The idea that romance is something that can be catered to is nothing new. We drink, we dine, and we do these things so much better when we’re with the people we love.
Anniversaries and holidays are obvious: We have long found white tablecloths and candlesticks the most alluring way to celebrate with a very special someone. But on any night, as the sky grows dark and everything else disappears around you, it’s these tables that you’ll want to hold hands across, staring into the eyes of the one person with whom you’ve chosen to spend the evening.
(Or more than one person, if that’s your jam. No judgments).
The heart wants what the heart wants; these restaurants just happen to satisfy the stomach as well.
10. The Lexington
It’s both brand new, and the oldest restaurant on the list. After extensive renovations, new ownership, and a revamped menu, the Lexington has reopened as elegant as she ever was. This means you’re getting the best of both worlds on your special night out: Old world meets new for a truly elegant evening. And love here is truly in the air: you’re surrounded by the memory of a thousand anniversaries, marriage proposals, midnight kisses; first, second, and third dates…
The Lexington | 1096 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN 55105 | (651) 289-4990
It might not be the only French entry on this list (read on and you’ll see) but it’s certainly the most relaxed. It doesn’t have to be about sterile white tablecloths and rigid etiquette. To be in love is to have fun with one special someone and this is the place to do it. Barbette’s playful plates and colorful decor make it a date spot for the young and young at heart, with the food of love still on full (and excellent) display.
Barbette | 1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408 | (612) 827-5710
8. Rincon 38
Tapas. They’re cute, you know, to share with arms crossed shoulders touching and all that. Small plates that are meant to be shared side by side, eyes lighting up with amazement at such bold flavors packed into such small packages. It also lets you try different things (and variety is the spice of life); wash them down with a sip of house-made sangria. The space itself is small as well, cozy you might say, and so very intimate especially as the sun disappears.
7. Bar la Grassa
You’ll fall in love with the food as quickly as the person eating it. It’s not sloppy, mama’s red sauce Italian (though we love that style as well and can certainly fall in love in a much more messy manner); this is sophisticated, refined. This is to impress, as only your love deserves. But it still maintaining a simplicity: red wine spaghettini is the best thing on the menu. You are still supposed to focus on the person sitting across from you, after all, no matter how good the food is.
Bar La Grassa | 800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401 | (612) 333-3837
6. Bar Brigade
It’s another new restaurant in St. Paul. It will perhaps rank even higher once it’s a little older. It already comes in surprisingly high for having been open for only a few months, but it truly is a special, and especially romantic, experience. Lock eyes, hold hands, enjoy the excellent food tucked away in one of St. Paul’s quietest, quaintest restaurants in one of St. Paul’s quietest, quaintest neighborhoods
Bar Brigade | 470 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55105 |
5. W.A. Frost
It’s kind of boring to put Frost on yet another romantic restaurants list, but the weather has warmed and the patio is open (and better than ever) and it would be simply dishonest not to include them. But even when the sun isn’t shining Frost is often the perfect place to celebrate your amour. We’re particularly fond of the downstairs lounge, with ancient nooks in which to disappear; if you’re low key having a romance you don’t want the world to know about, this is your incognito hideaway.
W.A. Frost | 374 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | (651) 224-5715
An upgraded Minneapolis mainstay reminds why going out to eat in the Twin Cities is such a special affair. It mirrors your own romance: everything impeccable down to the last locally-sourced morsel. There’s now also a boutique hotel onsite where you can end the night as you should without ever leaving the premises. Perfect night? That still depends on you; Alma simply gives you the tools you need.
Alma | 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 | (612) 379-4909
It’s hidden away in a quiet St. Paul neighborhood. It’s a stone’s throw from the oldest bar in the city, which is a great place to enjoy a drink while you wait for your table. Once you’re inside, you cozy up at a two-top table with your loved one as the savory smells of good old fashioned Italian cooking envelope your senses. It’s low-lit and intimate, and with the impeccable service we’ve come to expect from Tim Niver’s restaurants, it’s always an ideal place for a romantic experience.
Mucci’s | 786 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN 55102 | (651) 330-2245
You’re in St. Paul. Close your eyes. You’re in Paris, disappearing into the lights of a small brasserie somewhere near the Champs–Élysées. That’s the kind of experience that Meritage offers, overlooking Rice Park and the palatial Landmark Center. Then there’s the food, the delicious seasonal dishes, the classic Talousian specialties, the cocktails and wine, the aphrodisiac qualities of the fresh oysters (there’s nowhere better to find them in the Twin Cities). It was hard not to put it at #1. It was hard. But alas…
Meritage | 410 St Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102 | (651) 222-5670
1. St. Genevieve
It’s probably no surprise that the top two spots on our list are occupied by French restaurants. The French are known for their whimsically romantic ways, after all, and their food reflects that. But it’s more than that. St. Genevieve is, an in word, perfect. And that is not a word we use lightly. The food is meant to be shared; tartines and oysters side by side with someone more than just special to you. Champagne bubbles under soft lights in the most intimate of dining rooms. It’s formidable in every way possible.
St. Genevieve | 5003 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419 | (612) 353-4843