The great thing about Valentine’s Day in New York City is the fact that there’s no shortage of romantic restaurants to try on this special day. Without them, we wouldn’t know what to do. Red roses and another box of chocolates? We think not. If you really want to celebrate V-Day this month, we’ve scoured the city for destination spots to help you find a place that feels intimate and has the right ambience pinned down. You know, candles on tables, dim lighting, gorgeous views and decadent interiors. But wait! We’ve just described almost half of New York’s restaurants, which is why our list is based in part by the food served, and how amazing and mind-blowing it can be. The results are that most restaurants on our informal compilation are prohibitively expensive. If you get sticker shocked, think of it this way. V-Day only comes once a year, and if the prix fixe on that night costs $175 per person, just give in, because you can’t put a price on love, right? So here are 10 of the most romantic restaurants in NY for Valentine’s Day.
12 E 12th St, Greenwich Village, New York (212) 620-4020
This West Village restaurant, open since 1984, serves New American fare and is perfect as a romantic spot due to both its savvy and informal service and its opulent and transcending atmosphere. Beautiful billowing and lantern-shaped fabric chandeliers hang beneath the soaring ceilings, and the white tablecloths signify a formality. In fact, to this day the Gotham Bar and Grill is still filled with people who are dressed to the nines, making the place civilized but festive, the perfect place for a special occasion, like date night on V-Day or a birthday party. The picture-perfect WV upscale staple of course has impeccable taste, what with famed chef Alfred Portale behind the helm, who is known as being one of the founders of the New American cuisine movement. And the romantic and celebratory ambience at the restaurant is due mostly to the live music from The Gorman Quartet. Gotham will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a four-case menu that includes appetizers such as Maine lobsters and seared foie gras and second courses with fan-favorite duck breast with mango chutney and a 28-day dry aged New York steak. The cost is $175 per person, and the Gorman Quartet will be playing alongside David Budway on piano and Peter Brendler on bass. There is a $50 deposit per person and reservations will be for parties of 2-6.
3 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022 (212) 752-1495
This legendary family-owned midtown restaurant, first opened in 1962, is probably the most romantic spot in New York for Valentine’s Day or any other day of the week. Known for its lush floral arrangements throughout the restaurant, La Grenouille has always been in date-night and festive overdrive what with their deep red banquettes, mirrored walls and a formal jacket-required policy. Philippe Masson’s haute French fare, for those who can afford the pricey dinner menu tab of $172 per person, is definitely expensive, but note that the food is intoxicating, and is only slightly higher in price in comparison to other romantic institutions, including Daniel, Le Bernardin and Jean Georges. And besides, La Grenouille is one of a few authentic French restaurants left in the city, and arguably the most famous and decadent. You’re in luck this year, as the restaurant will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a four-course dinner complete with candles and complimentary bottles of Tattinger Brut Curvee Prestige. To make ressies for V-Day, call the restaurant directly.
250 E 83rd St, Manhattan (212) 879-4284
This long-standing Upper East Side gem, which first opened its doors in 1982 and is still going strong, features intimate Italian dining in a cozy cave-like setting that’s perfect for V-Day or any special romantic occasion. Located in an ivy-clad hideaway one-story building, Erminia has a rustic look, an exquisite atmosphere, and attentive staff who knows when to give you space without deserting you. If you are looking to make plans here for V-Day, do it fast because the restaurant is small with only a few tables. But this only makes the place feel like an exclusive “members-only” club experience and, besides, it serves the best authentic Roman fare in the city that will leave you enraptured. If you don’t believe us, Forbes twice selected this restaurant as its #1 “Top Pick” for food. Erminia may be expensive, but it is offering an affordable Valentine’s Day menu, $125 prix fixe per person with 3 seatings: 5-7 pm, 7 to 9pm, and 9:15 to close.
1 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 718-522-5200
For excellent food and the right ambience, the River Café in Dumbo is perfect for V-Day. In fact, this cozy spot has “date night” written all over it, what with the to-die for views of the East River and the New York skyline. You know that this American fare landmark restaurant takes itself seriously, as gentlemen need to wear a jacket and ties are preferred after 4pm. Meanwhile, women are expected to don the right evening wear and have on the right foot wear. But there’s one hitch: the River Café is expensive, but at least it is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu. The fixed price menu runs $195 per person and features appetizers like foie gras and caviar egg and main courses like rack of lamb, filet mignon and strip steak, as well as a sweet dessert trio.
42 E 20th St, New York, NY (212) 477-0777
Seasonal American cuisine, an upscale “country” dining room, the attention to detail and the impeccable service make Gramercy Tavern, open for 23 years, one of New York’s most respected institution, as well as one of the most romantic places for V-Day or date night. Located in the Flatiron district, Gramercy is part of Danny Meyer’s empire, which means you know it’s going to be good, and you won’t be disappointed. The cherished spot has garnered eight James Beard Awards including Outstanding Restaurant and Best Chef NYC. It has a fixed-price only dining room, and while its ambience may be hush, perfect to actually have a conversation in comparison to other restaurants where the music is loud and deafening, the bar area is bustling and full of crowds.
60 E 65th St, New York, NY (212) 288-0033
Like La Grenouille, Daniel serves other-worldly refined French fare in a jacket-required setting that is both luxurious and romantic. This is Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant, and the celebrated and world-famous chef has won many honors, including the James Beard Awards for Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurateur. The restaurant itself has also received many accolades for its sumptuous cuisine, its opulent white-table cloth setting, its attentive VIP-like hospitality and its award-winning cellar made up of wines from the Rhone and Burgundy, as well as a decadent Champagne program. For Valentine’s Day, the four-course tasting menu is a high $350 and its wine pairing is $175. But the masterly dinner will leave you transported, and the menu will serve such acclaimed fare like truffle-crusted pan seared scallops, Guinea Hen with foie gras and roasted bison tenderloin.
155 W 51st St, Midtown, New York (212) 554-1515
Renowned Chef Eric Ripert cooks the freshest French-inspired seafood that has made Le Bernardin one of those rare dining experiences where the food elevates you to another, higher level due to a simple flourish: the fish is the star of the plate. The world-class restaurant, helmed by Ripert for more than 20 years, is home to a clientele who come here for power lunches, pre-theater dinners, and special occasions such as birthday parties and, yes, Valentine’s Day. The atmosphere is sophisticated and hushed, as well as very formal, so if you come here, make sure you’re wearing a jacket. Also known for its helpful (and not haughty) service and its beautifully-designed main dining room, Le Bernardin is by far the most decorated restaurant in the city and has continually won nearly every foodie award out there. The New York Times gave it four stars only three months after its opening and the restaurant has never dropped a star even to this day. Le Bernardin also dominates the James Beard Awards, having won “Outstanding Restaurant” in America and “Outstanding Chef” for Ripert, to name a few. Finally, in 2005, the prestigious Michelin Guide gave the restaurant the highest rating of three stars.
17 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014 (212) 255-8649
One if By Land, Two if By Sea, established in 1973, is perpetually known as the most romantic restaurant in New York City, an intimate dining experience second to none. The atmosphere is perfect for lovebirds, what with its candlelit rooms and tables, its four brick fireplaces and its live piano music. For that added touch, this Greenwich Village historic mainstay is encased by windows that showcase the beautiful outdoor garden. It serves elevated American fare, a three-course prix fixe that costs $100 for each diner and includes such sumptuous highlights like Beef Wellington, New Zealand venison and glazed Norwegian salmon.
Architectural Digest ranked it the fifth most romantic restaurant in the US. No wonder it’s the go-to spot to pop the question, or to celebrate an anniversary. If you need to set the mood for Valentine’s Day this year, this is definitely the place to be provided that you are prepared for the formal dress code and have much money to burn.
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1 Central Park West, New York (212) 299-3900
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship, Jean Georges, is known for its sophisticated New French cuisine with American and Asian influences that are dictated by the freshest ingredients offered by the local farmer’s market. The seasonal menu is thus ever-changing. That this is a Jean-Georges restaurant means you’ll be besotted by impeccable service, a chic setting, floor-to-ceiling windows that offer unforgettable views of Central Park and the raucousness of the bustling Columbus Circle. The restaurant also offers a serene and luxurious vibe, perfect for an intimate dinner for two on Valentine’s Day. It opened in 1997 to instant acclaim and has two Michelin stars under its belt and was given four stars by The New York Times. The prix-fixe and tasting menus are available Monday through Sunday, and while the tab is definitely pricey, the occasion to have Valentine’s Day here will give you an excuse to try the restaurant. And besides, the $168 prix fixe is in line with other romantic restaurants listed here. The V-Day menu includes roasted Maine lobster, truffle-crusted salmon and a parmesan crusted organic chicken alongside black truffle and lemon butter.
127 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY (718) 855-7500
This Brooklyn Heights charmer offers seasonal fare with a New American flair. The focus is on local and sustainable food. With its exposed brick, wood accents, high ceilings and an open kitchen, this hotspot has an energetic vibe and feels laid-back, but don’t let that fool you. Colonie is one of the most romantic spots for Valentine’s Day in the city, and has the right ambience pinned down. The restaurant is also filled with candles and dim lighting to set the mood. It’s tight quarters here, but this makes Colonie feel more intimate and exclusive. It also means it’s hard to snag a ressie, but no matter, really, since the bar area, with stools beneath an herb-garden wall, allows you to drink in the atmosphere while waiting. The service here is on the par with the refined stalwart Gramercy Tavern, and the fact that Colonie comes from four veterans of Public means that the rustic-inspired food will be excellent. The V-Day menu, which costs an affordable $85 per person, will offer a four-course dinner with many choices for each setting. For reservations on this special night, it’s recommended you email Colonie directly. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org