Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S.
Luxist readers nominated the restaurants that they believe to be the most romantic spots in the country. From Napa Valley and Orleans to New York and a quaint little town in Virginia called Washington, here are their top five favorite places to wine and dine their significant others (in alphabetical order):
Auberge du Soleil (Napa Valley, Ca.)
Enjoying a glass of wine at sunset in California's Napa Valley is one of the best ways to start an intimate evening, and the restaurant at Auberge du Soleil offers a chance to do just that.
Founded in 1981 by San Francisco restaurateur Claude Rouas, the eatery helped spawn the wave of popularity currently enjoyed by the entire Napa area. In 1985, Rouas and business partner Robert Harmon opened the inn---in French, auberge---to host visitors to the California wine country. He envisioned both the restaurant and the inn as a tribute to his beloved Provence, and, true to form, both continue to be exactly that.
Guided by executive chef Robert Curry, the restaurant remains one of America's most delicious---and most romantic. The best way for lovebirds to enjoy the seasonally-changing menu is at La Pagode, the restaurant's private dining area for two. Here, the evening begins with a bottle of champagne, followed by a dozen oysters and a four course dinner, with wine pairings included. This type of romance comes with a $1,495 per couple price tag, plus an optional $550 for two hours of solo guitar accompaniment.
For those looking for something less extravagant, the restaurant offers a number of different prix fix meals: three courses for $98, four courses for $115, and a tasting menu for $140. Paired with wine, the latter costs $227, and it's still plenty romantic. Reservations can be made by calling (800) 348-5406.
Gallery: Auberge du Soleil
Blue Hill New York (New York, N.Y.)
Sometimes the most romantic part of a meal is knowing that the food on the table is sourced from local farmers, made from the freshest ingredients available. Blue Hill New York in Manhattan offers this and a delightful ambiance.
Established in 2000, Blue Hill is located in a landmark "speakeasy" in a residential neighborhood of Greenwich Village, just below street level near Washington Square Park. The restaurant gets all its ingredients from nearby farms like Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Mass., and Stone Barns Center just north of Manhattan. Expect to pay about $70 for a full à la carte meal, or $78 for a five-course tasting menu culled from the week's harvest and curated by executive chef Dan Barber.
For diners who'd like to get even closer to the source of their food, there's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a sister restaurant on the same farm that supplies the Greenwich Village eatery. Just 40 minutes north of Manhattan by car or train, Blue Hill at Stone Barns offers a bucolic atmosphere and true farm-style dining.
There are no menus at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, only a list of recently harvested ingredients like ruby chard, husk cherries and black trumpet mushrooms. Guests can chose from two "Farmer's Feast" options: an eight-course meal for $135 or a five-course meal for $105. There's also a four-course Sunday lunch available for $85.
Gallery: Blue Hill
Delmonico (New Orleans, La.)
Emeril Lagasse may be known more for his television appearances than for his actual cooking these days, but his Delmonico restaurant in New Orleans remains a bastion of fine cuisine. It doesn't hurt that it is located in New Orleans, which is arguably one of the most romantic cities in the world.
Growing up in Fall River, Mass., Emeril learned the cooking trade as a youngster, working in a Portuguese bakery as a teenager. He continued on to culinary school at Johnson and Wales University, traveling next to France to hone his skills. After his European stint, Emeril returned to the United States to work in restaurants across the Northeast.
Emeril opened Delmonico in 1998, choosing New Orleans' historic garden district for his restaurant. The restaurant quickly gained fame for its delicious offerings, most notably the crispy pork cheek. Over the past summer, chef Spencer Minch---who holds down the fort when Emeril isn't around---cooked up a different menu focusing on a different country's cuisine every month.
Gallery: Emeril's Delmonico
Inn at Little Washington (Washington, Va.)
Washington, Va. doesn't have the sweeping vistas of the Napa Valley or the high-culture panache of New York City. But it has a small-town charm all its own, and nowhere is this more evident than The Inn at Little Washington.
Established in 1978 by Patrick O'Connell, the restaurant and attached inn are contained by a modest building on the corner of Middle and Main streets. George Washington himself named those thoroughfares-and the rest of the roads in Washington, Va.---back in 1749. Thanks to a delicious menu, an unusually courteous staff, and a quaint set of guest rooms, The Inn at Little Washington has earned some of the most prestigious awards in the travel world; it's the first establishment to earn AAA's highest acknowledgment, the Five Diamond Award, in both the food and accommodation categories.
Dinner beneath the Inn's rose-colored silk lampshades is bound to please. The menu changes constantly, but recent offerings included wild Greenlip mussels baked with herb butter and Pernod; crispy Mediterranean red mullet with gazpacho sauce and black olive tapenade; and mustard-crusted Elysian Fields rack of lamb with minted tomato vinaigrette, matchstick potatoes and Tzatziki sauce.
Washington, Va. may not have changed much since the 18th Century, but the prices certainly have. Prix fixe dinner costs $148 per person on weekdays, ramping up to $178 on Saturdays and even more on holidays. For a close-up look at the kitchen, guests can reserve seats at one of two chef's tables for $300-$450 per person.
Gallery: The Inn at Little Washington
One if by Land, Two if by Sea (New York, N.Y.)
There are romantic restaurants, and then there's One if by Land, Two if by Sea. If you spend an evening at this New York eatery, you're likely to see at least one man get down on one knee and propose.
Nestled on a quiet street in Manhattan's chic West Village, One of by Land, Two if By Sea is located in a building that once served as Aaron Burr's carriage house. Crackling fireplaces and sparkling chandeliers light the restaurant's dim and intimate dining rooms; fresh roses rest on every table, and on most nights an experienced pianist tickles the ivory in the front room.
Though the cuisine comes second to the ambiance, it's quite stellar in its own right. Executive chef Andrew Matthews' menu includes octopus with watermelon, cantaloupe, pimento and olives; poached lobster with courgettes and porcini mushrooms; and the restaurant's signature Beef Wellington. Pastry chef Dean Anderson serves up delights including almond milk panna cotta with strawberry tapioca and lychee sorbet.
Prix fixe options start at $78, ramping up to $150 for a seven-course meal with wine pairings. If that's not in your budget, stop off at the bar in front and have a drink by the fireplace for a more economical taste of New York's most romantic restaurant.
Gallery: One if By Land, Two if By Sea