Whether you've been together for years or are cozying up to someone new, here are 12 restaurants in New York City proving that a romantic setting and incredible meals are the best way to someone's heart.
Let this pint-sized, all-day eatery transport you from the West Village to Paris with its charming decor (think marble bar, tiny candlelit tables, vintage flatware) and classic bistro menu (think croissants, steak tartare, and coq a vin) by Jody Williams. Given its snug size and popularity, Buvette crowds up quickly—giving you all the more reason to get closer to your companion. 42 Grove Street, 212-255-3590, newyork.ilovebuvette.com
Whether you opt for more casual bites and drinks in the Tavern—nab a coveted seat at the bustling bar if you can—or go for a more formal meal in the Dining Room, you'll be rewarded with friendly service, vibrant fresh floral displays, and hearty yet refined cooking by Chef Michael Anthony. Another perk? Owner and restaurateur Danny Meyer has eliminated tipping from all of his establishments, so you can let the wine really flow. 42 East 20th Street, 212-477-0777, gramercytavern.com
While the decor of this family-owned midtown French restaurant couldn't be any more romantic—thanks to deep red banquettes, mirrored walls, and the famously lush floral arrangements—what keeps the dining room packed night after night is the kitchen's commitment to classic, time-tested dishes like buttery Dover sole, silky foie gras terrine, and light-as-air soufflés. 3 East 52nd Street, 212-752-1495, la-grenouille.com
Don't be fooled by the unassuming exterior and relatively quiet pocket of Williamsburg, because this highly acclaimed Italian restaurant by Missy Robbins is a sure bet. In true Brooklyn fashion, the design is understated but chic, with a wood-beamed ceiling, concrete floors, and white walls. While the space is certainly a looker, handmade pastas by Robbins (like her Rigatoni Diavola and Pink Peppercorn Mafaldini) are ultimately what keep Lilia packed all the time. 567 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-576-3095, ilianewyork.com
The Polo Bar
First off, reservations are a must—you can't enter the restaurant without one—so simply being here feels exclusive. Then there's the handsome space, kitted out with tan leather banquettes, emerald green walls, and, in true Ralph Lauren fashion, equestrian-inspired art. The menu favors American comforts, as evidenced by the best-selling, bacon and cheese-topped Polo Burger. Pro tip: it's so generously sized, it's great for sharing. 1 East 55th Street, 212-207-8562, ralphlauren.com
Though the interiors of this Soho mainstay haven't changed much in over 40 years—imagine quirky original artwork, pink neon, and black tin ceilings—it's still one of the city's most beloved date spots. And in contrast to its bustling neighborhood, Raoul's feels warm and inviting. You can't go wrong with the signature steak au poivre or frisee salad, and if you can't secure a table, the bar is also terrific for cozying up with someone (and snagging one of the 12 burgers available every night). 180 Prince Street, 212-966-3518, raouls.com
The tricky (and fun) part is finding the unmarked door. But once you do, you'll be led to your own private wooden booth draped in bamboo curtains. After perusing the menu of savory Japanese small plates (like homemade tofu and shrimp tempura), tap the buzzer on your table when you're ready to order (and anytime else you need your server). It's such a wholly unique and intimate experience, it's easy to forget that you're not dining alone. 77 North 6th Street, 718-388-8985, zenkichi.com
This Nolita Italian spot evokes the charm of a rustic farmhouse. Dark wood, exposed brick, and pots and pans hangjust about everywhere. And the cuisine is just as comforting and cozy. The artisanal pastas shift with the seasons, but the popular Tuscan black kale salad with anchovy lemon vinaigrette remains on the menu year-round. 47 Bond Street, 212-533-1932, ilbuco.com
One If By Land, Two If By Sea
Set in a historic 1767 carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr, this West Village institution exudes romance with candlelit tables, a crackling fireplace, live piano music, and decadent prix fixe menus. Not surprisingly, it remains one of the city's most popular places to pop the question since opening in 1973. 17 Barrow Street, 212-255-8649, oneifbyland.com
The River Cafe
Come sunset and evening, the views of the Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan skyline are nothing short of breathtaking. They're matched by the serene ambiance, faultless service, and delicious New American cuisine by chef Brad Steelman. While gentlemen are expected to wear jackets and ties at dinner, daytime dining is a breezier affair. When the weather is warm, request a table on the patio. 1 Water Street, Brooklyn, 718-522-5200, rivercafe.com
For more than 20 years, Eric Ripert has won over critics and discriminating diners alike with his sophisticated, artful approach to seafood. While the main dining room focuses on a more formal experience—jackets are required for gentlemen, and only tasting menus are offered—the adjacent lounge is a smart (and equally delicious) spot for casually lingering over oysters, caviar, and wine from the impressive 15,000-bottle collection. 155 West 51st Street, 212-554-1515, le-bernardin.com
To get to this tiny, jewel box of a sushi restaurant in Tribeca, you'll be led through another restaurant called Azabu, through a cascade of curtains, and down some narrow steps. As fresh fish is flown in from Japan daily, be assured that every meticulously formed bite will be clean, flavorful, and deeply satisfying. Bypass the tables and treat yourself to views of the highly skilled chefs at the nine-seat sushi bar. 428 Greenwich Street, 212-274-0428, sushi-azabu.com
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.