Today’s dating culture is ruled by Postmates dinners, Netflix binges and the occasional happy hour outing, which puts staying in on date night high on the list of lame and expected romantic gestures—especially when the most romantic restaurants in Miami have so much to offer. Show your significant other you’ve still got the right stuff with a hot night out at one of Miami’s best restaurants—and a drink at one of best bars in Miami before or after—and ensure a perfect date night or Valentine’s dinner, from Coral Gables to South Beach. Our complete guide to the most romantic restaurants is below.
Niu Kitchen, Downtown
What is it? This sexy, Catalonian hot spot remains one of Downtown’s best-kept secrets. Narrow, dim and tucked away along a quiet side street, it’s equally great for a surreptitious affair or a romantic anniversary dinner. We don’t judge.
Why go? Dig your fork into perfectly cooked egg dishes (the runny kind you’ll want to sop up with crusty sliced baguette), delicious seafood tapas and organic wines from Spain, Argentina and beyond. Reservations are a must at this tiny restaurant.
What is it? Chef Norman Van Aken’s modern fusion restaurant drips in sex appeal, from the sleek, monochromatic furnishings and the kaleidoscopic artwork to the sultry lighting.
Why go? Seasoned couples should book a table nearest the window that faces the street, where it’s dark and moody and your significant other will be too shy to snap photos of your beautiful pork done two ways—hence, not embarrassing you with the incandescent flash. People still getting to know each other benefit from seats at the counter, facing the open kitchen. Awkward silences are replaced with witty banter about the food and musings on Three’s rockstar staff. Most dishes are shareable, which bodes well for all.
What is it? David Grutman’s upscale Asian restaurant is sprawling yet sexy, featuring dimmed corners and mood-setting lighting. It’s quite the scene. Rubbernecking dates—beware.
Why go? Cozy up at one of the bird’s nest tables suspended above the restaurant and order dim sum and the Peking duck to share.
Ariete, Coconut Grove
What is it? Dark, rustic and with low-slung ceilings to help keep things intimate, the charming Coconut Grove restaurant exudes romance from every corner.
Why go? With a menu built on sharing, plus the option to splurge on a private dining experience in its private room downstairs known as La Cava, date night at Ariete is a no-brainer.
What is it? This adorable wine bar in Miami’s MiMo neighborhood caters to oenophiles thanks to a menu packed with lesser-known varietals and rare vintages. Grab a bottle from the wall or peruse the extensive list for more options.
Why go? Whether it’s to show off your extensive knowledge of vino or to learn together at one of BarMeli’s frequent tastings, you’ll bond over your shared love of wine at this low-key spot.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro, Buena Vista
What is it? A Greek/Turkish restaurant that feels like a pseudo trip to the Greek Isles. The spacious outdoor area’s rustic blue-and-white design helps to keep up the illusion, while dishes such as the whole fried fish and the authentic Greek salad (without lettuce!) dupe your taste buds almost instantly.
Why go? Any table in the restaurant’s courtyard is sure to impress, but on nights when it’s too hot, take a seat inside by the window. Nothing ruins a date like sweating through a meal.
La Mar, Brickell Key
What is it? One of the few places in Miami where the scenery isn’t at the expense of the food—the views and chef Diego Oka’s Peruvian cuisines are equally unparalleled.
Why go? For a breezy waterfront brunch or romantic dinner with a clear shot of Brickell’s twinkling skyline. You’ll want to order up one of chef Oka’s delicate ceviches and the arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice), served tableside. Cocktail options are aplenty, but if this is your first time at La Mar, or trying Peruvian food altogether, the classic pisco sour is a must.
Cafe Roval, Little Haiti/Lemon City
What is it? Mark Soyka’s restaurant is Buena Vista restaurant is a total panty dropper. With nearly 100 artisanal wines on the menu, a romantic dinner in Miami could not be had at a better place.
Why go? While the food is spectacular, it doesn’t matter what’s on your plate if you’re eating it at one of the tables nearest the small reservoir, under moonlight. But if you’re asking, we recommend the Morrocan spiced organic half chicken and sticky date pudding, both shareable and exploding with flavor.
Matador Room, Miami Beach
What is it? This sleek throwback brims in midcentury glamour. For ladies, this translates to a reason to dress up, meanwhile gentlemen get a turnkey date out of their reservation.
Why go? The menu, a modern take on traditional Latin cuisine, is composed of small and large plates packed with plenty of local flavors and Florida-sourced ingredients, all of which is meant for sharing. Take the Cuban homestyle arroz con pollo with crackling skin and lemon zest, or the chipotle chicken tacos, both down-home dishes done up to five-star standards.
CasaTua, South Beach
What is it? One of the city’s finest and fussiest big-bucks restaurants, Casa Tua is a sleek and chic country Italian-style establishment set in a refurbished 1925 Mediterranean-style two-story house.
Why go? With several living-room style nooks, Casa Tua offers the cozy familiarity of a night in—with much, much better food. If you’ve ever dreamed of hiring a notable chef to come over and cook you a fancy dinner, book a table at Casa Tua for an equally pricey experience with zero cleanup.
Cecconi’s, Miami Beach
What is it? Soho Beach House’s Italian restaurant (the club’s only area open to non-members) is a one-stop for good food and a good time—the menu of house-made pastas and an outdoor dining area practically set the mood for you.
Why go? Reserve a center table near one of the trees covered in bistro lights: The soft yellow glow is subtle and sexy, and it will keep you from accidentally knocking anything over—which happens after one too many Picantes, the club’s delish spicy margaritas.
What is it? This high-end Colombian restaurant specializes in molecular gastronomy and food you consume via all five senses.
Why go? At Elcielo, you’ll have the opportunity to play with your food, lick your fingers and ooh and aah together as whimsical creations are brought to your table. Dinner here is coursed and meals can last anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours—but she likes it when you take your time.
The Forge, Mid-Beach
What is it? This upscale steakhouse is a Rococo-lover’s fantasy: multi-chambered, ornately decorated (and priced) and completely over the top. You’ll find the typical carnivorous fare to pair with all the decadent wines, and a number of ways to “accessorize” your entrée—from Maine lobster gratin to shrimp scampi to garden vegetable chimichurri.
Why go? Couples looking for a secluded spot away from prying eyes will want to reserve a table in the 300,000-bottle wine cellar. Although any seat in the house bodes well for romance.
What is it? The expansive Mediterranean bistro skews French, from its huddled tables and its viennoiserie offering to its Champagne-soaked bar menu. Marion’s Parisian bistro feel makes for an inherently sexy vibe.
Why go? Does your date like to party? Marion’s late-night scene fills with dancers, musicians and seductive servers hoisting champagne bottles lit with sparklers high, high in the air. Go for dinner and make plans to stay long after dessert.
Il Gabbiano, Downtown
What is it? A fancy-pants Italian restaurant overlooking Biscayne Bay, where the view and the toothsome fresh pasta don’t come cheap.
Why go? Special occasions call for a splurge, both fiscal and caloric. Blowing a wad and indulging with your SO over an extravagant dinner facing the water is what it’s all about at this pricey pasta joint, which is ideal for fans of garlic, truffles and homemade pasta that’s a far cry from Ragu.