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Photograph: Courtesy Aba/Chase Daniel

The 15 most romantic restaurants in Austin

These beautiful restaurants in Austin are guaranteed to turn the romance up a notch or three. Love is great food

Written by
James Wong
Contributors
Anastacia Uriegas
&
Sarah Medina
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Looking for a romantic restaurant in Austin to treat a special someone? You’ve come to the right place. And as companies and remote workers continue to relocate to our fair city, life has moved into the fast lane. Despite Beverly Hills prices and a lack of swimming pool space, the good news is that more bodies mean more potential dates and that means plenty of wining and dining (perhaps at these wine bars?). We may be best known for BBQ and tacos, but we certainly have a few tricks up our sleeve if you’re looking for an elevated experience to say “I really, really, really like you” (or more). A little conversation, some acoustic sounds, the flicker of candlelight, and cuisine that’ll make your eyes roll back - that’s what we’re talkin’ about.

Whether it’s that all-important first date, a special anniversary, or just another day spoiling the bae, here are 15 romantic restaurants in Austin city to help make the magic happen.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Austin

Best romantic restaurants in Austin

Sushi|Bar ATX has cemented itself as Austin’s premier date spot: with just 10 seats and a Texas-sized waitlist, effort must be made for reservation; and it’s well worth it. Chef Ambrely Ouimette, Austin’s own Jiro Ono, helms the omakase speakeasy hidden within Bento Picnic on the Eastside. She and her dapper team prepare 17 courses of creativity-designed sushi in front of your eyes. The menu is rotating, but sample items include roasted bone marrow with fresh wasabi and soy sauce and a Wagyu that’s so soft and buttery that it retains the texture of toro (oh, there’s that, too). Don’t say no to a sake pairing (but if you do, ask for the off-menu sparkling sake) or a chance to add special savory surprises at the end—more is more. Finish with the toasted coconut shaved ice to beat the heat. Reservations are released at noon on the first of every month for the next month. Time Out Tip: If unsuccessful, follow their social media for last-minute dropouts.

Garrison doesn’t feel like it’s in Austin, mainly because it’s one of the few local digs you can get dressed up for. The swanky downtown grill, helmed by top Chef Jakub Czyszczon, can be found at the back of the Fairmont, where you and your date will tuck into oak-fired delights such as whole grilled branzino with salmoriglio, green olive, and fennel, and a 40 oz prime tomahawk steak that comes with special house sauce, grilled asparagus and parker house rolls. The tater tots with aerated gruyere cheese and black truffle are seriously addictive and best enjoyed with a Texas Hill Country bottle from their grand cabinet.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Bouldin Creek
  • price 2 of 4

Located in Green Pastures in a picturesque 1800s home, Mattie's is the epitome of dreamy dining. Stroll among the peacocks (the birds roam freely throughout the property) and towering oak trees with your dinner date before stopping for a drink in the robin's-egg-blue parlor. If that doesn't leave you smitten, the Southern fare will: Menu items have included fried chicken with bacon and buttermilk ranch, Texas Redfish, and the best buttermilk biscuits in town. No visit is complete without an after-meal toast of the boozy bourbon-based milk punch Green Pastures has served since 1965.

The Commodore Perry Estate has been all over the 'Gram lately (fueled by Queer Eye host visits, no doubt), so why not take your darling to the mansion’s picture-perfect gardens for a meal at Lutie’s? The on-site restaurant comes from husband-and-wife chefs Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu, and the whole focus is on farm-fresh regional cuisine that is both indulgent and good for you. Think seabass with a hearty choi sum and a grand aioli platter with plump and colorful seafood and vegetables. Finish on a naughtier note – the chocolate shaved ice is rich and cooling and comes with lots of toppings.

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Looking to take your date on a wild (gastronomic) ride? Then Lonesome Dove might be the ticket. The lodge-chic restaurant from Chef Tim Love offers an opportunity to sample urban Western cuisine centered around game. Ever tried wild boar? Here you can savor Lonesome Dove’s signature BBQ sauce on Texas boar ribs. How about elk? Options include elk-Foie gras sliders with sweet blueberry jam and the elk loin, where the berries are candied alongside broccolini and parsnip puree. There is also a rabbit-rattlesnake sausage which errs more on the lean rabbit side and is seasoned to perfection. When done, move on from the sultry candlelit dining room and loosen up with a cocktail on their lively front porch, best accompanied by chef's Ancho Chile chocolate cake.

South Congress star Aba incorporates a light cooking style with flavors from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. If on a lunch date, go for the spread sampler with a selection of hummus and house bread alongside whipped feta, charred eggplant, and muhammara. Evening diners shouldn't miss the kebabs, ranging from grilled cauliflower to grilled salmon, served on a bed of basmati rice. The bar showcases rare Mediterranean-inspired wines and spirits, and the whole venue is gorgeous, especially on the outside terrace if you don’t mind the Texan heat (just consider it an excuse to order boozy iced cocktails).

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Bouldin Creek
  • price 3 of 4

Lenoir has been a long-time romantic destination in Austin – the walls are draped in heirloom lace, the space is intimate and never loud, and the white-washed furniture provides a soft backdrop for the exquisite offerings. Serving self-proclaimed 'hot weather food', Lenoir’s seasonal menu consists of ingredients grown or made locally, and flavors that lean towards spicy and acidic. The three-course menu has four sections: field, land, sea, and dream, with around ten options for guests to select from. Lenoir is also known for its expertly curated wine list and knowledgeable staff whose suggestions will have you enjoying a glass of red or white from the best regions in France, Italy, Spain, and more.

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Govalle
  • price 3 of 4

An artfully sexy hangout, Justine’s is where the creative crowd has taken residence. Let’s start with the wine: the venue’s list is full of picks described with flirtatious adjectives like penetrating, succulent and thirst-quenching. While basking in the crisp, warm sound of actual vinyl playing in the background, order the famous steak frites – a heavily-seasoned, fatty rib-eye topped with herbed butter and served with a mountain of perfectly seasoned fries. A classic creme brûlée makes for an ideal ending – just make sure to show you care by allowing your date to break the caramelized sugar.

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  • Restaurants
  • East End
  • price 2 of 4

Just across the street from Violet Crown and Via 313 sits Buenos Aires Cafe, an East Austin mainstay that quietly exudes the sensual spirit of the country where tango was born. Sharing is caring, so nosh on Argentine tapas like charred provolone with fresh herbs or house-marinated olives with citrus zest before moving on to grilled meats drizzled in Buenos Aires’ famous – and very garlicky – chimichurri sauce. Don’t fret about goodnight pleasantries the display case desserts feature treats that’ll sweeten the smooch, including a delicious signature Quatro Leches sponge cake.

  • Restaurants
  • Clarksville
  • price 4 of 4

A meal at Jeffrey’s, a fine-dining institution in historic Clarksville, is worthy of any Austin bucket list. The restaurant doesn’t overlook any detail, from the servers’ crisp uniforms to the warm, elegant atmosphere and unrivaled service. Treat yourself to the full Jeffrey’s experience by ordering a Martini or old-fashioned made tableside. Opt for the all-natural certified Angus beef, a 14oz rib-eye topped with any number of fancy toppings (think foie gras butter or a single slice of funky Roquefort cheese). Mimic the sweetness of your love by splitting desserts like Jeffrey’s chocolate soufflé with pecan praline and stracciatella ice cream.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Holly
  • price 3 of 4

Stepping into Grizzelda’s is like stepping into a #goals Pinterest board. From the rose-colored glassware and the strategically mismatched seating to the black, floral wallpaper, every detail within the space has been thoughtfully designed by co-owners Kris Swift and Adam Jacoby. You and your date will delight in playful cocktails like the Bad Girl Ri Ri (pisco, mezcal, lime, passionfruit), crave-worthy queso (queso Oaxaca and chihuahua, raja peppers) and dry-aged steak sourced from Jacoby’s ranch. Grizzelda’s relaxed, beachy vibe guarantees your date night will be muy romantico.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Holly
  • price 2 of 4

Offering Texas-influenced Italian cuisine in sophisticated digs, Juniper is a great way to say: “I really like you.” The dramatic architecture, plush cobalt seating, and open kitchen are immediately impressive. Cocktails are variations on Italian classics like the Mezcal Last Word (mezcal union uno, maraschino, green chartreuse, lime), and the small plate menu means lots of room for sharing and exploring. Expect artful plating and a modern interpretation of classics, like the gnocchi with ‘nduja, lobster, garlic bread crumbs, or the roasted cabbage with white bean, parmesan, and egg yolk.

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  • Restaurants
  • Warehouse District
  • price 3 of 4

Prove to your date that you are the bon vivant you claimed to be on your Tinder profile by treating them to an evening at Péché. Located in the Warehouse District, Péché serves classic French fare with a nod to 19th-century New Orleans via a dim, chandelier-lit space and a pre-Prohibition–inspired cocktail menu that includes an exciting selection of absinthe. Forget tiny plates: Péché’s generous portions mean everything is shareable. We love the classic French onion soup, pommes frites, and the Bouillabaisse mussels in a saffron tomato broth.

  • Restaurants
  • Bouldin
  • price 2 of 4

Eberly's beautiful concept space—a mixture of new and old—has become one of Austin's top spots for a night out. Dine at the mahogany bar (transported from NYC’s historic Cedar Tavern), in the study (a narrow room boasting steel flying buttresses and lined with books), on the open-air patio, or in the beautiful dining room, in which curved booths and shapely wood wall panels serve as a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s aesthetic. The New American fare and classic cocktails don’t disappoint either. Share potato leek croquettes or steamed mussels with your true love and get a late-night kick on espresso martinis with vanilla, Kahlua, and cold brew.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Allandale
  • price 3 of 4

Bryce Gilmore’s Barley Swine, long renowned as a top restaurant in Austin, offers a chef’s tasting menu and à la carte options for a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience. The eatery’s inventive dishes, like kanpachi Crudo, are seasonal and pure love fuel. The cocktails are amazing; we love the sweet whiskey smash (peach-infused Buffalo Trace, lemon, mint, peach bitters, saline, and soda) and the healthy-feeling Acapulco gold (tequila reposado, turmeric, ginger, tarragon, honey, and lime).

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