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The most romantic restaurants in NYC

Make sparks fly no matter your budget at the city's most romantic restaurants

Filip Wolak
Root & Bone

Not all of the best New York restaurants for dates are pricey and hard to book—there are just as many budget-friendly date spots as there are splurgeworthy dinners for an anniversary, birthday or just a special Saturday night out. Use our guide to find the most romantic restaurant for you and your boo, then grab after-dinner drinks at one of the most romantic bars in NYC.

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Botequim

An homage to owner-chef Marco Moreira's homeland, this Brazilian restaurant shuttles small bites (cod croquettes, turnover-like pastelzinhos) and large-format dishes (whole black bass, roasted suckling pig) from its open kitchen.

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Downtown

El Quinto Pino

New York’s first true Madrileño tapas bar offers its Spanish nibbles in cramped quarters, with only a few barstools and ledges for plates; the idea is to graze, drink and chat before heading elsewhere for dinner. An adventurous party of two, up for such challenging dishes as a miniature wasabi-kissed sea urchin “panino,” could quite easily eat every single thing off of the short menu without feeling too gluttonous.

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Chelsea

Esperanto

There’s a raffish, multiculti charm to the whirring overhead fans, live music and chili-pepper garlands at this low-lit spot. The tapas are consistently tasty, with a zingy tuna ceviche leading the way. Tuck into chayote salad with lime dressing, chicken roasted in a banana leaf, Brazilian pork stew or grilled seafood on greens. The cocktails—like an exotic kiwi roska—are fruity and well-mixed, and perhaps the best reason to come.

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East Village

Le Barricou

After reinventing itself, this French bistro in Williamsburg now serves even more affordable classics, like cassoulet and bouillabaisse, than it did when it first opened. In the back, a nineteenth-century–style wine lounge with antique furniture and a functioning fireplace opens onto a small garden space.

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Williamsburg

Mesa Coyoacan

Critics' pick

Looking at the modern glass-and-steel building that houses Mesa Coyoacan, chef Ivan Garcia’s culinary paean to Mexico City, you’d never guess that a warm and intimate restaurant resides within.

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Williamsburg

Moustache

This beloved cheap-eats haven serves some of the city’s best Middle Eastern food in all three of its Manhattan locations. The original West Village dining room packs in a neighborhood crowd nightly—it’s not unlikely to see a line outside, since reservations are not taken. But it’s worth the wait. Freshly baked pitas, still puffed up with hot air when served, are perfect for scooping up the smoky baba ghanoush. 

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West Village

Northern Spy Food Co.

Critics' pick

Part of the problem with eating well—healthfully, deliciously and environmentally correctly—is that it’s expensive. Enter Northern Spy Food Co., a restaurant that serves locally sourced meals at reasonable prices (no dish costs more than $15).

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East Village

Root & Bone

Fresh off a season of Top Chef, Australia native Janine Booth joins fellow TV toque Jeff McInnis (Miami's Yardbird) to retool Deep South standbys. Reclaimed wood, repurposed scaffolding and recycled whiskey bottles become chandeliers and lamps in the 45-seat dining room, and animal-bone beer taps take center stage at the bar, where cocktail creator Cecilia Romero whips egg into the Bumble 'n' Bone ($12), a black-pepper-laced maple-and-gin quaff.

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East Village

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Critics' pick

Situated on an expansive working farm, the restaurant features produce and meats that come directly from the surrounding fields: Pigs that graze just outside the window arrive on the table in preparations fine-tuned to the seasons. They may appear as sesame-coated strips of pancetta wrapped around deep-fried asparagus stalks, or perhaps as meaty cuts with a bright and sweet carrot sauce.

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Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria

Strictly speaking, the mash-up of restaurant and retail food shop makes sense. You pop in to browse, and you stick around for a meal. But in New York, the combination has been an awkward fit. Il Buco’s new casual offshoot—one part winecentric restaurant (Vineria), one part gourmet food pantry (Alimentari)—pulls off the combo more elegantly.

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Downtown

Kyo Ya

Critics' pick

The city’s most ambitious Japanese speakeasy is marked only by an open sign, but in-the-know eaters still find their way inside. The food, presented on beautiful handmade plates, is gorgeous: Maitake mushrooms are fried in the lightest tempura batter and delivered on a polished stone bed. Sushi (we tried the salmon) is pressed with a hot iron onto sticky vinegared rice. The fish is topped like a still life with its own microgreen forest. The few desserts—including an extra silky crème caramel—are just as ethereal as the savory food.

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East Village

La Grenouille

Critics' pick

New York’s haute French dinosaurs have basically gone extinct over the past few years. La Grenouille, which opened in 1962, is the last survivor, a window to when stuffy waiters and chateaubriand were considered the highest form of dining. 

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Midtown East

Marea

Critics' pick

An upmarket shrine to the simple pleasures of the Italian coastline, the project is a gutsy gamble from a chef with bravado to burn. The most extravagant New York restaurant to open so far, Marea features an enormous menu, daunting prices and almost maniacal optimism (is there another new spot in town offering California caviar at $175 an ounce?). The high prices and opulent dining room—with silver-dipped seashells and rosewood walls cloistered from the street behind gauzy blinds—suggests a restaurant with the loftiest auteur ambitions. 

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Midtown West

Mas (farmhouse)

Critics' pick

This fashionable spot with clean lines, chocolate tones and a warm golden glow arrived in the Village with an instant scene, courtesy of chef Galen Zamarra (formerly of Bouley Bakery). But look past flashy diners for the real excitement: a menu that focuses on seasonal and organic ingredients.

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West Village

Peasant

Critics' pick

The dining room at Peasant, one of downtown’s most celebrated Italian restaurants, is equal parts rustic and urban chic. Cement floors and metal chairs give the place an unfinished edge, while the gaping brick-oven and lengthy wooden bar provide the telltale old-world notes. Dishes that emerge from the fire are particularly good.

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Nolita

Rainbow Room

The historic lounge atop 30 Rock returns with Jonathan Wright (U.K.'s Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons) at the kitchen's helm to turn out modern American dishes for both the restaurant and its accompanying bar, SixtyFive.

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Midtown West

Raoul’s

Critics' pick

Keith McNally has been trying for years to replicate what Raoul’s has been doing since 1975—serving first-rate French fare in an authentic bistro setting. Raoul’s timeworn look is the real deal: Authentic antique furnishings, pressed-tin ceilings and walls, black-and-white leather booths, and paintings of female nudes beckon. The food is as seductive as the atmosphere.

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Soho

Sushi Azabu

Critics' pick

This stealthy sushi shrine—tucked away in the basement of Greenwich Grill—attracts diners who happily hobnob with the talkative chefs while popping exceptional nigiri morsels into their mouths. You can order à la carte, but the $58 prix fixe is a generous bargain: First-rate sashimi and grilled salmon starters are followed by half a roll and seven plump pieces (among them luscious chutoro and sweet, silky raw shrimp).

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Tribeca

Comments

2 comments
Edmond V
Edmond V

My wife's birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I am so excited. She deserves the best. I haven't taken her out to a fancy romantic restaurant for years. I'm so glad that I was able to find these recommendations. http://www.gabrielsrestaurant.ca/en/