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The most romantic restaurants in NYC

Cozy up with that special someone at the most romantic restaurants in NYC with dinner at the classiest joints

Le CouCou
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
By Emma Orlow and Time Out contributors |
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You made it through the anxiety inducing first date and was swept away in the glorious honeymoon stage. Congratulations! So how do you keep the romance going? Brunch in NYC is always a safe bet, but if you really want to turn on the romance, make a reservation at the most romanitc restaurants in NYC. Dine with a view at the Rainbow Room or expand your culinary horizons at La Grenouille. Just make sure to keep the night going with a nightcap at the most romantic bars in the city.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Most romantic restaurants in NYC

1
Buvette
Restaurants, French

Buvette

icon-location-pin West Village

Buvette has all the charms of classic French bistros: dark lighting, excellent wines and intimate seating. Plus the restaurant has long hours of operation, so you can snuggle up to your sweetie for a croque monsieur even in the wee hours of the night. 

Time Out says
2
Photography: Courtesy of King
Restaurants, Contemporary European

King

icon-location-pin West Village

King feels a bit like London's River Café—a landmark restaurant known for its seasonal Italian fare—in front and back of the house. In the kitchen, River Café alums and chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt focus on cooking that's not overly precious: a vegetable-heavy menu complements the meat and fish courses; you'd be just as happy with a salad as you with the baked fish (the carta di musica, a crackly flatbread, is also irresistible). The simply-designed space is filled with natural light during the day, and at dinner, the ambiance is sophisticated yet relaxed. The menu changes almost every day and that's just one reason to come back again and again.

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3
Carbone
Photograph: Courtesy Carbone
Restaurants, Italian

Carbone

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

More fantastical set piece than history-bound throwback. Like Torrisi and Parm, their earlier projects together, it’s 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. Under brass chandeliers, on navy walls, hangs brash modern art on old-school Italianate themes, curated, like the food here, by a downtown tastemaker (Julian Schnabel’s son Vito). The waiters, a seasoned crew plucked from powerhouse dining rooms all throughout the city, have the smooth steps and cool banter of celluloid pros. But Zac Posen designed their wide-lapelled burgundy tuxes. Pro tip: head to the more sedate VIP inner sanctum.

4
Estela
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Estela

icon-location-pin Nolita

There is so much romance in the plating of dishes at Estela. Delicate, carefully placed garnishes that each feel like a hand-cut out Valentine. 

Time Out says
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5
June
Photograph: Ali Garber
Bars, Wine bars

June

icon-location-pin 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.

6
Lilia
Restaurants, Italian

Lilia

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

Curl up Lady and the Tramp style with a twirling pasta from Lilia. It’s easily the best bowl of pasta you'll have this year, that is, if you and your date can get a reservation. 

Time Out says
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7
Photograph: Alan Melconian
Restaurants, American

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

icon-location-pin 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.

8
House of Small Wonder
Photograph: Ali Garber
Restaurants, Cafés

House of Small Wonder

icon-location-pin Williamsburg

If last night went, um, well, take your new “friend” here: They’re sure to be impressed that you know about this clandestine Japanese brunch spot, hidden behind a nondescript door in a windowless wall. House of Small Wonder is perfectly named, with a small, enchanting tree sprouting at the center of the greenhouse restaurant.Think of it has a romantic (but not too romantic) way to start the morning after.

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9
freemans
Restaurants, American

Freemans

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

Tucked away in an easily missed dead end, this treasure feels like it’s straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, in all of its taxidermied, vintage-wallpaper–laden, old-book–strewn glory, creating a nice atmosphere for romance.

10
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Latef F.
Restaurants, Pizza

Ops

icon-location-pin Bushwick

While you’ll certainly be there to fill up on bread and cheese, it’s one of the only pizzerias we head to for some of the county’s most exciting natural wines, a list full of fun and affordable options, perfect for a romantic date night. The excitement around their natural wines even inspired the owners to open a nearby wine shop called Forêt Wines, so, if you're pretentious about wine like we are, you can even make a second date out of picking out a new bottle.

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11
Fedora
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson
Restaurants, Contemporary American

Fedora

icon-location-pin West Village

Gabriel Stulman is an A-list impresario in the making, with a trio of hot eateriesincluding Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey's Grocery and Fedora—clustered within a three-block West Village radius. Much like at Buvette, Fedora also serves food, but would be an elegant date night spot for a nightcap. 

Time Out says
12
<p>Ranchero eggs hoja santa at Atla</p>
Restaurants, Mexican

Atla

icon-location-pin Noho

Taking cues from the community-focused restaurants of Mexico City, the 60-seat venue features sleek black and oakwood furniture, a white terrazzo bar and verdant vegetation lining the walls. The slick environment offering excellent cocktails and a more nuanced look at Mexican and Central American fare will impress your date. 

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13
Il Buco
Restaurants, Italian

Il Buco

icon-location-pin Noho

The old-world charm of well-worn communal tables, dangling copper cookware and flickering lamps may help explain why a restaurant that is more than two decades old is still tough to get into on a Saturday night. Seasonal produce shapes the menu of executive chef Roger Martinez. You’ll have no trouble finding a wine to match your meal; Il Buco’s list is one of the city’s best.

14
Central Park Boathouse
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Troy David Jonston
Restaurants, American

The Central Park Boathouse

icon-location-pin Central Park

The Loeb Central Park Boathouse is the pricier option here, although its crab cakes are more crab than cake. The sculptural salads and fresh fish and foul are sumptuous. But just outside, and just as scenic and lakeside, is the Express Café, where you can watch the Central Park Model Yacht Club fleet while noshing on $6.50 wraps, $5.50 burgers, or $3.50 hot dogs.

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15
Blue Hill
Restaurants, American

Blue Hill

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

All you need to know about this low-key Greenwich Village basement restaurant is that it’s where Barack Obama took his wife, Michelle, on their first date night as president and first lady, in May 2009. Why are you still reading? Like you can do better than Barack?

16
Milk and Roses
Photograph: Courtesty Yelp/Lauren S.
Bars, Cocktail bars

Milk and Roses

icon-location-pin Greenpoint

For a morning–or a morning after–when romance can’t wait until dinnertime, try the daily prix fixe brunch at this rustic-chic Greenpoint spot: $29 for an entree (including coconut and lime french toast, Amish fried chicken and pancakes, or baked brie in puff pastry with fennel salad) and unlimited mimosas.

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17
La Grenouille
Photograph: Ilenia Martini
Restaurants, French

La Grenouille

icon-location-pin Midtown East

New York’s haute French dinosaurs (including Lutece, La Cote Basque and La Caravelle ) 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. It doesn’t get much snootier: jackets are required, cell phones and kids forbidden, and the electric red décor, full of mirrors and flowers and deco details, has the feel of a Mad Men power lunch. That said, La Grenouille endures for a reason: the execution, whether tender, fried sweetbreads, buttery Dover sole with a mustard sauce or five types of pillowy soufflé, remains near flawless.

18
The Four Horsemen
Bars, Wine bars

The Four Horsemen

icon-location-pin 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. 

Time Out says
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19
Le CouCou
Restaurants, French

Le Coucou

icon-location-pin Little Italy

White brick columns, vaulted ceilings and chandeliers dripping with lamps—Le Coucou is a dramatic and gorgeous showstopper from restaurateur Stephen Starr (Buddakan, Morimoto) and chef Daniel Rose. Share an intimate meal of celery-root remoulade, lobster américaine or rabbit cooked three ways over a tall candle set right in the middle of the table.

20
Karasu
Restaurants, Japanese

Karasu

icon-location-pin Fort Greene

Tucked behind a door in the back of the Fort Greene restaurant, Walter’s is this sexy, windowless Japanese speakeasy, moodily set with midnight-blue walls, wooden kumiko screens and shelves of 1950s jazz records. At a curved marble-and-mahogany bar, the bartenders turn out modern Japanese cocktails in vintage glassware—a Scotch-forward Thrice Rice features rice cake, nigori and almond, while a rum-splashed Nettai is flavored with yuzu and mandarin orange—as well as a selection of Japanese whiskey, sake and shochu. 

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21
Cafe Lalo
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Amelia A.
Restaurants, Cafés

Café Lalo

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

It's time for some real talk: you've just scrolled through 21 romantic restaurants. Don't play like you're not all about the meet-up spot from You've Got Mail. Enjoy the hundreds of cakes and pastries, because there's someone you've been forgetting to love enough lately: you.

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