Let’s stop fighting Valentine’s Day. It’s much more fun to just lean into the stereotype. What’s so wrong with flowers, chocolates and a nice dinner with your significant other? There’s something to be said for sharing an amazing meal with the person you love. Good wine, a beautiful space and thoughtful service don’t hurt, either.
In Atlanta, our cup runneth over with fantastic restaurants. What qualifies any one of them as “romantic?” Atmosphere is important – attractive decor, dim lights and flickering candles can help set the mood. Professional, experienced servers can have a huge impact on your meal – you don’t want a clueless member of the waitstaff interrupting a tender moment to refill your water glass. And, of course, the food needs to be excellent. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to create a lasting memory together, and these nine restaurants promise experiences you won’t soon forget.
This Decatur standby is a truly transporting experience. Step through the doors and into an intimate French bistro that feels airlifted from an Alsatian village. The food is classic and expertly prepared: escargots, cassoulet, ratatouille en croute… the French are masters of fine cooking and the art of romance. In addition, this unassuming little restaurant has been open for 20 years, a positive when it comes to handling the Valentine’s Day rush with expertise. You can’t help but feel a little of that French passion in the dining room of Cafe Alsace.
121. E Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-373-5622, cafealsace.net.
Eclipse di Luna
Warm candlelight, live music, rivers of Spanish wine and a pair of secluded locations give Eclipse di Luna all A’s on the romance report card. For couples that love to share dishes, the large menu of tapas is perfect for mixing and matching a variety of items. And the staff at Eclipse di Luna understands how the tapas experience is supposed to work: dishes come out as they’re ready, and your menu is left on the table so that you can order in several rounds. This gives dinner a leisurely pace and allows you to savor and share your food.
Impeccable service, deftly-executed Italian classics and a magnificent wine list give Antica Posta a permanent position among Atlanta’s most romantic restaurants. This is another restaurant that gives the impression of time traveling, whether you’re admiring its home in a Buckhead bungalow or perusing menu items like veal scallopini, osso buco and spaghetti pomodoro. Antica Posta is a wine shop as well, so you can purchase a bottle as a keepsake from your romantic night.
519 East Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta. 404-262-7112, anticaposta.com.
Roswellians don’t need to go far for an authentic evening of Italian romance. Osteria Mattone in downtown Roswell offers all the charm, intimacy and elegance you could need for a traditional Valentine’s Day date night. This gem is another charming house-turned-restaurant with exposed brick, white tablecloths and a wide-ranging menu. On Valentines’ Day, they’re keeping things traditional with $55 prix fixe menu that includes beet carpaccio, approachable chicken and pasta dishes, and a handful of romantic chocolate-heavy desserts.” Osteria Mattone nails the recipe for sophisticated romance without a hint of stuffiness.
1095 Canton St., Roswell. 678- 878-3378, osteriamattone.com.
Century House Tavern
Decidedly more American than the other restaurants listed so far, Century House Tavern is a shabby-chic, farmhouse-style restaurant with precision cooking. Diners at this Woodstock standout can expect to feel supremely comfortable; the menu is full of familiar favorites and the decor feels like a Southern Living spread. Chef Daniel Porubiansky elevates classics like pork chops and mushroom risotto with a touch of finesse, reminding you why you love everything on the menu in the first place.
125 E. Main St., Woodstock. 770-693-4552, centuryhousetavern.com.
So elegant, so classic, so perfectly Italian… Pricci is the fancy date restaurant from the movies. The luxurious decor sets the mood, while the service will make you feel like a star. The menu is laden with classic Italian dishes and the wine list is built with the most discerning palates in mind. A quintessential Buckhead date restaurant, Pricci is an experience that is tasteful in every sense of the word.
500 Pharr Road NE, Atlanta. 404-237-2941, buckheadrestaurants.com/restaurant/pricci.
Aria is well-known as one of Atlanta’s best modern fine-dining restaurants, and that alone makes it a Valentine’s Day destination. Chef-owner Gerry Klaskala has complete control in the kitchen, and he brings uncommon focus to the menu. Couples lucky enough to get a Valentine’s Day reservation at Aria are likely to have a near-perfect experience.
490 E. Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta. 404-233-7673, aria-atl.com.
Darkly modern, Umi has the feel of an exclusive nightclub, though its service is excellent, with none of the rudeness that characterizes the stereotypical club. Beyond the atmosphere, the sushi is superb and the drinks match the food in quality and precision. For those that enjoy Umi’s oeuvre, there’s no restaurant in town that can match its sleekness.
Two Buckhead Plaza, 3050 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta. 404-841-0040, umiatlanta.com.
Located in Alpharetta’s Avalon mega-development, Oak Steakhouse sticks closely to the steakhouse script, but it displays some fun Southern flare. Collard greens and jalapeno cheddar cornbread grace the same menu as Hudson Valley foie gras. It’s the perfect date destination for couples that appreciate luxury with an undercurrent of local pride. Break the rules with tantalizing extras like smoked bone marrow butter on your steak, and have a Valentine’s Day to remember.
Avalon, 950 Third St., Alpharetta. 678-722-8333, oaksteakhouseatlanta.com.