Published February 09, 2012
You can't put a price on love, but romantic restaurants can be pretty steep, especially on Valentine's Day. If you'd like to take that special someone out to a romantic or sexy place without breaking the bank, look no further.
We heartily recommend the following ten restaurants where you can sit at the bar or in the lounge and share a cocktail and a kiss in just the right atmosphere without having to buy complete meals. (And who wouldn’t want to enjoy a kiss while sharing macaroni and cheese with chocolate-covered bacon?)
They all provide a romantic vibe as well as adult beverages. Some feature finger food you can feed each other, others romantic views, while some even are inside hotels where romance can be taken to a whole new level. Presented in alphabetical order are our top ten places to kiss in the U.S.
The Abbey started in 1991 as a small coffeehouse across the street from its present location. It became so popular that it expanded to over 16,000 square feet, and now features four indoor and outdoor bars, dining spaces and even a pastry shop. Before the SBE group (Katsuya, XIV, The Bazaar/SLS) took over the trendy, chic club, the food was the last reason you would come to what was ground zero for the gay social scene in West Hollywood. But now the kitchen is creating a simple, fresh and tasty menu just perfect for this ultra-vibrant venue.
Depending on how much you want to be part of the action, you can dine in the middle of it, or at the more private booths. There is continuous service from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m., with breakfast until noon-ish in which eggs come in many variations along with classics like french toast. Lunch items start at 10:30 a.m., with salads (the best choice being the Cobb), calamari, homemade hummus, macaroni and cheese, Buffalo wings and soups. Later, the food becomes more substantial.
There are a few must-haves: sliders, made of Angus beef and served on warm pretzel rolls with caramelized onions (some of the best we've ever had); roasted tomato bisque accompanying a grilled cheese sandwich; fish tacos; and monster nachos featuring all the toppings you can imagine. Choose what you’re craving among the many dessert choices, including cakes, cheesecakes, pies and cookies.
There's also a variety of cocktails, including flavored mojitos and martinis. Between the design and layout of the rooms, the food, the drinks, and the electric atmosphere, The Abbey is definitely one of the best bars in the world, and is becoming a Los Angeles landmark. Check out the Top 10 romantic restaurants in Los Angeles.
Chez Papa Resto
4 Mint Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94103
With its central location on San Francisco's burgeoning Mint Plaza redevelopment, Chez Papa Resto, a sibling of the beloved Chez Papa in Potrero Hill, brings a touch of Parisian cool to the square. Black chandeliers, low lighting and rich fabrics set a sexy, sultry mood for the downtown denizens that flock here after work for dinner and cocktails.
The kitchen, overseen by chef Steven Rojas, offers comforting yet sophisticated Francophile fare with a modern twist: Kobe beef tartare with Dijon mustard, capers, shallots and toast points makes for a savory start, or opt for the artisan foie gras two-ways. Entrées lean towards the classics and there are few surprises: gnocchi Parisienne, Brussels sprouts and a brown butter beet béarnaise sauce enhance roasted butterfish while Liberty Farms duck breast is paired with sunchoke purée, candied kumquats and cardamom duck jus.
For value-conscious diners, there is a $24 three-course prix-fixe menu for lunch and a four-course seasonal tasting menu at dinner for $65. Check out the Top 10 romantic restaurants in San Francisco.
Co Co. Sala
929 F St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
An enterprising team is behind this all-about-chocolate restaurant-lounge-bar in the heart of the Penn Quarter. The menu is divided into “teasers,” fromage, salads, entreés and little bites, starring flavors from Italy, Asia, Mexico and the comfort foods from childhood. The collection of American comfort foods includes a killer mini grilled cheese and tomato soup, as well as macaroni and cheese with chocolate-covered bacon.
Some of the Mexican offerings are unusual, and some too hot to handle, such as the chocolate soufflé with a fiery, as in chili, center. Diners can opt for even more indulgence with the three- or five-course “dessert experience” menus. If you decide to select among the different dishes, you could build a meal reflecting four very different cuisines. And in the meantime, you can always visit the boutique next door and take a box of chocolates home with you.
2332 Leonard St.
Dallas, TX 75201
At Dragonfly, chef Dan Landsberg offers his interpretations of familiar American dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Plates to share include ahi tacos and grilled lamb lollipops while entrées range from steakhouse standards like a New York strip and bone-in rib-eye to chicken-fried quail and hand-cut pappardelle with mushrooms and squash. End the meal with warm chocolate cinnamon cake with caramel gelato. A selection from the well-focused wine list, by the glass or bottle, may complement the meal.
Paris Las Vegas
3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
If Las Vegas were the house, this restaurant would be the best seat in it, for this fine-dining perch in Paris's Eiffel Tower has an unobstructed view of the Strip, including Bellagio's dancing fountains across the street. Burgundy velour banquettes and a Belle Époque décor set a plush stage for the contemporary French offerings. Among imaginative appetizers, we like the cold foie gras torchon with duck prosciutto and a fig compote, offered for lunch and dinner.
Luncheon sandwiches include steak with Roquefort cheese and a red onion compote. A salad favorite is created with lobster, shrimp and crab. The dégustation menu dreamed up by the chef each evening is a popular choice, featuring menu items such as warm lobster salad with fingerling potatoes and toasted caraway seeds; butternut squash soup with duck confit; sautéed sea bass; venison chop; Eiffel Tower desserts or a soufflé; and petits four.
Wine can be paired with the tasting menu for a complete experience. Among à la carte dinner entrées, try the slow-roasted filet of Atlantic salmon with Pinot Noir sauce. Prices are high, but dishes such as the individual Eiffel Tower beef Wellington with sautéed snap peas are worth it. The wine list consists of more than 900 labels.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort
5000 Kahala Ave.
Honolulu, Oahu HI 96816
Hoku's warmly elegant dining room offers views of the Pacific as well as a glimpse into the open kitchen where chef Wayne Hirabayashi skillfully presides. Start with appetizers like a selection of Island sashimi, Big Island hearts of palm or the signature ahi musubi --- ahi poke with crispy sushi rice, crab namasu and soy ginger. Seafood is always a stand-out, but non-fish lovers will find Chinese roast duck with bao buns, wok-fried vegetables and orange hoisin sauce, as well as salt-crusted rack of lamb, which is carved tableside and served with a classic rosemary jus.
Sunday brunch offers a cold seafood bar that would make a fishmonger proud. The menu changes often, providing frequent diners and visitors alike with the opportunity to enjoy the full range of chef Hirabayashi's talents.
Hot Tin Roof
Ocean Key Resort & Spa
Key West, FL 33040
There is no dining room like this anywhere else, period. An artist hand-painted the murals and motifs on the walls and the ceiling. Teamed with old-rose tapestry upholstery, jeweled palm frond-shaped chandeliers and gleaming mahogany floors, the room offers a box office setting (on the second floor) from which to look out over the theatrical Gulf, especially alluring as the sun sets. If you can’t resist the salty breeze, dine at a table on the slate patio.
The menu incorporates flavors of Cuba as interpreted by a Cuban-born, fine dining-trained executive chef, in small plates like pork chicharrones with onion mojo, manchego with habanero mustard, and pork loin empanadas. Adventures on a larger scale include main plates like caramelized grouper with coconut and poblanos, adobo pork shank with garbanzo beans and wilted spinach, and filet with chimichurri and papas bravas. Last but not least, desserts such as vanilla malt crème brûlée with raw sugar caramel are a must in this “over the top” setting.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago
401 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Located on the mezzanine level of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, Rebar overlooks the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue Bridge. While taking in the view, guests can sip pricey cocktails like the Red Dragon made with jalapeño-infused Belvedere Vodka, raspberry purée and lime. There is also a selection of Champagne, wine and saké by the glass, as well as domestic and imported beers and sipping spirits. The lounge menu offers sushi, sashimi and appetizers such as fried beef gyoza with ginger soy sauce and a soft shell crab roll drizzled with habanero sauce. Desserts include green tea crème brûlée.
The River Cafe
1 Water St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Some talented chefs have passed through the kitchen of this legendary Brooklyn establishment, including the likes of Charlie Palmer (Aureole) and David Burke (David Burke Townhouse). Brad Steelman, the current top dog, may lack some of the adventurousness of his predecessors, but the view is still the real attraction---the stunning Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge.
Certainly don't disregard the food. Appetizers may include sautéed Hudson Valley foie gras with caramelized apple and brioche “French toast” or Taylor Bay scallop ceviche while main courses might range from crisp duck breast with white truffle honey and fennel pollen glaze to a dry-aged New York cut sirloin. For dessert, go for the gimmicky, but delicious, chocolate marquise Brooklyn Bridge. Check out the Top 10 romantic restaurants in New York.
Village Parkplace Brookhaven
1441 Dresden Dr. NE, Ste. 100
Atlanta, GA 30319
Chef Matt Swickerath and owner Michel Arnette, who also owns nearby Haven, attract a steady stream of regulars from the nearby townhouses and the 'burbs to this Northern Italian restaurant. Ample antipasti include nicely fried seafood fritto misto, with singularly sweet halibut, shrimp and calamari entangled with thin slices of fried lemon, fried parsley and fried capers --- the whole daubed with a light touch of lemon aïoli. Pastas vary from gnocchi made in-house that are tender and well worth the calories to pappardelle with its accompaniment of house-made ricotta.
The simple cooking of northern Italy defines these dishes, including the braised pork shank with kale, olives and mascarpone risotto, and grilled swordfish with cannellini beans, escarole and salsa verde. The bisteca, a flat-iron steak, comes grilled as ordered with a side of farro. Desserts may include a warm chocolate tart with vanilla cream. On Sundays, the restaurant serves a fixed-price, family-style supper. The wine list is almost all-Italian, offers a number of choices by the glass, and includes half-priced bottles on Mondays, making Valenza an ideal dinner date spot.
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