The 15 Most Romantic Restaurants in Austin
Here’s where to impress that special someone on Valentine’s Day and beyond.
With Valentine’s day around the corner, Austinites are reminded of one very important factor in every relationship—effort. You see, dating in this city can be a little too chill most of the year. Strolling over to a food truck or grabbing a beer at a ‘live music’ hostel hardly tells the one you love (or hope to love) that you care. On special occasions, it’s nice to make that effort to book a table, get dressed up, and select a nice bottle of wine (or mocktail) picked out by a professional. Plus, winter weather finally gives us ample choice when it comes to sexy and scenic (i.e. being able to patio dine without sweating like you’re in the middle of a work out). Whether it's date number one that Hinge cutie you actually want to impress, a proposal, or anniversary number ten, these gorgeous restaurants have all the candlelight, fine adult beverages, and shiny silverware to make sparks fly in the way you want.
Nido at The Loren Hotel
Newbie to the scene, Nido, seriously has the best views of downtown. That’s because it’s not downtown—it’s right across the river. Take a romantic stroll over Lamar Bridge to the Loren Hotel, where you can spoil lover at its Milk + Honey Day Spa, then gaze out at our orange Texan sunset over Ladybird Lake and the DT skyline from Nido’s rooftop. May we suggest starting with the oysters, then sharing plates of Octopus Carpaccio, Wagyu Sirloin, and Maitake Mushrooms? The seasonal menu nicely caters to a range of diets, including vegan, and the beverage list is extensive.
Aviary Wine & Kitchen
If you’re thinking ‘wine and dine’ with a heavy focus on the former, then Aviary is where to set those starry sights. The cozy South Lamar boudoir, run by John Coronado, Alex Bell, and Andre Molina, opened back in 2006 (basically another era in Austin) and has since been the town’s premier spot for great wines from around the world. The food’s stellar too, albeit on the smaller side (hey, if you’re really hungry, just double every order), and it goes without saying everything pairs exquisitely with those highly curated bottles. Ask the sommelier to do the hard work of connecting them for you.
If the pandemic’s taught us anything, it’s that the dining room’s a sacred space, especially if y’all can cook. And if you can’t, then there’s Osome. Osome isn’t a takeaway by any stretch—it’s only the most romantic at-home dining experience money can buy. This is where you book former Nobu chef, John Gocong, and his team to prepare the finest cuts of sushi, and set it up in your dining room omakase-style with sake. No servers to interrupt those intimate moments with “how’s the sauce” chat, and no spectators to witness PDA. Oh, la la.
How to book: Reserve online.
The Carillon is a campus-side institution that’s been delighting guests under chandeliers since 2008. Chef Kyle Barham’s latest menu features classic dishes that honor the seasons with local ingredients. Start with the Texas Farms Board with local veg, hummus, Marcona almonds, and cheese; then choose from mains such as the big and tender Texas Lamb Shank or Marfa Meats NY Strip. For dessert, we recommend the shiner bock chocolate mousse cake with hints of fresh berry and chocolate crunch. The cocktail menu has historic campus themes, and there’s a surprisingly affordable wine list.
Ever tried Shabu Shabu? If not, the Japanese hotpot dining experience may be a fun activity to bond over. The Tatsu-Ya crew has put a new spin on the traditional shared style of dining by giving each guest a personal cast iron pot on a cooker. Choose a broth, get your sauces and rice, and then get lost in a meat, seafood, or vegetable dipping adventure. There’s an omakase option, too, if you need help with combinations and a wide selection of alcoholic beverages available to try. Don’t forget to check out its pretty ice cream stand out front, too.
Devil May Care
Devil May Care has the perfect recipe for love—live jazz music, candlelit lounge seating, and Mediterranean cuisine complemented by a host of Greek wines. The underground labyrinth will absolutely set a seductive mood, no matter how stressful it is above ground. Call ahead and snag the prized birdcage chairs, loosen up with some Espresso Martinis, then dive into a journey of mezze platters, Tomahawk beef ribeye, and baklava. For singles looking to mingle, look out for happy hours and events throughout the year, such as the Surrealist Ball, for social interaction.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.
In Asia, pink flowers signal Cherry Blossom—and in Austin, pink flowers at a Japanese restaurant signal flirty, flirty fun. Lucky Robot is the ideal spot for young love to blossom, and if not, hey, at least you’ll get some great new photos for your dating app profile. And the sustainable sushi restaurant offers more than just fish. There's ramen, seaweed salad, pork buns, Chicken Karaage, and a whole lot more, not to mention a liquor cabinet that includes a ton of sake.
How to book: Order takeout and delivery via Toast.
When a trip to the Four Seasons is on the agenda, you know (or, at least, hope) there’s romance in the cards. Talented chefs cook up modern Texan cuisine infused with Latin flavors, served either indoors by candlelight or at your outdoor table overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Every dish is a visual masterpiece, from the flambeed Texas Wagyu Tomahawk (spoiler—an open flame is involved) down to the shiny, puffy Parker House bread rolls. And, of course, a sommelier does the rounds to ensure each table has the perfect wine pairing. Finish on a sweet note with the Vanilla and Cacao Nib Bon Bons—made with Amy’s Mexican vanilla ice cream.
Garrison transports you out of Austin and into a swanky Manhattan date spot, minus the commute. You’ll dine fine within dark wood interiors, either facing mastery in the open kitchen or the shutter-framed windows overlooking the Fairmont Austin’s pretty indoor courtyard. Menu highlights include Smoked Duck Breast and Whole Grilled Branzino, which raises the bar for seafood in Austin. In the fields section, you’ll find a collection of sides spanning a rich Leek Tart and the now-famous Black Truffle Tater Tots. In a nutshell, anything Chef Jakub Czyszczon touches is ATX bucket list gold. For added romance sneak upstairs to Room 725 for champagne and caviar.
For a true Lady and the Tramp experience, it has to be Italian, right? Intero is the best of the bunch, with saucy handmade pastas for you to slurp until you “accidentally” kiss and end up with sauce allover your faces. It also has pizza and meat-focused dishes like the roasted duck breast risotto, though ingredients may vary due to seasonal availability. Local chocolatier Krystal Craig is in charge of dessert—don’t miss her famous chocolate truffles in interesting flavors like Earl Gray Tea and Peanut Butter and Honey.
How to book: Reserve online or order takeout via Toast.
James Beard-nominated chef Iliana De la Vega leads culinary expeditions to Mexico City via her incredible culinary chops. The homemade tortillas use heirloom corn imported from different regions of Mexico, the bread is baked daily, and the vegetables and herbs are selected fresh locally. Start with a selection of weekly ceviche, before getting right into it with duck or sauteed shrimp doused in multilayered mole negro. A street food menu is also available if tacos are calling your name.
One of the things that make Justine’s so appealing is its sheer versatility. Yes, it’s French, but it’s also not just French. It's a place where old soul songs are played on vinyl, where they throw random seasonal parties, and where you can enjoy sazerac cocktails on a light-strung patio for hours on end. Order some Steak Frites (with a side of extra frites), and allow yourselves to soak up the ambiance and each others’ company in equal measure.
Fonda San Miguel
Between the Saltillo tiles, the soaring ceilings, and the vividly colorful artwork, Fonda San Miguel has all the trappings of a memorable date night. Sip a few top-shelf margaritas at the bar before slipping over to a corner table. Crowd favorites include Angels on Horseback (bacon-wrapped shrimp) and the ever-popular Ancho Chile Relleno San Miguel, but make sure you leave room for coffee and dessert (a.k.a. crepes sauced with rich goat milk caramel and toasted almonds).
This massive residential home-turned-restaurant is about as opulent as it gets, thanks in no small part to the peacocks that routinely roam the grounds. Date night is a genteel affair, whether you’re seated comfortably inside or parked under the sweeping trees, while the Southern-leaning menu is peppered with decadent items like Andouille and Duck Gumbo, Tender Belly Grilled Pork Ribs, and the unmissable Buttermilk Biscuits slathered with seasonal butter and Texas honey. Mattie’s also does brunch and has a great wine list.
The menu may change all the time, but rest assured Lenoir's ambiance and quality remains the same. It’s a classic Austin spot where friends can laugh over a shared bottle and some snacks, while leisurely lovers can spend hours sampling the five-course daily prix-fixe with optional wine pairings. Every plate is a profusion of flavors, with seasonal additions spanning Crab Fingers with curry leaf leche de tigre and chili oil, and the Ricotta Gnocchi with butternut squash harissa, black vinegar, and pistachio.