Dating in Miami can be downright disastrous. But finding the perfect dinner spot to take that special someone once you’ve finally found him or her is not a problem. Miami’s proximity to the coast allows many eateries to take advantage of water views, while others boast sunset skylines, Old-World charm, whimsical touches, and cozy candlelit tables. Unique settings aside, they all share the same winning factors: stellar food, seductive drink menus, authentic ambiance, and exceptional service.
These romantic restaurants have it under control year-round. So skip the long-stemmed roses, stuffed animals, and chocolates, and save your money for what really matters: a great dining experience. Whether you want to wow your Tinder date or celebrate your longtime honey, let the sparks fly at these eateries. Just be sure to book a reservation before getting dolled-up.
1. Bazaar Mar
With decor that’s perfect for any celebration, Bazaar Mar is sure to alleviate any first-date jitters or provide a fun, intimate setting for a birthday dinner, promotion party, or double-digit anniversary. Get lost in the whimsical blue-and-white tiles that depict seaside scenes inspired by the islands of the Mediterranean. As the name and decor indicate, seafood is the star of chef José Andrés’ second Bazaar concept in Miami, located at the SLS Brickell. Dishes arrive artfully plated: The California funnel cake ($13) – layered with crisp seaweed, chopped cucumber, avocado, and Maryland blue crab mixed with Japanese mayo and salmon roe – sits atop a silver stand shaped like an octopus. The classic cobia ceviche ($26) comes fashioned as a delicate rose of leche de tigre, nasturtium leaf, sweet potato, and corn nuts. Regardless of what you fancy, this wondrous seafood mecca will surely please.
2. Café Roval
The coral-rock walls, antique chandeliers, and European vibes seal the deal in terms of romantic atmosphere inside the newly opened Café Roval by prolific restaurateur Mark Soyka. But the lush patio – overflowing with greenery, palm trees, stone pathways, tiered lagoons, and a cascading waterfall with a bronze Buddha at the center – is no less charming. Long story short: There’s no bad seat in the house, and as with all of Soyka's restaurants, he doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the menu, featuring everything from chilled plates and hot entrées to cheese boards and caviar. Highlights include yellowfin tuna crudo ($14), decadent oxtail buns ($14), and Malbec-braised short ribs ($34).
3. La Mar by Gaston Acurio
Dinner at a hotel restaurant can be a precursor to one lucky evening (hello, hotel room), but La Mar by Gaston Acurio at the ultraluxe Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key elevates the standard hotel dining scene via bold and flavorful Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, dramatic waterfront views of Biscayne Bay, and refined service set to make your date swoon. Share the classic cebiche ($22), made with a citrus-based marinade of ají limo pepper, fluke, cilantro, red onions, classic leche de tigre, and choclo. This dish alone will make you pucker in the best way – perfect practice for later.
4. Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Take a stroll along NE Second Avenue in the Design District and stop at the blue-framed door of Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Enter the former 1940s home and feel like you're in a village in Greece, complete with blue and white accents. Head to the lush back patio for a complete Grecian experience and enjoy a seat at a lantern-lit table beneath the trees. Share the Greek sampler ($15), which comes with warm homemade bread and a trio of dips – tzatziki, tarama, and eggplant – and then feast on Mediterranean delicacies such as whole grilled sea bass ($34) and chicken kebabs ($24) – hearty chunks of grilled chicken served with orzo pilaf and maroulosalata.
Boasting seductive dark wooden tones, contrasting sheer white drapes, elaborate light fixtures, and sophisticated takes on ingredient-driven coastal Italian fare, this upscale Brickell restaurant knows how to sate any lovebirds’ desires. Cozy up at the bar as you toast to love with a glass of the Gentle Man ($18), made with Hennessy, Zacapa rum, and Galliano Ristretto; and the Amalfi lemonade ($14), containing limoncello, vodka, basil, and prosecco. Then make your way to a table for a journey to the Mediterranean. A selection of East and West Coast oysters ($3 to $4 each) makes a great starter, followed by spinach-and-ricotta-stuffed ravioli ($25) and salt-crusted branzino ($45). Cap off the evening with a decadent sphere of tiramisu ($11).
6. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
Don’t have time to light some candles and get the mood going? No problem. Sugarcane has you covered. Retreat to the sidewalk garden and dine under twinkling strings of star-shaped lights. Choose from a menu of flavorful small plates, creative sushi rolls, and raw selections. Begin with a blackboard selection of seasonal oysters, priced at $18 for a half-dozen or $34 for a dozen. On the seemingly endless list of tapas-style choices, the pan-seared sea scallops ($18), Wagyu sliders ($7 each), and Korean-style beef short ribs ($17) are a must – as is a pitcher of caipirinha ($50) to share.
7. Matador Room
Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's modern Latin restaurant inside the sleek Miami Beach Edition may not sound romantic, but once the peekytoe crab and corn fritters ($15), crisp Florida black grouper tacos ($16), arroz con pollo ($28), and almond cake ($8) arrive, you’ll immediately fall in love – with the food. The sexy, dark decor accented by a massive white chandelier and white walls in the 1950s-style dining room, as well as the candlelit terrace, sets the mood in the other department. And if all else fails, there’s bowling, ice skating, and dancing in the same building to win your date over.
8. Casa Tua
Set in an inviting and intimate Mediterranean villa surrounded by a serene garden, Casa Tua feels exactly like its name describes: “Your home.” The Tuscan theme extends to a menu that evokes a weekend getaway to Southern Europe: spaghetti, lasagna, beef tenderloin, lamb chops, and branzino. Leave room for dessert: Casa Tua’s signature tiramisu ($14) and vanilla and orange crème brûlée ($14) are not to be missed. And if you don't plan to drive, explore the encyclopedic collection of wines to go along with your fairy-tale dining experience in this hideaway on James Avenue.
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If you time it right, you can catch the sunset through floor-to-ceiling windows or the open-air dining room complete with vertical gardens at Juvia. With panoramic views of South Beach and beyond, this penthouse-level hot spot is a great place to wow your date with an atmosphere unlike any other. The menu isn’t too shabby either, with an eclectic mix of contemporary takes on Japanese, French, and Peruvian cuisine. Order the hamachi espuma ($24) for a mildly spicy and citrusy start. Entrées range from grilled duck ($36) to king crab risotto ($45). Sip strong specialty cocktails such as the Juvia lemonade ($18), made with Beluga Noble vodka, mixed berry purée, and lemon; and the Jalisco Flower ($18), made with Avión tequila, Suze, Dolin Blanc, and Peychaud's Bitters.
10. Il Gabbiano
If romance to you means big bucks and even bigger caloric expenditure, this splurge-worthy authentic Italian restaurant is the best option. Apart from Il Gabbiano’s crowd-pleasing pastas — including a creamy fettuccine Alfredo and spaghetti carbonara, each priced at $26.75, as well as an incredibly tender filet mignon with sautéed foie gras for $55 — you’re also getting the beautiful vistas of Biscayne Bay. Food? Check. Views? Check. Vino? Well, you might as well go all out and order a bottle from the extensive wine list. After an evening of fine dining, your date will be singing "That's Amore" in no time.