10 romantic restaurants to bookmark for future travel
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Candlelight, spectacular views, chocolate cake pour deux aplenty.
Ah, the trappings of a romantic night on the town.
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Bookmark these dreamy spots for a beautiful night with your better half.
Anaheim White House in Anaheim, California
There’s always room for the banana tart — layers of baked puffed pastry, Chantilly whipped cream, chocolate ganache, and caramelized bananas, served with crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream — at this gorgeous 1909 colonial-style mansion that was converted into an Italian steakhouse in 1987. You and your sweetheart will feel like you’re dining in a stately palace thanks to the polished resin flooring, French provincial dining tables and chairs, and hand-painted frescoes and mosaics on the walls.
Now, onto the toughest decision of the night: Should you split tempura artichoke hearts fried in rice tempura batter, Burrata cheese, Italian pesto, and spicy aioli or “salmon chocolat,” salmon accompanied by Belgium white chocolate mashed potatoes with Japanese ginger, orange, and a citrus beurre blanc?
Lutie’s Garden Restaurant in Austin, Texas
Estate bread with brown and cultured butter terrine (as featured in Best Bites of 2021 in Food & Wine)? Market fish with Delta Blues rice and smoked trout roe? Chocolate shaved ice, vanilla chantilly cream and cocoa nib? Yes, yes, and make it a double. Cozy up with Jazz Age elegance at this Bat City bistro that overlooks Italian gardens at the luxury hotel and private social club, Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection.
Here, diners will be greeted with tumbled black-and-white stone floors, a green latticework ceiling hung with lush plants, a grand oak bar lit by retro Murano glass chandeliers, and custom bespoke floral pattern upholstered pieces, as a feast for the eyes before their palates get tickled by that aforementioned shaved ice delight.
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Even sweeter: The menu and desserts come from husband-and-wife chef team Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu.
Seneca in San Diego, California
Opened in July 2021, this buzzy haunt is a tribute to Roman cooking, a people who certainly knew how to spin epic poems that tugged at the heartstrings. While dining, you and your better half can enjoy sweeping Pacific Ocean views, with handsome booths available both indoors and outdoors.
While on your Roman holiday in the Golden State, expect hits like truffle arancini with a creamy risotto fritter and black truffles, whole branzino with peperonata, olivata and watercress, and tiramisu, espresso soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone mousse with shaved chocolate.
Baby Brasa in New York, New York
Take date night to a new level at this spirited eatery that doles out winners like grilled octopus marinated in an original 25-spice blend with lime and a Peruvian anticucho seasoning, classic Peruvian ceviche cooked in a secret rocoto citrus sauce and served with handmade tortilla chips, and tres leches cake with a palate-pleasing cinnamon reduction and topped with creamy buttermilk icing.
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Opened by Franco Noriega and Milan Kelez in 2016, this West Village hot spot teleports you to a tropical oasis thanks to the vibrant greenery, strong cocktails, and live Latin music. Salud!
elements in Paradise Valley, Arizona
Headed to Scottsdale? Add this fabulous restaurant to your list. Whether celebrating an anniversary or just another night together, memories of dining together here will etch themselves into your brain as easily as the breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert and Camelback Mountain.
Commence the evening’s festivities at the outdoor fire-bowls that dot the grounds outside the restaurant and sister jade bar with a toast.
When hunger strikes, head over to elements restaurant for farm-fresh American cuisine with Asian accents by chef Samantha Sanz, a two-time James Beard nominee. As you share plates like salt spring mussels with roasted garlic, buttered leeks, heirloom tomatoes, and basil chorizo beer broth, honey and vinegar roasted beets with whipped Burrata, arugula, toasted pistachio and rye crisps, be sure to save room for entrées like the BBQ Japanese Eggplant with crispy tofu, glazed carrots, cilantro scallion hummus, and citrus salad or miso-glazed Wild Isles’ salmon with sōmen noodles, snow peas, heirloom carrots, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), ginger, and coriander.
For dessert, there’s butterscotch budino with brown butter graham cracker crust, malted butterscotch sauce, and bourbon gelato with a side of “unreal views” as the sun sets over the landscape, viewed from the al fresco dining patio or the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
Brennan’s in New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s something about NOLA’s passionate spirit that makes it particularly special for lovey-dovey vacationers. A popular date spot since its founding in 1946, Brennan’s is the birthplace of the now-famous bananas foster, which they flambée tableside, creating the perfect medley of bananas, cinnamon, rum, vanilla bean ice cream, and more.
The two-story pink building also hosts a beloved happy hour, “Bubbles at Brennan’s,” with champagne sabering, perfect for whetting your appetite for that Riz au Lait of short grain rice, Burgundy truffle, and custard that’s on deck.
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As you gaze into your forever’s eyes, say cheers with a glass of vino from a wine program that just received the Grand Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
Le Pavillon in New York, New York
Debuting in 2021, chef Danile Boulud’s Le Pavillon is an instant classic for couples looking for a special night out together in the Big Apple. The interiors showcase stunning chandeliers, tall olive trees and a neutral color palette, and under the soaring ceilings, you can take in views of the iconic Chrysler Building.
To eat, our vote is for Scottish langoustine a la plancha or yellowfin tuna carpaccio to start, followed by black trumpet-hazelnut crusted dover sole or girelle pasta with chanterelles, broccoli rabe and a comté cheese emulsion. Don’t skip the dark chocolate cremeux or pavot noir or mascarpone mousse and fruit rouge — or both — for dessert.
Apothecary in Dallas, Texas
The moody ambience at this cocktail lounge — which opened in 2021 — with a stellar bar bites menu sets the scene for the perfect date night: velvet seating, gold accents, dim lighting, and handsome wallpaper.
The elegant den has standout offerings like the gimlet ceviche made with Texas redfish, gin and lime marinade, and lime cordial fluid and the “Oyster Not Oyster,” a vegan option made with brined oyster mushroom in an edible shell, candied fresno, brine foam, and chives.
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Celebrating a special occasion? Splurge on the caviar service. For dessert, we’d be remiss not to direct you to order the candelabra, a set of three edible candles in three flavors: Angostura bitters chocolate, piña colada, and clover club, a swirl of gin, raspberry, and lemon.
Merriman’s Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii
You don’t need us to tell you that Hawaii is for lovers. But we will tell you that this fabulous restaurant ups the amorous ante with cinematic views from its perch on a peninsula in the Kapalua Bay.
As you savor the golden hour vistas at sunset, chase your ocean views with Hawaiian poke with line-caught Ahi and Kajiki, avocado, Maui onions, ogo, kukui nuts, soy-ginger dressing, and house-made sweet potatoes or Kalua pig quesadilla with house-made kimchi, and mango-chili sauce.
To conclude your candlelit feast, get two spoons for the Waialua chocolate lava cake with sour cherry compote and house-made Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream.
Sinema Restaurant & Bar in Nashville, Tennessee
Dinner pour deux in a 1940s movie theater? Yes, please. With a focus on classic American cuisine, this venue was restored and reimagined as a restaurant and lounge, complete with inviting nooks, dim lights, and swanky décor.
Go for the agnolotti (hand formed ricotta-filled ravioli, sun dried tomato beurre monte, roasted mushrooms, and fried capers) or pan seared scallops (served with spinach orzotto, lemon spinach mignonette, black garlic brown butter and more of those delectable fried capers). Or order each and split with your partner.
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No matter what, choose the chocolate chip pretzel cookie stuffed with dulce de leche and topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce to close out the evening.