When you want to celebrate a night out with your special someone, St. Louis may be one of the most romantic options in the whole Midwest. After watching the sunset from the iconic Gateway Arch, head to dinner at one of the city's many intimate spots for sharing a meal.
The region is an agricultural powerhouse of the country, and you can see that influence in the many restaurants which offer seasonal menus and farm-to-table specialties. Your options range from cozy and down-to-earth bistros to elegant Italian fine-dining in The Hill neighborhood, plus everything in between.
The Sidney Street Cafe is located in a century-old building in the Benton Park neighborhood south of downtown St. Louis. The dim lighting, brick walls, and dark hardwood floors give it the intimate ambiance that you look for in a romantic setting.
Just outside the restaurant are over 100 yards of raised garden beds producing different fruits, vegetables, and herbs that eventually end up on your plate, so the menu is constantly evolving depending on what's in season. The menu is a fusion of flavors, mixing the chef's Spanish heritage, French training, and love for Southern ingredients to create dishes that are always delicious. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine at the antique bar with your date before your meal.
Nothing says romance like Italian food, and Trattoria Marcella is always at the top of local "best restaurant" lists in St. Louis. This South City favorite features fine Italian food like house-made ravioli, creamy risotto, and osso bucco over a bed of polenta. A bottle of Tuscan wine to share helps to round out the meal.
The service is always excellent, and the food never disappoints. On weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., happy hour at the bar or on the patio includes a discount on drinks and antipasti specials for appetizers and other small bites.
Bailey's Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square has a decadent feel to it. From the moment you enter, you see rich red velvet curtains and inviting plush couches. The food and drinks are just as decadent, if not more. Bailey's is the place to go to indulge, known for its sweet treats and dessert cocktails.
The drinks menu includes still and sparkling wine, but the signature cocktails are the true stars and the reason locals return again and again. Ice cream martinis, Mexican hot chocolate with tequila, and coffee liqueurs are just a few examples of the creative ways to imbibe here.
Homemade brownies, hazelnut torte, and golden pear galette are all on the dessert food menu, but if you're going on a date, order the Lover's Plate to share. It's a monstrous sampler dish with champagne sorbet, chocolate stout cake, orange-chocolate macaron, maple shortbread, caramel cheesecake, and more. It's the ultimate indulgence, but perfect to share with your special someone.
St. Louis' The Hill neighborhood, the historically Italian quarter, is full of so many great restaurants that it's hard to pick just one. But if you're looking for a romantic dinner, make a reservation at Dominic's. Dominic's has been a favorite on The Hill since 1971. It serves up gourmet Italian cuisine in an elegant, old-world dining room. The vibe is upscale, and business dress or "tasteful casual attire" is requested.
There is also a newer restaurant, Dominic's Trattoria, in Clayton.
Vin de Set is rooftop dining at its finest. The restaurant, located near downtown St. Louis in quaint Lafayette Square, has a warm and inviting atmosphere with exposed brick walls and high ceilings. The real standout, however, is the rooftop deck with its outdoor ambiance and views of the surrounding city. Vin de Set specializes in French dishes like crab beignets, steak and frites, and a variety of savory crepes.
Come out on Sunday mornings for Vin de Set's award-winning brunch, which is almost as famous for its extravagant bloody mary bar as it is for its food.
Russell's is a neighborhood cafe in south St. Louis with upscale food, good wine, and great service. In the evenings, tables are lit by candlelight for an intimate dining experience. Russell's serves hearty American fare like pan-roasted chicken, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and ricotta "gnudi" dumplings. It's also known for its delicious, hand-crafted desserts and excellent weekend brunch.
When the weather permits, the outdoor patio is cozy, inviting, and surrounded by a lush garden that undoubtedly ups the romance of the meal.
Aya Sofia, named for the famous mosque in Istanbul, is an elegant choice to enjoy Turkish and other Middle Eastern fares without having to leave St. Louis. The restaurant is decorated in rich colors and Ottoman fabrics, giving it a luxurious atmosphere.
Start the meal by ordering a variety of hot and cold meze, or small plates, to share, like hummus, baba ghanoush, and borek pies with spinach and feta. All types of typical dishes from the region make up the menu, but beef, lamb, and vegetarian items are the key plates. Turkish food is best-enjoyed family-style, so order a few things to share with your loved one.
Cyrano's Cafe in Websters Grove is a neighborhood favorite, and the funky interior with its brightly colored rainbow walls makes for a casual setting perfect for a laid-back date. If your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, Cyrano's is the perfect place. Sure, you can get a meal at this Webster Groves cafe from their extensive bistro menu, including fresh salads, hot sandwiches, or hearty entrees, but the real reason to come is for the acclaimed desserts.
Massive ice cream sundaes and the famous caramel brioche bread pudding are popular options, but if you're going on a date, nothing is more impressive than one of the fiery flambeés. A waiter will literally ignite your dessert right at the table, flaming your appetite and your desires.
When you want to impress your date, Tony's in downtown St. Louis is the place to go. Tony's is St. Louis' most celebrated and award-winning restaurant, known for its incredible service, delicious Italian food, and an extensive wine list.
Tony's also has an attached locale called Anthony's Bar. The two restaurants share a kitchen, but the menu and ambiance at the bar are much less formal. When you're eating on Tony's side of the restaurant, the dress code is business casual, so make sure to clothe yourself properly.
Tony's is an expensive treat but will be a meal you always remember.
The Melting Pot may be a chain restaurant, but the sensuous experience of dipping foods in melted cheese and chocolate earns it a place as a romantic spot in the area. There are two in the St. Louis suburbs, one in University City and another in Town and Country, both just 20 minutes outside of the city center by car.
Being a chain restaurant, the atmosphere is fairly casual and you can dress comfortably. But if you want to make the night extra memorable, dress up and book one of the restaurant's "romance packages" when making your reservation. You can choose to be in a private secluded booth with a bouquet of roses and a bottle of champagne waiting for you at the table, a sure-fire way to leave your special someone astounded.