With a charmingly casual vibe, a menu made for sharing and tables out front for alfresco carousing, this longstanding tapas joint is always a solid option for a date-night. Cozy up over classic tapas dishes like tortilla Española, boquerones fritos and Andalucian meatballs as well as paella, grilled quail and other Spanish delicacies. Wash it all down with Spanish wine, sherry or beer and finish off with a tasting plate of irresistible desserts (think tarta de chocolate, crema Catalana and saffron pudding with orange blossom-almond crumble). Did we mention the flamenco dancing and live jazz?
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Café Madrid is good for a fun, laid-back evening that won't break the bank.
Ilene's expert tip: Score $5 sangria, house wine, cava cocktails and beer-- as well as a selection of mini tapas for $2-$3.50 each during Happy Hour, from 5 to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday.
If your sweetie has a penchant for sweets, then this dessert-fueled paradise for grown-ups is your destination. Here you'll find a range of decadent treats with cheeky names like the Italian Stallion (a take on tiramisu) and Popcorn Pimp Cheesecake (cheesecake topped with salted popcorn chocolate bark and caramel), backed up with a selection of signature "rim job" wines, coffees and cordials. Whether the desserts are better than sex may be debatable, but the 1940's bordello vibe (think red and gold décor, dim lighting and crystal chandeliers) is undoubtedly a shoo-in for seduction. Unsurprisingly, it's a very popular place to pop the question. Best to book in advance, otherwise expect a wait.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Better than Sex is a great spot for late-night desserts and drinks in a casual, atmospheric setting.
Ilene's expert tip: To make things even more special, request that they customize your date's plate with a greeting written in chocolate. Note that extra parking can be found on the main level of the condo building's garage behind the restaurant.
It's a rarity to find soufflé on a restaurant menu these days, much less a place boasting a menu almost entirely devoted to this puffed up French classic. Enter Rise, a rustic French-inspired bistro and wine bar specializing in soufflés both savory and sweet. We're talking everything from souffles with lobster to truffle infused mushrooms to chocolate and praline pecan. The restaurant also offers artisanal cheeses, salads, sandwiches and even steak frites. All of which is served against a magical backdrop of birch tree branches festooned in twinkling lights. If you want to feel as if you've been transported to a countryside cottage somewhere in France, this is the place.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Rise is where to go for a sophisticated, yet relaxed ambiance.
Ilene's expert tip: Rise only accepts reservations for parties of 5 or more. Score a free chocolate souffle with purchase of appetizer & entrée on National Chocolate Souffle Day, February 28.
Often billed as one of the most romantic restaurants in Dallas, this Greenville Avenue stalwart oozes charm with its dimly lit Victorian decor, intimate little nooks, live piano bar entertainment and a menu that shines with comforting, Francophile classics. Try to snag the alcove table in the back, then delve into things like country-style pate, followed by beet & pear salad with pecans and stilton cheese, grilled rack of lamb and roasted duck. Oh, and we'd be remiss not to mention the champagne brie soup, it's the stuff of legends. Equally impressive is the global wine list, many of which are offered by the glass. End on a sweet note with a chocolate terrine or Grand Marnier souffle.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: St Martin's is a good place to impress a date without having to bust your wallet.
Ilene's expert tip: Note that St Martin's usually offers a four-course dinner paired with wine for Valentine's Day. Reservations are strongly recommended. Complimentary valet parking is offered in front of the restaurant.
Located inside the 5-star Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel, The Mansion Restaurant, with its hand-carved ceilings, ornate fireplaces and stained-glass windows feels tailor-made for romance. Equally lavish is the seasonally changing menu, featuring new American cuisine with a French touch. To that end, expect to find items such as seared duck foie gras with pumpkin brûlée, juniper rubbed venison loin and grilled lobster with black garlic-honey butter. For times that call for something extra special, splash out on the seven-course gourmand tasting menu. It's guaranteed to make your partner swoon. Round out the meal with a drink in the bar, where live jazz is on offer Thursday through Saturday evenings.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The Mansion is where to go when you want to treat your special someone like royalty.
Ilene's expert tip: Score half-price bottles of Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial all day, plus oysters on the half-shell for $2.50 each, every Monday in The Mansion Bar and The Mansion Restaurant.
If you can't swing a trip to Tokyo, this sleek, moodily lit Japanese spot in the Dallas Arts District might be the next best option. Helmed by renowned Dallas chef Teiichi Sakurai, the extensive menu features an array of sushi and sashimi (flown in fresh from Kyushu, Japan) alongside wow-inducing dishes like chrysanthemum tempura and sea urchin-shrimp risotto, all of which are ideal for sharing between two. Sakurai is a master soba chef, so obviously any of his buckwheat noodle dishes are also well worth pursuing. Of course, the omakase (tasting menu), while not easy on the wallet, is the best way to experience all Tei-An has to offer. Don't sleep on desserts, the soba ice cream with black honey is like nothing you've probably tasted before. End the night with a Japanese whisky or cocktail on the roof-top terrace and let Cupid do the rest.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Tei-An is best for deliciously good Japanese cuisine.
Ilene's expert tip: Tei-An offers a chef ($150) and premium omakase ($200) as well as a pre-theatre 4-course omakase for $80 per person, which is available during the first hour of opening time. All omakase dinners require a 3-day advance notice.
Your objet d'amour can't fail to be impressed by the view from Wolfgang Puck's rotating restaurant atop Dallas' iconic Reunion Tower. And while Five Sixty is a destination for the setting alone, the contemporary Asian menu is impressive, too. Book a table by the window to experience the full effect and tuck into everything from nigiri and sashimi to Wagyu brisket pot stickers, wok fried whole red snapper and lacquered Chinese duckling. For dessert? Four words: Toasted Coconut Baked Alaska. Pro Tip: Score extra points by timing your dinner just right with a reservation at sunset.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: An iconic location, stunning skyline views and an adventurous Asian-inspired menu make this classy destination perfect for special occasions.
Ilene's expert tip: Enjoy special prices on drinks plus $4 off all izakaya menu items during Happy Hour, from 5-7 p.m., Monday-Thursday.
When it comes to date-night dinners, French food is always a good bet, especially when served up in a glam, candle-lit dining room complete with stunning art installations and plush mohair velvet furniture. But it's not just the atmosphere you come for, it's the exemplary service and the chance to delve into Michelin Star-awarded chef Bruno Davaillon's impeccable menu of updated French classics. Reserve one of the cozy booths along the side and dig into things like steak tartare, ravioli d'escargots, boeuf au poivre and lamb porterhouse, all enhanced by an affordable French wine list and French-influenced cocktails. Don't overlook the mille-feuille with dulce de leche for dessert.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Bullion is where to go when you're in the mood for French food with a side of romantic-chic.
Ilene's expert tip: Bullion offers a terrific, wallet-friendly bar menu as well as L'apéro (aka happy hour) from 4-6:30 pm, Monday-Friday.
Homey, romantic and arguably one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, this tiny Bishop Arts trattoria has never skipped a beat since it opened in 2012. It's also one of the most difficult places to score a seat, which can only be had by booking two months in advance or by lucking into one of the counter spots in front of the open kitchen they keep available for walk-ins. The menu is always changing but expect to find dishes like risotto with shaved black truffles, tagliatelle with Red Wattle pork ragu and duck leg confit with Otto File polenta. The best way to go is by ordering something from each course and sharing. Not-to-be-missed are the foie gras stuffed prunes.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Lucia is where to go when you want superb Italian food in cozy surrounds.
Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to check the Facebook page for last-minute cancellations. Also note, that there are 4 seats at the bar as well as a few tables outdoors that are available for walk-ins.
Most romantic restaurant in Texas? According to Food & Wine, it's The French Room, the fine dining spot inside Dallas' Adolphus Hotel. The surrounds are opulent, the service is smooth as Bearnaise and the menu encompasses everything from foie gras torchon to saddle of lamb and Scottish salmon. If you really want to woo your partner then you should probably consider going for the five-course tasting menu. Sure, at $135 a pop plus another $65 for wine pairing, it's not the place to come if you're on a budget. But as bucket list places go, it's up there with the best of them.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The French Room is where to go when you don't mind busting your wallet to make a good impression.
Ilene's expert tip: For something easier on the wallet, check out the adjoining bar for small plates and craft cocktails.