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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The very best Italian restaurant in Charleston just so happens to be fantastically romantic. Expect low lighting, excellent service, and full bellies from Trattoria Lucca.
Clare's expert tip: Stop by Elliotborough Mini Bar (across the street) after dinner for a nightcap.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: R Kitchen is Charleston's affordable answer to fine food and fine dining, and each course is served to meet your wants, needs, and of-the-moment inclinations.
Clare's expert tip: There isn't much parking provided by R Kitchen, and on weekend nights parking may be sparse in the surrounding residential streets. Your best bet is to walk or snag an Uber or bike taxi.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Circa 1886 gives Charleston an elegant date night option in an unbeatable location, a comfortable fine dining atmosphere in the stunning historic Wentworth Mansion.
Clare's expert tip: Visiting Charleston? Opt for an indulgent stay at The Wentworth Mansion, where Circa 1886 is housed. Grand 4-poster beds and luxury accommodations, plus a 4-star restaurant steps away? That's a good deal.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The atmosphere at Five Loaves, tucked into a residential neighborhood off King Stree, lends itself perfectly to romantic dinner date.
Clare's expert tip: Plan your date night for Saturday for half-price bottles of wine!
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Muse is seriously underrated, but we like it that way. Delicious, beautifully plated dishes at reasonable prices in an adorable setting is hard to beat.
Clare's expert tip: Reservations are recommended, but you're likely to get a great table without one on weeknights and early evenings.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Halls offers the quintessential steakhouse experience in Charleston, with black & white tiled floors, live piano, top-notch service, and of course, fine steaks.
Clare's expert tip: Meatlovers, make sure you get a look at the selection of steaks available beforehand--the pre-order viewing is not to be missed.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: 82 Queen is the perfect spot if you're looking for old southern charm with a dose of hospitality.
Clare's expert tip: When the weather's warm (it usually is), snag a table outside. Oh, and trust us: you won't want to skip dessert.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Get dressed up with somewhere to go! Cannon Green's cuisine and setting combine for the ideal dinner experience, especially when aiming to impress your date.
Clare's expert tip: This Spring Street hotspot offers valet parking, but the stroll is a nice one to make from nearly anywhere downtown, weather permitting.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: A romantic meal at Pane e Vino means ultra-traditional yet affordable Italian comfort food, served in an intimate, candlelit atmosphere.
Clare's expert tip: For the most romantic Pane e Vino date, reserve or request a table outside on the patio, lit by string lights and covered by ivy.
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.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Dining at Chez Nous is a joyous occasion, made utterly romantic by the homey setting and multi-course French dishes--a different variety served each day.
Clare's expert tip: Chez Nous doesn't take reservations, and the menu changes daily! Be sure to check their social media channels for the day's offerings, and arrive early for your dessert date!