When it comes to perfect date-night restaurants, a few things must be in order. The mood must be right, the lighting the most flattering, and the food excellent. It’s a tall order, but when dining with a paramore, it’s best advised to aim for said height. With Valentine’s Day just a month away, we’ve been thinking of the ideal places to dine when the time comes, whether you’re in Los Angeles, New York, or Miami. Use this as a handy list when making reservations, be it for February 14 or, really, any night you’re in the mood for grand gestures and a wonderful meal.
The word “enchanting” comes to mind when thinking of A.O.C. There are more than a few hidden corners to tuck into here, if you’re feeling private. For exhibitionists, the courtyard patio is exposed but exquisite, with creeping vines and bouncing candlelight. The food, manned by the talented Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne, is a bit California-meets-Europe, making for a meal that’s satisfying but never heavy.
8700 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Like A.O.C., Lucques has the vines-and-candlelight look down pat. The heated patio makes alfresco dining a year-round possibility. The inside, however, with its brick walls and giant fireplace, is equally as winsome–if not more so in the winter months. (Fun fact: this building used to be the carriage house of silent film star Harold Lloyd.) This year marks the restaurant’s twentieth years in business. Blame its staying power on the food–and its undying charm, of course.
8474 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069
It does not get more quintessentially romantic than One if by Land, Two if by Sea. Set in what was once Aaron Burr’s carriage house, the restaurant checks every date-night box. Chandeliers? Got ’em. White tablecloths. Those, too. Many couples likely getting engaged or thinking about it? Bet your life on it.
17 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014
Black Mountain Wine House feels a bit like transporting yourself into another time entirely. The decor is minimal, with bistro chairs surrounded by an audience of wine bottles, a fireplace roaring in the corner. The small plates are delicious and unpretentious, the wine list abundant as it needs to be.
415 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Café Roval has the best grounds on this entire list, hands down. Outside, it’s a verdant oasis of palms and ponds. Inside, dine surrounded by rough-hewn stones and old painted portraits. It feels like the Miami we’re so familiar with and more like some hamlet in Europe. It’s a unique experience–and a date-night must in our books.
808 NE 4th Ct, Miami, FL 33137
Lanterns hanging from trees? Say no more. Casa Tua has one of the prettiest restaurant patios around. It’s perfectly simple and unfussy, letting the plants and good lighting do most of the work. On the plate, expect Italian classics like tagliolini and veal chop.
1700 James Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao