the Jenner restaurant menu changes to highlight ingredients at their peak. From November to April, the restaurant features Dungeness crab and a five-course Dungeness crab menu that celebrates this Sonoma Coast delicacy. The River's End Restaurant & Inn offers a Luxe Unplugged experience, which offers guests the opportunity to truly connect at the highest level — meaning there’s no Wi-Fi or cellphone service, only a heritage of hospitality where everything is focused on the guests’ experience.
#4 One If by Land, Two If by Sea (New York, New York)
It been said that more people have announced their engagement here than any other restaurant in Manhattan, so we have declared this New York classic as one of the most romantic restaurants in New York and, quite possibly the world. One If by Land, Two If by Sea is located in a historic carriage house built in 1767, and the restaurant has been a romance hot spot since opening in 1973 thanks to candlelit tables, brick fireplaces, and dreamy private garden. Since 1999, chef Gary Volkov has helmed the kitchen creating New American prix fixe and tasting menus that are as impressive as the environs. The three-course prix fixe features a choice of appetizers like Italian milk burrata with truffled and smoked pecorino cheese, truffle honey, and balsamic pearls; grilled Spanish octopus with cavatelli, broccoli rabe, and pignoli nuts; and miso split pea soup with nori rice crisp; and entrées like rack of venison with savoy cabbage spring roll, Brussels sprouts, and plum hoisin sauce; beef Wellington with mushroom duzelle, truffle tapenade, and beurre rouge; and braised lamb shank with baked sweet potato, preserved lemon, quince, and yogurt. A recent $159 seven-course chef’s tasting menu included ahi tuna with avocado tempura, seaweed, sunflower seeds, and ponzu; seared Hudson Valley foie gras with churros, dulce de leche, and lime foam; and pan-seared scallops with sunchoke chowder, corn, and lardo.
#3 2941 (Falls Church, Virginia)
2941 is a serene spot for wining and dining in Virginia. Surrounded by lush landscaping, koi ponds, waterfalls, artwork, and a lakeside view, the three-story Falls Church dining room featuring floor-to-ceiling glass windows with sweeping views of the pristine grounds. Following its transition from a special occasion fine dining restaurant to a bustling upscale casual dining experience in 2012, executive chef Bertrand Chemel, a protégé of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, and pastry chef Nicholas Pine have created a contemporary American menu accented with bold French and Mediterranean flavors. Couples looking for more casual cuisine should take note that this Falls Church restaurant was also featured on The Daily Meal’s Best Burgers in America 2017 list.
#2 The Little Door (Los Angeles, California)
The Little Door has been a standout for 23 years. Each of the four dining rooms has its own ambiance and décor: the Garden Patio is surrounded by bougainvillea vines and green plants, wrought-iron chandeliers, and candles centered by two tall eucalyptus trees that have grown so tall over the years that now only the trunks are visible; the Winter Garden is a small patio with open views of the garden patio; the Piano Room iss a quaint European-style chamber looking out unto both patios; and the Blue Room is decorated in deep jeweled tones of cobalt blue, accented by deep reds and yellow stained-glass windows highlighted by a fireplace. Chef T. Nicolas Peter has been purchasing organic, fresh ingredients from the local Santa Monica Farmers Market since 1996. All dishes are composed with seasonal availabilities and the balance of protein and vegetables is always respected. From the simplicity of the rib-eye to the complex flavors of the Couscous Royal, the cuisine is inspired by Mediterranean food and lifestyle. One of the most popular dishes currently is the wild mushrooms, truffles and sauces like the Madeira, smoked garlic, and rosemary sauce on the pine nut- and mustard-crusted rack of lamb.
#1 Everest (Chicago, Illinois)
Everest has been honored with a number of awards and distinctions since opening three decades ago on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange (Everest is a member of the Les Grande Table Du Monde Traditions & Qualité, Maietre Cuisiniers de France and the only Chicago member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux's Relais Gourmand). Award-winning chef/proprietor Jean Joho’s personalized French cuisine is made from the finest seasonal ingredients. Everest offers a seven-course degustation menu, seven-course vegetarian restaurant, and three- and four-course prix fixe menus, which can be paired with selections from the Illinois restaurant’s list of 1,600 wines, which includes 450 options from Alsace, making it one of the greatest collections of wines from this region in the world. Inspired by the arts, Joho has filled his restaurants with the work of many of his friends; each table has a bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Ivo Soldini, and the dining room features sculptures by Italian sculptor Virginio Ferrari and paintings by local Chicago artists Adam Siegel and Tim Anderson. The tasting menu recently featured minute of Maine lobster, Michigan fall beans fricasée, and garden watercress; seared New York state foie gras, compote of Stanley plums, and poppy seed crêpes; ballotine of pheasant wrapped in braised cabbage, verjus, and fromage blanc knoepfla; and poached heirloom apple Tatin with caramelized black walnuts and maple cap jus. And after your romantic dinner, you might as well grab a nightcap at one of the 150 Best Bars in America.
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Lauren Mack is the former Travel Editor and Special Projects Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack and laurenmack.com. Senior Editor Dan Myers contributed to this story. Contributor Rani Long, and contributor Nikki Metzgar contributed research to this story.