U.S. News Travel set out to find America's most romantic restaurants. As every couple is unique, each one asks for something different from their date spots. Romance never takes a common form. When it edges toward universality, cute turns to cliché in a heartbeat. Whether you want to be entertained, indulged, or awed, there's an eatery for you on this list. Despite the breadth of the search, three key romantic elements were always considered:
Romance may not be a science, but did someone call the love doctor? Okay, don't pull that one out of your hat, but seriously, take our advice: These seven restaurants are sure bets for romantic evenings.
Recommend for: The "Fun" Couple
Dining on the beach is inherently romantic. Rushing waves, gurgling tide pools, soft sand, and colorful sunsets prove so intoxicating that you could even pass on the cocktails. We recommend making reservations at The Royal Hawaiian's Aha 'Aina for 5:30 on a Monday night when the hotel hosts a special seaside dinner service (for the price of $169 per person) that includes traditional Hawaiian activities, such as kapa-making (fashioning cloth made from bark) and na lawai'a (tending of fishing tools). Then, diners enjoy hors d'oeuvres while listening to a local storyteller. At last, patrons sit down for a gourmet meal accompanied by hula dancers and musical performers. Finishing around 9 p.m., guests will have had a very eventful evening.
Recommend for: The "Very Young or Very Old" Couple
With the majestic Brooklyn Bridge stretching overhead and the Manhattan skyline providing the backdrop, The River Café is perfect for new couples setting the dramatic stage of their romance (read: engagement hotspot) and old couples reminiscing about the permanence of their love. The restaurant's location (about half a mile from the High Street metro stop) in Brooklyn along the East River makes it slightly hard to reach, but the view and the food make the trek worthwhile. The dinner menu is prix fixe, set at $100 per person; the even more indulgent Valentine's Day edition raises the cost to $195 per person. Yes, the price tags are memorable, but they'll pale in comparison to the delectable creations of Chef Brad Steelman. And honestly, can you really put a price on love?
Recommend for: The "Foodie" Couple
The French Laundry in Napa Valley tests this money-to-love hypothesis with a $270 prix fixe. In return for endangering your children's college fund, renowned Chef Thomas Keller and his exceptionally talented team of culinary experts provide some of the most tantalizing, dream-worthy dishes on the continent. The staff crafts two unique tasting menus each comprised of nine petite courses. Even the most sophisticated gourmands will discover symmetry and surprise in the dishes. Taking this epicurean journey with your partner creates a lasting memory for the two of you. However, the magic of the French Laundry may be lost on less-developed palates, and the restaurant's popularity means that reservations should be made at least several weeks in advance. So we insist that only very experienced, dedicated foodies rendezvous here.
Recommend for: The "Hip" Couple
Many people enjoy being "in the know" when it comes to dining at the hot spot of the moment. But no one hopes his or her relationship is as fleeting as seasonal trends. To achieve a balance of contemporary glamour and classic style, head to Eos at the Viceroy Miami hotel. The interior décor features sharp geometric shapes and bold colors. And despite its atypical appearance, Eos maintains the high level of service and sophistication that you've come to expect at elite restaurants. The Mediterranean menu offers favorites like Caprese Salad and Linguine á la Catalan. However, the patio is what earned Eos a place on this list. Perched 15 stories above ground, patio diners breathe fresh ocean air and have a glorious view of the water. Here, you definitely want to share in the sights, sounds, and people-watching with someone special.
Recommend for: The "Eccentric" Couple
The real charm here is the fusion of clichés. First, "dining at the Eiffel Tower" elicits lofty perceptions; lounging in this iconic (and innately romantic) monument makes most hearts flutter. Second, you have "romance in Sin City," which usually involves a run-down chapel, an Elvis impersonator, or a stack of bills. But with superb French cuisine floating out of the kitchen, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris, Las Vegas, defies the kitschy feel. Plus, patrons are treated to a birds-eye view of the Fountains of Bellagio show, which takes place across the street. And with Chef Joho at the helm, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant really knows how to sweep diners off their feet and into their chairs.
Recommend for: The "Sporty" Couple
Many young couples talk about taking their relationship to the “next level.” And, at 10,740 feet above sea level, Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro is definitely the place to raise the bar. Daytime diners must ski to this gourmet eatery, housed in a former ski patrol hut. Guests may also chow down on Thursday evenings, when a Snowcat brings them up from the base camp of the Aspen Highlands ski area. The unpretentious exterior hosts a luxurious European-inspired dining experience. Austrian Chef Andreas Fischbacher crafts hearty dishes like elk ragout, pheasant-gruyere sausage, and a raclette and fondue combination. Don't forget to pick the right libation: Sipping Bordeaux while gazing at the Maroon Bells enchants many.
Recommend for: The "Slow and Steady" Couple
The Stonehouse may not have the jaw-dropping view or chic design of our other choices, but this restaurant at the San Ysidro Ranch has a warm, intimate environment that oozes romance. Some guests dine inside the nineteenth-century citrus packing house with its wood-burning fireplace and vaulted ceiling. But we suggest you request a table on the outdoor deck. Boasting heated stone flooring, ocean views, and the stars up above, this setting is as good as it gets. Not to be forgotten, the menu provides numerous opportunities to taste products from Southern California.
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