Geja's Cafe in Chicago Named Best Romantic Restaurant

Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Circa 1886, Il Cielo and Fearrington House Restaurant also winners

Many of the world's most seductive dining destinations can be found in the U.S. We teamed up with food and romance experts to nominate the 20 best, most romantic restaurant in the nation, and then we turned it over to our readers.

  • Log Haven
    Salt Lake City

    It’s often rated the best restaurant in Utah, but what really makes Log Haven special is its unique setting, in a log mansion within the Wasatch National Forest, set at the base of towering cliffs and waterfalls. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale, complete with rustic fireplaces and even a water wheel. Aptly named Log Haven was built as weekend retreat by a 1920’s steel baron, but has operated as a special occasion eatery for the past twenty years. The mountain setting of the restaurant occupies a whopping 40 acres, with opportunities to dine inside or out, numerous smaller private dining rooms, all serving up a menu heavy on local flair, from forest mushrooms to juniper smoked elk.
    Photo courtesy of Log Haven

  • Blantyre
    Lenox, Mass.

    If there is an award to be won, Blantyre has it, from 5-Forbes Stars to the Number One Small Hotel in America pick by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report. It’s a member of the prestigious international Relais & Châteaux group for both lodging and dining, and occupies a true castle-like mansion, complete with turrets and gargoyles, sprawling and ivy covered, in the already uber-romantic Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts. Every night Blantyre offers an elaborate multi-course dinner heavily focused on marrying traditional Continental techniques to the finest local and domestic produce like Hudson Valley foie gras, Montauk mackerel and Cape Cod scallops. The building is incredible, built in 1901 and furnished with English antiques, and the dining room is perhaps the most spectacular part, with fine linen tablecloths, the best silver and china, overflowing with flowers and candelabras, all accompanied by a distinguished pianist. Just about everyone dining here has chosen Blantyre to celebrate a special event – with good reason.
    Photo courtesy of Blantyre

  • The River Café
    New York

    In real estate location is everything, and sometimes it’s the same for romantic eateries. This Big Apple institution has been on the waterfront in Brooklyn – the address is One Water Street – since long before the borough became fashionable, and enjoys truly one of a kind panoramic views of the Brooklyn Bridge, river and skyline. Once called the Harvard Business School of cooking by the New York Times, the kitchen has produced many star chefs like Charlie Palmer, David Burke and Larry Forgione, and has been doing it right for almost forty years, but it is the outdoor seating on a floating barge with a live pianist and flickering candles that most diners come for - especially on special occasions.
    Photo courtesy of vivavioletaphotography.com

  • French Room
    Dallas

    Dallas’ quintessential special occasion restaurant has long been a dining destination, and has racked up the highest possible AAA 5-Diamonds annually for more than a quarter of a century. Located in the luxurious Adolphus hotel, it is classic fine French at its best, complete with uniformed staff, many of them with 20+ years of experience, working to exacting standards under a vaulted, mural covered ceiling and Venetian glass chandeliers, among walls covered in gold leaf. This is the real deal, a close your eyes and you could be in Paris throwback fine dining experience that captures the romance of the City of Lights.
    Photo courtesy of DVDesign

  • Alizé
    Las Vegas

    Alize is Michelin-starred fine dining elevated to another level – literally. It is one of the highest restaurants in the nation, sitting 56 floors above the Las Vegas Strip, with stunning views that threaten to overshadow the award winning cuisine – but don’t quite manage it. Before The Palms was built, chef Andre Rochat’s namesake Andre’s Las Vegas was one of the city’s hottest tables, and he snapped up this one of a kind space before the hotel was even built. He’s been wowing visitors with haute French cuisine here ever since the Palms opened, and besides the amazing food, service, and views, Alize boasts a stunning 7.500 bottle wine cellar and what is believed to be the largest cognac collection in the city.
    Photo courtesy of Isaac Brekken

  • Fearrington House Restaurant
    Pittsboro, N.C.

    Seasonal North Carolina-centric “farm to fork” cuisine is the reason foodies come here in droves, but for romantics, the setting also plays a big part. The white columned country manor home is broken into small and intimate dining rooms that create the illusion of being the guest of honor at a spectacular chef-hosted blowout dinner party – one that occurs every night here. Many guests arrive early to tour the restaurant’s onsite farm and see where much of the produce comes from, and to view the rare breed Belted Galloway cows grazing in open pastures nearby. Sustainable romantics love that it is the nation’s only Green Certified eatery to be awarded 5 AAA Diamonds and 5 Forbes Stars.
    Photo courtesy of Fearrington House Restaurant

  • Il Cielo
    Beverly Hills, Calif.

    The name of this open air Beverly Hills landmark means “The Sky,” and they take the concept seriously with the popular option to dine beneath the stars in the restaurant’s private gardens. Designed to capture the experience of a Tuscan farmhouse, visiting Il Cielo feels like stepping into a country home in the heart of the city, whether you dine inside or out, and features vaulted ceilings, elaborate Italianate plasterwork and flowers everywhere, combined with traditional Italian specialties that have been wowing Los Angeles diners for three decades. The restaurant also has a handful of small private dining rooms in which it offers intensive “romance dinners” for two, covering the floors and tables in rose petals and pulling out all the stops.
    Photo courtesy of Il Cielo

  • Circa 1886
    Charleston

    Charleston is frequently voted the nation’s friendliest city, and with its cobblestone streets, mansions and horse drawn carriages, it oozes romance and Southern hospitality. Circa 1886 is set in the original carriage house on the grounds of the Wentworth Mansion, one of the South’s best hotels, and showcases many original elements from 1886, including wide pine floors boards, wood burning fireplace and stable doors. Many tables are set in arched booths, walls are carved wood, and the place is lit by candlelight. An ever-changing seasonal menu showcases the best and freshest local and regional ingredients cooked with Southern flair, and the combination of cuisine and atmosphere is hard to beat.
    Photo courtesy of Circa 1886

  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant
    Las Vegas

    There’s no place more romantic than Paris, and no Parisian Sopot more iconic than the Eiffel Tower, topped with the famed Jules Vernes restaurant. Not to be outdone, the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas, rising out of the Paris Casino Resort, is also topped with a first rate eatery completely ringed with floor to ceiling windows showcasing jaw dropping panoramic views, including the famed fountain show at Bellagio. In a marriage-mad city, the space is one of the most popular for proposals, with a mod but sophisticated design that seats diners in futuristic but private curved banquettes, all surrounding a glitzy central circular bar. Chef owner J. Joho is from France, where he trained and cooked in some of the most highly rated Michelin starred eateries, and is no stranger to high-altitude fine dining: his 40-story high Everest in Chicago has long been one of the nation’s most acclaimed French eateries.
    Photo courtesy of Eiffel Tower Restaurant

  • Geja's Cafe
    Chicago

    If your idea of a romantic dinner involves sharing food and lots of leaning in, you can’t do better than fondue, and for fondue you can’t do better than Geja’s, which has been serving up tabletop fare for 50 years. It also fosters a more grown up atmosphere by banning children under 10 due to safety concerns. The timeless European feel involves a four course candlelit dinner, accompanied by Spanish guitar, and a great wine list. Dinner here includes a trio of shared experiences, with traditional alpine cheese fondue, a cook your own choice of delicacies like lobster tail, beef tenderloin, and sea scallops in sizzling broth, and the decadent melted Belgian chocolate fondue as the perfect end to a special night.
    Photo courtesy of Geja's Cafe

For the past four weeks USA TODAY 10Best readers have been voting daily for their favorite romantic restaurant, and now we have a winner. Chicago had two nominated restaurants on the list, but it was Geja's Cafe, a candlelit fondue restaurant, that took home top honors as America's best romantic restaurant.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Romantic Restaurant are as follows:

  1. Geja's Cafe - Chicago
  2. Eiffel Tower Restaurant - Las Vegas
  3. Circa 1886 - Charleston
  4. Il Cielo - Beverly Hills, Calif.
  5. Fearrington House Restaurant - Pittsboro, N.C.
  6. Alizé - Las Vegas
  7. French Room - Dallas
  8. The River Café - New York
  9. Blantyre - Lenox, Mass.
  10. Log Haven - Salt Lake City

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Susan Moynihan (The Honeymoonist), Larry Olmsted (Great American Bites) and Ashley Day (USA TODAY Experience Food & Wine) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of the American restaurant scene.

Additional nominees for Best Romantic Restaurant included Addison in San Diego; August in New Orleans; Bayona in New Orleans; Canlis in Seattle; Everest in Chicago; The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.; Joël Robuchon at The Mansion in Las Vegas; La Mer in Honolulu; One if by Land, Two if by Sea in New York and The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners.

 

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Susan Moynihan

Susan Moynihan

Larry Olmsted

Larry Olmsted

Ashley Day

Ashley Day

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