The Music Capital of the World is full of beautiful hikes, cozy nooks, and hidden bars and speakeasies to woo your boo, but sometimes you have to keep it classic with a meal at one of the most romantic restaurants in Austin. That's where we have you covered. Regardless of whether you opt for white tablecloth fine dining, rustic outdoor dinners or dimly lit cocktail bars, the sparks will be flying at these love-inducing spots. Need options for a special anniversary dinner or somewhere you can go week after week? We have ideas for that too. So consider this your go-to guide for nurturing your love life in 2020.
RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Austin
The best romantic restaurants in Austin
Lenoir is the ultimate romantic restaurant 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 menu consists of flavors that lean towards spicy and acidic. The three-course, prix-fixe menu has four sections: field, land, sea and dream, and each plate’s description solely includes a list of ingredients—for example, "olive oil-cured fish/citrus ponzu/chili aioli/fried shallot." 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.
Artists, musicians, movers and shakers all flock to Justine’s, where a new culture of cool has taken residence. Let’s start with the wine: the venue’s list is full of picks described with flowery adjectives like sanguine, midnight and electric. 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.
Located in Green Pastures' 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 Yukon potato purée, BBQ gulf shrimp and grits and the best buttermilk biscuits in town. No visit is complete without an after-meal toast of the boozy bourbon-based milk punch that Green Pastrues has served since 1965.
Eden East—located in the heart of Springdale Farm—is about as romantic as rustic dining gets in Austin. An ancient elm tree strung with twinkling lights serves both as the farm’s cornerstone and as Eden East’s communal dining area. Chef Sonya Cote’s talented team creates inspired new menus every month with ingredients that bring farm-to-table to another level. Each dinner service starts with complimentary cocktails from Deep Eddy, or wine/beer/spirits you can bring yourself. This will be a culinary experience to remember: over two-to-three hours, you will be served five to six courses that include local meats, vegetables and much more.
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 dessert like Jeffrey’s chocolate soufflé with orange saffron ice cream and grand Marnier crème anglaise.
Stepping into Grizzelda’s is like stepping into every woman’s #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, pickled peppers) and dry-aged steak sourced from Jacoby’s ranch. Grizzelda’s relaxed, beachy vibe guarantees your date night will be muy romantico.
Bryce Gilmore’s Barley Swine, long renowned as a top restaurant in Austin, offers both a chef’s tasting menu and à la carte options for a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience. The eatery’s inventive dishes—like spicy pig skin noodles and butternut cake with comb honey and lavender—are pure love fuel. The cocktails are amazing as well: the Yellow Rose of Texas (Meyer lemon vodka, yellow Chartreuse, honey) is bright and tantalizing while the Rock n’ Roots (Diplomatico anejo rum, sunchoke, coffee liqueur, chocolate bitters) provides sumptuous depth.
At modern Southern restaurant Olamaie, you can enjoy an elegant, multi-course dinner or opt for a more casual dining experience on the porch. Either way, you and your loved one will be beaming. Known for Chef Michael Fojtasek’s inventive spin on Southern classics, make sure to order a buttery, flaky biscuit (served with honey butter) in your order.
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 self portrait (gin, Amaro Meletti, Cocchi Americano, citrus bitters) and the small plate menu means lots of room for sharing and exploring. Expect artful plating and a very modern interpretation of classics, like the gnocchi with smoked shrimp, horseradish and dill, or the warm ricotta with tangerine marmalade and honey garlic.
Prove to your date that you're the bon vivant you claimed to be on your Tinder profile by treating them to an evening at Péché. Located in Austin’s 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 personally love the pommes frites, Prince Edward Island mussels in a habanero coconut broth and the butternut squash ravioli in an aromatic sage cream sauce.
You know what’s really romantic? Not spending a ton of money or being crammed next to other couples. Blue Dahlia Bistro has been flying under the romantic-weeknight-dinner radar for too long. The European bistro has been around for almost 10 years, serving famous tartines and breakfast fare while charming diners with a sultry ambiance at night. The lush patio, illuminated by candles, is enveloped in twining ivy, tropical philodendrons and bamboo. Share the mussels Dijon (mussels with white wine, cream, Dijon-based broth), a bottle of French Cote du Rhone bursting with berry notes and, of course, the decadent flourless chocolate cake with raspberry drizzle.
Eberly's beautiful concept space—a mixture of new and old—has quickly 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), the open air patio or 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. Slurp fresh oysters with your true love and melt over shells and cheese whilst sipping on a lush Bijou (Ford’s gin, Dolin sweet vermouth, green Chartreuse, Aperol, orange bitters).
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 onto grilled meats drizzled in Buenos Aires’ famous—and very garlicky—chimichurri sauce. Don’t fret about goodnight kisses though, fernet is one of Argentina’s favorite spirits and its aromatic, minty flavor will do the trick.
The Townsend is a solid choice for the couple who wants to keep dinner dates casual. The bar’s dark interior—characterized by floor-to-ceiling almost-black paint and cozy gray velvet seating—lends itself perfectly to intimate interactions. The bar program, developed by Justin Elliott, is award-winning and includes both classics and more creative cocktails. The Townsend also offers an array of vibrant fine dining bar food prepared by chef Justin Huffman and his team; his North African hot chicken (fried chicken thigh, flatbread, pickles) and cacio e pepe (squid ink pasta, grana padano cheese, black pepper) will tickle anyone’s taste buds.
Another outside-of-the-box option is Old Thousand, a neighborhood Chinese restaurant on Austin’s east side. Shareable dishes pepper the menu, which includes a delicious Chongquing chicken. The bar program is just as exciting as the grub: try the very herbal Killing Me Softly, made with Hendrick’s gin, Chartreuse, cucumber and fresh dill.