What a romantic restaurant looks like is certainly subjective. Sometimes the sweetest dates are the most unexpected: going out to Flushing, Queens for soup dumplings or grabbing a pizza slice to eat while watching the sunset. But for those nights where you want a more "traditional" notion of romance, such as with wine and dim-lighting in a fancy atmosphere, we’ve put together your no-fail guide for sweeping your partner off their feet. We've also thrown in some actually cool newbies in case you're searching for romantic restaurants in NYC that are a bit more of-the-moment. 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
White brick columns, vaulted ceilings and chandeliers dripping with lamps—Le Coucou is a dramatic and gorgeous showstopper from restaurateur Stephen Starr. Share an intimate meal of French delicacies made modern in an intimate setting, designed by the awarding-winning team at Roman and Williams.
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.
Pristine, pricey and market-fresh, Enrique Olvera’s menu is a masterpiece. Come try the corn mousse dessert the restaurant has had diners flocking to, while experiencing one of the leaders of a new wave of experimental, high-end Mexican restaurants. Cosme demonstrates that for far too long the notion of romance has been conflated with just high-end European restaurants.
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. Plus, it’s hidden inside a highly sought-after Art Deco residential building, 70 Pine Street, so you can feel like you’re in on a secret.
The Matter House Group knows how to create a romantic restaurant. There is so much romance in the plating of dishes at Estela. Delicate, carefully placed garnishes—such as with its iconic endive salad—each feel like a hand-cut Valentine.
After perusing photos at the brand-new Fotografiska museum, take your night out to the next level at its stately restaurant. Celebrity restaurateur Stephen Starr (La Mercerie) knows how to make a room twinkle, with lush fabrics and glamorous lighting fixtures that give the space the hazy glow of a Viennese café. Dig into Eastern European delights, such as veal schnitzel with crushed potatoes, before finishing things off with something from the decadent dessert cart.
At Nick Anderer’s first solo project, bask in the glory of wood-paneled walls, candelabras dripping wax and antique-looking chairs. Oh, and there’s food! The pastas—such as the angel-hair Francese—are what you should try if you want to go full Lady and the Tramp.
The Seaport District was once the hub for all things seafood at the Fulton Fish Market in business. With the opening of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s The Fulton on Pier 17, seafood once again takes center stage. Much of the oysters, fish and other seafood featured on the modern menu comes from the East Coast. This is also one of the best waterfront dining destinations to open as of late.
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 candlelit room full of stylish diners will make your magical evening unforgettable.
Times Square’s tourist-filled sidewalks are possibly the least romantic in the city, but high above them you’ll find an intimate oasis on the 11th floor of the sleek Edition hotel. Once you bypass the stunning bar and roaming champagne trolley, settle in for chef John Fraser’s innovative menu, filled with dishes like a whole sweet potato baked inside seaweed bread. A three-course meal means you can always linger in the elegant room with your date for one more drink.
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.
What better way to impress a date than by showing them you’re in-the-know. In an age when people lose their minds over speakeasies hidden in hot-dog shops and ice cream parlors, Atomix tops them all with the most New York way of hiding a fine-dining Korean restaurant: It’s tucked inside the foyer of a walk-up apartment building on the border of Nomad and Murray Hill.
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.
Buvette has all the charms of classic French bistros: dark lighting, excellent wines and an 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Gabriel Stulman is an A-list impresario in the making, with a trio of hot eateries—including 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 also be an elegant date night spot for a nightcap.
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.
This Brooklyn wine bar comes from the Gran Eléctrica and Colonie team. Expect small plates with an Italian influence, such as sunchokes with labne and lemon confit. You’ll want to lounge here while sipping on the low-intervention wines and custom amaro.