The Most Romantic Restaurants In The US

What makes a restaurant date-worthy? Answers to this question undoubtedly vary from couple to couple. Hipsters in love might enjoy the ambiance of an indie coffeehouse or farm-to-table restaurant, while long-married partners may prefer somewhere that reminds them of the malt shop where they first shared a milkshake with two straws. Other pairs may still be trying to replicate the most romantic restaurant scene in film history, which occurred in a back alley where Lady and the Tramp showed us the sweetest possible way to divvy up a plate of pasta.

While any eatery could be considered romantic with the right dining partner, there are certainly some universally agreed-upon components of an intimate restaurant setting. A poll by OpenTable found that most people find décor and lighting to be crucial for romance, while the menu weighs in to some extent. Only one person indicated that a fine wine list is essential. As The Bon Vivant Journal sees it, the perfect romantic restaurant has just the right levels of intimacy, energy, and candlelight — as too much or too little of any of these things can ruin the passionate vibe. Finally, a Chowhound discussion adds that good music played at the proper volume is key. With these guidelines in mind, here are our top picks for restaurants where the mood — and the food — are perfect for romance.

1789 - Washington, D.C.

Before history buffs get too excited about this Washington, D.C., restaurant's name, 1789 doesn't refer to the eatery's opening year. Instead, Eater reports, the restaurant opened much later in 1962, while the name 1789 marks the year when the nearby Georgetown University was founded. So what's the draw here for those who didn't graduate from GU? According to numerous Tripadvisor reviews, it's all about the atmosphere. One review remarked upon 1789's "beautiful and quaint setting," while another admired its "rustic elegance, using beautiful old china and classic white plates to show off the food." Still another review said it was "romantic — like having dinner in the 1920s." 

Meanwhile, the food critic at The Washington Post was wowed by the food, even though he passed up the ambiance by ordering takeout for safety's sake during the pandemic. He dined in solo splendor on such romantic dishes as pheasant ballotine, wagyu beef tartare, black truffle risotto, and Tournedos Rossini (foie gras-embellished beef tenderloin), with a Black Forest-inspired torte for dessert. Add old-school tablecloths, fine china, and candlelight to elegant dishes such as these, and you're sure to fall in love — at least with the restaurant, if not your dining companion.

August - New Orleans

While New Orleans has no shortage of legendary romantic restaurants, the problem with dining in such a touristic city is that many popular eateries are likely to be bustling with eager visitors. If your idea of romance involves dining somewhere that's less packed with tourists, may we direct your attention to August? This restaurant is situated in a 19th-century townhouse complete with all those French-Creole architectural frills. The décor, with mahogany paneling and elegant antique accents, simply oozes romance from every crack and crevice. As one Tripadvisor user describes it, August is "not a big restaurant but very romantic with a beautiful ambiance." 

It's not just the ambiance that's the main draw at August, but also what's on the menu. If your date is a foodie, they will no doubt be blown away by such contemporary yet classic dishes as torchon of foie gras, sweet tea grilled duck breast, and a warm chocolate soufflé made with sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil. While the food is some of the best you'll find in the country, it is priced accordingly, meaning this may not be the best restaurant selection for young lovers on a tight budget. Frommer's does note, though, that August offers a three-course prix fixe lunch on Fridays that's much more affordable than the regular menu.

Bistro Campagne - Chicago

If your idea of the perfect romantic date involves a table for two at a cozy little French bistro — perhaps outdoors in a walled garden and with the occasional strolling minstrel to entertain you as you gaze into your date's eyes — we've got good news for you: You won't have to spring for two plane tickets to Paris, as such a place exists right in the heart of the Windy City. While Chicago may not be known as The City of Love, there is one small corner of Lincoln Square that is très romantique. It's called Bistro Campagne, and it has vine-covered brick walls, twinkling lights, and wrought-iron tables with white linens, to name a few things. 

Bistro Campagne's mostly organic menu leans French, naturellement, with an extensive appetizer list including French onion soup, escargots, terrine de foie gras, and a shareable charcuterie plate. Mains include steak frites dressed with Bordelaise sauce and Maître d'Hôtel butter, as well as a cassoulet made with pork belly and duck confit. For dessert, Gayot says the crème brûlée and pot de crème au chocolat are must-haves. Lastly, of course, the wine list includes genuine capital-C Champagne in addition to more affordable bottles.

Empress by Boon - San Francisco

If you're going to leave your heart in San Francisco, then Empress by Boon isn't a bad place to do it. This swanky Chinatown restaurant is the epitome of old-meets-new, as it combines highly modern design with elements from the building's original tenant, the Empress of China banquet hall (via Eater). The San Francisco Chronicle notes that a reservation at this restaurant is one of the city's most difficult to snag, but scoring one is sure to earn points with any hard-to-impress date. The menu features the best of contemporary Cantonese cuisine created by a Michelin-starred chef, while the ocean views, high ceilings, and sleek furniture are nothing short of grand. One OpenTable user summed it up by saying the "décor and view are stunning," while another called the atmosphere "amazing."

Since love does not thrive on interior design alone, it's a good thing that the food is, according to another OpenTable review, "absolutely incredible." Empress by Boon is currently offering a prix fixe menu at $88 per person, featuring items such as a crispy truffle rice puff and beef tenderloin in black pepper sauce. Not only is there an extensive list of wines, cocktails, and spirits, but the restaurant also offers a number of different coffees and teas for lovers who prefer sober romance.

The Federal - Agawam, Massachusetts

The Federal is all antique charm and elegance combined with a fresh, contemporary, and even playful take on traditional American cuisine. The restaurant is located in the small city of Agawam, Massachusetts, but one diner told Tripadvisor that they consider it to be the "BEST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT IN NEW ENGLAND." Another felt that the restaurant rivaled an establishment they'd visited in South Africa that's rated as one of the world's finest. These guests are not alone in their opinions: The Federal is said to be a destination for diners from as far as New York City, per its website.

The Federal's menu is what we'd call "foodie whimsical." What date wouldn't be charmed by a plate of foie gras donuts or a breaded elephant ear pork rib chop? Don't forget to save room for desserts, like fried apple pie ravioli or a "pot brownie" that is not THC-enhanced, but is instead an upscale version of dirt cake. Should you be enjoying your date night courtesy of a babysitter, The Federal even offers to-go bags of homemade cotton candy and toffee to bring home to the sitter and kids.

Gertrude's Chesapeake Kitchen - Baltimore

Gertrude's Chesapeake Kitchen, located in the Baltimore Museum of Art, is one of Charm City's most charming dining spots, beloved by art aficionados and foodies alike. From indoors, the restaurant's windows peer out at the museum's sculpture garden. Meanwhile, WeddingWire notes that the outdoor terrace is extremely popular as a warm weather venue for rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions, which speaks to the space's romantic potential. As one reviewer described the garden, it "looked magical during cocktail hour with all of the greenery and the fountain."

Gertrude's also finds its way to your heart through your stomach, with food that more than one WeddingWire user described as "amazing." As the Chesapeake Kitchen part of the eatery's name implies, local seafood features prominently on the menu, which is full of several crab cake preparations, Chincoteague oysters, and Old Bay-spiced shrimp salad. The food also pays homage to Baltimore neighborhoods with items like Greektown lamb meatballs and Highlandtown chicken salad, and there's even a club sandwich named for the now-closed Hutzler's Tea Room. The cocktail menu, while short, is as romantic as anything, with poetic drink titles like "Cold Smoke Rises" and "Without Obsession, Life Is Nothing."

The Inn at Little Washington - Washington, Virginia

The Inn at Little Washington is very much a destination restaurant. In fact, it's possible that much of the economy of the town of Washington, Virginia, is tied to this establishment. It takes more than an hour to drive to The Inn from D.C., and yet, the trip seems by all accounts worth every minute. For starters, the restaurant's ambiance is nothing short of breathtaking. The opulent wallpaper, carpeting, and upholstery add up to something the Michelin Guide describe as a "jewelry box." We're utterly entranced by the glass-roofed greenhouse area with its indoor palm trees, canopied tables, and wicker furniture that will have you feeling as if you're dining in a movie (a very romantic one, needless to say, starring someone like Humphrey Bogart or Cary Grant).

As if the setting alone weren't enough to make this restaurant worth swooning over, the menu itself is also a showstopper. The Inn at Little Washington is the D.C. area's only three-Michelin-starred restaurant and has also held Forbes 5-star and AAA Five Diamond ratings longer than any other restaurant. Menu selections change with the seasons, as much of what the restaurant offers is sourced from its own farm. Current offerings include a carpaccio of herb-crusted lamb loin with Caesar salad ice cream and sesame-crusted tofu with marinated radishes and cucumber sorbet.

Latitudes - Key West, Florida

When it comes to romantic restaurants, Key West, Florida, is a competitive market. It's balmy year-round, everything's within a pebble's throw of the beach, and even a fast food restaurant there has a certain romance to it that the most elegant restaurants in other cities might struggle to match. If you want to experience Key West at its finest, though, you couldn't do better than Latitudes, the restaurant at the Sunset Key Cottages beach resort. In order to reach the restaurant, you'll be brought in via boat, and if the weather permits, you can dine outdoors in tiki torch-lit ambiance. If you show up on a rare rainy day, you can always enjoy the casual elegance of the Ernest Hemingway Room with its leather club chairs. Either way, you'll be treated to a breathtaking view of the Gulf of Mexico.

Does the food compare to the scenery? OpenTable diners seem to think so, showering it with accolades including "wonderful," "top notch," "amazing," and "phenomenal." While the menu includes steakhouse classics like onion soup, Caesar salad, and wagyu steak, you may want to opt for a true taste of the Keys with tamarind-glazed grilled Caribbean lobster tail followed by a dessert of tropical fruit sorbet. A slice of key lime pie with two forks is de rigueur, of course.

The Little Door - Los Angeles

What's behind the small wooden door that lends this Los Angeles restaurant its name? According to one reviewer on, what you see is "unbelievable ... such a beautiful fairyland," while another said it "makes you feel like you are in a French manor ... the most romantic restaurant in Los Angeles." The best part of eating in this enchanted flower garden is the fact that it is protected by a glass roof, so neither rain nor sweltering heat can spoil your delightful dining experience.

The menu at The Little Door features a number of Middle Eastern specialties, including a shareable mezze plate with muhammara, baba ghanoush, and hummus and a couscous royale with lamb, chicken, and merguez sausage. The kitchen also turns out steaks and rack of lamb, plus several vegan and vegetarian offerings. For this year's Valentine's Day dinner, though, the restaurant is doubling down on the romance with a prix fixe menu of filet mignon, lobster ravioli, and a heart-shaped flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis.

The Love Apple - Taos, New Mexico

The term "love apple" translates in French to "pomme d'amour," a sobriquet Home magazine says was once given to the humble (yet lovable) tomato. The Love Apple is also the name of a charming restaurant in Taos, New Mexico. The eatery is housed in a 19th-century chapel and still occasionally serves as a wedding venue today. One Tripadvisor user who'd held both their wedding and reception at The Love Apple raved about its "beautiful scenery" and "vintage charm," adding that "guests said it was the best wedding food they've ever had." The restaurant is decorated with flowers in the warmer months and candles and squash in the cooler months.

The Love Apple is big into the whole organic, farm-to-table, eat-local movement, and it works with nearby growers and producers whenever possible. The menu, which changes with the seasons, reflects a Southwestern influence. For example, last fall, offerings included caramelized onion and apple quesadillas with cilantro crème fraîche, lamb albóndigas with squash, and grilled trout wrapped in corn husks. But does The Love Apple have any pommes d'amour on its menu? You bet! You'll be able to try them in dishes such as heirloom tomato bisque or polenta in a Bolognese sauce made with locally sourced beef and pork.

Palace Arms at the Brown Palace Hotel - Denver

If you're interested in staying at a hotel with your dinner date, what could be more perfect than eating in a restaurant that's just steps away from your private suite? The Brown Palace in Denver, Colorado, has been pampering honeymooners and other travelers since the late 1800s. The spa offers couple's massages, and those who like room service can opt for the hotel's "Love You" package of Champagne. Even if you're not staying at the hotel, though, the in-house restaurant called Palace Arms has plenty to appeal to the romantically inclined diner. A Tripadvisor reviewer called it a "beautiful romantic restaurant," noting its low-key ambiance and interesting, Napoleonic décor. 

As for the food, the same reviewer called it "creative yet somewhat traditional" and "very well presented and prepared." The restaurant's menu looks straight out of a history book but features dishes familiar to the modern diner, like high-end cuts of Angus beef with optional additions of foie gras butter, shaved truffles, and even caviar. Non-beef main courses include scallops, sea bass (Chilean, of course), duck breast, and mushroom ravioli in a Parmigiano-Reggiano broth. As no romantic meal is complete without a shared dessert, the Palace Arms also offer a sweets selection including banana mousse with hazelnut cookies and crème brulee with fresh strawberries and gold leaf.

Shalel Kitchen - New York City

When it comes to setting the scene for a sultry evening, one classic romantic trope is a carpet of rose petals. Corny, maybe, but it works. If you're afraid those flower petals might clog the Roomba, though, you can instead book a reservation at New York City's Shalel Kitchen. As a number of Tripadvisor reviews note with delight, the stairs leading down into the dining room are strewn with rose petals, and there's even an indoor waterfall with flowers floating in the water. Restaurant patrons also rave about the cozy, intimate rooms with their comfy couches and dim lighting, with one Yelp user describing the Shalel Kitchen dining experience, "It's like you're transported to a hidden cave in Spain."

Shalel Kitchen's menu features Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, including an assortment of both cold and hot mezze, lamb and chicken tagine, and pasta and gnocchi. Desserts range from pistachio baklava to a Portuguese custard dessert called pasteis de nata. For Valentine's Day, though, Shalel Kitchen is capitalizing on its romantic reputation with a prix fixe menu consisting of seafood stew with shrimp, clams, and cod, as well as a brasato di manzo that is lovingly braised for a full eight hours.

Tidepools - Koloa, Hawaii

Kaui, Hawaii, itself is the essence of romance, blessed with near-perfect weather and breathtaking scenery everywhere you look. For the ultimate island experience, though, you'll need to enjoy at least one bucket list-worthy meal at a restaurant known as Tidepools. You'll be dining outdoors in a charming thatched bungalow called a hale pili. As for scenery, how do tiki torches and a lagoon filled with colorful koi fish sound? As Gayot reports, this restaurant is pretty much unrivaled for its romantic ambiance.

Tidepools' menu is all about showcasing the state's specialties, from grilled kalbi ribs with ponzu cucumbers to macadamia-crusted mahi mahi with a roasted banana sauce. Of course, no romantic night in a tropical paradise would be complete without beachy drinks. Fittingly, the Tidepools cocktail menu features such fruity delights as a pineapple julep, a passion fruit-infused Mahaulepu mule, and a strawberry-flavored piña colada.

Tony's Town Square Restaurant - Orlando

While it may not be everyone's idea of the perfect date night venue, Tony's Town Square Restaurant is a must for Disney enthusiasts and dog lovers alike. This restaurant, located right in the heart of the Magic Kingdom, is Disney World's real-life recreation of the Italian eatery where the Tramp and his lovely Lady first fell in love. As a human guest, however, you need not dine in the back alley. Instead, you can sit at a table where you'll be sure to enjoy the dining room's movie-themed décor, including a fountain featuring everyone's favorite canine couple. Should you wish to dine outdoors, however, Tony's does offer seating on the front porch.

The very on-theme menu runs heavily Italian. Inside the Magic suggests you take a tip from "Lady and the Tramp" by ordering the spaghetti and meatballs, and the site also recommends the Caprese salad and calamari. This restaurant is one of the limited Disney World restaurants that serves alcohol, so you can also enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with your meal.