Romantic Dining à Deux in Santa Fe

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe
Photo courtesy of The Staab House
Photo courtesy of Terra Cotta Wine Bistro
Photo courtesy of Dinner for Two
Photo courtesy of Galisteo Bistro
Photo courtesy of The Anasazi Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Bouche Bistro
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins
Photo courtesy of Inn and Spa at Loretto
Photo courtesy of photo Peter Vitale, courtesy Geronimo
By Billie Frank, Santa Fe Local Expert

There’s something about Santa Fe that whispers “romance.” Maybe it’s the narrow streets with their adobe walls hiding untold mysteries or perhaps the stunning sunsets or just the quality of the light. Whatever draws you, the city is the perfect place for proposals, weddings and just getting away with that person you love. Want a romantic dinner that you’ll long remember? The truth is, if you’re with someone you really love and sparks are flying, even the local drive-in eatery can be romance filled. But, if you want a place with romantic ambiance, whether you want a dark corner in a quiet bar, or lounge or a banquet or cozy table by the fireplace, The City Different has the perfect place for you and you honey to dine a deux. Proposing and want an extravagant bottle of bubbly to seal the deal? Want to toots up that special occasion? Want a special over-the-top gesture just because? Many of Santa Fe’s upscale eateries will arrange just about anything from champagne to flowers to a flaming dessert and even a violinist to serenade you and your significant other. All you have to do is ask. If they can do it, they will. Just give them your credit card number. Call in advance as these things take planning. Some restaurants even feature dishes that scream romance; or call in advance to arrange a special romantic menu. You’re only limited by your imagination and your budget. Romance is alive and well in Santa Fe.

10. Terra at Four Seasons Resorts Rancho Encantado
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe

Want something a bit more casual for your lovers' dinner and think sunsets are romantic? Santa Fe boasts spectacular ones. One of the best places to this nightly show is Terra Bar at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. Mother Nature's show is worth the almost 20 minute drive from downtown. The bar menu features an array of small plates created by Executive Chef Andrew Cooper. Sharing plates and feeding each other tiny morsels can be really sexy. If you prefer, you can also order from the seasonally-changing restaurant menu. Cooper is committed to fresh and local and even cultivates his own garden in summer. If you arrive at the bar, where seating is first-come-first-served and the sun's already down, opt for a table by the glowing fireplace. After dinner, take a starlit walk around the resorts grounds.

9. The Staab House
Photo courtesy of The Staab House

Staab House, the cozy bar at La Posada Resort & Spa, is in the former library of the Victorian mansion once home to Abraham and Julia Staab. You can't beat the ambiance for casual romantic dining. In winter, sit by one of the cozy fireplaces or snuggle up on one of the loveseats. In summer, enjoy the beautiful outdoor patio for your tête-à-tête. Sip on Julia's Manhattan, named for the resident ghost, or a glass of wine from their extensive list. Wednesdays through Sundays listen to live music while you dine on bar food. You can also order from the full restaurant menu. Want a more private romantic spot? Ask to have a table set in the Rose Room, just off the current library. After eating, stroll through the resort's lush six acres. Make sure to look up at the stars.

8. TerraCotta Wine Bistro
Photo courtesy of Terra Cotta Wine Bistro

A walk down charming, historic Johnson Street on your way to Terra Cotta Wine Bistro will set the scene for romance. Reserve a table in the romantic, bar or one of the two intimate dining rooms for your special dinner. Sip on some wine as you peruse the menu. Great way to start a lovers' dinner: a shared plate of Pacific Northwest Oysters Rockefeller. Oysters are said to be an aphrodisiac food; you can find out for yourselves. Owner Glenda Griswold says the best tables for dinner a deux are either the corner two-top in the bar or the corner table in the main dining room. Both have banquettes encouraging intimate conversation. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays live guitar music helps set the mood. Most romantic occasion to date: a couple who arrived post-wedding still dressed in bridal gown and tux.

7. Dinner for Two
Photo courtesy of Dinner for Two

The name says it all: Dinner for Two. Though they serve more than two, this cozy eatery, run by the Barnes family since 2003, is a place that seems conceived for lovers. The intimate dining room with its subtle lighting sets the mood for love. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings a guitarist plays soft background music. It's an ambiance made for murmured conversations peppered with words of love, perhaps even a proposal. You can have an entire dinner with retro tableside service. First course: Caesar Salad for Two, followed by chateaubriand, the king of romantic restaurant dishes and for dessert: Bananas Fosters for Two. For added drama, both the entrée and dessert are flambéed tableside. The perfect libation to go with this intimate dinner: a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Most romantic gesture: A future groom asked Chef Andy Barnes to create a sugar basket to present an engagement ring.

6. Galisteo Bistro
Photo courtesy of Galisteo Bistro

Galisteo Bistro welcomes you with its romantic ambiance: soft terra cotta colored walls, flickering gas candles and quiet tables where you can murmur words of love to each other. Reserve either a window or corner table. Do you find seafood sexy? Many do! Galisteo Bistro features fresh selections flown in fresh from Florida where young Chef Tomas Allan Keller hails from. Check the "Daily Seafood Specials" for the evening's offerings. Two romantic seafood dishes to share that are always on the menu are the fresh ceviche appetizer made with the catch of the day and the rich Galisteo Cioppino, a sexy seafood stew served over moist saffron risotto. To go with your dinner, the management suggests a taste of France. Their choice: a bottle Maison Roche's Bourgogne Chardonnay Vieilles. The perfect finale to your intimate dinner: Semifreddo for Two.

5. Anasazi Restaurant at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
Photo courtesy of The Anasazi Restaurant

The Anasazi Restaurant and Bar at the Inn of the Anasazi is one of the most romantic dining rooms in Santa Fe. Décor is Santa Fe style with American Indian accents. Want something more private than the communal dining room? For a price, you can reserve the elegant Wine Cellar or the hotel's living room, an intimate space, for your dinner a deux. No matter what the occasion, Executive Chef Juan Bochenski can consult with you in advance and design a special lovers' menu for your special dinner. Ordering off the menu? The Seafood Risotto Española with lobster, shrimp, mussels and squid in a saffron broth is rich with flavors and hints of possibilities. For a dessert that says, "I love you," opt for the decadent Chocolate Indulgence.

4. Bouche Bistro
Photo courtesy of Bouche Bistro

When asked what makes Bouche romantic, chef/owner Charles Dale has a simple answer: "France = Romance!" This intimate bistro's soft cream walls accented with red which Dale calls "the color of passion and love," and soft lighting set the perfect stage for your romantic dinner. Request one of the corner tables, the most romantic in the house, for your lovers' dinner. What's the most romantic dish on the menu? The Seafood Platter, a potpourri of shell fish that includes jumbo prawns, seasonal oysters (you know what they say about these) and Dungeness crab. Couples can feed each other these tasty morsels. Order your favorite champagne and the scene is complete. For dessert: the Profiterole au Chocolat. Most romantic event yet: a proposal. The future groom arranged for a neon sign that said "MARRY ME," lit at a prearranged time. Dale said the house went wild. "Luckily, he added, "she said 'yes!'"

3. Arroyo Vino
Photo courtesy of Steve Collins

Quiet tables and candle light make Arroyo Vino, about 20 minutes northwest of Santa Fe a great place for romance. Let them know you're celebrating a special occasion and you may get a surprise or two. Request either table one or 104, the two most romantic in the house. The restaurant, specializing in small plates, has an ever-changing menu to keep it fresh and interesting. Diners will almost always find oysters, that heralded age-old lover's food, on the menu. Ask your server to recommend the best and most romantic dishes on the current menu. One of the beauties of small plates is they lend themselves to sharing and you can sample more of the eclectic dishes on offer. You can opt for one of the beautifully-plated entrees if you want a more traditional dining experience. There will always be a chocolate dessert for your meal's finale.

2. Luminaria Restaurant & Patio
Photo courtesy of Inn and Spa at Loretto

Sunday brunch at Luminaria at the Four Diamond Inn and Spa at Loretto offers guests a leisurely way to begin their day while choosing between both breakfast and lunch options. Dine in their beamed dining with its classic southwestern d�cor. If you're with someone special, request one of their intimate booths, In warmer weather, opt for a table on the elegant, secluded patio. Signature dishes on the seasonally-changing menu include Loretto Eggs Benedict, an unusual take on this classic offering shaved ham, asparagus, baked potatoes and Hollandaise foam; breakfast tacos with chorizo; seasonal waffles or pan-seared salmon with risotto. The menu notes that Luminaria is guided by "principles of sustainability" and local produce is used whenever it's available. For something different, start your meal with their deconstructed mimosa.

1. Geronimo
Photo courtesy of photo Peter Vitale, courtesy Geronimo

Ask Santa Feans what's the most romantic restaurant in the city and many will say Geronimo. What makes it so romantic? The carefully cultivated ambiance (sexy lighting, kiva fireplaces, and soft music) paired with a well-executed menu and fine wines are the key. Start your dinner with the Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Sashimi and Tartare. This beautifully plated appetizer, served with wasabi pancakes, is a great way to start your romantic dinner. Load up a pancake and feed it to your sweetheart. Toast each other with a glass of Veuve Clicquot and end your romantic dinner with a decadent dessert. Voila: a perfect evening. Most romantic moment EVER? A proposal at table 34 (next to the fireplace in the back room – it's perfect for lovers). She said, "Yes." The final touch: a horse drawn carriage (with a man playing the violin) to whisk them away. Top that!