An upscale Caribbean-American restaurant, Louie's Backyard has been a go-to spot for date night since 1971. Their island specialties include conch fritters spiced up with a hot pepper jelly or a unique version of shrimp and grits made with Key West pinks, mushrooms and bacon. Finish with a slice of refreshing Key lime pie with a twist--a gingersnap crust. Upstairs--called the Upperdeck--is a touch more casual with a wine bar and elegant small plates. Sample roasted clams or flaming Ouzo shrimp while enjoying panoramic views of the Atlantic. Their back deck--called the Afterdeck--is perfect for a happy hour cocktail or after-dinner drink by the water before a night on the town. Make reservations well in advance, and time your meal to coincide with the colorful sunset.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: An upscale Caribbean-American restaurant, Louie's has been a go-to spot for date night since 1971 with impeccable service and local seafood.
Claudia's expert tip: For a more casual atmosphere, head upstairs to the wine bar and sample small plates of roasted clams or Ouzo shrimp.
A table for two on a tranquil garden patio under the shade of a sprawling Spanish lime tree mixed with French cuisine is the recipe for love. Located just off Duval Street, Croissants de France is part bakery and part bistro, offering French food with a Caribbean twist. Sip on a luscious cappuccino or make a mimosa toast (with fresh orange juice). Signature breakfast dishes include Cinnamon Brioche French Toast and Seafood Eggs Benedict. Their savory buckwheat crepes are stuffed with hearty fillings like goat cheese, tomatoes, spinach, asparagus and summer squash. Buttery croissants and delectable pastries are baked fresh each night and are on display in the bakery where it's easy to grab some for the road. They're also open for lunch and dinner, and they deliver.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Score a table for two on their tranquil garden patio for a mix of French food with a Caribbean twist.
Claudia's expert tip: Request a table for two by the fountain.
At the Grand Café, a casual Key West atmosphere is mixed white tablecloth ambiance in a stunning Victorian Mansion on Duval Street. Their outdoor garden seating is prime for people watching--or ignoring people altogether. The service is top-notch with knowledgeable waiters who can guide you through their menu and impressive wine list. During lunch, the Grand serves up spinach and goat cheese paninis, steak frites, and good-old-fashioned BLT's on its wraparound porch. At dinner, try the seared sea scallops in a key-lime butter wine or the New Zealand rack of lamb. Don't miss their specialty cocktails, like the lychee martini with Stoli Vanilla, pineapple and lychee juice.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Top-notch food, excellent service and seating right along Duval Street keep people coming back to the Grand Cafe.
Claudia's expert tip: They have an extensive wine list, and their knowledgeable servers can help you pick one that will pair nicely with your meal.
This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means couples can steal away for a romantic meal no matter what time of day. It features a shaded terrace and trickling waterfall for outdoor dining, as well as comfortable indoor seating. A popular Sunday brunch destination, they offer items like Key Lime Stuffed French Toast, Yellowtail Snapper Benedict, hummus salad and roasted pork sandwiches with fontina cheese. The two chefs' European influences really shine on the dinner menu with tasting plates like the Walnut Filled Eggplant topped with a pomegranate reduction and entrees such as the homemade Ratatouille Gnocchi with manchego cheese. The Grinnell Street location is refreshingly off-the-beaten path. Reservations are recommended during peak hours.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: No matter what time of day, couples can sneak away for a romantic meal at AZUR with its innovative Mediterranean dishes and impeccable service.
Claudia's expert tip: The house-made gnocchi is a must-try, cooked to perfection with four different options to choose from like wild mushroom or ratatouille.
Sneak away to this hot new eatery hidden on Eaton Street. Just follow the red carpet into The Saint's luxurious lobby and Tempt. The long narrow restaurant is lined with intimate two-top tables next to a craft cocktail bar. Done in warm woods, the whole room glows a soft red from two artistic chandeliers made of blooming glass flowers. Start your evening with a Saint Clement, a fizzy mix of citrus liqueurs, vodka and champagne served in a retro champagne coupe. Chef Andrew Nguyen curates an eclectic menu that changes weekly, offering dishes like Caribbean spiced game hen, Mediterranean sea bass with Taylor Bay Scallops and American black Angus beef tenderloin with roasted bone marrow. For dessert split a Gluttony cocktail--a decadent combination of chocolate liqueurs, vodka and Bluegrass Sundown (a coffee liqueur with Kentucky bourbon). On your way out, snap a selfie together on the giant plush gold chair.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Snuggle in the warm red glow of modern chandeliers next to a craft cocktail bar, while sharing dishes from Chef Nguyen's eclectic seasonal menu.
Claudia's expert tip: Don't miss their happy hour from 4:17 to 7:14 when they have half-price cocktails and Scooby Snacks (mini-versions of dinner entrees) for $7.14.
For posh dining with a stellar view of the sunset, head to Hot Tin Roof at Ocean Key Resort and Spa located just off Mallory Square. You can dine alfresco on their patio with the sounds of Jimmy Buffett classics wafting up from the band on Sunset Pier, as boats ply the aquamarine waters in the harbor. The Pan-Latin menu offers small and large plates, so you can design your own meal, whether shared tapas-style or traditional entrees. Dishes like the Key lime fish ceviche, paella and caramelized grouper capitalize on the fresh local seafood. Finish with their delicious Key lime pie in a cashew graham cracker crust. You'll love the dusting of cinnamon in the shape of a palm tree on the plate. The understated elegance makes this a perfect spot for romantic couples. Note that the requested attire is resort casual.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Upscale dining at its best, Hot Tin Roof's menu offers a Pan-Latin twist on Key West cuisine overlooking the harbor.
Claudia's expert tip: Make reservations as far in advance as possible for one of the coveted outside tables with sunset views.
Indulge in a little luxury, as you and your honey escape to this private island for elegant toes-in-the-sand dining and panoramic Gulf views. After a quick ride on the ferry across the Key West Harbor to Sunset Key, settle in at Latitudes for dinner and a show--the stunning sunset. With sailboats gliding past, you'll feel like a VIP, as well-trained servers bring lobster stuffed crab cake, savory lobster bisque and pickled Key West Pink Shrimp to your table--and those are just the appetizers. Latitudes rounds out the seasonal menu with tantalizing selections like pan-roasted rosemary cobia, Wagyu beef skirt steak and seafood pasta. Make sure you save room for dessert. You'll want to relax on this slice of paradise as long as possible. Try the beignets--light puffs of doughy goodness so delicious you may not want to share. Have your camera ready as the sun drops from the heavens--you'll be hard-pressed to find a better perch. Reservations are required, and be sure to arrive a few minutes early for the ferry.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Indulge in a little luxury, as you and your honey escape to this private island for elegant toes-in-the-sand dining and panoramic Gulf views.
Claudia's expert tip: While the tables on the sand have the best ambience, be prepared for full exposure to the warm rays at sunset.
With only 50 seats, the award-winning Cafe Marquesa is just the hideaway for an elegant and cozy dinner. Chef Susan Ferry serves up Contemporary American Cuisine with an an eclectic menu that changes every night based on seasonal availability. Specialties include Macadamia Crusted Yellowtail Snapper, Prosciutto Wrapped Black Angus Filet, Conch and Blue Crab Cakes, Roast Rack of Australian Lamb and Pan Roasted Duck Breast. The wine selection is as diverse as the menu and is one of the most comprehensive in Key West. The highlight of the warm decor features glimpses of the kitchen action behind a hand-painted trompe l'oeil wall. Large mahogany-framed mirrors open up the space, while giving diners a view of the entire restaurant. Reservations are highly recommended.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: This cozy restaurant is the perfect hideaway for an elegant meal with an eclectic seasonal menu and extensive wine collection.
Claudia's expert tip: All of the desserts and breads are baked fresh daily.
This award-winning dessert cafe wows with their sinful concoctions like Cookie Nookie Pie and Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake. Pair with their Choco-Cab, cabernet served in a chocolate-rimmed wine glass. It's so tasty you'll be licking the rim. The Kiss me Carolyn is a dessert in itself with Ayala champagne in a soft caramel dipped wine glass rimmed in bruleed raw sugar. Dark intimate lighting is offset by menus that light up and flashlights on the table. This romantic after-dinner stop certainly sets the mood for the rest of your evening. It's no surprise that they've been voted the top decadent dessert spot in the United States. Reservations are a must.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: It's never too late for dessert at Better Than Sex, where you can indulge in decadent treats with scandalous names until midnight.
Claudia's expert tip: Portions are generous, so you may want to share.