The connection between food and seduction probably traces to some prehistoric man offering a roasted animal leg to his beloved by a roaring fire. Since then, the practice of using food to woo a person has evolved to include Champagne, oysters, chocolate, and music — but some things remain eternal: Fire is still an element, be it candles or a fireplace, and a good meal is still the ultimate way to indicate you love someone (or at least want to get it on with them).
With its aqua ocean, balmy breezes, and sultry Latin flavor, Miami is the perfect place to fall in love. Proximity to the coast allows for water views. Then there are the sunsets.
The most romantic restaurants share the same winning factors: a stellar menu, seductive cocktails, intimate ambiance, and exceptional service. Whether you want to wow your Tinder date or celebrate your longtime squeeze, let the sparks fly at any of these ten dining destinations.
Just be sure to book a reservation before you get dolled up.
Amara at Paraiso3101 NE Seventh Ave., Miami
Michael Schwartz's Amara at Paraiso is beautifully set on Biscayne Bay with lush indoor and outdoor seating, all with a waterfront view. The James Beard Award-winning chef, best known for his Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, calls Amara at Paraiso a "love letter to Miami." The menu includes Latin American-influenced dishes cooked using a wood grill and a Josper charcoal oven. Standouts include crispy octopus with braised yuca and a parrillada of short rib, chorizo, sweetbreads, and steak. This restaurant is so romantic, it features a special marriage proposal package that includes the best seats in the house, a photographer, and a special menu.
Casa Tua1700 James Ave., Miami Beach
Set in an inviting and intimate Mediterranean villa surrounded by a serene garden, Casa Tua feels exactly like its name: "your home." The Tuscan theme extends to a menu that evokes a weekend getaway to Southern Europe: spaghetti, beef tenderloin, and branzino. Leave room for dessert — the signature tiramisu and vanilla and orange crème brûlée are not to be missed. And if you don't plan to drive, explore the encyclopedic collection of wines to pair with your fairy-tale dining experience in this hideaway on James Avenue.
Cecconi's Miami Beach4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Italian and Mediterranean dishes are served on a foliage-filled patio at this restaurant tucked inside the Soho Beach House. Begin your evening at the 14-seat bar before sitting down to dinner. Look up to find the night sky competing with thousands of tiny white lights twinkling in the many trees dotting the property. The menu is classic, and appetites are made hearty by the soft hint of salt air. The music of pounding waves is provided by the ocean, just a stone's throw away. Because the goal of a romantic meal is to sate, not stuff, start with a classic beef tartare with celery hearts and quail egg, and share an order of handmade spaghetti with Maine lobster, chilies, and basil before moving on to Dover sole with lemon and capers, or the grilled seafood for two. Be sure to indulge in a final toast with the restaurant's house-made limoncello.
Il Gabbiano335 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami
If romance to you means big bucks and high caloric intake, this splurge-worthy Italian restaurant is your best option. Try Il Gabbiano’s crowd-pleasing pastas, which include a creamy fettuccine Alfredo and spaghetti carbonara. Or maybe you crave the incredibly tender filet of beef with Barolo wine sauce. Either way, you also get 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 list. After an evening of fine dining, your date will be singing "That's Amore" in no time.
Juvia1111 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach
If you time your arrival right, you can catch the sunset through floor-to-ceiling windows or in the rooftop dining room complete with vertical gardens. With panoramic views of South Beach and beyond, this penthouse-level hot spot is a great place to impress your date. The menu isn’t too shabby either, offering an eclectic mix of contemporary takes on Japanese, French, and Peruvian cuisine. Order the hamachi espuma ($26) for a mildly spicy and citrusy start. Entrées range from a braised lamb shank ($42) to king crab risotto ($45). Specialty cocktails such as the Juvia lemonade, made with Beluga Noble vodka, mixed-berry purée, and lemon, will help alleviate date-night jitters and let Cupid take aim.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami
Dinner at a hotel restaurant can be a precursor to one lucky evening (hello, hotel room), but La Mar by Gastón Acurio at the ultra-luxe 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 that will make your date swoon. Share the classic cebiche, made with a citrus-based marinade of ají limon pepper, fluke, cilantro, red onions, and classic leche de tigre ($23) or share a sampler of cebiche favorites ($29).
Mandolin Aegean Bistro4312 NE Second Ave., Miami
Take a stroll along NE Second Avenue in the Design District and stop at the blue-framed door of Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Enter the 1940s home and feel like you're in a Greek village complete with blue and white accents. Head to the cozy back patio for a complete Grecian experience, and enjoy a seat at a lantern-lit table beneath the trees. Share the Greek sampler ($16), which comes with warm house-made bread and a trio of dips — tzatziki, tarama, and eggplant — and then feast on Mediterranean delicacies such as whole grilled sea bass ($38) and chicken kebabs ($26) — hearty chunks of grilled chicken served with orzo pilaf and maroulosalata, the classic Greek green salad.
Matador Room2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Bypass the sleek midcentury-modern dining room at celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Latin restaurant inside the sleek Miami Beach Edition and opt for a table on the candlelit terrace. The wow factor of the stunning alfresco setting is enhanced by the menu. Crunchy calamari, Florida black grouper tacos, and arroz con pollo will make you immediately fall in love — with the food. And if all else fails, bowling, ice skating, and dancing are available in the same building to entertain your date.
Peacock Garden2889 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove
This classic Coconut Grove bistro has been given a facelift with new seating and an even more lush patio feel. Dine under the stars among beautiful greenery accented with globe lights with a menu that's decidedly more affordable than most romantic dining rooms. The menu offers simple bistro fare that's easily shareable. A picnic board brings a beautiful presentation of burrata, prosciutto, greek olives, artichokes, and crostini ($18); grilled octopus is drizzled with spicy olive oil ($22); and fresh oysters are eternally romantic ($18).
Redfish by Chef Adrianne9610 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables
Chef Adrianne Calvo has given new life to one of Miami's most stunning dining venues. The property — a gorgeous coral rock structure — is tucked into Matheson Hammock Park. As a waterfront dining experience, the menu has plenty of seafood options like whole branzino, Maine lobster, and brown sugar-crusted salmon — all complimented by the restaurant's extensive wine and whiskey library.
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