An updated version of this top ten list is available here.
Miami always sets the tone for romance: steamy weather, ocean and bay views, year-round outdoor seating, and mouthwatering cuisine.
The delicate dance with romantic restaurants is that you need something to fuel the fire of passion while leaving you feeling light and fresh. The food can't be too heavy or laden with ingredients that cause bad breath or gas. That's a lot of pressure, so here are the top restaurants in Miami to help you seal the deal.
10. Red the Steakhouse
There should be some rare beef in the mix on this day. If you think most steak houses are "sausage fests" fit for only business lunches, Red breaks the mold. It is sexy and sleek and embodies that rich color of passion. There's beef tartare, raw oysters, crab legs, and chicken breasts, but go for a sizzling prime-cut bone-in steak brushed with oil, kosher salt, and potent Tellicherry black peppercorns that sizzle.
9. Proof Pizza & Pasta
"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore." Proof is new to the scene, but its cozy outdoor seating in the romantic moonlight is already memorable. The pizza is also sonnet-worthy, and the bone-marrow variety is sexy. Want more proof? They also have fresh pasta if you want to reenact that Lady and the Tramp moment when two pairs of lips come together through one strand of spaghetti.
8. Matador Room
For old Miami glamor with some new twists and a red cape of surprise exciting you at every turn, grab the bull by the horns and head to the Matador Room at the new Miami Beach Edition. It's supersexy with the space's original chandelier and sunken dining room. For a different view, sit outside overlooking the pool surrounded by plants and mood lighting. When it comes to cuisine, it has world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten behind the dishes. We never knew comfort food like arroz con pollo could be so elevated and glamorous with a big lemon twist.
7. CVI.CHE 105
Miamians are lucky to have so much ceviche at their disposal. We can do high-end or even fast-casual with this Peruvian delicacy. It is perfect for romance because the citrus and the raw seafood join forces for a chemical reaction that leaves you feeling light, refreshed, and even randy. CVI.CHE 105's seafood ceviche orgy has a mix of seafoods coming together in a full-flavored leche de tigre.
What was once known as Seasalt & Pepper has seen a lot of shakeups since it opened, but the beauty and style of this eatery are solid. And its sexiness is undeniable. This restaurant offers some spice and glitz to the Miami River; guests can pull up on yachts and dine on treasures from the sea. It is a place to see and be seen. Here's a sexy observation from one of our food critics: "Her lips curl to smile as she passes a glistening champagne bucket dripping with condensation and tables piled with cracked stone crab claws." That could be the start of any steamy romance novel or your own evening.
5. River Seafood & Oyster Bar
Miami is in the midst of a love affair with that famous aphrodisiac: oysters. We're following a trend that's seeing more and more oyster bars popping up. We recommend you hit up an oldie but goodie, the River Oyster Bar. Slurp down a dozen oysters with your date to set the mood or come for happy hour to get your aphrodisiac on a half-shell washed down with some liquid courage to meet someone new and start a romance.
4. Peacock Garden Cafe
Human males might not have a display of colorful feathers to strut, but they can take their dates to Peacock Garden Cafe to win over mates. This gem in Coconut Grove is charming, and the cocktails are strong. You can stick with light cuisine like big salads with grilled meat. Unlike other restaurants that transport us to foreign lands, this is Southern hospitality that just feels like Miami, with wicker furniture. It is our place to channel our inner Blanche Devereaux and say lines that are way too forward and laden with double-entendres.
3. Mandolin Aegean Bistro
To quote Shakespeare: "If music be the food of love, play on." Mandolin pulls on our heartstrings in just the right way. The food is light and fresh — grown in the restaurant's own garden — the service is warm, and the secret garden is magical. Start with the flamed cheese saganaki to set the tone. It's like a Greek getaway in a serene setting.
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2. Casa Tua
Giant hedges and no signage hide this charming restaurant to most of South Beach. Inside the gate lies an enchanting eatery with lights, lanterns, candles, flowers, and fine northern Italian cuisine. The mood lighting and the intimacy of this secret location are so alluring. The service is topnotch, and so is the wine. You will be put in the mood instantly, but pace yourself with courses so you can let it all flow with a spoon in some chocolate lava cake for dessert.
If you want romance, ride up the elevator to Juvia. It is a jewel with stunning design and even better views. It will take your breath away like a good kiss, and the cuisine plays to romance as well. Try items from the cold bar like oysters, crab, and lobster to heat up your night. Also, the tuna causa croquette will melt in your mouth like a kiss from the food gods. This place hits all the romantic restaurant requirements. The rest is in your hands.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst.