Desert Romance: 10 Best Romantic Restaurants in Metro Phoenix

7. Kai
Photo courtesy of Patricia Escarcega
By Patricia Escarcega, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson Local Expert

It's hard not to get in the mood for love at T. Cook's, the signature restaurant at Phoenix's ultra-romantic Royal Palms Resort and Spa. The menu of New American fare, featuring Mediterranean-inspired pastas, soups, and seafood dishes. The restaurant has one of the loveliest dining rooms in the city, featuring a colorful Moroccan-inspired prints and plush seating. The two bougainvillea-dotted patios offer lovely views of Camelback Mountain. The restaurant also has a glass-enclosed wine and tequila tasting room, perfect for taste-testing bottles with your sweetie. 

One of the loveliest outdoor patios in the city is over at House of Tricks in Tempe. The historic house-turned-restaurant, tucked away on a quiet street near the Arizona State University campus, is a long-time favorite fine dining with locals and visitors alike. The farm-to-table menu features seasonally-inspired sandwiches, pasta dishes, meats and fish plates - all crafted from locally sourced ingredients. 

Over in downtown Phoenix, enjoy a quiet dinner at Nobuo at Teeter House, an elegant Japanese teahouse located inside on of the oldest homes in the city. The gourmet menu invites guests to think beyond sushi rolls, teriyaki, and other usual suspects for a totally innovative take on Japanese cuisine. For an extra special dinner, contact the restaurant in advance to request the tasting menu experience. 

For an ultra-romantic date night that won't break the bank, head over to Cibo. The restaurant is situated inside a 1913 bungalow near the Roosevelt Row arts district. For dinner, the menu is replete with gourmet wood-fired pizzas, but you'll also find a great list of antipasti and salads. The restaurant has a lovely garden patio with twinkling lights, and the dining room is cozy and rustic. 

10. Coup Des Tartes
Photo courtesy of Coup des Tartes

Coup Des Tartes is a charming, French bistro-style restaurant housed in a historic home in central Phoenix. The menu features French-inspired American fare. For lunch, you can pretend you are in Paris on the sunny patio, while enjoying the kitchen's Roquefort salad, or a croque monsieur sandwich. For dinner, enjoy classic Coup Des Tartes starters like a three onion tarte, artisan cheeses, or maybe the very fresh steak tartare with a quail egg. Popular entrees include seared sea scallops, and the restaurant's signature Moroccan lamb shank. The ambiance at Coup Des Tartes, full of alcoves and nostalgic travel memorabilia, really sets the mood for an intimate, romantic dinner. There's also a very strong wine and cocktail list.

9. House of Tricks
Photo courtesy of House of Tricks

Two fireplaces, antique furnishings, and tables positioned to offer the utmost privacy adorn various rooms at House of Tricks, evoking an inviting, home-like ambiance. Dining on the terrace is a delightful experience, thanks to tables set under a trellised garden, just a few steps from a bar built around two trees. The menu capitalizes on Asian, French, and Mediterranean flavors and ingredients, combining them in dishes like peach butter-stuffed chicken, grilled Scottish salmon with couscous salad, tamarind-glazed seared duck breast, and seared ahi with baby bok choy. Perfect for a special evening with friends, special occasions, and of course, date night.

8. Vincent's on Camelback
Photo courtesy of Vincent's on Camelback

Vincent on Camelback has been a Valley favorite since the 1980s, when Chef Vincent Guerithault pioneered his unique brand of Southwestern-inflected French cuisine. Chef Vincent boldly marries traditional French techniques with indigenous Southwestern ingredients and flavors, with remarkable and inimitable results. Try the lobster chimichangas, perfectly crisp on the outside and stuffed with succulent lobster in a basil beurre blanc and a side of avocado corn salsa. Other stand-outs include the duck tamale with Anaheim chile and raisins. Vegetarians will love the little turnover of heirloom tomato, egglplant and zucchini with a mild creamy gorgonzola. The wild boar loin with a parsnip puree and habanero sauce. You'll want to save room for dessert, because Vincent on Camelback is home to arguably the city's most decadent cr�me brulee, with a spectrum of flavors that include vanilla, chocolate, coffee, passion fruit and Grand Marnier.

7. Kai

Kai is noteworthy on so many levels that it's difficult to know where to start when describing it. The esteemed crew that helped shape the restaurant includes Consulting Chef Janos Wilder, Executive Chef Michael O'Dowd, and Chef de Cuisine Jack Strong. They have devised a menu of incredible food using ingredients grown on local tribal farms in dishes with a definite Native American slant, such as seared prairie squab and oxtail-merguez sausage frittata with huitlacoche sauce and charred tomato crema, and grilled buffalo tenderloin with smoked corn puree, scarlet runner beans, saguaro blossom syrup and cholla buds. A tasting menu is also available, with or without wine pairings. The ideal spot to enjoy such earthy-yet-ethereal food is Kai's patio, with a view out over the Estrella Mountains. With a prickly pear margarita in hand.

6. Different Pointe of View

As the name implies, views from this dining room are breathtaking. Sit outside on the patio and enjoy a beautiful sunset, or dine inside and check out the cityscape through huge picture windows. The restaurant delivers a winning menu featuring a fusion of American cuisine with Mediterranean influences. The menu highlights fruits and vegetables grown right on the premises; resultant dishes include milk-fed lamb chops, truffle grilled prime filet mignon, and butter-poached Maine lobster. A perfect place for celebrating a special occasion or for a quiet, romantic dinner. The vast wine list demands to be explored, as does the dessert menu.

5. Nobuo at Teeter House
Photo courtesy of Nobuo at Teeter House

This Asian-style teahouse was an immediate sensation at its debut back in 2010, famous for the artistic sensibilities of local superstar chef Nobuo Fukuda. The chef-artist is a critical darling for his iconoclastic take on traditional Japanese cuisine. By day, nosh on the elegant small plates and light, impeccably constructed salads, sandwiches and bowls. In the evening, the dinner menu is divided between appetizers, cold dishes and warm dishes, all featuring seasonal ingredients, fresh fish and always-unexpected pairings. The real star of the show at Nobuo is the omakase (chef's choice) menu, extravagant, reservations-only multicourse affairs that take place on the weekends.

4. T. Cook's
Photo courtesy of T. Cook's

T. Cook's rests within a 1920s-era mansion (now a luxury hotel, the Royal Palms Hotel and Spa) constructed by New York financier Delos Cooke. The property's elegant restaurant is considered one of the best in the state. The menu consists of Mediterranean-inspired dishes like sauteed Maine lobster with tortellini and asparagus, seared duck breast with butternut squash risotto, and spit-roasted chicken with toasted almond couscous, dates, and olives. The adjacent lounge is cigar-friendly and an ideal spot for a relaxing aperitif. T. Cook's also hosts a popular weekend brunch. This is a popular restaurant for special occasions, so advanced reservations are recommended.

3. Tratto
Photo courtesy of Patricia Escarcega

Tratto is the new restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco, who has been instrumental in helping shine the national spotlight on the burgeoning Phoenix food scene. This time around, Bianco and company are shifting focus away from pizza with an unpretentious menu inspired by the classic Italian trattoria, with an emphasis on Arizona terroir. The menu changes with the seasons, so expect to see small plates brimming with vegetables served at the height of the season. Expect to find starters like farinata and house-cured lardo on grilled bruschetta. Primi courses feature freshly made pasta dishes, and secondi courses are where you'll find lovingly prepared plates like braised pork shank and chicken served with Arizona-grown grapes.

2. Cibo
Photo courtesy of Cibo

This Central Phoenix urban pizzeria is situated in a restored 1913 bungalow, making it the perfect backdrop for a leisurely lunch or romantic dinner. Exposed brick, hardwood floors, authentic stained glass windows and a working fireplace means that you'll have much to admire while you nosh on your salad, antipasti, made-from-scratch pasta or artisanal pizza. Each pizza is made-to-order and hand-tossed by Chef Guido Saccone, native of Sicily, and then topped with a delicious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Stop by in the late afternoon for the new happy hour menu, which features classic Italian small bites like arancini, rice balls stuffed with fresh cheese.

1. Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain
Photo courtesy of Quiessence at The Farm

Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain offers a unique fine dining experience in a bucolic slice of South Phoenix. The restaurant, located inside a historic home at the end of a pecan tree-line path at The Farm, features excellent farm-to-table fare in a relaxed yet lovely dining room. Many of the dishes feature ingredients hand-picked steps away from the kitchen at Maya's Garden. The menu is constantly changing, but expect seasonal New American fare tinged with exotic ingredients and unexpected flavor pairings. One of the best ways to experience Quiessence is by enjoying Chef Dustin Christofolo's six-course tasting menu.