There's no need to wait until Valentine's Day to treat your partner to one of Houston’s 15 loveliest tables. Charming spots like Backstreet Cafe, Roma Ristorante, and La Lucha are spread all across our fair city, so there's no excuse not to cap off your perfect Houston date with an intimate dinner for two. Below, you'll find our picks for the most romantic restaurants in town. Dine wisely—you may find yourself in love...with some Wagyu beef.
You can wander right into Paris by way of Etoile Cuisine et Bar, a restaurant that has delighted local Francophiles for over ten years through its decadent menu. Love is always in the air here, in large part because the restaurant, owned by chef Philippe Verpiand and his wife, Monica Bui, is the result of a love story itself. Together, they've fittingly curated a delicious menu perfect for two. The dimly lit dining room, the absinthe (for two, of course), and the tablescapes set with roses and carnations are just a taste of what couples can look forward to at the farmhouse-style eatery.
There’s nothing quite like sitting close together near a fire, and at this rightly famous steakhouse you can dine fireside al fresco even in winter, thanks to the most inspired seating option ever—patio tables with small fire pits built right into the middle of them.
This is tried-and-true classic for Houstonians looking for a nice date night. While the restaurant is located in Rice Military, its ambiance is so romantic that it might have you feeling as if you’ve unwittingly wandered into a Disney film—especially if your meal ends with a happily ever after, as meals at Brenner’s often do. With lush, landscaped greenery, a stunning waterfall, and a patio overlooking the Bayou, Brenner’s always puts its best foot forward when it comes to stage managing your date. When the weather's nice in the fall, expect to see soft lights that spotlight the intimacy of the outdoor patio. Between the stunning views you'll have sitting in the two-story steakhouse and the visual presentation of dishes like the chef's Alaskan King Crab legs and the filet mignon made with Wagyu beef, there's no bad seat in this house.
If you can’t swing a trip to Madrid, the next most romantic option is to secure two seats at this flashy new avant-garde gem. Reserve a seat in the dining room, with its plush velvet banquettes and glowing neon accents, or, if you don’t have six months to wait for a reservation, grab a seat at the bar. Make sure to try at least one of Luis Rogers’s feats of Spanish molecular gastronomy—sphere-ified olives, perhaps, or the tomate en su jugo. And no matter how captivating your date, don’t forget to ogle the incredible interior design, complete with Picasso artworks, Chihuly chandeliers, lush banquettes, and custom-made sculptures. It doesn’t get more luxe than this.
Close your eyes and imagine Ilene Woods' "So This Is Love" playing. That's what it feels like to dine at Backstreet Cafe. Nothing says enchantment more than al fresco dining, and Backstreet Cafe's 1930s-era restaurant delivers in this area like nowhere else. The sun-soaked balcony and fountain add to the restaurant's dreamy quality, and the cuisine only adds to its elegance. The cafe has a globally inspired menu, so expect diverse fare from red corn enchiladas to jalapeño fettuccine and Italian tagliatelle bolognese. No matter what plate you pick, Backstreet Cafe is proof that food is a universal love language.
Sunday mornings are dreamy at Brennan’s, when the restaurant serves up its renowned Big Easy-inspired Creole Jazz Brunch. Request a seat in the lush courtyard, where you’ll still receive the white-tablecloth treatment, only surrounded by fragrant greenery, a gurgling fountain, sunshine, and live jazz wafting through the air. Heat things up with a table-side flambé of Bananas Foster for dessert.
If it's romance you seek, Italy is the ideal destination. But if a couples trip is too far-fetched, Roma Ristorante in Rice Village is a close second. Formerly known as Sud Italia Ristorante, the intimate eatery serves cheesy, rib-sticking dishes from all 14 regions of Italy. The dining room is curated with carefully laid tables, natural lighting, and outdoor seating complemented by an excellent patio deck. Still, you'll have a tough time focusing on anything other than the tasty food (and your guest).
A favorite for weddings and engagements, this classic Houston log cabin offering local fish and game truly makes for a romantic meal, whether you dine on the deck overlooking the lush yard and the lodge’s very own gurgling stream, or inside among the cozy decor and giant fireplace. Either way you’ll leave with a warm heart.
Seafood and steaks can take a hike; affairs of the heart happen at the Indian restaurant, Musaafer. Located in the Galleria, Musaafer is home to one of the city's most stunning restaurant interiors. You don't go to Musaafer just to dine, you go there for a complete experience. At Musaafer, chef Mayank Istwal elevates traditional Indian cooking with explosions of flavor, and the restaurant is a testament to love—or at least, love at first bite.
Roses on the wall. Roses on your seat. Rosé in your glass. At Rosalie, the buzzy new restaurant inside the equally buzzy C. Baldwin Hotel, they’re even right there in the name. Italian soul food brings the romance, too. The focaccia and the crab manicotti are a must, and go ahead and order another bottle of wine—chic hotel rooms with glitzy downtown views abound, so you don’t have to drive home.
If you're looking for a place where you can truly wow your beau, Potente will never disappoint. Though many restaurants serve Italian food, not many can do it at Potente's level of sophistication. Housed Downtown, Potente is reminiscent of a villa in the Italian countryside. If you're not already impressed by the restaurant’s stellar waitstaff, its award-winning black truffle pasta might be just enough to have you falling head over heels in love with the place. To up the ante of an already great night, Minute Maid Park is just a stone's throw away, close enough to walk (and cheer on the 'Stros).
The sister restaurant of beloved River Oaks oyster bar State of Grace is also a great spot for a raw dozen. Just like its neighborhood—the Heights—it’s classy but hip. The well-appointed dining room, which pays homage to the long, lost San Jacinto Inn, gets dark and cozy at sundown. We recommend curling up on a cushy leather love seat to slurp Gulf oysters on the half shell with a glass of Muscadet.
It doesn't get more exclusive than a speakeasy-style chophouse inside another restaurant. Patton's, located in the Heights, is the early 1900s taproom behind the wine cellar inside Savoir. The restaurant pays homage to old-world traditions with opulent chandeliers and plush leather seats, creating just the right ambiance for an intimate evening.
At this sleek new Italian eatery, a favorite of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander, ask for the single high- top table overlooking the bustling chef’s line. It feels a bit like dining in front of your own personal fireplace thanks to the large wood-fired pizza oven. You’ll want the trout roe pizza with a bottle of Beaujolais (let one of the two master sommeliers pick), and do save room for executive pastry chef Shawn Gawle’s sexy desserts.
In the luxurious tasting-menu room tucked away in chef Austin Simmons’s highly acclaimed restaurant Tris, every seat is at the chef’s table. In fact, there’s just 24 spots available, all overlooking the kitchen through a gorgeous glass and steel partition, where Simmons and his team flit about, plating exquisitely creative eight-course meals for those lucky enough to snag this exclusive reservation—seatings are only available Thursday to Saturday.