They say the way to a girl’s heart is through her stomach (at least I know mine is), but there are many paths to one place, and the road to romance can be a bumpy one. Swap juicy ribs and bib-worthy lobster bakes for less messy fare, and avoid booths packed with day-glow partiers and rowdy sports fans high on a Heat win. Whether it’s for a blind date or major anniversary, the truly romantic spots are approachable, winsome restaurants with menus that don’t come with sanitary hand wipes or bill-shock prices. They take advantage of Miami’s inherently romantic attributes—beachfront views and temperate climate—and keep an evening running smoothly with polite and attentive servers. An impressive wine list and dedicated pastry chef doesn’t hurt. These reliable restaurants have mastered the art of food-based flirtation, with their candlelit patios and deeply satisfying, accessible cuisine. It’s up to you to make sparks fly.
No, you’re not in a Venetian courtyard, but the striped tile floor, silver buttonwood trees wrapped in twinkling string lights, and dangling filament-lit jars will transport you to the Mediterranean. Thanks to a retractable roof, diners can feast beneath the stars on this charming veranda. Get friendly by sharing cicchetti, Venetian small plates, such as crispy zucchini fritti and a silver skillet of San Marzano meatballs.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Casual and rustic, this restaurant has an extensive backyard patio behind its white and blue façade. Greek-born Ahmet and his Turkish wife Anastasia serve traditional Mediterranean family recipes using herbs and produce grown on site. Order the mussels (a natural aphrodisiac) in a garlicky white wine sauce with lemon and oregano and a pitcher of the specialty sangria made with white wine, IPA, and rose water.
Make yourself at home in this Italian villa, a surprising gem in the center of South Beach. Cozy up in the library and flip through the handpicked books as you take your sweet time with the tomato-and-basil burrata or branzino carpaccio. On a mild night, eat in the lantern-lit garden. If you weren’t in love when you arrived, you will be after one visit.
Red Fish Grill
There’s plenty of fish in the sea, but few as tasty as the daily catch at Red Fish Grill. A frequent host of beachfront weddings, the historic seafood grill knows a thing or two about crafting romance. Since the 1940s, the palm-lined restaurant with candle-topped white tablecloths has been serving such favorites as pan-fried red snapper.
With The Cypress Room, chef Michael Schwartz brings traditional elegance (rose-patterned wallpaper; mismatched floral China) to his unpretentious American fare. Outside, a cerulean neon sign illuminates the French entry doors and creeping ivy. Inside, chandeliers and stuffed deer heads share ceiling space. Serious celebrations call for one of Schwartz’s entrees for two, like a whole wood-grilled fish deboned tableside.