The Most Romantic Restaurants In NYC
Where to eat when you want to feel like you're in a pivotal scene in a rom-com.
Sometimes, you need a spot that will put you in the mood to stare lovingly at someone and say the corny things that you normally keep in long-term parking in your head. Whether you're celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or the worst holiday of all, Valentine's Day, here's where to go. These are the most objectively romantic restaurants in NYC, and they're perfect for when you want to lean into your cheesiest impulses. If you see someone suddenly get down on one knee, don’t be surprised.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Estela is, hands down, one of the best restaurants in the city, so simply bringing someone here is an act of love. When you walk through the inconspicuous entrance on Houston and up a half flight of stairs, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a secret spot where people go on dates when they want a place that feels distinctly New York. The space is dark (but not too dark), the music is loud (but not too loud), and the modern American food—from the endive salad to the scallops with uni—is incredible across the board.
If your ideal romantic meal takes place in an old farmhouse in the Italian countryside, you can come pretty close to experiencing that scenario at Il Buco. A night at this Noho restaurant—which opened as an antique store in 1994—feels like a rustic escape from the city. The mains here really shine, and you can't go wrong with the bistecca and lamb chops, but if you order just one thing, get what might be the best risotto in NYC. Also, don't just order one thing here—that's a terrible idea.
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photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Buvette is very small and consistently packed. That might not sound super romantic, but, despite the somewhat cramped atmosphere, this French bistro in the West Village still manages to be impossibly charming. There's a long marble bar and a big chalkboard map of France, and the homey space is filled with vintage knickknacks. Bring a date for some classic French dishes like coq au vin and tartines that you’ll definitely want to try to make at home.
Park Slope’s Le Succulent is one of the best places in Brooklyn to eat Senegalese and Afro-French food like salt codfish fritters and fish with a side of joloff rice. The small, cozy room is usually filled with couples talking to each other in hushed tones, so feel free to join in and whisper to the person across from you about your crispy fish and fluffy rice (and maybe something about how nice they look).
This Greek restaurant gives you a very specific type of feeling: vacation romance. The decor is rustic with a nautical theme, which makes you feel like you’re dining on an island (that isn’t Manhattan) where you could sign up for a snorkeling tour in the morning. Telly’s also happens to have some of the best Greek food in Astoria, and that’s saying something. Start with spanakopita, add some grilled veggies, and finish with a grilled whole fish.
Head to this LES spot when you want to eat upscale vegetarian food with a person who seems to have some affection for you. Seasonal dishes might include zucchini soup dumplings with squash blossoms or eggplant with black sesame tahini. Dirt Candy's mostly dark space is dotted with candles on every table, and there's a white brick wall with black plants painted on it. The $90 tasting menu (gratuity included) comes with five courses, and almost every dish can be made vegan.
The food at this special-occasion spot in Dumbo is basically fancy stuff from the ‘90s, but the main reason to come here is the view of the Manhattan skyline from the dining room. It's as close to eating in the East River as you can get. Dinner is a $195 fixed-price three-course situation with things like steak tartare and a duck breast with foie gras sauce. You won’t feel out of place here in your fanciest outfit, and they have a private garden that looks like it was airlifted from a Thomas Kinkade painting, complete with fairy lights in every tree.
photo credit: Corry Arnold
This upscale French restaurant at the 11 Howard hotel in Soho is filled with white tablecloths, long tapered candles, and grand chandeliers. We imagine this is how aristocrats who live in a château dine every night. Begin your dinner with leeks and toasted hazelnuts, follow that up with lobster au poivre (the best thing here), and take in the scene of couples in Tom Ford jackets and elbow-length satin gloves who look like they’re on the way to some kind of Eyes Wide Shut party.
photo credit: Kate Previte
If you don't think great views make a romantic night out better, you're lying to yourself. You can see most of Manhattan and Brooklyn from this revamped spot on the 60th floor of a building in FiDi, so try to snag a table by one of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The food is New American, which might sound boring, but a lot of their dishes—like barbecued freshwater eel with discs of slightly sweet bone marrow—have an unexpected and interesting combination of ingredients.
This West Village Italian spot really leans into the love theme—especially around early February when you'll see a heart-shaped wreath in the front, pink roses everywhere, and "Love is forever" written on their chalkboard. This all sounds terribly cheesy, but it's actually quite charming. Most of the seating is in their enclosed back garden, which opens up when the weather's nice. Dishes are more like platters here, so share meatballs, cacio e pepe ravioli, and spaghetti in tomato sauce with a ton of lobster with your favorite person.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Leyla is a dimly-lit Turkish restaurant at the bottom of a townhouse on the Upper West Side. Hang out in the narrow dining room in the back, and catch up with your significant other on everything that’s happened in the 10 hours since you saw one another. Get some mezze and hot appetizers, and be sure to order a pide—each comes with a ton of cheese in a little boat shape. This place is a block from Central Park, so go for a stroll after dinner, hold hands, giggle, and be adorable.