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Score (Valentine points) for sure at these romantic Orlando restaurants



While there is no doubt that posh fine-dining venues can inject extra romance into special occasions – anniversary getaways, proposals, birthdays and the like – even rom-com fans will note that romance is oft found in unexpectedly casual joints where people are more apt to relax, unwind and, in Florida, have the added option of wearing inexpensive flip flops. You'll find a bit of both on this list, topped by Urbain 40, a Dr. Phillips fave where a four-time James Beard nominee presides over an elegant venue known for its convivial, un-stuffy vibe and exemplary fare. Over at the charming, old Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden, the Tasting Room at the Chef's Table offers the same exquisite bites as its namesake next door, but in more casual digs. Want fireworks? Two Disney-located options, the Four Seasons' gorgeous Capa steakhouse offers up colorful views and cuisine in spades and for your end game? We have to recommend Ivanhoe Village's sexy, sultry and ever-so-cheeky Better Than Sex dessert restaurant. 


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Enzo's has long been a fixture for fine Italian dining in Orlando, wowing diners with cuisine to match its peerless lake view for roughly 30 years. In fact, the setting is so delightful that many make it their choice for all kinds of special occasions and private parties, weddings included. All that said, Enzo's charming bar and sculpture gardens are a wonderful setting for a simple, lovely dinner, as well. Enzo's is classy, its servers affable and knowledgeable and it's food quite reliably delicious. Favorites here include the bucatini alla Enzo, a creamy-rich pasta dish rife with prosciutto, bacon, mushrooms and parmesan.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: With lake views and Italian cuisine that decades proven, Enzo's is a sure thing. Come early and grab a cocktail outside if weather permits.

A.D.'s expert tip: Keep the weather in mind. Enzo's and its lakeside deck is particularly enjoyable during Orlando's best-weather seasons.

Read more about Enzo's on the Lake →




To start perhaps, creative cocktails and a generous cheese board. Follow it up with sumptuously plated fare â€" Key West Snapper served with farro, grilled fruit chutney and coconut beurre blanc or braised lamb shank with goat cheese polenta? How about beef short rib with red wine jus and potato puree? If it all sounds good, be sure to hit the gym and maybe diet a few days before you visit Winter Garden's Market to Table, where you've been duly warned NOT to fill up on bone marrow or bread before meal's end. A lovely atmosphere makes it a superb date-night choice (try the patio outside) but it's just as suitable for a delightful Saturday brunch with friends.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Superb food on the patio on Winter Garden's picturesque Plant Street makes a fine venue for your special Valentine.

A.D.'s expert tip: That macaron dessert. If you find it on the menu, save room.

Read more about Market to Table →




You may have read about the long-lauded Chef's Table at the Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden. It's sort of a not-that-kept-best-kept-secret. Its $55/per person, three-course dinner is an Orlando favorite. It's also romantic, in part for its charming, unique and laid-back location (the same could be said of its staff), in "the rest" for its rich, delicious, often Southern-inspired fare. Next door, however, is the Chef's Table's offshoot, a small-plate venue known as the Tasting Room. Here the dishes are smaller â€" supposedly, anyway, some are exceptionally generous â€" and made for sharing. And really, what's more romantic than that? Plus, they come from the same exceptional kitchen. Fried green tomatoes to grits, pork belly sliders to duck confit flatbread, you'll want to come back and try them all. Become a happy hour regular and you'll manage in no time.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Great cocktails, phenomenal food and hey (wink wink) the Tasting Room's in a lovely circa-1927 hotel, as well. That could be romantic, too.

A.D.'s expert tip: On Friday and Saturday nights, live music from 8-11 pm kicks the romance up a notch.

Read more about Tasting Room at the Chef's Table →


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It's slick and red, chic and modern with a little vintage essence and located in a hopping little corner of downtown. But Kres Chophouse isn't just a pretty face, it offers quality dining the opportunistic carnivore will pair with a Magic game at the nearby Amway Center, live music or dancing at a nearby nightclub (perhaps even some flamenco over at Ceviche) or even a slow stroll around Lake Eola, which bolsters romance as well as digestion. The Mixed Grill at Kres â€" garlic shrimp, filet mignon and double lamb chop served with asparagus and decadent three-cheese au gratin â€" makes for a generous sample platter.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Cosmopolitan and on-point, intimate, atmospheric Kres makes you forget you're within a plastic novelty cup's throw of downtown's more touristy drink-and-dine options.

A.D.'s expert tip: Yes, it's a steakhouse, but Kres is a swanky choice for an after-work or early date night cocktail, as well.

Read more about Kres Chophouse →




One of the nice things about restaurants that source locally is that save a few likely staples, you're never quite sure what they'll have when you show up. So it goes at K Restaurant, a College Park favorite that manages to check the "relaxed" and "friendly" boxes while holding up its "romantic" end of the bargain, as well. This makes it as nice a place to bring your significant other on an anniversary as it is for a food-focused girls' night out. K will unwind you with its atmosphere, whether you dine indoors or al fresco, along with its wine list, then knock your palate out. Entrees here might include a luscious filet mignon on potato gratin, tender duck breast with fried Brussels sprouts or a rich, sausage-infused mac-and-cheese.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Cozy confines inside, covered charm on the deck and a fairy-like experience in the garden mean K offers myriad options in the realm of romance.

A.D.'s expert tip: Valentine's Day falls on a Thursday in 2019, but if you're extending it through the weekend, consider a lover's brunch at K instead!

Read more about K Restaurant →


5
Walt Disney World ®


This is the Four Season Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort's signature steakhouse and its Spanish-inspired cuisine is elevated â€" literally and figuratively. From on high, guests here can take in superb cuisine, creative cocktail and phenomenally romantic fireworks views from the expansive balcony (heaters will be going on chilly nights, so don't let that put you off). Inspired small plates are a wonderful way to experience the many flavors on tap here, but entrees from the duck breast to the halibut to the porterhouse for two are mouthwatering and on point. Truthfully, it would be easy for a planned glass of Argentine malbec to turn into a multi-course dinner here. This isn't a venue you'll leave easy. It's a space in which you'll want to linger.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Four Seasons Resort Orlando luxury: it is never not romantic.

A.D.'s expert tip: Time your visit with the parks' fireworks displays and enjoy a balcony toast while doing so. Could spark fireworks of your own.

Read more about Capa →


Soco Thornton Park


Soco offers up loads of plated Southern comfort, though its name is actually a representation of Southern contemporary â€" which means you'll find some down-home diner favorites that have undergone an evolution into something more upscale. Think boiled peanut hummus, mac-and-cheese croquettes and chicken and dumplings that infuse the latter with lobster. Its dining room is warm and inviting but its al fresco sidewalk seating infuses meals with a hip, urban vibe that ticks everything up a notch. As appealing for dinner as it is for Sunday brunch or happy hour cocktails, Soco's patio is lively and hip. But the food here is exemplary, and well worth the visit even if the Florida rain is teeming outside.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Whether you sup in its well-appointed interior or opt for an al fresco vibe, Soco is an undeniable winner for date night.

A.D.'s expert tip: Soco's "F-QUE" wings (jumbo and smoked with house-made pepper jelly) aren't just cheeky, they're spicy!

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We can't deny that grand hotels, with their opulence and elegance and servers wearing ties, can be romantic. But we're also fans of small neighborhood joints where live music and an oft-convivial vibe can make a pair on a date feel simultaneously a part of something, yet wonderfully invisible amid the good-natured revelry. Maxine's is a cozy, lively place that may inspire a couple to move in for close talking over a bottle of wine and a bowl of buttery, garlicky drunken mussels (just make sure you both have it!). Regular "Parlour Nights" with live jazz (and classical, Latin and classic rock) piano and a twinkly-lit patio don't hurt, either.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Fancy-schmancy isn't the only game in town for romance. Maxine's offers up a friendly, quirky, local version you might want to try out.

A.D.'s expert tip: Are you a couple whose preferred romantic outings include a pooch? Maxine's patio is dog-friendly.

Read more about Maxine's on Shine →




Dim lights, drinks, desserts, decadence. And these are just the D-words. It's easy to be alliterative when a restaurant is this sexy, scintillating, sumptuous.... Well, you get the point. Better than Sex is a dessert restaurant, and oh, the desserts you'll have. Each is a wholly original creation and truly, from the Peanut Butter Perversion to the Cookie Nookie Pie and all the sinful, sweet treats in between, every inch of the place is designed to have you and your significant other in the mood for a complete sensory experience that's likely to continue when you get home. Intimate tables. Titillating titles, "Rim job" cocktails created with intent for licking and sipping. You'll still have to close the deal yourself, but everything about Better then Sex sets you up for success.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Cheeky desserts and drinks in an atmosphere crafted specifically for romance. It's a can't-lose date night prospect.

A.D.'s expert tip: The only thing we'd caution against at Better Than Sex is overeating. That might slow you down later on. Also, make reservations!!!

Read more about Better Than Sex →


1
Doctor Phillips


This beautiful venue, which bills itself as an American brasserie, has been delighting guests with its 1940s panache and versatile continental menu since 2015. Groups here are well taken care of and larger parties are welcome to book separate spaces that allow for as much privacy or visibility as is desired. In fact you may want to leave the doors open to hear the live music, which plays nightly and pulls material from a host of beloved genres, from instrumental jazz to Sinatra favorites. Buyouts are available here, as well, and your guests will no doubt be wowed by the place, from the gorgeous fountain out front where they can set up for outside service to the inviting warm interiors.

Recommended for Romantic Dining because: With atmosphere evocative of the Big Band Era and a four-time James Beard nominee in the kitchen, odds are good for a date-night win.

A.D.'s expert tip: The interior is sumptuous and beautiful but the fountain just outside makes for a lovely al fresco view if weather suits.

Read more about Urbain 40 →


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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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