Often billed as one of the most romantic restaurants in Dallas, this much-loved neighborhood stalwart oozes old-fashioned glamour with its dimly-lit Victorian decor, intimate little nooks and a menu that shines with comforting, Francophile classics. Expect old school bistro-style dishes to cover everything from escargots to beef tartar, lobster thermidor and roasted duck. Not to be missed is the champagne brie soup, it's legendary. Equally impressive is a wine list that includes over 150 bottles from around the globe, many of which are priced at less than $50. There's also an extensive selection available by the glass too. End with one of the souffles, they never fail to impress.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: St. Martin's is often billed as the most romantic restaurant in Dallas.
Ilene's expert tip: Keep an eye out for happy hours, wine tastings and special dining deals, usually posted on St. Martin's Facebook page. There's also live piano music every night and during Sunday brunch.
One of the Design District's most recent additions is The Charles, a romantic, renaissance-chic eatery featuring a lineup of housemade pasta and wood-fire-grilled fish and steak. Owners Chas Martin and Chef J Chastain use classic Italian fare as inspiration for the menu, but the dishes stray from the traditional. Expect to see the likes of risotto made with ancient grains (farro, quinoa, and kamut), fennel-crusted pork chops and olive oil poached halibut with broccolini pesto. Must-haves include the wood-fired oysters, any of the grilled vegetables, and the ricotta gnudi with brown butter honey. Wine lovers take note: this is the only place in town where you can order Billecart-Salmon Champagne by the glass.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The Charles offers a reasonably priced menu in glamorous surrounds.
Ilene's expert tip: Reserve one of the cozy booths along the back wall for a more secluded-like atmosphere. It's best to book in advance, but note that there are also 10 seats at the bar reserved for walk-ins.
With its location on the twenty-seventh floor of the Hilton Anatole hotel, the views from SER (pronounced sear) are, as you might expect, stunning. And if the views alone don't wow you, then the black Angus tomahawk encrusted with smoked blue cheese surely will. Carnivores can also find everything from elk loins, bison and aged prime ribeyes to pork rib and rack of lamb. And the kitchen hits the mark when it comes to apps: Think house-made charcuterie, deconstructed Caesar salads and deviled eggs with Akaushi beef tartar and smoked trout roe. Don't overlook desserts there's a Valrhona chocolate mousse with caramel bananas, candied bacon and peanut butter brittle that's calling your name.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: SER is one of the city's most romantic dining spots with unbeatable views of the Dallas skyline.
Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to park with the valet and have the restaurant validate your ticket. Check the Facebook page for monthly wine tastings and wine dinners.
Since opening in late 2013, Allison Yoder and Stephen Rogers' charming Napa-inspired restaurant has continued to be one the most sought-after reservations in town--and for good reason. The restaurant is comfortably chic and the food is nothing short of spectacular. Expect to find a seasonally changing menu that may include items such as wood-grilled Duroc pork chops with poached rhubarb and squid ink pasta with lobster, caviar and créme fraîche. Seasonal cocktails are a major draw as well. Oh, and those looking for a wallet-friendly option may want to consider checking out the late-night menu on offer from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night the restaurant is open.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Gemma is where to go when you want to enjoy a wonderful meal in a smart but relaxed spot.
Ilene's expert tip: Gemma offers a specially priced late night menu from 10:30 pm 12:00 am Sundays & Tuesdays-Thursdays; and from 10:30 pm 1:00 am Fridays and Saturdays
Dallas has no shortage of fine dining options, but the Mansion Restaurant, tucked inside the iconic Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel-- has remained a standout for more than 35 years. Luxuriously kitted out with sleek contemporary furnishings, Palladian windows and ornate ceilings, this former estate of a 1920s-era cotton magnate oozes all the lavishness you'd expect to find. And the cuisine, showcasing modern American dishes, is equally exquisite. The à la carte menu features everything from beef tartar with smoked duck egg to Cajun black tiger prawn tempura and Akaushi wagyu sirloin. For a show-stopping special occasion dinner, the gourmand tasting menu (priced at $125) is certainly worth seeking out. If you're looking for the ultimate Dallas dining experience, this is the place to go.
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: Be sure to check out the Mansion's swanky bar featuring live jazz in the evenings and terrific craft cocktails. The bar also offers half-price wine and beer by the glass during Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Whether it's a regular date night or a special occasion, celebrity chef Dean Fearing's namesake restaurant in the swanky Ritz Carlton is an excellent bet. It has several dining areas, ranging from an outdoor dining patio centered around water features to a formal dining room, an intimate wine cellar and a romantic glass-walled pavilion. Either way, expect to find innovative Southwestern fare featuring everything from grilled buffalo tenderloin with jalapeno grits to chicken fried Maine lobster. And the "Butcher Block" steak menu is no slack either. Best seats in the house? Dean's Kitchen, where you and your betrothed can have a ringside view of all the action.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: When you're in the mood for Texas-style glamour, Fearing's ticks all the boxes.
Ilene's expert tip: If you can't score a table in one of the main dining venues, you can enjoy a meal in the Rattlesnake Bar without a reservation. Also, don't miss the free guacamole and mini-margaritas on offer at the Rattlesnake Bar every night starting at 6 p.m.
Reunion Tower is Dallas' most iconic landmark and Wolfgang Puck's Five Sixty restaurant resides at the top (560 feet up) of its glittering orb. The revolving restaurant is a destination for the setting alone. And the modern Asian menu only adds to the draw. Expect to find everything from sashimi and sushi to Wagyu brisket pot stickers, tamarind glazed baby back ribs and Mongolian-style Colorado lamb chops. Don't even get us started on the desserts. Can't decide what to order? No worries, there's a variety of prix fixe tasting menus to choose from too. Pro-tip: Come in time for sunset and score terrific happy hour deals (5-7 p.m., Monday-Thursday) at the same time.
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: You don't need reservations to eat and drink in the lounge, but there's a dress code (business casual) to get in.
One of the most coveted tables in town is inside Michelin Star-awarded Chef Bruno Davaillon's dazzling gold-clad restaurant, Bullion, which can be found erected above the ground floor of the former Belo Building in Downtown Dallas. The menu centers on updated renditions of French classics, with options ranging from steak tartare and escargots with garlic-herb cream to lamb with sweetbreads, grilled lobster and beef entrecote. To complement the dishes, there's an affordable all-French wine list as well as French-influenced cocktails and select European beer. And it all comes together in a mid-century glam dining room complete with art installations and plush mohair velvet furniture. Don't overlook the miniature baked Alaska. Ditto for the dark chocolate soufflé. And be sure to check out the daily plats du jour, which feature items not normally found on the regular menu.
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 also offers a terrific, wallet-friendly bar menu as well as L'apéro (aka happy hour) from 4-6:30 pm, Monday-Friday.
If you ask any discerning foodie which is the hottest restaurant in town, they'll point you to David and Jennifer Uygur's rustically charming 36-seat Bishop Arts trattoria. But be warned, the place is so popular that you have to either book two months in advance or try your luck at scoring one of the counter seats saved for walk-ins. The focus is on Italian home cooking, with a rotating menu full of regional must-haves, ranging from house-cured meats and fresh crudo to handmade pasta, wild game and seafood. Expect to find selections like spaghetti with sea urchin butter and Wagyu beef with celery root and truffles. Be sure to order a few of the foie-gras-stuffed prunes to start. And for dessert-- the milk chocolate panna cotta with sanguinaccio and malt gelato-- is nothing short of genius.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Lucia is the place to go when you crave an authentic Italian experience but can't spare the time or dime to go to Italy.
Ilene's expert tip: Don't let the long wait list deter you from coming-Lucia saves four counter seats overlooking the kitchen for walk-ins and also posts last minute cancellations on its social media.
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 is everything you'd expect a restaurant of this caliber to be. Overseeing the kitchen is executive chef Anthony Dispensa, whose repertoire includes working at London's two-star Michelin restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. As for the food, expect to find everything from veal sweetbreads and foie gras torchon to dry-aged rib eye with bordelaise sauce and Long Island duck. Our tip? Take the plunge and go for the five-course tasting menu. Sure, at $110 a pop plus another $60 to $100 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: If money's no object and you really want to make a good impression, the legendary French Room is the place to go.
Ilene's expert tip: Want to enjoy the French Room without emptying your wallet? stop in for a $25 cheese plate and pair it with a nice glass of wine.