America's Most Romantic Restaurants

  • The River Cafe

    Photo: Courtesy of Sotto 13

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    Sunset views, saucy cuisine, seductive wine lists: let the sparks fly at America’s most romantic restaurants.

    From February 2013 By ,

    You know the clichés: long-stemmed roses, soft lighting, strolling violinists.

    Well, forget all that. Real romantic restaurants have cut the fluff. Instead, they’ve focused on what’s really important: great food and wine, excellent service, and an authentic ambience.

    Of course, many elements of the traditional romantic restaurant haven’t changed. Creating an environment that makes guests want to linger is still key. A stellar wine list helps, as does a well-trained staff, tables set apart from each other, and a great view.

    In Chicago, Everest restaurant offers a different perspective on its city: from the 40th floor of Chicago's Stock Exchange Building, the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows see eye-to-eye with the Sears Tower and its architecturally inspiring sisters.

    But a mesmerizing view isn’t a requirement to be one of America’s most romantic restaurants. At The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, it’s the restaurant’s team of sommeliers and 100 pages of wine offerings that seal the deal (its three Michelin stars don’t hurt). From local Napa Valley cult bottles to little-known gems handpicked from around the world, the expertly edited wine selection makes impressing a date with your choice a slam dunk.

    And sometimes, dialing in romance just requires a little seclusion. For that, it’s tough to beat Little Palm Island Resort, off Florida’s Key West. A seaplane or boat ride is the only way to reach this tropical oasis, where you can dine at a candlelit table right on the white-sand beach. A French and Pan-Latin menu rounds out the experience.

    We think it’s pretty simple: a great romantic restaurant should make you feel the way a great romantic partner does—appreciated, special, and like you’re the only person in the room. From cozy mountaintop huts to candlelit seaside enclaves, here’s where to find America’s most romantic restaurants. For that great partner, though, you’re on your own. —Sarah Storms

  • Romantic Restaurants: The Marine Room

    Photo: Courtesy of Marine Room

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    The Marine Room, San Diego

    Vanilla poached lobster and dessert tasting menus pair nicely with sunset views at this 72-year-old landmark restaurant. But the hottest tables are for chocolate brioche French toast at “high tide breakfasts,” from 7 to 10 on weekday mornings, when the rollicking waves set the mood. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Sotto 13

    Photo: Courtesy of Sotto 13

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    Sotto 13, New York City

    If you’re always drawn to the next hot new thing, may we introduce this West Village number? Sotto 13 has the signs of a trendy Manhattan restaurant—inventive small plates meant for sharing, gourmet pizzas, mixologist-designed cocktails—in an alluring space. A roaring wood-fired pizza oven is the centerpiece of the rustic dining room, outfitted with bare wood beams, wrought-iron caging, and a skylight that reveals a weeping willow. sotto13.com —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Pier W

    Photo: Courtesy of Pier W

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    Pier W, Lakewood, OH

    Romantic sunset dinners over the water aren’t reserved exclusively for California and Hawaii. Designed to resemble the luxury liners that once sailed Lake Erie, this one-of-a-kind establishment perches on a lakeside cliff with sweeping views that extend to the downtown skyline, sparkling in the distance. Secure a window table and dive into cedar-planked organic salmon roasted in a hearth oven and warm chocolate truffle cake speckled with cocoa nibs and coffee caramel. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: White Barn Inn

    Photo: Courtesy of White Barn Inn

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    White Barn Inn, Kennebunk Beach, ME

    If you think "Maine" and "winter" can't be synonymous with romance, you haven't dined at this restaurant ensconced in two restored 1820s-era barns, complete with candles and fine white linen and silver. (The staff has witnessed countless marriage proposals.) Evergreen trees are visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the seasonal four-course tasting menu emphasizes local game and produce in dishes like pan-seared quail breast with hedgehog mushrooms. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Zambra

    Photo: Courtesy of Zambra

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    Zambra, Asheville, NC

    Descending into Zambra—carved into a subterranean space below a bookstore—feels like entering into a colorful, secret world. Designed by a local artist, the low-lit retreat is accented with Moorish arches, wooden columns, and booths lined with throw pillows. An eclectic tapas menu combines influences from Spanish, Portuguese, North African, and Gypsy cuisines with farm-to-table Carolina ingredients and an excellent wine selection. Call ahead to find out if your night will include a live jazz trio or belly dancers. —Brendan Spiegel

  • The Beach House, Kauai, HI

    Photo: Courtesy of The Beach House

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    The Beach House, Kauai, HI

    Start with the restaurant’s signature coconut mai tai as you settle in to a “sunset table” on the outdoor lanai overlooking Kauai’s Poipu Beach. Watch whales playing in the surf, or simply focus on the flavorful Pacific Rim cuisine in front of you—lemongrass and kaffir lime crusted sea scallops, fresh ceviche served in a coconut shell, and the molten chocolate “desire,” a decadent flourless chocolate mocha tart. the-beach-house.com —Sarah Storms

  • The French Laundry

    Photo: Deborah Jones/Courtesy of The French Laundry

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    French Laundry, Yountville,CA

    Calling a Thomas Keller restaurant “romantic” is kind of like calling an Apple product “well designed.” Yet the combination of a Napa setting, three Michelin stars, and careful-to-a-fault service makes The French Laundry impossible to ignore. The real world practically disappears as you pass through the vine-covered entrance to this sanctuary of inventive, French-inflected American cuisine. —Sarah Storms

  • Simon Pearce Restaurant, Quechee, VT

    Photo: Courtesy of Simon Pearce

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    Simon Pearce Restaurant, Quechee, VT

    Glassmaker Simon Pearce’s restaurant, housed in a restored mill overlooking the falls of Vermont’s Ottauquechee River and its covered bridge, is a food destination worth its out-of-the-way address. The exposed-brick and blond wood terrace dining room—hanging over the falls—is open and airy in the summer and fully glass-encased during winter. Ask for “table #5,” an intimate two-seat table set directly over the rushing river. —Sarah Storms

  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Las Vegas

    Photo: Courtesy of Eiffel Tower Restaurant

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    Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Las Vegas

    As cheesy as a replica Eiffel Tower might seem—especially in Sin City—this is no Vegas buffet. Ride the glass elevator to the 11th floor, high above the buzzing Strip, where you can watch the Bellagio’s water-fountain light show from floor-to-ceiling windows. Choose from an extensive French menu—from blue cheese soufflé to herbed crêpes and creamy foie gras—all paired with the restaurant’s wide variety of wines. —Sarah Storms

  • Dining Room at Little Palm Island Resort

    Photo: Courtesy of Little Palm Island Resort & Spa

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    Little Palm Island Resort, Little Torch Key, FL

    Florida’s most secluded retreat can be reached only by seaplane or boat, but a meal at Little Palm Island is worth the quick trip over azure waters. Explore the five-and-a-half seaside acres along crushed seashell paths, then meander to the breezy, candlelit dining room. Dine on the terrace set above the beach or at a table right on the white sand, next to a roaring bonfire. —Sarah Storms

  • River's End, Sonoma County, CA

    Photo: Courtesy of River's End

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    River’s End, Sonoma County, CA

    Sure, ocean sunsets are a romantic cliché, but that doesn’t make them any less dramatic. And sunset views from every table out over the Pacific Ocean and Russian River bathe the River’s End in romance. The wine (heavy on area vintages, of course) and food only add to the experience. Share the succulent Dungeness crab—fresh off the Sonoma Coast fishing boats—and don’t miss the made-for-two crème brûlée with bourbon-soaked vanilla beans and chocolate ganache. ilovesunsets.com —Sarah Storms

  • Romantic Restaurants: Canoe

    Photo: Courtesy of James Camp/ Canoe

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    Canoe, Atlanta

    Couples can take a pre-dinner stroll hand-in-hand along the walkways that wind through the manicured gardens surrounding Canoe on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Inside the warm, brick-lined dining room, chef Carvel Grant Gould prepares refined takes on hearty southern dishes, such as slow-roasted Carolina rabbit and duck sausage crêpes with pistachio-blackberry compote. canoeatl.com —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Green Pastures

    Photo: Courtesy of Green Pastures

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    Green Pastures, Austin, TX

    Peacocks wander freely at Green Pastures, a grand southern estate with perfect rows of flowers and sprawling live oak trees. On the sunporch and inside the lavish 1888 Victorian-style home, the fine china is piled high with Texas-meets-France gourmet creations. Case in point: grade-A steaks prepared with lots and lots of truffles. greenpasturesrestaurant.com —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Canlis

    Photo: Courtesy of Canlis

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    Canlis, Seattle

    Full-length windows look down over Lake Union from this 1950s structure, originally commissioned to be “the world’s most beautiful restaurant” and now a landmark of Pacific Northwest design. Old-growth cedar beams and stone columns anchor the homey dining room, bathed in natural light and with glass sculptures nearly as artful as the dishes on the seven-course tasting menus. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Lucia's

    Photo: Courtesy of Lucia's

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    Lucia’s, Minneapolis

    On a side street in the Uptown neighborhood, chef Lucia Watson’s cozy restaurant and wine bar epitomizes the notion of cooking with love. Weekly menus are designed around farmers’ market ingredients: beautiful charcuterie boards accented with pickled carrots and pistachio-crusted goat cheese; lush desserts built around fresh fruit; and a sustainable wine selection that changes seasonally. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Castle Hill Inn

    Photo: Courtesy of Inn at Castle Hill

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    Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI

    Here’s a recipe for romance: take a waterfront mansion and restored lighthouse, add a secluded peninsula and a generous dose of ocean views, season with fresh New England lobsters, oysters, and scallops, plus applewood-smoked confit of wild boar, and cap things off with a Belgian chocolate terrine. —Brendan Spiegel

  • La Provence

    Photo: Courtesy of La Provence

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    La Provence, New Orleans

    When comfort food is the key to a romantic evening, this French farmhouse–style restaurant—modeled after a Provence auberge—is where to go. Dishes like ravioli of slow cooked rabbit with black Tuscan kale and Louisiana shrimp with garganell pasta feel right at home in the restaurant’s intimate wood-and-stucco setting. laprovencerestaurant.com —Sarah Storms

  • Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

    Photo: Jeremy Swanson/Courtesy of Cloud Nine Bistro

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    Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen, CO

    Set at 10,900 feet, this Aspen bistro serves up 40-mile views of the surrounding peaks, along with an Alps-like menu of raclette, rainbow trout, and veal schnitzel. Open only on Thursday nights during ski season (December–April), this snug, former ski patrol hut serves dinner to guests arriving via a starlit snowcat ride up the mountain in the Aspen Highlands. Choose from spiced cider, mulled wine, or hot cocoa to keep you warm during the half-hour trip. —Sarah Storms

  • The Stonehouse, Santa Barbara, CA

    Photo: Courtesy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, San Ysidro Ranch

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    The Stonehouse, Santa Barbara, CA

    The setting may be a 19th-century stone-walled citrus-packing house, but the experience at this rustic SoCal restaurant (in the T+L award-winning San Ysidro Ranch) is thoroughly modern. Find your table laid with fresh, local sunflowers; then share a Belgian chocolate pot de crème under the stars on the ocean-view deck, with its wood-burning fireplace and heated stone flooring. sanysidroranch.com —Sarah Storms

  • Everest

    Photo: Courtesy of Everest

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    Everest, Chicago

    The mashup of chic, modern Everest and Chicago’s circa-1893 stock exchange building creates a spark that fuels its romance. Adding to the flame is a rich menu complemented by some 1,600 bottles of wine. The views don’t hurt, either, with the Sears Tower and its imposing neighbors just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. —Sarah Storms

  • Quiessence, Phoenix

    Photo: Courtesy of Quiessence

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    Quiessence, Phoenix

    While a 12-acre organic farm minutes from downtown Phoenix may sound like a mirage, Quiessence, set in a historic farmhouse at the back of the sprawling property, is enchantingly real. Walk along a crooked flagstone path, behind a walled garden, to your table under light-strung trellises on the patio. A daily-evolving menu dictated by local produce, house-made pastas, and a well-edited domestic wine and cheese menu round out the experience. —Sarah Storms

  • The Snake River Grill

    Photo: W. Garth Dowling/Courtesy of The Snake River Grill

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    The Snake River Grill, Jackson, WY

    The romance of this small ski town is only enhanced by the Snake River Grill’s sophisticated spin on Wild West dining. With its wood-burning oven and luxe log-cabin atmosphere, “the SRG” (as locals call it) sets the mood for delicious dishes like elk tenderloin and pancetta roasted chicken breast. —Sarah Storms

  • The Inn at Little Washington

    Photo: Courtesy of The Inn At Little Washington

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    The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA

    Some advice: arrive early for your reservation. Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains—seen by a pre-dinner stroll around the property—are the perfect appetizer to a romantic dinner. And “Chef’s Table” dinners kick the romance factor up a notch: sit next to the kitchen’s baronial fireplace and watch as chef Patrick O’Connell creates a multicourse meal before your eyes. —Sarah Storms

  • Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

    Photo: Bill Miln/Courtesy of Fleur de Lys

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    Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

    Draped in 900 yards of rich fabric, mood-lit with candelabras, and topped off with a floral centerpiece featuring dozens of orchids, Fleur de Lys, in San Francisco’s Nob Hill area, is opulent dining at its best. Share dishes from a mouthwatering menu of fresh caviars, fondants, soufflés, and meat cuts, plus a specialized—and equally indulgent—vegetarian menu. —Sarah Storms

  • The Little Door, Los Angeles

    Photo: Marco Franchina/Courtesy of The Little Door

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    The Little Door, Los Angeles

    L.A.’s Little Door may as well be called The Secret Garden—its intimate patio, accessed through rustic wooden doors, is filled with bougainvilleas and has a tiled fountain and koi pond. Wrought-iron candelabras bathe the lush garden in soft light, and an outdoor bar serves champagne and wine (and the entire selection is offered by the glass). thelittledoor.com —Sarah Storms

  • The Vineyards Restaurant at Garden Ridge, San Antonio

    Photo: Courtesy of The Vineyard Restaurant at Garden Ridge

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    The Vineyards Restaurant at Garden Ridge, San Antonio

    No, you’re not in Napa Valley—The Vineyards, set amid junipers, limestone ledges, and (of course) rows of vines, is pure Texas Hill country. Dine on mesquite prime rib and poblano corn chowder in the glass-enclosed patio with views of the active vineyard and rose garden, or in the candlelit wine cellar. Complement the meal with a bottle from the house selection of Texas vintages, like the restaurant’s signature cuvée. Cap off the night with dessert at a private table set among the vines. thevineyards.org —Sarah Storms

  • Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston

    Photo: Michael Piazza/Courtesy of Island Creek Oyster Bar

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    Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston

    Whether or not you believe in the oyster-as-aphrodisiac theory, this Boston restaurant is the place to indulge on bivalves. And these are fresh—brought in from coastal Duxbury, just outside the city. Romantic ambience comes with shutters made of Wyoming snow fence, a Jet Mist granite bar, Vermont farmhouse-reclaimed wood wainscoting, and a three-dimensional wall of Gabion cages filled with the signature mollusk’s shells. islandcreekoysterbar.com —Sarah Storms

  • Circa 1886, Charleston, SC

    Photo: Holger Obenaus Photography/Courtesy of Circa 1886

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    Circa 1886, Charleston, SC

    Located in the original carriage house of Charleston’s stately Wentworth Mansion, the building dates back to—you guessed it—1886. And it still boasts much of its original charm, like the wood-burning kitchen fireplace, stable doors, and gleaming heart-of-pine floors. Retreat into one of the candlelit recessed booths set along one wall, designed to mimic the original carriage openings, to enjoy dishes like lamb chops with Carolina gold rice and striped bass with spaghetti squash and chestnut puree. —Sarah Storms

  • Bistro Romano

    Photo: Chris Sembrot

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    Bistro Romano, Philadelphia

    Walk into this Society Hill bistro with its open beam ceilings, hearth-brick walls, candle-lit wooden booths, and soft Italian music for a taste of not-so-brotherly love. Housed in a 200-year-old granary, the restaurant effortlessly melds history and romance: the opulent bar was salvaged from the circa-1912 luxury liner City of Detroit III, and the wine cellar that used to serve as an underground tunnel is now a private dining enclave with one table for two. bistroromano.com —Sarah Storms

  • Briarhurst Manor

    Photo: Courtesy of Briarhurst Manor Estate

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    Briarhurst Manor, Manitou Springs, CO

    A Victorian-style estate seems like an odd spot for unbeatable views of Colorado’s imposing Pike’s Peak and a Western-inspired menu. Built in 1876, the sprawling pink sandstone Briarhurst Manor is listed in the National Historic Registry but opens its doors to diners and visitors alike: choose from the stately Sitting Room, the light-filled Garden Room, or the lush surrounding grounds for great French–cum–Rocky Mountain fare. briarhurstdining.com —Sarah Storms

  • Ninety Acres restaurant

    Photo: Courtesy of Ninety Acres

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    Ninety Acres, Far Hills, NJ

    Drive through New Jersey horse country’s quaintest town, with the gurgling Raritan River punctuating the landscape. End up at this property’s 1912 carriage house and its Table at the Farm—a veritable culinary center founded, in part, by Richard Branson. With the restaurant’s cozy dining room, gleaming bar, and in-house cooking school, a trip to Jersey never sounded so appealing. ninetyacres.com—Sarah Storms

  • Solstice

    Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Lodge

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    Solstice, Stowe, VT

    Vermont’s quintessential ski town has received a sizable upgrade: luxe Stowe Mountain Lodge has partnered its panache with local Vermont farmers and cheesemakers to stock the open kitchen of mountainside Solstice restaurant. Don’t let the dreamy views of Spruce Peak distract from rustic dishes like truffled beef pot roast adn Shetland salmon, or the amazing seasonal cocktails (house-spiced vodka and apple cider, anyone?). stowemountainlodge.com —Sarah Storms

  • Terra

    Photo: Courtesy of Terra

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    Terra, Santa Fe

    This gorgeous dining room—anchored by a glass-enclosed wine cellar with a built-in fireplace and set against the foothills of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains—is perfect for Valentine’s Day dining. Finish off the house made pappardelle (braised chicken, mushrooms) with the best bite of the night: a dark chocolate souffle for two, topped with green chile cream. fourseasons.com —Sarah Storms

  • One if by Land, Two if by Sea

    Photo: Andie Diemer

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    One If by Land, Two If by Sea, New York City

    Stroll down movie-set-perfect Barrow Street in the heart of Manhattan’s West Village, and you’ll come upon the barn doors of the 18th-century carriage house of onetime vice president Aaron Burr. Two fireplaces, a bar-side pianist, and glittering chandeliers set the tone for an undeniably romantic meal—a three-course prix fixe menu rounded out by your choice of incredible desserts from the restaurant’s award-winning pastry chef. oneifbyland.com —Sarah Storms

  • Log Haven

    Photo: Courtesy of Log Haven

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    Log Haven, Salt Lake City

    In 1920, steel baron L.F. Rains created this breathtaking log hideaway as an anniversary gift for his wife, shipping logs from Oregon and hauling them four miles up Millcreek Canyon by horse-drawn wagon. Now, that’s love. Located in the Wasatch National Forest just 20 minutes from Salt Lake City, Log Haven is now home to a restaurant revered for its healthful, locally focused menu (juniper smoked elk carpaccio, crispy skinned Utah steelhead trout) and enduringly cozy, hidden-valley ambience. log-haven.com —Sarah Storms

  • Zenkichi

    Photo: Courtesy of Zenkichi

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    Zenkichi, Brooklyn, NY

    Tokyo-style shared-plate dining is the rage at Brooklyn’s best Japanese restaurant. Also Tokyo-inspired? A bamboo-wooded entry and private, shade-drawn booths lending guests the ultimate in one-on-one dining. The eight-course omakase tasting menu (Japanese for “it’s up to you”) changes every season to showcase the best ingredients at the time, and the selection of sake is hard to beat—the restaurant offers more than 50 bottles. zenkichi.com —Sarah Storms

  • Komi

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    Komi, Washington, D.C.

    This intimate D.C. spot for in-the-know foodies leaves little room for decision-making—and that’s a good thing. Enter the dimly lit townhouse dining room of renowned chef Johnny Monis and let him wow you with daily-revolving dishes like spaghetti with crab and sea urchin, and sliced scallops with fresh truffle emulsion. If the menu isn’t enough to bring you back, maybe an Obama sighting will do the trick (the First Couple had a date night here). komirestaurant.com —Sarah Storms

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  • The River Cafe

    You know the clichés: long-stemmed roses, soft lighting, strolling violinists.

    Well, forget all that. Real romantic restaurants have cut the fluff. Instead, they’ve focused on what’s really important: great food and wine, excellent service, and an authentic ambience.

    Of course, many elements of the traditional romantic restaurant haven’t changed. Creating an environment that makes guests want to linger is still key. A stellar wine list helps, as does a well-trained staff, tables set apart from each other, and a great view.

    In Chicago, Everest restaurant offers a different perspective on its city: from the 40th floor of Chicago's Stock Exchange Building, the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows see eye-to-eye with the Sears Tower and its architecturally inspiring sisters.

    But a mesmerizing view isn’t a requirement to be one of America’s most romantic restaurants. At The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, it’s the restaurant’s team of sommeliers and 100 pages of wine offerings that seal the deal (its three Michelin stars don’t hurt). From local Napa Valley cult bottles to little-known gems handpicked from around the world, the expertly edited wine selection makes impressing a date with your choice a slam dunk.

    And sometimes, dialing in romance just requires a little seclusion. For that, it’s tough to beat Little Palm Island Resort, off Florida’s Key West. A seaplane or boat ride is the only way to reach this tropical oasis, where you can dine at a candlelit table right on the white-sand beach. A French and Pan-Latin menu rounds out the experience.

    We think it’s pretty simple: a great romantic restaurant should make you feel the way a great romantic partner does—appreciated, special, and like you’re the only person in the room. From cozy mountaintop huts to candlelit seaside enclaves, here’s where to find America’s most romantic restaurants. For that great partner, though, you’re on your own. —Sarah Storms

  • Romantic Restaurants: The Marine Room

    The Marine Room, San Diego

    Vanilla poached lobster and dessert tasting menus pair nicely with sunset views at this 72-year-old landmark restaurant. But the hottest tables are for chocolate brioche French toast at “high tide breakfasts,” from 7 to 10 on weekday mornings, when the rollicking waves set the mood. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Sotto 13

    Sotto 13, New York City

    If you’re always drawn to the next hot new thing, may we introduce this West Village number? Sotto 13 has the signs of a trendy Manhattan restaurant—inventive small plates meant for sharing, gourmet pizzas, mixologist-designed cocktails—in an alluring space. A roaring wood-fired pizza oven is the centerpiece of the rustic dining room, outfitted with bare wood beams, wrought-iron caging, and a skylight that reveals a weeping willow. sotto13.com —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Pier W

    Pier W, Lakewood, OH

    Romantic sunset dinners over the water aren’t reserved exclusively for California and Hawaii. Designed to resemble the luxury liners that once sailed Lake Erie, this one-of-a-kind establishment perches on a lakeside cliff with sweeping views that extend to the downtown skyline, sparkling in the distance. Secure a window table and dive into cedar-planked organic salmon roasted in a hearth oven and warm chocolate truffle cake speckled with cocoa nibs and coffee caramel. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: White Barn Inn

    White Barn Inn, Kennebunk Beach, ME

    If you think "Maine" and "winter" can't be synonymous with romance, you haven't dined at this restaurant ensconced in two restored 1820s-era barns, complete with candles and fine white linen and silver. (The staff has witnessed countless marriage proposals.) Evergreen trees are visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the seasonal four-course tasting menu emphasizes local game and produce in dishes like pan-seared quail breast with hedgehog mushrooms. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Zambra

    Zambra, Asheville, NC

    Descending into Zambra—carved into a subterranean space below a bookstore—feels like entering into a colorful, secret world. Designed by a local artist, the low-lit retreat is accented with Moorish arches, wooden columns, and booths lined with throw pillows. An eclectic tapas menu combines influences from Spanish, Portuguese, North African, and Gypsy cuisines with farm-to-table Carolina ingredients and an excellent wine selection. Call ahead to find out if your night will include a live jazz trio or belly dancers. —Brendan Spiegel

  • The Beach House, Kauai, HI

    The Beach House, Kauai, HI

    Start with the restaurant’s signature coconut mai tai as you settle in to a “sunset table” on the outdoor lanai overlooking Kauai’s Poipu Beach. Watch whales playing in the surf, or simply focus on the flavorful Pacific Rim cuisine in front of you—lemongrass and kaffir lime crusted sea scallops, fresh ceviche served in a coconut shell, and the molten chocolate “desire,” a decadent flourless chocolate mocha tart. the-beach-house.com —Sarah Storms

  • The French Laundry

    French Laundry, Yountville,CA

    Calling a Thomas Keller restaurant “romantic” is kind of like calling an Apple product “well designed.” Yet the combination of a Napa setting, three Michelin stars, and careful-to-a-fault service makes The French Laundry impossible to ignore. The real world practically disappears as you pass through the vine-covered entrance to this sanctuary of inventive, French-inflected American cuisine. —Sarah Storms

  • Simon Pearce Restaurant, Quechee, VT

    Simon Pearce Restaurant, Quechee, VT

    Glassmaker Simon Pearce’s restaurant, housed in a restored mill overlooking the falls of Vermont’s Ottauquechee River and its covered bridge, is a food destination worth its out-of-the-way address. The exposed-brick and blond wood terrace dining room—hanging over the falls—is open and airy in the summer and fully glass-encased during winter. Ask for “table #5,” an intimate two-seat table set directly over the rushing river. —Sarah Storms

  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Las Vegas

    Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Las Vegas

    As cheesy as a replica Eiffel Tower might seem—especially in Sin City—this is no Vegas buffet. Ride the glass elevator to the 11th floor, high above the buzzing Strip, where you can watch the Bellagio’s water-fountain light show from floor-to-ceiling windows. Choose from an extensive French menu—from blue cheese soufflé to herbed crêpes and creamy foie gras—all paired with the restaurant’s wide variety of wines. —Sarah Storms

  • Dining Room at Little Palm Island Resort

    Little Palm Island Resort, Little Torch Key, FL

    Florida’s most secluded retreat can be reached only by seaplane or boat, but a meal at Little Palm Island is worth the quick trip over azure waters. Explore the five-and-a-half seaside acres along crushed seashell paths, then meander to the breezy, candlelit dining room. Dine on the terrace set above the beach or at a table right on the white sand, next to a roaring bonfire. —Sarah Storms

  • River's End, Sonoma County, CA

    River’s End, Sonoma County, CA

    Sure, ocean sunsets are a romantic cliché, but that doesn’t make them any less dramatic. And sunset views from every table out over the Pacific Ocean and Russian River bathe the River’s End in romance. The wine (heavy on area vintages, of course) and food only add to the experience. Share the succulent Dungeness crab—fresh off the Sonoma Coast fishing boats—and don’t miss the made-for-two crème brûlée with bourbon-soaked vanilla beans and chocolate ganache. ilovesunsets.com —Sarah Storms

  • Romantic Restaurants: Canoe

    Canoe, Atlanta

    Couples can take a pre-dinner stroll hand-in-hand along the walkways that wind through the manicured gardens surrounding Canoe on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Inside the warm, brick-lined dining room, chef Carvel Grant Gould prepares refined takes on hearty southern dishes, such as slow-roasted Carolina rabbit and duck sausage crêpes with pistachio-blackberry compote. canoeatl.com —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Green Pastures

    Green Pastures, Austin, TX

    Peacocks wander freely at Green Pastures, a grand southern estate with perfect rows of flowers and sprawling live oak trees. On the sunporch and inside the lavish 1888 Victorian-style home, the fine china is piled high with Texas-meets-France gourmet creations. Case in point: grade-A steaks prepared with lots and lots of truffles. greenpasturesrestaurant.com —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Canlis

    Canlis, Seattle

    Full-length windows look down over Lake Union from this 1950s structure, originally commissioned to be “the world’s most beautiful restaurant” and now a landmark of Pacific Northwest design. Old-growth cedar beams and stone columns anchor the homey dining room, bathed in natural light and with glass sculptures nearly as artful as the dishes on the seven-course tasting menus. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Lucia's

    Lucia’s, Minneapolis

    On a side street in the Uptown neighborhood, chef Lucia Watson’s cozy restaurant and wine bar epitomizes the notion of cooking with love. Weekly menus are designed around farmers’ market ingredients: beautiful charcuterie boards accented with pickled carrots and pistachio-crusted goat cheese; lush desserts built around fresh fruit; and a sustainable wine selection that changes seasonally. —Brendan Spiegel

  • Romantic Restaurants: Castle Hill Inn

    Castle Hill Inn, Newport, RI

    Here’s a recipe for romance: take a waterfront mansion and restored lighthouse, add a secluded peninsula and a generous dose of ocean views, season with fresh New England lobsters, oysters, and scallops, plus applewood-smoked confit of wild boar, and cap things off with a Belgian chocolate terrine. —Brendan Spiegel

  • La Provence

    La Provence, New Orleans

    When comfort food is the key to a romantic evening, this French farmhouse–style restaurant—modeled after a Provence auberge—is where to go. Dishes like ravioli of slow cooked rabbit with black Tuscan kale and Louisiana shrimp with garganell pasta feel right at home in the restaurant’s intimate wood-and-stucco setting. laprovencerestaurant.com —Sarah Storms

  • Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

    Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen, CO

    Set at 10,900 feet, this Aspen bistro serves up 40-mile views of the surrounding peaks, along with an Alps-like menu of raclette, rainbow trout, and veal schnitzel. Open only on Thursday nights during ski season (December–April), this snug, former ski patrol hut serves dinner to guests arriving via a starlit snowcat ride up the mountain in the Aspen Highlands. Choose from spiced cider, mulled wine, or hot cocoa to keep you warm during the half-hour trip. —Sarah Storms

  • The Stonehouse, Santa Barbara, CA

    The Stonehouse, Santa Barbara, CA

    The setting may be a 19th-century stone-walled citrus-packing house, but the experience at this rustic SoCal restaurant (in the T+L award-winning San Ysidro Ranch) is thoroughly modern. Find your table laid with fresh, local sunflowers; then share a Belgian chocolate pot de crème under the stars on the ocean-view deck, with its wood-burning fireplace and heated stone flooring. sanysidroranch.com —Sarah Storms

  • Everest

    Everest, Chicago

    The mashup of chic, modern Everest and Chicago’s circa-1893 stock exchange building creates a spark that fuels its romance. Adding to the flame is a rich menu complemented by some 1,600 bottles of wine. The views don’t hurt, either, with the Sears Tower and its imposing neighbors just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. —Sarah Storms

  • Quiessence, Phoenix

    Quiessence, Phoenix

    While a 12-acre organic farm minutes from downtown Phoenix may sound like a mirage, Quiessence, set in a historic farmhouse at the back of the sprawling property, is enchantingly real. Walk along a crooked flagstone path, behind a walled garden, to your table under light-strung trellises on the patio. A daily-evolving menu dictated by local produce, house-made pastas, and a well-edited domestic wine and cheese menu round out the experience. —Sarah Storms

  • The Snake River Grill

    The Snake River Grill, Jackson, WY

    The romance of this small ski town is only enhanced by the Snake River Grill’s sophisticated spin on Wild West dining. With its wood-burning oven and luxe log-cabin atmosphere, “the SRG” (as locals call it) sets the mood for delicious dishes like elk tenderloin and pancetta roasted chicken breast. —Sarah Storms

  • The Inn at Little Washington

    The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA

    Some advice: arrive early for your reservation. Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains—seen by a pre-dinner stroll around the property—are the perfect appetizer to a romantic dinner. And “Chef’s Table” dinners kick the romance factor up a notch: sit next to the kitchen’s baronial fireplace and watch as chef Patrick O’Connell creates a multicourse meal before your eyes. —Sarah Storms

  • Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

    Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

    Draped in 900 yards of rich fabric, mood-lit with candelabras, and topped off with a floral centerpiece featuring dozens of orchids, Fleur de Lys, in San Francisco’s Nob Hill area, is opulent dining at its best. Share dishes from a mouthwatering menu of fresh caviars, fondants, soufflés, and meat cuts, plus a specialized—and equally indulgent—vegetarian menu. —Sarah Storms

  • The Little Door, Los Angeles

    The Little Door, Los Angeles

    L.A.’s Little Door may as well be called The Secret Garden—its intimate patio, accessed through rustic wooden doors, is filled with bougainvilleas and has a tiled fountain and koi pond. Wrought-iron candelabras bathe the lush garden in soft light, and an outdoor bar serves champagne and wine (and the entire selection is offered by the glass). thelittledoor.com —Sarah Storms

  • The Vineyards Restaurant at Garden Ridge, San Antonio

    The Vineyards Restaurant at Garden Ridge, San Antonio

    No, you’re not in Napa Valley—The Vineyards, set amid junipers, limestone ledges, and (of course) rows of vines, is pure Texas Hill country. Dine on mesquite prime rib and poblano corn chowder in the glass-enclosed patio with views of the active vineyard and rose garden, or in the candlelit wine cellar. Complement the meal with a bottle from the house selection of Texas vintages, like the restaurant’s signature cuvée. Cap off the night with dessert at a private table set among the vines. thevineyards.org —Sarah Storms

  • Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston

    Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston

    Whether or not you believe in the oyster-as-aphrodisiac theory, this Boston restaurant is the place to indulge on bivalves. And these are fresh—brought in from coastal Duxbury, just outside the city. Romantic ambience comes with shutters made of Wyoming snow fence, a Jet Mist granite bar, Vermont farmhouse-reclaimed wood wainscoting, and a three-dimensional wall of Gabion cages filled with the signature mollusk’s shells. islandcreekoysterbar.com —Sarah Storms

  • Circa 1886, Charleston, SC

    Circa 1886, Charleston, SC

    Located in the original carriage house of Charleston’s stately Wentworth Mansion, the building dates back to—you guessed it—1886. And it still boasts much of its original charm, like the wood-burning kitchen fireplace, stable doors, and gleaming heart-of-pine floors. Retreat into one of the candlelit recessed booths set along one wall, designed to mimic the original carriage openings, to enjoy dishes like lamb chops with Carolina gold rice and striped bass with spaghetti squash and chestnut puree. —Sarah Storms

  • Bistro Romano

    Bistro Romano, Philadelphia

    Walk into this Society Hill bistro with its open beam ceilings, hearth-brick walls, candle-lit wooden booths, and soft Italian music for a taste of not-so-brotherly love. Housed in a 200-year-old granary, the restaurant effortlessly melds history and romance: the opulent bar was salvaged from the circa-1912 luxury liner City of Detroit III, and the wine cellar that used to serve as an underground tunnel is now a private dining enclave with one table for two. bistroromano.com —Sarah Storms

  • Briarhurst Manor

    Briarhurst Manor, Manitou Springs, CO

    A Victorian-style estate seems like an odd spot for unbeatable views of Colorado’s imposing Pike’s Peak and a Western-inspired menu. Built in 1876, the sprawling pink sandstone Briarhurst Manor is listed in the National Historic Registry but opens its doors to diners and visitors alike: choose from the stately Sitting Room, the light-filled Garden Room, or the lush surrounding grounds for great French–cum–Rocky Mountain fare. briarhurstdining.com —Sarah Storms

  • Ninety Acres restaurant

    Ninety Acres, Far Hills, NJ

    Drive through New Jersey horse country’s quaintest town, with the gurgling Raritan River punctuating the landscape. End up at this property’s 1912 carriage house and its Table at the Farm—a veritable culinary center founded, in part, by Richard Branson. With the restaurant’s cozy dining room, gleaming bar, and in-house cooking school, a trip to Jersey never sounded so appealing. ninetyacres.com—Sarah Storms

  • Solstice

    Solstice, Stowe, VT

    Vermont’s quintessential ski town has received a sizable upgrade: luxe Stowe Mountain Lodge has partnered its panache with local Vermont farmers and cheesemakers to stock the open kitchen of mountainside Solstice restaurant. Don’t let the dreamy views of Spruce Peak distract from rustic dishes like truffled beef pot roast adn Shetland salmon, or the amazing seasonal cocktails (house-spiced vodka and apple cider, anyone?). stowemountainlodge.com —Sarah Storms

  • Terra

    Terra, Santa Fe

    This gorgeous dining room—anchored by a glass-enclosed wine cellar with a built-in fireplace and set against the foothills of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains—is perfect for Valentine’s Day dining. Finish off the house made pappardelle (braised chicken, mushrooms) with the best bite of the night: a dark chocolate souffle for two, topped with green chile cream. fourseasons.com —Sarah Storms

  • One if by Land, Two if by Sea

    One If by Land, Two If by Sea, New York City

    Stroll down movie-set-perfect Barrow Street in the heart of Manhattan’s West Village, and you’ll come upon the barn doors of the 18th-century carriage house of onetime vice president Aaron Burr. Two fireplaces, a bar-side pianist, and glittering chandeliers set the tone for an undeniably romantic meal—a three-course prix fixe menu rounded out by your choice of incredible desserts from the restaurant’s award-winning pastry chef. oneifbyland.com —Sarah Storms

  • Log Haven

    Log Haven, Salt Lake City

    In 1920, steel baron L.F. Rains created this breathtaking log hideaway as an anniversary gift for his wife, shipping logs from Oregon and hauling them four miles up Millcreek Canyon by horse-drawn wagon. Now, that’s love. Located in the Wasatch National Forest just 20 minutes from Salt Lake City, Log Haven is now home to a restaurant revered for its healthful, locally focused menu (juniper smoked elk carpaccio, crispy skinned Utah steelhead trout) and enduringly cozy, hidden-valley ambience. log-haven.com —Sarah Storms

  • Zenkichi

    Zenkichi, Brooklyn, NY

    Tokyo-style shared-plate dining is the rage at Brooklyn’s best Japanese restaurant. Also Tokyo-inspired? A bamboo-wooded entry and private, shade-drawn booths lending guests the ultimate in one-on-one dining. The eight-course omakase tasting menu (Japanese for “it’s up to you”) changes every season to showcase the best ingredients at the time, and the selection of sake is hard to beat—the restaurant offers more than 50 bottles. zenkichi.com —Sarah Storms

  • Komi

    Komi, Washington, D.C.

    This intimate D.C. spot for in-the-know foodies leaves little room for decision-making—and that’s a good thing. Enter the dimly lit townhouse dining room of renowned chef Johnny Monis and let him wow you with daily-revolving dishes like spaghetti with crab and sea urchin, and sliced scallops with fresh truffle emulsion. If the menu isn’t enough to bring you back, maybe an Obama sighting will do the trick (the First Couple had a date night here). komirestaurant.com —Sarah Storms

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