Top Five Dinner Date Restaurants

by Elizabeth Palmer Starnes

Whether you’re courting someone new, trying to seal the deal, or treating your long term significant other to a night on the town, your restaurant choice says a lot about your intentions, and can dictate the direction the night will go.

Usually you want to shoot for somewhere with an intimate atmosphere, soft lighting (candles yes, fluorescents no) and the option for drinks or BYOB to get everyone in a relaxed frame of mind.  Dinner dates of course all subject to taste and personal preference, and I can’t exactly speak for the masses, but I think the five picks below would hold you in good stead for most occasions and company.


Mes Reves

This restaurant, meaning “my dreams” in French, has a gorgeous plush interior done up in a chic Parisian style. The food is classic French, in all its richness and decadence, and most dishes come swathed in a buttery, luscious sauce. Don’t be put off by presumed pretention - it’s a fresh take on the stuffy French date place you might have in mind.  Its slightly off the beaten path location (on Broad Street in Bloomfield) will definitely score you points for creativity.

Halcyon Brasserie

This restaurant holds a place in so many top five lists for a reason. The setting is gorgeous, the food is perfection, and the menu is broad enough where diverging appetites can both find what they want, but curated enough to not be overwhelming.  Start with a drink at the marble bar, and then hit the raw bar for oysters if you’re hoping to get lucky. You can even extend your date to the lounge upstairs if things go well, or you can hightail it over to Egan’s next door if things don’t.  

Highlawn Pavilion

While the inside of this restaurant is grand and impressive, I actually prefer the outdoor patio for drinks, appetizers, and the undisturbed stunning view of the New York City skyline. With the weather getting balmier every day, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy the weather and sample some smaller plates together. Don’t be feel limited by having to order off the outdoor bar menu- its stacked with delicious picks like artisanal cheese, fish tacos, petite fillets, crab cakes, and gourmet flatbread pizzas. 

at Mesob Ethiopian RestaurantMesob

If you’re looking to throw your date a bit of a curveball, or liven up your staid dinner date routine, this is the perfect place to do it. You and your date select a handful of items from the menu together, which are then served on a big piece of Injera (Ethiopian bread) that spans the table. Then, per Ethiopian custom, you eat with your hands, wrapping up the different dishes in torn off pieces of Injera. If you know your date well, or are feeling bold, you can partake in another Ethiopian dining tradition: feeding your dining companion. The food here is really something special, perfectly spiced and flavored, making it a welcome change from the norm.

Acapello RistoranteAcappello Ristorante

If romance to you means Italian, this is your new go-to spot. The setting is beautiful, with domed ceilings and hand painted frescoes of the Italian coastline. Grab a booth by the front windows for the most privacy and the nicest view, and order up from their pitch perfect menu laden with small plates perfect for sharing, phenomenal pasta (try the Cara Mia!) and other Italian classics with a modern spin. The attached wine store takes the guessing out of your drink selection and makes it easy to go grab another bottle if needed. 


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