Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Don’t wait until the last minute to make a reservation.
Atmosphere is so important for a romantic dinner; we’re talking low lights, luxurious booths, A+ service, and elegant dishes. Here’s a quick list to help you decide which romantic restaurant in Charlotte is best for you and your partner, plus which dish to order at each spot. (Listed in no particular order.)
Sets the standard for a white tablecloth, fine-dining destination in Charlotte
Best for: The newlyweds.
Must-order dish: Fig Tree’s famous elk chop ($42) over horseradish spaetzle with smoked bacon-braized purple cabbage and boursin-dijon sauce.
Dine surrounded by plants at this brand new restaurant in an old mill home in NoDa
Best for: The couple with more plant babies than they can count.
Must-order dish: Pull-apart sour cream and onion broiche — except you don’t have to order it, because every meal comes with a free loaf.
The O.G. of Charlotte small-plate restaurants
Best for: When you and your date can’t decide where to eat. Here, you can try it all with a variety of small plates.
Must-order dish: Steamed bun ($10) with five-spice rubbed pork belly, hoisin, and pickled vegetables.
The ideal neighborhood tavern, serving unpretentious food in historic Fourth Ward
Best for: The couple looking for something casual but intimate.
Must-order dish: “What It Is” ($16.75) – blackened chicken breast over fresh rotini in a cajun cream sauce.
Tiny, no-frills SouthPark restaurant where it’s hard to get a reservation
Best for: The married couple that doesn’t care about the newest, hottest restaurants. They just want something consistently great.
Must-order dish: Seared organic chicken served with creamy mashed potatoes, spinach, and a garlic pan sauce ($23).
Modern take on classic Italian dishes in an intimate Myers Park setting with an open kitchen
Best for: The pizza-loving couple that wants a classy spot that isn’t stuffy.
Must-order dishes: Meatballs ($10) made with pork, Parmesan, marinara, and ciabatta. Or order pizza, which are served with a giant pair of scissors so you can cut it as you like. It’s fun.
Valentine’s Day special: On February 14, Stagioni will serve a four-course meal for $85 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Reservations are almost sold out so book fast.
Gorgeous, award-winning small plates restaurant in Davidson
Best for: The couple that’s tired of the usual stuff and doesn’t mind the drive to Davidson.
Must-order dish: Crispy oysters with dill yogurt and Calabrian chile oil ($12). And of course you’re ordering their famous milk bread (save some and make French toast the next morning with it). For drinks, order the “Barkeep’s Choice” and the bartender will surprise you with a cocktail of his or her choosing.
No-reservations space drips cool with resident DJs spinning every night of the week in Plaza Midwood
Best for: The couple that wants to try something outside the box.
Must-order dish: Asian-glazed pork belly tacos on flour tortillas with watermelon salsa ($12).
Cozy small plates and cocktail spot in Wilmore loved by foodies
Best for: The foodie couple that wants to watch their food being prepared from an open kitchen.
Must-order dish: Dry aged ribeye ($25). There are only 13 dishes on the menu and a few dessert options. Portions are small, but the food is outstanding.
Valentine’s Day special: On February 14 and 15, Bardo will serve a five-course meal for $75 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Book one of three seating times on either evening on Resy. Beverages and featured cocktails available a la carte.
Seasonally driven restaurant by James Beard Award Semifinalist chef Paul Verica located in Elizabeth
Best for: The sophisticated couple looking for something that still feels relaxed.
Must-order dish: The surf and turf is made with beef tartar, fried oysters, veggie slaw, and truffle aioli.
Valentine’s Day special: A five-course meal for $75 per person on February 14. For $45 more, you can add beverage pairing with each course. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 980-299-2741 to make a reservation.
Upscale restaurant with the best views of Uptown
Best for: The proposal.
Must-order dish: Charlotte “nachos” (pimento fondue on potato chips) are not exactly date-friendly food given how messy they are, but who cares. They’re delicious.
A traditional restaurant in a Victorian Fourth Ward home
Best for: The couple who loves old homes and historic architecture.
Must-order dish: Splurge on the chef’s tasting menu for $185 per person, which includes five courses and wine pairings with each.
Progressive American fine dining in SouthPark with a killer wine list
Best for: The couple who loves good wine — but can’t decide which bottle to order. Peppervine has a sommelier who can help with that.
Must-order dish: Big eye tuna tartar ($18) and pimento cheese scones ($8). And don’t miss dessert.
Modern Indian food in a beautiful Dilworth home
Best for: Adventurous eaters who still want a romantic atmosphere.
Must-order dish: To start, order the Masala-chili cauliflower florets ($9) with a zesty scallion glaze, toasted spices, and ginger. For your main, you can’t go wrong with chicken Tikka Masala.
A cozy and dimly lit restaurant underneath a sports bar (trust us on this one)
Best for: The couple who wants to catch the game after dinner.
Must-order dish: Kimchi gnocchi and Heritage Farms pork ragu ($14) with baby bok choy, mushroom medley, pecorino, chives.
Hip spot underneath Soul Gastrolounge in Plaza Midwood with a tiny liquor lounge attached
Best for: The couple that’s vegetarian, but only on weekdays.
Must-order dish: For a plant-based dish, start with the artichokes ($12), which are served in a broth of extra virgin olive oil with baby carrots and potatoes. For omnivores, go with the “Pasta KiKi” ($18) with tender lamb neck and pork belly Bolognese.
A Prohibition-style private club that’s a fun challenge to find in Park Road Shopping Center (hint: look for three dots)
Best for: The couple who wants to go back to the Roaring ’20s for a night.
Must-order dish: Dot Dot Dot is known for its cocktail program, but its food is also excellent. Start with the small cheese and charcuterie board with the chef’s selection of two cured meats and two artisan cheeses.
Valentine’s Day special: On February 14, Dot Dot Dot is offering special menu items (think: desserts and sweet cocktails) to celebrate the holiday. Details.
Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of Agenda guides including best burgers, best bars, best new restaurants, best weekly specials, best pizza, best sushi, best cocktail bars, and best brunch.