Is there anything more romantic than a weekend getaway to Charleston? We think not–we may be a little biased–but you don't have to take our word for it. Make a special reservation for two at any of the 10 best romantic restaurants in the "Holy City," and see for yourself what Charleston has to offer for foodie couples in love.
What is it about Italian comfort food that instantly makes a dinner more romantic? Charleston's best include the intimate interior at tiny Pane e Vino, a window seat at Trattoria Lucca, or the Mediterranean patio at Muse on Society Street.
Please the stomach (and heart) of a Francophile significant other with a meal at charming Chez Nous, a restaurant and family home in one, run by a French couple pouring their soul into each 3-course meal.
If it's fine dining that will really serve to set the mood, consider a few uniquely-Charleston options, such as the elegant Circa 1886 at Wentworth Mansion, Cannon Green's sleek setting on up and coming Spring Street, or the quaint courtyard tables at 82 Queen.
Couples on a budget will love Five Loaves, a vegetarian-friendly restaurant specializing in amazing soups and desserts, as well as Rutledge Ave's R Kitchen, an untraditional spot with rotating 5 courses for $25 dinners 6 nights a week.
In search of a traditional Valentine's Day meal? Longtime locals' favorite and staple of Upper King Street, Halls Chophouse offers Charleston's best cuts of beef, along with seafood, pasta, and every luxury you'd expect at a top-notch steakhouse (even live piano).
Italian food is pretty romantic of its own accord, but Trattoria Lucca does quite a bit to up the ante with their approach to dining atmosphere, service, and flavor. Mind-blowing bowls and plates of delicious pasta, beef, fish, and shellfish, topped and shaped into huge portions of aromatic goodness. Think pasta that's handmade each morning, by a chef that's more than a little passionate about his craft. The food, of course is impeccable, from the Tagliolini topped with lump Blue Crab to the Grilled Angus Flatiron steak or the Spaghetti Nero with calamari, but the wines offered match the high standard for quality at Trattoria Lucca. You likely won't have room for dessert, but the staff has a knack for selling the nightly specials, and packing the sweet stuff to-go. (843-973-3323)
Okay, so here's the deal. Call R Kitchen in advance for a reservation (a week out is ideal), and let Chef Ross know about any dietary restrictions and allergies, as well as preference. Arrive on time; prepare to be wowed. That's the simplistic explanation of R Kitchen, but in reality, the details of Chef Ross Webb's creation are what make R Kitchen such a fun option for dates, groups of friends, visiting families--you name it. Is your idea of a memorable date night one where the restaurant provides great value? Try R Kitchen's 5 courses for just $25 on your next date night, all while watching Chef Ross and his team at work. (843-789-4342)
The intriguing name of this romantic Charleston restaurant gives a hint at the source of its charm--based largely on its historic roots. Circa 1886 sits on the beautiful Wentworth Mansion hotel property, though its host establishment (founded, you guessed it, circa 1886), Wentworth Mansion, is more like a grand bed and breakfast than any ordinary hotel. Whether or not you're a guest of Wentworth Mansion (or the Urban Nirvana spa on-site), you're welcome at Circa 1886. Reservations are recommended for this fine dining establishment, along with an adventurous appetite. Dishes on this seasonal menu are beautifully plated, from the Broken Arrow Antelope Paillard to the Lamb Loin with ginger pea crust or Curried Heart of Palm. Take note: desserts at Circa 1886 are a beautiful as they are decadent--not to be missed. (843-853-7828)
Five Loaves Cafe
This locals' favorite date spot makes for a lovely Valentine's Day night out (or any celebratory occasion) that's not just affordable, but an awesome value. The food served is excellent for that price tag; count on being surprised and delighted at the variety of creative and unique soups, sandwiches, pasta and risotto dishes, with plenty of delicious vegetarian options. There are some big, bold flavors at this small but charming restaurant. Try a trio of options with the soup sampler appetizer, or start with the eggplant-wrapped goat cheese--both great options to get you warmed up for the Thai Hot Pot, Chicken Marsala, Tri-Colored Cheese Tortellini. (843-937-4303)
MUSE Restaurant & Wine Bar
Charleston has a real affinity for romantic restaurants housed in restored historic homes, and Muse falls firmly into that category. That's a good thing--a really good thing. Any couple who enjoys a quieter, intimate, low-lit atmosphere (and dishes like Bouillabaisse or Lobster Risotto), can count on a memorable experience at Muse. The cuisine is Mediterranean, making it an easy choice for couples with varying tastes. What's more, Muse's Society Street location is centrally located in the historic Ansonborough neighborhood downtown, just begging for a lingering moment on the restaurant's porch or a slow after-dinner stroll through the surrounding residential streets. (843-577-1102)
Halls Chophouse is the go-to date spot for couples looking to add a little ritz to their night out on the town. Located on buzzing Upper King Street downtown, Halls is ideal for those couples who love a good steak almost as much as their significant other (we all know 'em). Here at Halls, expect the fines steaks in Charleston (maybe the state), along with excellent chicken, pasta, and seafood dishes, and live piano in the background. There's also a good chance you'll have a meet and greet with at least one member of the owner family, the Halls, who are always on hand to welcome guests. (8437270090)
If you're lucky enough to enjoy a warmer-than-usual Valentine's Day evening, a dinner reservation at 82 Queen is an outstanding option. You and your date will enjoy all that is savory and scrumptious in Southern cuisine, all in the historical setting of 82 Queen's private outdoor courtyard, complete with cast iron chairs and dining tables, surrounded by greenery and attended by excellent service. 82 Queen's offerings in the way of lowcountry dishes are exemplary, too; try a few Southern favorites like the Barbeque Shrimp and Grits, Carolina Crab Cakes, or the Queen Street Chicken Bog. If there's room left over for dessert, celebrate the occasion with an order of decadent bread pudding. (843-723-7591, 800-849-0082)
This elegant fine dining establishment is more than just a restaurant on up and coming Spring Street; it's a gathering place for those seeking an upscale night out, complete with a stunning ambiance and historic restorations right in the dining room. Food and drink here are both superb, and portions light enough to allow for multi-dish sampling. The dim, almost sultry lighting, high ceilings, and sleek green and light wood accents--made most impressive by the entire façade of a historic house left intact inside the restaurant--all make for an attractive dinner date destination. The cocktails are killer, and the food will leave you wishing for a repeat visit, namely after such dishes as the Pan Roasted Arctic Char, Shrimp Escabeche, and Snapper Crudo. (843-817-7311)
Pane e Vino
There's something about Italian comfort food that makes us love whomever we're enjoying the meal with at the moment, or better yet, enhances the feelings already shared. At Pane e Vino, at home on quiet Warren Street downtown, the welcoming presence of the owner combines perfectly with the cozy, candlelit ambiance of the restaurant itself. The small, ivy-covered brick building is attached to an outdoor courtyard adorned with string lights--an absolute must in Charleston's warmer weather and undoubtedly some of the best seats on the house. Take the server up on their wine recommendations, and order a classic from the delightful Pane e Vino menu, like the Penne alla Maremanna or the Gnocchi allo Zola. (843-853-5955)
This quaint house in the historic residential neighborhood of Cannonborough-Elliotborough allows diners to feel like they are in a French family's home once inside, and indeed they are, in a way. The welcoming French couple that owns this charming restaurant serves each dish of their standard three-course offering with love and affection--plainly seen in the impressive plating and near-perfect preparations of each ingredient. The menu here changes daily, so be sure to check the Chez Nous Facebook or Instagram account the morning of your meal to ensure your preferences appear on the menu; only two options are given for each course--a starter, entree, and dessert. (843-579-3060)
About Clare Sweeney
A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare also ventured abroad to Spain and north to Boston before returning to Charleston and her beloved Lowcountry.
Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days enjoying the city’s perpetually sunny weather, nearby beaches and ever-growing food and craft beer scene.
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