What exactly constitutes “most romantic” when it comes to labeling a venue? Well, the team at Zagat seems to think it boils down to “dark candlelit settings, great date potential, solid wine lists, memorable fare, and oftentimes standout views, fireplaces, or both.” We concur, but also can’t help but adding one of our own: a feeling of never wanting to leave. Here are the standout stars that offer just that.
New York, New York: MAMO NYC
MAMO is an intimate and elegant restaurant with exposed brick walls lined with vintage movie posters, and lots of candlelight. You'll find dishes packed with seasonal ingredients and Provençal flavors, such as fresh halibut baked in foil with truffle, or spaghetti with anchovies butter and black caviar. You might spot some celebrities at this SoHo hotspot while sipping on homemade Limoncello: Rihanna, Magic Johnson, Alexander Wang, Diane Kruger, Samuel L. Jackson, Gigi Hadid, Beyonce and Jay Z have all been known to dine here. If you're doing a lunch date, MAMO offers a $24 2-course prix fixe lunch menu Monday through Friday 12:00pm–3:30pm.
Chicago, Illinois: The Signature Room
When you want to be all the way up, head to the 95th floor of the iconic John Hancock Center in Chi-Town. The Signature Room is the quintessential restaurant for a romantic night on the town, thanks to a panorama of the cityscape and Lake Michigan, atop one of the largest skyscrapers. Champagne and live musical entertainment, gourmet cuisine and wine—just try to top that.
Calistoga, California: Lakehouse Restaurant at Calistoga Ranch
The Lakehouse is the type of establishment you can’t stop talking about long after you’ve been. Call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience worth the bill and you’d be right, but it’s also won every award in the book because the food is that good. Glass walls everywhere look out onto the oak groves and Lake Lommel, and you have to take a golf cart to get over there. The place just oozes intimacy. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu, so order whatever your sever suggests.
New York, New York: '21' Club
This Prohibition-Era speakeasy from the 1930s is shrouded in the kind of mystery that sets the stage for romance: It has a secret wine cellar, disappearing bar to hide the formerly 'illegal' bottles, and camouflaged doors. The '21' Club also has a history of celebrity diners, from Ernest Hemingway to Frank Sinatra to the Kennedys. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall reportedly had their first date at Table 30 in the Bar Room.
The most romantic spot, however, may be the intimate and salon-like dining room decorated with pastel murals of New York City during the 1930', Upstairs at '21'. It has a reputation of proposals and special anniversaries. The private dining rooms are also a good spot for rehearsal dinners, engagement celebrations, and intimate weddings.
San Juan, Puerto Rico: Hotel El Convento's Patio del Nispero
For a romantic dinner that delivers both on ambience and taste, don’t miss dining at Hotel El Convento’s Patio del Nispero. The ceiling of this open-air restaurant inside this former convent is a century-old nispero fruit tree. Opt for seafood dishes such as the pan-fried red snapper with mashed plantain and fresh papaya sauce; or try Puerto Rico’s traditional mofongo, a mashed mixture of fried green plantains and pork cracklings that forms a shell and is usually filled with chicken, skirt steak or shrimp. You might also ask the chef to customize your meal using herbs from their onsite garden.
Boston, Massachusetts: Menton
The main reason you come to Menton is for the impeccable service. Barbara Lynch’s acclaimed Relais & Chateaux French restaurant has some of the best captains in Boston, who treat each patron like a celebrity within the elegant formal dining room featuring tucked away tables for two. Consider the chef’s table, or go à la carte with items like Menton butter soup (shellfish, caviar, honey), scallops (pumpkin, green apple, pecans), and Wagyu beef sirloin (pommes pont-neuf, bone marrow, watercress). And make sure to partake in pre- or post-dinner cocktails at the glamorous bar.
New York, New York: Park Avenue Winter
As one of the only venues in Manhattan with a decorating scheme that changes based on the season, Park Ave is always a fun choice for a date, but Winter happens to be the most theatrical and unrivaled time to go. Start with the pumpkin ravioli (with hazelnuts, pecorino, and pickled cranberries), before moving on to the branzino or short rib with roots and aliums, then finish with sticky toffee gingerbread pudding. Obviously if you go when it’s snowing outside, even better.
Simsbury, Connecticut: Millwright’s
A covered bridge and a waterfall? Couples pic options are endless at this James Beard Award nominated restaurant, which features fine dining cuisine in a 17th century mill setting. Begin with a beverage in the tavern basement bar (flanked in stone with fireplaces) followed by dinner upstairs on the second floor or in the loft with picturesque views of the pond and cascading falls. Another piece of advice: Millwright's tasting menu is definitely worth it.
Providence, Rhode Island: Waterman Grille
You can’t beat a better location than right on the water. There are a million seafood hangouts all over this town, but Waterman Grille is unlike any other. First you enter a historic 1871 gatehouse perched over the Seekonk River, and then you are greeted by the friendliest staff, an effortlessly perfect ambiance, and an unpretentious, yet highly enjoyable, menu. Special occasion or just a normal night out—this is where you want to be in the Ocean State. Signature items include: smoked salmon toast (avocado puree, pickled mustard seeds, radish, lemon-coriander emulsion), veal osso bucco (creamy polenta, roasted vegetables, braising jus, bread crumb gremolata), and roasted cauliflower (cauliflower-almond puree, red quinoa, golden raisin-cumin emulsion, toasted almonds).
Charleston, South Carolina: Zero Restaurant + Bar
Whether you're seated inside at one of the few intimate tables in the dimly-lit back room or outside in the dreamy piazza under the shade of palm trees, you’re in for an unforgettable Charlestonian evening at Zero Restaurant, the culinary gem located within the Zero George Hotel. Chef Vinson Petrillo uses locally grown and seasonal ingredients to turn out one visually stunning and equally satisfying dish after another, all paired with small production, boutique wines and craft cocktails. Order the octopus a la plancha (with banana ketchup, crispy potatoes, cilantro, and young coconut) followed by the pasta of the day. Use this reservation wisely, as it’s sure to be the most special meal of your trip.
Miami, Florida: Los Fuegos
Francis Mallmann's entire food philosophy revolves around fire...so keep that thought on the back burner while we take you through the highlights of the Argentinian menu lineup at Los Fuegos. 'Humita' sweetcorn empanadas, smoked prawns (arugula, avocado, pink grapefruit, roasted hazelnuts), prime beef tartare (Patagonia potato gallete, cured egg yolk, capers), and Octopus ‘a la Parrilla’ (Papa Aplastada, black olive aioli, mixed greens, smoked paprika oil) are Mallmann's most palate pleasing items—not only is every dish thoughtful and delicious, but the ambiance just puts you in the mood to make out. So does the Hemingway cocktail...not to be missed.