It doesn't have to be a special occasion to treat your partner to a romantic meal. There's a time to dine with big groups and there's a time to go el cheapo but when you're planning an anniversary or a special date night out and about town, it's best to take it up a notch with a proper sit-down dinner with all the trimmings. Here are our picks of the best value-for-money, romantically lit restaurants to wine and dine in Singapore. Let's get in the mood for love.
The statuesque colonial building is home to three dining concepts, each offering a different vibe. Those of you on a first date can head to Wildseed Café, where cakes and all-day brunch at the courtyard keep things easy breezy and casual. Turn up the charm at Txa, a pintxos bar where you can snack on all manner of Basque-style bites or dial up the romance at Una on the second floor. The rich timber floors, white tablecloths and warm pendant lights help set the mood as you share a pan of paella and sides.
Afterwards Go on a romantic stroll around Telok Blangah Hill Park towards Henderson Waves, which happens to make one of the best make-out spots in Singapore.
Bring a hot date to the hottest new restaurant along Amoy Street. From the moment you step foot into Cloudstreet, the seductive painting of a woman in a state of undress beckons. The cavernous space is dark, sexy and lush – decked out in magnificent floral arrangements and an eclectic mix of furniture, all armed to charm. The best seats in the house are by the counter overlooking the open kitchen, where you and your date can watch as the chefs sautée, grill and plate dishes like betel-leaf wrapped oysters, lamb saddle and young jackfruit as well as a stout and liquorice bun that’ll have you licking your fingers and lips clean.
Afterwards Bars along Amoy Street are in no short supply. Walk down the road and look out for the neon pink sign that reads ‘Psychic’. It’s not a Tarot reader but Employees Only, one of the best cocktail bars in the city. Another secret spot is The Spiffy Dapper, a bar located on the second floor of 73 Amoy Street.
Go on a trip to the sunny coast of Barcelona at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge. The bright and airy shophouse space along Keong Saik Road with accents of cerulean blue, sand-hued rope chairs and exposed brick walls look like kissed with a salty sea breeze is brilliant both in the day and at night. The menu is perfect for sharing with the likes of Ibérico ham croquettes ($10), confit onion and codfish Spanish omelette ($22) and black rice with grilled Mediterranean red prawn ($32).
Afterwards You’ll definitely want to save room for Olivia’s creamy homemade cheesecake ($14) but if you still have room for more then take a couple steps down to The Old Man for a digestif.
Crystal chandeliers, plush velvet armchairs and luxurious silken wallpaper elevate the dining room of Siri House – a multi-concept venue that also houses a condominium showflat, art gallery and retail corner. The food menu is thankfully more straight forward, with elevated comfort food by chef Ming Tan taking centre stage. Think deep-fried Hasselback potatoes smothered in mala mayo ($16) and pappardelle ($33) tossed in a prawn and lobster head bisque.
Afterwards Let loose at Unplugged, a music joint with an exciting rotation of live performances from canto-pop to homegrown talent.
Bar Cicheti has all the trappings of a romantic restaurant: a dark dining room lit by a semicircle of pendant lightbulbs, gorgeous floral arrangements that perfume the space and pasta to recreate that iconic Lady and the Tramp scene. The (mostly) handmade noodles are done fresh daily and are used in dishes like the squid ink tagliolini. Fans of natural wines are spoilt for choice too. Sommelier Ronald Kamiyama is able to make pairing recommendations depending on your pasta of choice, or feel free to split a bottle between the two of you.
Afterwards End you date on a sweet note with ice cream from Apiary, a small café that does simple flavours right.
Fair warning, a meal at Zén is going to cost you, so you best start saving up if you’re planning a birthday or anniversary surprise. Once you get over the sticker shock of its $450 menu, you'll find that dinner here is actually money well spent. You’re taken on a journey from the first-floor of this charming house on Bukit Pasoh to the third, savouring snacks, exquisite mains and petit fours along the way. Think of it as a four-hour retreat to a cabin in Sweden where the food is exceptional.
Afterwards If you can still manage, roll out the restaurant and into Gibson, which is open till late.
Taking over the former digs of Aura Restaurant, Art by chef Beppe de Vito makes National Gallery Singapore its new home. The name is, after all, befitting of the space that houses the world's largest collection of Southeast Asian art. Expect equally thoughtful and intricately creations by the culinary maestro. Each meal begins with a parade of colourful snacks, painting the blank table canvas with splashes of colour in the form of baby radishes topped with bottarga, roasted chestnuts wrapped with 24-month aged prosciutto and pickled carrots. Order à la carte, or opt for one of its reasonably priced tasting menus: three courses for $78, four for $108 and five for $138 – available during both lunch and dinner.
Afterwards Have a drink at Smoke & Mirrors or explore the galleries of the art museum and impress your date with your knowledge of the arts.
Feel on top of the world at Skai. Nestled on the 70th floor of the Swissotel the Stamford, the restaurant’s sweeping views of the Civic District is reason enough for a visit. Break the ice at the bar before heading over to the plush sofas for a meal. Order up a series of sharing plates but beef things up with the main draw at Skai: steak.
Afterwards Make your way down to Anti:Dote for cocktails with a Korean twist by the talented Bannie Kang.
Designer furnishings, gleaming tableware, elegant art-décor embellishments and feel-good music in the background are all the ingredients of a romantic restaurant. But where Preludio shines is in its ability to ignite conversations that last the evening. The menu is not confined by labels or a specific cuisine, but instead, it follows a theme. The Monochrome eight-course meal boasts dishes in the black and white, but even then, you can still expect a colourful time.
Afterwards If you still have room in your stomach, head to Park Bench Deli to split its famous peanut butter and jelly sandwich before heading to the recently relocated Shin Gi Tai above.
Nestled on the 24th floor of the Hilton Singapore, Il Cielo offers Italian-Japanese cuisine with a view of the rooftop pool. Feast on dishes prepared by chef Yohhei Sasaki who has cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants around Italy and has amassed a repertoire of signature dishes such as his Hokkaido sea urchin spaghetti with Sardinia bottarga and yuzu juice ($38). Il Cielo offers an à la carte menu, as well as an affordable set lunch from $28 during weekdays. But opt for the degustation menus ($138/$188 with wine pairing) for a taste of what chef Sasaki has to offer.
Afterwards Hop from one hotel to another by checking out the hidden-from-view The Other Room at Marriott Tang Plaza.
Championing ethical and sustainable dining set in a pretty garden, The Botanic has a largely plant-based menu that’s sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. The menu is split into four parts: vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat. If you love your red meat, try the wagyu brisket ($38) or the Australian striploin ($36). Meanwhile, vegetarians can savour selections like ricotta dumplings ($25) or beetroot cooked in stout ($22).
Kilo Kitchen's industrial aesthetic of reclaimed timber, sturdy canvas blinds and brass finishings juxtaposed against cushions in bright hues of yellow, pink and scarlet and indoor plants makes it one for the bold and adventurous. Cosy up at the corner of the banquette seat and tuck into its brand of modern comfort food fresh from a wood-fired grill.
What started as a small neighbourhood shack selling roast chicken on paper plates has evolved into a family-friendly bistro with plenty of options. Tucked along Sunset Way in Clementi, Summer Hill is the answer to those looking for a heartland date where the little ones are welcomed to tag along. The candlelit table is covered in mahjong paper for the kids to doodle on while the adults feast.
Having a gluten intolerance or dietary restrictions doesn’t mean you can’t have an amorous meal at a restaurant just like all the other lovebirds. The Butcher’s Wife takes allergies seriously, ensuring that not a trace of gluten makes its way to the kitchen, giving you peace of mind and a satisfied stomach.
Afterwards Tiong Bahru is packed with quaint cafés where you can get a dessert and a cup of tea. But if you prefer something alcoholic, head up to Lin Rooftop Bar for some fresh air and tipples.
The Gyu Bar might seem like an unlikely place for a date but step inside the 35-seater restaurant and it is a breath of intoxicatingly smoky air. This is where to go if both you and your date are meat enthusiasts. The 10-course ($138) beef-centric omakase menu features premium Wa-Oh Japanese beef from Kumamoto in different cuts you can cook up on the grill. In the spirit of omotenashi (that’s Japanese hospitality for you), you can pick a sake cup from the shelf and enjoy a premium pour on the house.
Afterwards You'll find Winestone, an affordable wine bar where glasses go from just $10, right next door.
Without the demand of impeccable manners and Sunday’s best, Restaurant Ibid is a stylish yet casual abode, worthy enough for first dates, anniversaries and anything in between. Restaurant Ibid’s 'Nanyang-style, contemporary Chinese-meets-Singaporean cuisine is sure to please. Offered in six-($98), and eight-course ($138) menus, dishes to expect include mozzarella cheese-oozing spring onion shaobing, beef short rib with fermented nashi pears and strawberries and cream with local herbs.
Got a date who appreciates things with a little bit of heat? The botanical Birds of a Feather might shout romance but wait till you feast on the Western dishes with a Sichuan twist. Inspired by the teahouses of Chengdu, the place is the perfect spot for a quiet lunch or dinner and getting to know each other. And there's plenty to talk about from the delicious chewy yam noodles in Good Slime Shine ($23) and Sweating Mussels ($29). But if spicy food makes you work up too much of a sweat, save this spot for when you're about five dates in.
An abandoned church restored to a dining hall surrounded by lush greenery, what could be more romantic than that? This fairytale setting is a perfect spot for special dinners and romantic gestures. You know what they say about oysters so get half a dozen from Kelly Galway ($46) alongside other decadent treats like uni custard ($28) and pan-seared foie gras ($32). Diners also return for their delightful desserts so if your date has a sweet tooth, you know what to do.
Afterwards Don't have to go far, the chic outdoor bar, The Rabbit Hole, await you and your date. Order a couple of its signature gin and tonics, the perfect respite from Singapore's balmy climes.
When it comes to romantic meals, it's always important to pick a place with good lighting and good food, of course. The Summerhouse excels on both counts. It sources ingredients from local, Malaysian and Australian farms and growers and celebrates farm-to-table dining. Dine in the spacious dining hall of the colonial bungalow or book one of three air-conditioned domes strategically placed in the garden. They fit up to six guests – there's a minimum spend of $300 – and are themed in different styles. We can't think of a more romantic place to pop the question.
Afterwards Stick around for house pours and wine or head to the nearby Wheeler's Estate for ice cold beer and some live music.
When it comes to dates, first impressions count. And Caffe Fernet easily impresses with its gorgeous decor and even more impressive view. The shiny long bar beckons with warm tones of brown, brick red and gold, and the restaurant portion overlooks the glistening Marina Bay – so don't be surprised if you see people popping the question. They might be drunk on love or Caffe Fernet's happy hour promotions: frosés at $12, spritzes for $13 and specialty cocktails going at $15. It's all served alongside hearty modern Italian fare like cacio e pepe and veal meatballs.
Seal the deal by bringing your date to Monti, at Fullerton Pavilion with a breathtaking view of Marina Bay. Tugboats sail right past your table as you tuck into traditional Italian fare like the Acquerello Risotto ($42), finished tableside in a wheel of Parmesan and topped with freshly shaved black truffle.
Afterwards With resident DJs spinning ’til late, you’ll find it easy to stay at Monti all night long. Alternatively, make your way to Kinki’s rooftop for a selection of Japanese sake and bar snacks.
Housed in Gardens by the Bay’s climate-controlled Flower Dome, Pollen can get a little chilly – giving you the perfect excuse to cosy up with your date. Be treated to chef Steve Allen’s multi-course menu or order à la carte where you'll find options like a beef wellington or two. Alternatively, head to the second floor for a light bite or afternoon tea.
Afterwards Enjoy complimentary access to the Flower Dome and cross the bridge over to Marina Bay Sands for drinks. Party it up on the roof at CÉ LA VI or unwind over a bottle of wine at Adrift by David Myers.
Named after the white charcoal used to grill its French-Japanese tapas, Le Binchotan serves both skewered meats and more refined dishes like uni with corn mousse ($25). Items like the edible "charcoal" ($23) make great conversation starters. This restaurant only seats 38, guaranteeing an intimate experience on the corner of Gemmill Lane.
The dark back alley entrance of this refined Modern European restaurant gives off a secret dining club vibe, and watch her heart melt when you explain that Maggie and Joan are co-owner Daniel Ballis' grandmothers. The food is hardly homespun, though – the well-balanced plates of meat, fish and veg are prettily assembled, and the darkened, cavernous space only adds to the sense of adventure built up from tracking down the restaurant.
Afterwards You're in for a cocktail education at Native, where owner Vijay Mudaliar creates unique drinks with spirits from Asia.
Go for the seats inside, where the low lights and worn pastel walls transport you to a gritty Mexico City saloon, or those on the outdoor terrace, which is lit by sunset and candlelight later at night. Lucha Loco's always a great bet for its upbeat vibe and disarmingly messy Mexican street fare that's bright and spry on the palate. Finish off dinner with some mezcal cocktails and good conversation.
This is as close as you'll get to a romantic Parisian bistro. Chef Frederic Colin's kitted out his long shophouse unit with Art Nouveau posters, rattan chairs, cobblestone floors and a vintage cooker his grandmother nurtured the family with. To carry the experience through, elegantly cut your way through Croque Monsieurs and Madames or a tartine in between sips of one of the many house wines, eaux de vie and pastis.
Afterwards Reminisce about your childhoods over locally inspired cocktails at Jekyll and Hyde.
Looking for a someone who's more fun than high-maintenance? Watch them eat a burger. Three Buns offers an extensive selection of burger-and-the-works options, and plenty of quirky art to talk about between mouthfuls. When you're done, bring the conversation upstairs to the rooftop garden for potent tiki drinks among lights and shophouse rooftops.
Impress your date with Thai fine dining that’s not too stuffy while taking in glistening views of Marina Bay. The amber-lit restaurant lets you bask in a warm glow as you savour traditional dishes like Yam Mamuang, a spicy green mango salad with prawns, chicken, roasted coconut, grounded peanuts and sweet sauce ($18.70) and tom yam gung ($26.50) that have been elevated a notch.
Afterwards If you can’t get enough of marina views, walk along Fullerton Bay to Overeasy for a pint or two.
Save this one for a special occasion. Or not. With breathtaking views of the Singapore skyline, Jaan is an intimate 40-seat restaurant that takes you on a culinary journey to chef Kirk Westaway's hometown in Devon. The small seaside town on the south-western coast of England continues to be a source of inspiration in Jaan's menu, which focuses on fresh seasonal produce.
This is a great restaurant to keep returning to for date night as no two meals at Terra are exactly the same – even though you can request for your favourite dishes in advance. Chef-owner Seita Nakahara regularly travels to Japan to source for new ingredients. As such, the omakase sets of Tokyo-Italian cuisine are changed seasonally depending on what arrives in the kitchen that day. Don’t confuse what you’ll be eating with fusion food: 'Tokyo-Italian' simply refers to authentic Italian dishes that are made from the best Japanese produce available.
The service at this Les Amis Group restaurant is as charming as the warm tones and upbeat mood of its Spanish-inspired decor. Share a spread of former Au Jardin chef Ng Wei Han's vivid tapas and small plates like the Galician-style octopus, charcoal-grilled Iberian presa and a pan of paella, and then take dessert and a digestif on its terrace after.
Afterwards Walk towards Tanglin and disappear into Forum's basement for bespoke cocktails at The Horse's Mouth, or walk further down the road and steal into one of the side lounges of Manhattan Bar at the Regent Singapore for more drinks.
This family-run Italian restaurant has charm oozing out of its bricked walls and the candlestick-topped Chianti bottles that rack them. 'Homely' is the operative word here, and the food aims neither to shock nor titillate but satisfy. Deeply. There's nothing like authentic Italian food to break the ice with your date. Comforting but still keeping it classy, dig into the Fettucine al Granchio (squid ink pasta with crabmeat and a creamy tomato sauce) and you’ll understand why.
Afterwards You're stuck out in Turf City but we'd recommend trekking out to The Straits Wine Company off Sixth Avenue for some alfresco tipple.