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Photograph: Nusla Design

The most romantic restaurants in NYC

Cozy up with that special someone at the most romantic restaurants in NYC, including outdoor options

By Bao Ong, Christina Izzo and Time Out New York contributors

Everyone's opinion on what makes a romantic restaurant varies as much as the next person's thoughts on New York City's best restaurant or bar. After all, there's a lot of competing factors: What's the occasion? Is there a type of food you're craving? Is it a Tinder date or five-year anniversary dinner? Maybe you want to go out for soup dumplings in Flushing, Queens, or grabbing a pizza slice to eat while watching the sunset. But there's one common denominator this year and it's that everyone is only offering outdoor dining for the time being. Here are some romantic spots across town you'll want to swipe right on.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Most romantic restaurants in NYC

Photograph: Cayla Zahoran

1. Lilia

Restaurants Italian Williamsburg

Curl up with your date as you twirl any of the stellar pastas from Lilia. It’s easily one of the best bowl of carbs you'll have this year—that is, if you can snag a reservation. The recently rolled out Yurt Village, a bank of heated private tents you can reserve, is the perfect backdrop for a little Lady and the Tramp-style spaghetti smooch. 

Duo of Quebec Suckling Pig at Daniel
Photograph: Courtesy Jessica Lin

2. Daniel

Restaurants French Lenox Hill

Even in the worst of times, a world-class city needs restaurants offering the escape of over-the-top coddling and luxurious food, with a star chef who's not just on the awning but in the kitchen and dining room, too—in short, a place like Daniel. The staff is just as doting outdoors at the striped, heated dining bungalows located outside of the Daniel Boulud flagship. 

Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Krieger

3. Buvette

Restaurants French West Village

Buvette has all the charms of classic French bistros and its location on a quaint stretch of Grove Street adds to the allure of the outdoor dining space. On some evenings, you'll even catch a cellist on the corner and it feels like you're being serenaded with your own concert. The only thing we miss are the late hours of operation, so you can snuggle up to your sweetie for a croque monsieur even in the wee hours of the night.

Photograph: Time Out/ Ali Garber

4. June

Bars Wine bars Carroll Gardens

Back when it opened in 2015, June helped put natural wine on Brooklynites’ radar. Today, interesting bottles continue to add to the allure of the ’20s-era Midnight in Paris vibes. With its curved oxblood banquettes, globe light fixtures and stemmed glasses hanging over a marble bar top, June is endlessly romantic—even if you're outdoors in the garden.

La Mercerie
Photograph: Adrian Gaut

5. La Mercerie

Restaurants French Soho

From the shabby-chic ceramics holding your fluffy crêpes to the velvety curtains draped over the front entrance, everything has a cozy, very French feel at La Mercerie. Chef Marie-Aude Rose’s gem of a menu is a soul-soothing experience, whether you’re digging into boeuf bourguignon or sorbet, and the outdoor space full of stylish diners will make your magical evening unforgettable.

Carrot crepe at Olmsted
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

6. Olmsted

Restaurants Contemporary American Prospect Heights

On paper, Olmsted’s partiality for hyperfresh produce isn’t exactly a distinctive quality, but its sheer dedication to freshness sets it apart. An urban minifarm behind the modestly dressed restaurant provide Baxtrom’s kitchen with radishes and lovage; and a bird coop coos with quails laying eggs. Servers ask if you want to wait for a table on a cushioned bench in the backyard garden, with a cocktail and crayfish crackers, say, beneath strung lights—answer yes when they do.

Photograph: Courtesy Natalie Black

7. Crown Shy

Restaurants American Financial District

Though the food at Crown Shy is of the same caliber as top fine-dining destinations—Exhibit A: the to-die-for satsuma orange ice cream by Renata Ameni—it doesn’t come across nearly as buttoned-up, with upbeat hip-hop blaring through the speakers and waiters in white T-shirts and jeans. While you can't go inside the highly sought-after Art Deco residential building, 70 Pine Street, the service is still just as on point at the resto's sidewalk seating or luxurious heated yurts. 

Apres Ski at Marea
Photograph: Marea

8. Marea

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian Midtown West

Where better to snuggle up to your snow bunny than at Marea, which has transformed its curbside set-up into an après ski winter wonderland. Get cozy with faux-fur shams and seat heaters while tucking into a two-course winter prix fixe ($55 per person), featuring a choice of seasonal appetizer and belly-warming bowl of pasta, as well as a cookie plate to finish.

Photography: Courtesy Anton's/Giada Paoloni

9. Anton's

Restaurants American West Village

At Nick Anderer’s first solo project, bask in the glory of wood-paneled walls, candelabras dripping wax and antique-looking chairs. Well, you can't enjoy that ambiance indoors but you still get the same feel when the food arrives. The pastas—such as the angel-hair Francese—are what you should try if you want to go full Lady and the Tramp.

Photograph: Courtesy Wayla

10. Wayla

Restaurants Thai Lower East Side

Located in a basement storefront on Forsyth Street, you might just miss Wayla upon first glance. With little signage pointing you in the right direction, down the steps is a secret Thai restaurant and bar oasis not to be missed. The dark and cavernous spot joins the growing number of nightlife restaurants-slash-bar destinations in the area, with tricks up its sleeve and more soul to set it apart from the pack. One suck trick is the secret yard out back, decorated with patterned rugs, outdoor chairs and charming lighting.

Photograph: Courtesy Atla

11. Atla

Restaurants Mexican Noho

Taking cues from the community-focused restaurants of Mexico City, the venue features sleek black and oakwood furniture, a white terrazzo bar and verdant vegetation lining the walls. The wide windows give you a view indoors, but sitting outside is just as pleasing. The slick environment offering excellent cocktails and a more nuanced look at Mexican and Central American fare will impress your date. 

Photograph: Noah Fecks

12. Wayan

Restaurants Indonesian Nolita

Chef Cédric Vongerichten and his wife Ochi’s ode to Indonesian and French food is filled with lovey-dovey design touches, such as teak carvings, antiques and leather chairs, in a room that feels like a slice of Bali landed in Manhattan: The stage is set for fusion cuisine done right. Don’t believe us? Try the steamed black sea bass spiked with chili-calamansi vinaigrette or the skewers of chicken satay dipped in a rich peanut sauce.

Photograph: Filip Wolak

13. Carbone

Restaurants Italian Greenwich Village

At this more fantastical set piece than history-bound throwback, expect to have a romantic evening that also kind of feels like a performance. Carbone is a hyped-up spin on a vanishing form, a restaurant where, bread sticks to bowties, everything looks, tastes and feels like much more of itself. This modern take on the old-school Italian red sauce joint is larger than life both in its atmosphere, prices and portion sizes.

Photography: Courtesy of King

14. King

Restaurants Contemporary European West Village
The simply designed space is romantic but not overly so, falling somewhere between sophisticated and relaxed. The outdoor space isn't quite like the interior, but on the perfect night when the weahter is nice and you catch a glimpse of the sunset, it's still equally appealing. Chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt—both alums of London’s famed River Café—don’t hide behind over-the-top plating techniques, instead serving a vegetable-heavy hit list that complements the meat and fish courses. (The carta di musica, a crackly flatbread, is irresistible.) The daily-changing menu means you’ll never get bored of dining here.
The Four Horsemen
Photograph: Liz Clayman

15. The Four Horsemen

Bars Wine bars Williamsburg

At the Williamsburg spot owned by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy dishes change daily—the kind of serendipity that makes for perfect fodder on a date. Dishes are intended to pair with one of the restaurant's many magnificent wine pours to get the conversation flowing. 

Red Hook Tavern
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

16. Red Hook Tavern

Restaurants Red Hook

Billy Durney’s low-key spot draws inspiration from stalwarts like Peter Luger and McSorley’s, and the vibe is equally nostalgic and sexy—even while you’re devouring the popular, if hefty, dry-aged burger at the handsome bar. The staff will make you feel at home whether you order a dark ale or a glass of funky natural wine. Expect a night that eschews prim-and-proper etiquette for a more laid-back dining experience just off Van Brunt Street.

Photograph: Alan Melconian

17. One if by Land, Two if by Sea

Restaurants American West Village

Since 1973, this 1767 carriage house once owned by former vice president Aaron Burr has been serving candlelit seclusion long before Broadway’s Hamilton musical arrived. Dinners range from a $95 vegetarian six-course chef’s tasting to a seven-course version that features boneless rack of lamb, beef wellington, and lemon tarts. It routinely makes lists of the most romantic restaurants not just in the city but in the world. And the private garden will make any dining couple feel like nobody else is in the room where it happens. The outdoor dining aspect changes things but this stalwart is still the it place for many couples.

18. Kyma - Flatiron

Restaurants Greek Flatiron

It’s all about classic Greek flavors at this Flatiron restaurant. It certainly looks the part too, with the look and feel of a traditional Greek taverna as you might see on the classy little island of Mykonos. The outside patio is also romantically dabbled in Mediterranean vibes: Think winding branches, twinkling lights, and blue hydrangeas. 

Venue says NYE⁠ with KYMA ✨ Join us for a pre-midnight celebration over dinner from 4:30pm-10pm!


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