This Thursday is Valentine’s Day, and couples everywhere are scrambling to get their spots reserved at the hottest restaurants. Finding the right restaurant with a beautiful ambiance and exquisite food is often a learning process through trial and error. In pursuit of the crème de la crème of romantic restaurants, we asked top food bloggers in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles to weigh in with their recommendations. Today’s roundup features Andrea Strong of The Strong Buzz, Yvo of The Feisty Foodie, Elaine of Elaine Travels, Anita Lau of diary of a MAD HUNGRY WOMAN, Pat Saperstein of Eating L.A., Amanda Topper of The Ghost Guest, Joseph Esparaz of Eating for Sanity, and Gino Williams of Chicago Alphabet Soup. Try one of their recommended restaurants for Valentine’s Day—your sweetheart will appreciate it!
“I love this little place on Union and Hoyt Street in Brooklyn. Step through the doors and into the cozy, hearth-fired space, and you’re in a rustic log cabin in the Smoky Mountains.The fire blazes, the food is honest, local, simple, inexpensive and tasty, and you can share fondue, snacks, and wine by the warmth of the fire until you’re ready to make your own heat at home.” – Andrea Strong, The Strong Buzz
“Casellula is not too dimly lit that you need a flashlight to read the menu, but isn’t so bright you feel like you’re in school again. The small plates are perfect for sharing and eating your way across the whole menu, and the desserts are so well thought out that while you can easily share two different ones, you’ll want your own. The cheese program is fantastic, as is the wine list. Cozy spot, perfect for a first or fortieth date.” – Yvo, The Feisty Foodie
“I know not many people associate Balthazar with romance, but I’m a fan of brasseries, and this one just takes me away to Paris. Sure the crowds are crazy, but the energy and the buzz make it even easier to become invisible. Tuck into a corner table, snuggle in close to the one you’re with, and work your way through bottles of bubbly and wine, trays of icy fruit de mers, juicy steak frites, and just pass the night away.” – Andrea Strong, The Strong Buzz
“Serene decor, superb service and masterful Italian food makes this the perfect place to dine a deux. The wine selection pairs wonderfully with the hand made pastas and market fresh fish. If you are lucky enough to go during tomato season, the featured dishes are all grown by the owner/chef and will make you swoon. Personal attention to details is what has made this place a favorite for 15 years and your date will appreciate the thought you put into planning an evening here.” – Elaine, Elaine Travels
“Lovely Italian food in a semi-formal romantic setting. The two dining rooms offer banquette seating as well as tables perfect for a romantic soiree for two and the dimly lit restaurant is intimate and cozy.” – Anita Lau, diary of a MAD HUNGRY WOMAN
“The patio has always been a sweet and leafy spot, but lately the food has greatly improved at this Silver Lake standby. There’s plenty of watering holes nearby so you can bar-hop afterwards, if that’s your idea of romance.” – Pat Saperstein, Eating L.A.
“Geja’s Cafe is consistently named one of the most romantic restaurants in Chicago for its dark atmosphere with live classic and flamenco guitar. The sexy guitar sounds combined with the array of intimate wooden booths ensures a romantic meal for two. The fondue fare at Geja’s is inherently sexy, almost demanding one feed their loved one heaping portions of chocolate covered marshmallows.” – Amanda Topper, The Ghost Guest
“Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Friend Sushi is not only a great place for high-quality sushi, but also the best place for a romantic date. Couples walk into a sleek, white interior filled with dozens of art palate-shaped tables and are met with a friendly staff. Their signature rolls arrive at your table looking like works of [art] created from fresh seafood, crisp vegetables, and of course, colorful sauces. The staff is well-trained to where they do a great job serving, but also appear invisible, allowing guests to focus on one another. The one word that comes to mind when asked to describe Friend Sushi is sharing — sharing incredible sushi rolls, sharing each other’s company, and sharing a wonderful experience. For those reasons, Friend Sushi remains as my top place for a romantic date.” – Joseph Esparaz, Eating for Sanity
“Fine dining with atmosphere comes to mind when one thinks of Vermilion. This restaurant marries Latin flavors with Indian influences, both which complement each other well. With pick of booths or comfortable tables, the low lighting and ambient music makes for a great dining experience that makes you glad you can whisper and still be heard.” – Gino Williams, Chicago Alphabet Soup
Marisa Miyasaki loves to mix and match different cuisines and believes Korean Tacos are just about the coolest thing ever invented. She is a devout foodhist and has a borderline-crazy obsession with taking pictures of nearly everything she eats. As Menuism's Community Manager, Marisa hopes to share her passion for food with the world- one hungry foodie at a time.