Austin is no stranger to quirks. Bat City knows that romance, and the places you choose to celebrate your love, come in a multitude of forms.
In Bouldin Creek, break the ice over a lawn game at a neighborhood pub. Get better acquainted over do-it-yourself Korean barbecue in Highland. Or celebrate a seasoned relationship with Champagne and caviar at an award-winning downtown steakhouse.
There’s a table for every kind of date in this bustling Southern city. Read on for a guide to the 12 most romantic restaurants in Austin.
For a first date
First dates frequently unfold at this easygoing, Basque-style spot. Tapas and pintxos—small, savory bites such as goat cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers—make tasty icebreakers. As do inventive cocktails, including the bar’s namesake, made with red wine and cola, plus Spanish wines served from traditional porróns (pitchers with long narrow spouts, designed for sharing). Kalimotxo’s tranquil patio overlooking Shoal Creek is a dreamy spot to spend a sunny afternoon or starry evening.
For a second date
ATX Cocina (Downtown)
With initial pleasantries out of the way, you’re ready for a proper sit-down meal, so grab a table for two at ATX Cocina. Mexican restaurants in Austin tend to fall on the casual side, but this downtown spot has a more sophisticated setting, decked with blonde wood, soaring ceilings, and velvet banquettes. The menu is just as refined: The housemade masa uses heirloom corn grown on small family farms in Mexico. But the portions are undoubtedly Texas-sized. If you’re taking things slow, hit the restaurant’s bar after work and enjoy a happy hour deal on tacos and margaritas together.
This Mediterranean bar boasts an airy indoor-outdoor space overlooking Lady Bird Lake. Lined with comfy wicker sofas, pastel furnishings, and plants, the ambiance is equal parts lively and laidback—ideal for a second date. The menu consists of shareable handhelds such as satay skewers and charcuterie boards. On warmer evenings, come at sunset and impress your new beau with one of the best views of the famed Congress Avenue Bridge bats.
For a cozy and intimate date
Aviary Wine & Kitchen (South Lamar)
It’ll take more than just one date to go through all the wines at this beloved South Lamar joint. Aviary Wine and Kitchen first opened as a furniture shop (that happened to sell wine) in 2006. It’s since morphed into an inviting neighborhood restaurant that draws date-night regulars for a wine list featuring bottles from the Balearic and Canary Islands, among other unique locales. Pair your glasses with one of the shareable Texas-meet-Paris plates, including creamy manchego farro and beef short rib. Much like your relationship, the wine list here is ever-evolving.
Intero (East Austin)
Eastside legend Intero is Austin’s go-to Italian restaurant and casual date spot. The emphasis here is on whole ingredients (Intero is Italian for “complete”). Husband-and-wife team Ian Thurwachter and Krystal Craig’s menu is loyal to all things local. That allegiance surfaces in hearty mains such as braised pork neck with grilled turnip and egg yolk, made with meat from a local farm. Both indoor and outdoor seating areas exude a homey vibe, as do the chunky serving plates and simple glassware. A date-night here feels like an extension of your dining room—only much chicer.
For an anniversary or romantic milestone
Garrison at the Fairmont Austin hotel was made for splashy special occasions. The multi-award winning steakhouse is a stately spot, with an open-flame kitchen and a grand entrance that channels the front porch of an Austin home. Chef Jakub Czyszczon serves up a decadent succession of Texas post oak flame-grilled tomahawk steak, duck breast rossini, and crispy octopus, plus tater tots worthy of entrée status. If it’s an extra-special milestone you’re celebrating, raise the bar with vintage Champagne and caviar.
For a group date
Chosun Galbi (Highland)
For a fun and festive outing, take a group to this Korean spot where more is most definitely merrier. Chosun Galbi’s menu is filled with traditional and contemporary dishes including soups, stews, hot pots, noodles, and vegetarian specialties. But the star of the show is Korean barbecue, an interactive dining experience where you choose from a variety of seasoned meats and vegetables to cook on your tabletop grill, accompanied by sauces, pickles, and rice. Pair your convivial dinner with cocktails, sake, beer, or wine.
Bouldin Acres (Bouldin Creek)
Bring friends to this South Austin escape for a leisurely, laidback evening of burgers, tacos, and Texas barbecue that come courtesy of an onsite food truck. Snack away on picnic tables surrounding lawn games and pickleball courts. Bouldin Acres is complete with an indoor bar pouring signature cocktails, local craft beer, and wine—plus screens to watch your favorite sports.
For an evening of entertainment
Starry night views and live music make a powerful pair. Find both at Geraldine’s, one of Austin’s hippest hangouts (come SXSW season, celebs are known to descend on this Hotel Van Zandt venue). Bring your beau for modern Southern plates, including grilled coconut quail and half-roasted chicken. Though you’re really here to see some of Austin’s most talented artists in action, best enjoyed with a post-dinner cocktail.
For an adventurous and transportive date
Devil May Care (Downtown)
An evening at this underground Mediterranean escape sends a decidedly sultry signal: Seductive candlelight and antique mirrors line the chamber (sneak the occasional peek to confirm you make a beautiful pair). Share a mezze platter of DMC’s greatest hits including whipped ricotta, house-marinated olives, and tabbouleh as you sip on Greek and Lebanese wines. On Wednesdays, a live jazz band enhances the transportive experience.
Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar (Downtown)
This South Congress seafood staple is reminiscent of a posh New England beachtown. The patio, flanked by heritage oaks and fairy lights, evokes a festive clambake, far from south central Texas. Perla’s outdoor space is an especially romantic perch for drinks, dinner, happy hour, and brunch. On the menu, expect seasonal oysters, shrimp cocktails, lobster rolls, and seafood mains, complemented by a thoughtful wine list.
For a proposal-worthy place
Uchi Austin (Downtown)
Award-winning chef Tyson Cole first served his groundbreaking riff on Japanese food in this refurbished bungalow back in 2003. Twenty years later, Uchi remains one of Austin’s hottest tickets, guaranteed to deliver an inimitable date-night experience. Sushi takes center stage, with a variety of fish flown from around the world daily, but the menu also includes non-seafood options, inventive hot and cold plates, and entrées worthy of an epic romantic outing. The thoughtful wine and sake list follows suit—so go ahead and pop that ring in the Champagne flute.
Claudia Alarcón is a Mexico City-born writer based in Austin, Texas covering dining, drinking, and travel since 1999.
James Wong contributed to this guide.
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