12 romantic restaurants in Philadelphia for every kind of date

Freshly squeezed juices brighten the cocktails at Charlie was a sinner. in Midtown Village | Credit: Charlie was a sinner.

Whether you want to woo your Valentine with fussy French food or share a plate of fried chicken at a gastropub, Philadelphia’s most romantic restaurants can vastly improve Cupid’s aim this February.

For some, sparks will fly over vegan snacks and zippy cocktails at a dimly lit Center City bar. At an Italian institution in East Passyunk, live opera performances draw couples who prefer more epic celebrations. Others may opt for a nostalgic evening at a retro steakhouse just over the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Treat yourself and your date to a swoon-worthy meal. Read on for a guide to Philadelphia’s 12 top date-night restaurants.

For a first date

Charlie was a sinner. (Center City)

Dim lights? Check. Flickering candles? Check. Tiny tables underneath which you will unavoidably brush knees with your date? Check. When it comes to a venue for early-in-the game romance, it’s tough to do better than this velvet-clad haven. Luckily, the plant-based snacks and bold cocktails are just as dreamy as the atmosphere. Order the Mediterranean board, designed for two, for treats including cave-aged vegan cheese, pine nut ricotta, marinated mushrooms, olives, and grapes.

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For a second date

SouthGate (Graduate Hospital)

Named for one of the ancient gates of the Fortress Wall of Seoul, this cozy Korean American gastropub is a treasured spot for getting to know your date. A selection of fruit-infused sojus offers couples a chance to sample everything from the easy-to-sip plum and strawberry flavors to a bolder, housemade chile version. With bar snacks such as Korean fried chicken and gochugaru kimchi fries to larger plates including bossam (lettuce wraps with braised pork belly), SouthGate’s menu is made to share with your potential SO.

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Izakaya by Yanaga (Fishtown)

Grab a bar seat and get ready for an intimate evening filled with creative cocktails and sake flights at this adored izakaya. Over the past decade, chef Kevin Yanaga has made a name for himself as a sushi specialist in Philadelphia’s dining scene. His latest venture marries classic Japanese ingredients with a penchant for fusion, resulting in dishes such as soft shell crab bao and maitake maki with yakitori sauce. For a low-pressure hang, opt for a casual happy hour here, which unfolds every weekday from 4 pm to 6 pm.

For a cozy and intimate evening

The Head & The Hand (Kensington)

For something totally different, plan a date night at The Head and the Hand bookshop. The bookstore sets up a romantic table for two, and you can order dinner delivery from your favorite restaurant to enjoy in the intimate, candlelit shop. You’ll be treated to wine or beer, a custom-made playlist based on your favorite artists, and a copy of any book The Head & The Hand publishes. Best of all, you’ll have one of the area’s best bookshops all to yourself for two leisurely hours to browse the shelves.

Parc (Rittenhouse)

Diners perch at the bar at French-inspired Parc in Rittenhouse Square

In Rittenhouse Square, Parc brings a piece of Paris to Philadelphia. | Credit: Parc

With Rittenhouse Square views and a timeless brasserie menu, there’s a reason Parc is perpetually packed with couples enjoying a piece of Paris in Philadelphia. Whether you’re here for a long-awaited third date or a spontaneous weeknight rendezvous, it’s best to kick off a meal with a bottle of bubbly and seafood plateau. Don’t miss out on dessert—the pastry team here is world-class.

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For an anniversary or romantic milestone

The Victor Cafe (East Passyunk)

Forget dinner and a movie—date nights at Victor Cafe come with live opera performances, tailor-made for celebratory meals. Servers at this longtime South Philadelphia favorite, which has been in business since 1918, set down plates of veal saltimbocca and chicken piccata before bursting into Verdi and Puccini every 15 minutes throughout the evening.

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Steak 38 (Cherry Hill, NJ)

Those looking for an unabashedly old-school night out will be thrilled to discover this steakhouse gem in nearby South Jersey, just over the the Ben Franklin Bridge. Seasoned servers shake up frosty martinis while the kitchen turns out pitch-perfect takes that raise the bar on any romantic occasion such as oysters Rockefeller, shrimp cocktail, and prime rib.

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For group dates

Amada PHL (Old City)

Glasses of sangria at Amada PHL in Old City

Shareable sangria pitchers are just some of the group friendly offerings at Amada PHL. | Credit: Amada PHL

After more than 15 years in business, Iron Chef Jose Garces’s Amada remains a stand-out spot for group gatherings. As a beloved Anadalusian tapas restaurant, its inventive small plates, including bacon-wrapped dates with almonds and cabrales (a Spanish blue cheese), ham croquettes, and charcuterie, are easy to love—and share. If you grab some friends and make your way here on a Sunday, there are half-priced bottles of wine and a special selection of discounted snacks to catch up over.

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For an adventurous and transportive date

Morimoto (Center City)

Funky, futuristic decor sets the scene for an ocean-inspired odyssey at one of the most sought-after sushi experiences in town. On a more casual night out, order from Morimoto’s a la carte menu to suit your mood and appetite. But to really make a splash—or mark a special milestone—go all out with the omakase selection. The chef’s tasting option is a tour of the whole menu, including hot and cold dishes such as seasonal oysters with ponzu pearls, spicy tuna crispy rice, and wagyu dumplings.

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For an evening of eatertainment

SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club (Spring Garden)

A bartender at SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club in Spring Garden

The bar at SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club, Philadelphia’s go-to spot for live jazz and Southern-inspired dishes.

Philadelphia’s premier destination for live jazz and Southern-inspired eats makes for a lively date night. South welcomes a roster of local and national artists to perform in its warm dining room—with only 75 seats, it’s intimate for a venue of its kind. The kitchen turns out thoughtful riffs on classics to make any evening sing including hot honey-drizzled fried chicken, shrimp over locally milled grits, and vegetarian gumbo.

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For a proposal-worthy place

Fork (Old City)

A large painting depicting trees at Fork in Old City

Fork, a hyper-seasonal American restaurant, has served as a Philadelphia date-night go-to since opening in 1997. | Credit: Fork

Fork has been Philadelphia’s big-deal date-night spot since opening in 1997. It’s no surprise that this chandelier-clad institution is a popular backdrop to proposals and other relationship milestones you want to etch into your memory. The menu—a Mid-Atlantic-accented lineup that includes oysters with rosé-peppercorn mignonette and dry-aged, bone-in steak served with bone marrow, roasted garlic, potato pave, and chimichurri—provides flavorful ways to celebrate. Add spot-on service and you’ve got a venue well-suited for popping the big question.

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Laurel (East Passyunk)

Laurel’s inventive six-course menu alone makes the restaurant ideal for an extra-special romantic dinner. But an evening here is downright impressive for many reasons, including an intimate dining room, tufted dining chairs, and the star chef factor—the French American spot is steered by Top Chef winner Nicholas Elmi. The menu changes often because chefs here work closely with farmers; expect ornate, proposal-worthy dishes such as tea-brined quail with caramelized onion, Carolina rice, date, and truffle and tuna with sunchoke, shiitake mushrooms, and trout roe.

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Joy Manning is a food writer, recipe developer, and podcaster based in Philadelphia.

Caroline Coral contributed to this guide.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.