The classics never go out of style. Set 65 stories high, atop towering 30 Rockefeller Center, the mere mention of the historic Rainbow Room evokes a sense of timeless old-Gotham glamour. After a five-year hiatus, the newly restored and reimagined Rainbow Room has emerged (as of October 2014) refreshed, yet retaining its rich historic character (a 1930s-era rotating wooden dance floor, anyone?) with brilliant updating (like real crystal window treatments that make the place positively shimmer), all combined with unsurpassed Manhattan views. Splurge-worthy, yes, but, a memory-making Valentine's Day here is all but guaranteed. Their five-course prix-fixe Valentine's Day menu includes options like Shigoku oysters, seared Maine scallops, Long Island roasted duck, and poached Dover sole fillets. Between courses, hit the dance floor, set under a shimmering crystal chandelier, where the sounds of big band swing, Latin, waltz, and more ring out from Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks orchestra.
What it Costs:$350/person, including a choice of a special Valentine's Day cocktail, and non-alcoholic beverages
Contact Details: 30 Rockefeller Plaza (btwn 5th & 6th aves.), 65th Fl.; 212-632-5000; rainbowroom.com
STATE Grill and Bar
Don't let the tourists have all of the fun! A quick zip to the top of the Empire State Building's 86th-floor observatory is just the thing to get the butterflies going this Valentine's Day, and is still one of my favorite spots in the city for a classic romantic date (maybe because that's where my grandfather proposed to my grandmother back in the '40s!). In fact, 100 couples will be tying the knot here during ESB's Annual Valentine’s Day Weddings Event (couples with a valid New York State marriage license can apply to participate on a first-come, first-served basis). Pair your visit with an affordable fine-dining experience at the new STATE Grill and Bar, on the ESB's ground level, where guests can observe New American dishes being prepared in the open kitchen, and tuck into a menu highlighting regional ingredients. Their special prix-fixe, three-course Valentine's Day menu features dishes like Kampachi & Kumamoto oyster crudo, New York strip, and roasted Long Island duck breast. Oh, and if you happened to have tied the knot upstairs, they'll throw in a complimentary Champagne toast and chocolate truffles, to help you properly celebrate.
What it Costs: $55/person
Contact Details: Empire State Building, 350 5th Ave. (enter on 33rd St. btwn 5th Ave. & Broadway), ground floor; 212-216-9693; stategrillny.com
The Sea Grill
Overlooking the rink at Rockefeller Center—the perfect setting for a hand-in-hand, winter wonderland whirl with your Valentine—this seafood-centric eatery has paired a landmark location with quality fare for nearly 30 years. Pull up a chair to soak up the the elegant atmosphere and tuck into a special three-course, prix-fixe Valentine's Day menu overflowing with choice—try the ravioli of New Bedford diver sea scallops with sherry wine emulsion to start, followed up with a shellfish pot-au-feu (brimming with Madagascar shrimp, Manilla clams, Montauk calamari, Maine mussels, and lobster bouillon). Round things out with a selection of desserts-for-two, like the baked Valrhona ganache with rose water crème.
What it Costs: $89/person
Contact Details: 19 W. 49th St. (btwn 5th & 6th aves.), at Rockefeller Center; 212-332-7610; patinagroup.com
Sharing is caring this Valentine's Day—what better way to partner up with your sweetie than at a toppnotch tapas restaurant with plates primed for two? With dishes conceived by Chef Marc Vidal (of Barcelona), Boqueria's Valentine's Day menu highlights an assortment of authentic Spanish tapas, with options like gambas al ajillo (shrimp, garlic, and Guindilla pepper in olive oil), pan con tomate (grilled bread rubbed with tomato, garlic, and olive oil), and patatas bravas (crispy potatoes, salsa brava, roasted garlic allioli)—couples can choose to share six savory tapas plates for the table. Plus, a duo of desserts is also on the menu, including traditional churros filled with Nutella and cinnamon sugar.
What it Costs: $65/person
Contact Details: 151 Spring St. (btwn W. Broadway & Wooster St.; 212-343-4255), 53 W. 19th St. (btwn 5th & 6th aves.; 212-255-4160), 1460 2nd Ave. (btwn 1st and 2nd aves.; 212-343-2227); boquerianyc.com
Tiny's & the Bar Upstairs
Tucked into an atmospheric, centuries-old Tribeca townhouse, the family-run Tiny's & the Bar Upstairs comes brimming with antiques, original tin ceilings, handmade tiles, wood paneling, and a kitchen turning out Modern American cuisine with Italian and French flair. They'll be serving up a special prix-fixe Valentine's Day menu in the back dining room, where couples can cuddle up by a wood-burning fireplace—choose from menu items like oysters and caviar for starters, truffled risotto or filet mignon for the main, and chocolate mousse or banana cream pie for dessert. Tip: Ask to reserve a table near the crackling fire to help further heat up the romance.
What it Costs: $72/person; $90/person with wine
Contact Details: 135 W. Broadway (btwn Duane & Thomas sts.); 212-374-1135; tinysnyc.com