Urban sophistication and natural beauty make Phoenix ripe for romance. The city’s best date-night restaurants are experts at setting the stage for love whether it’s an easygoing evening or a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
In Central Phoenix, a low-key Thai spot offers one of the city’s dreamiest patios. White Louis XVI chairs and glittering chandeliers make a proposal-worthy backdrop at a stunner in Old Town Scottsdale. A modern brasserie in North Scottsdale draws couples for spirited sommelier competitions.
This striking Sonoran metropolis is filled with places to celebrate your sweetheart. Read on for a guide to Phoenix’s 12 most romantic restaurants to book now.
For a first date
Glai Baan (Central Phoenix)
Glai Baan’s lovely patio is a city favorite, green with trees, plants, and vines wrapped around a wrought-iron door that make it a terrific place for getting to know a first date. String lights inside and out build on the homey vibe in this Midtown home chef Cat Bunnag and co-owner Dan Robinson redid to open this Thai restaurant. Get better acquainted over northeastern Thai dishes such as salted crab papaya salad and braised beef Panang curry.
For a second date
Renata’s Hearth (Biltmore)
Snuggle with your potential special someone on the patio at Renata’s Hearth in the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Chunky chairs and sofas with blankets and throw pillows invite you to relax and lend a cozy touch to the luxe Art Deco ambience. Let chef Victor Davila dazzle you with dishes from Central and South America. Smoke and Arizona chiltepin peppers play starring roles on the menu, appearing in dishes such as charred and smoked steelhead trout with jicama and herb salad or roasted Chilean sea bass with mole verde.
For a cozy and intimate evening
The House Brasserie (Old Town Scottsdale)
Modern American cuisine is the order of the day in the Victorian-inspired dining room and romantic patio at chef Brandon Jedd’s popular restaurant. Knowledgeable wait staff will keep their distance while also advising you toward the best from a list of fine wines and dishes such as jerk Berkshire pork chop and fried citrus chicken. Details like drippy candles and a grove of 80-year-old pine trees by the patio add up to a memorable date.
For an anniversary or romantic milestone
FLINT by Baltaire (Biltmore)
The rooftop cocktail lounge, Upstairs at FLINT, offers gorgeous views of Camelback Mountain—it’s an excellent spot to start your date. Descend to the mid-century modern dining room for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean bites such as smoked bone marrow and short rib hummus. Chef Travis Strickland’s award-winning menu changes seasonally and includes a variety of small plates, wood-grilled mains, and wood-fired pizzas. FLINT is a city hotspot, so be sure to book ahead for your special night out.
Cloth & Flame (Various)
Reserve a Cloth & Flame dinner if your idea of a date-night adventure involves the saguaros of the Sonoran Desert. The imaginative four-course dinner series is steered by Matt Cooley and Olivia Laux and known for using natural backdrops as exquisite but unconventional dining rooms. What’s served depends entirely on who is invited to prepare that evening’s dinner—featured chefs have previously included John Martinez of Southwestern bistro Tito and Pep in Tucson.
T. Cook’s at Royal Palms Resort and Spa (Central Scottsdale)
This Mediterranean haven at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa has an outdoor area that’s primed for year-round cuddling with cooling mist machines in the summer and a fireplace and heat lamps in the winter. For peak romance, book one of the private dining areas next to the restaurant’s bar. No matter where you’re seated, the evolving Italian-accented seasonal menu features highlights such as seafood pasta and pork osso bucco.
For group dates
The Mission (Old Town Scottsdale)
Grab some friends and head to The Mission, an acclaimed pan-Latin star in Old Town Scottsdale. The dining room’s candles and crosses are tributes to The Mission’s neighboring church—one of the oldest buildings in Scottsdale. Outside, wicker chairs line a spacious patio. Chef and owner Matt Carter’s sophisticated, shareable menu offers hits including duck carnitas empanadas, mahi mahi tacos, and marinated free-range chicken with Oaxacan cheesy rice. The kitchen is especially accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions, so it’s no surprise that this special occasion spot is a consistent crowd favorite.
For an adventurous and transportive date
the larder + the delta (Downtown Phoenix)
A date night at James Beard semifinalist Stephen Jones’ restaurant is like taking an edible crash course on Southern American history. The chef’s modern American plates focus heavily on seasonality and local produce. Inventive vegetable-forward dishes such as buffalo cauliflower and black-eyed pea croquettes pay homage to the Old South when slaves had limited access to meat and dominate the menu, though there is some meat in plates including smoked chicken gumbo and a smothered pork chop. For an extra-intimate experience, grab a seat at the petite bar or the patio with park views.
Native American foodways get the spotlight at Kai, a fine-dining spot at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. Start with a cocktail by the fireplace and soak in stunning, sunset views. On the dinner menu, expect lesser-seen dishes from the Pima and Maricopa communities such as blue corn- and sumac-crusted quail and grilled tribal buffalo tenderloin. Service is especially attentive here—fitting since Kai is Arizona’s only restaurant to score both a AAA Five Diamond Award and a Forbes Five-Star Award for a whopping 12 years in a row.
For an evening of entertainment
The Mick Brasserie (North Scottsdale)
This modern brasserie draws couples for French-inspired small plates, an extensive wine and beer selection, and bi-weekly live music performances—not to mention the Somm Brawl. Oenophiles flock to the Mick for this popular competition that pits some of the Valley’s most accomplished wine pros against each other in multi-week brackets. Diners are served a four-course meal plus two wine pairings selected by participating sommeliers, then asked to pick their favorite. The result is a lively, out-of-the-box dinner that’s guaranteed to impress your SO.
For a proposal-worthy place
Café Monarch (Old Town Scottsdale)
White Louis XVI chairs, gilt mirrors, candelabras, and glittering chandeliers set an enchanting, proposal-worthy scene at the Café Monarch. Chef Gus Lewkowicz offers elegant four- and eight-course American menus including bacon-crusted Chilean sea bass with truffles, maple-glazed pork belly with honey nut squash, and chestnut date soup with duck confit. Master sommeliers are on hand to assist with pairings. There’s not an unromantic seat in the house, so go ahead and pop the big question.
elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain (Central Scottsdale)
Reserve a window table at this scenic Paradise Valley restaurant and your view will be as delicious as the Asian American plates. Twice James Beard-nominated chef Samantha Sanz is known for crushing the fusion game with dishes such as barbecue eggplant, kimchi bacon and Brussels sprouts, and shishito peppers with soy caramel. Understated decor and soothing earth tones allow you to focus solely on your beau. Though you might catch a glimpse of Mummy or Camelback Mountain, which make breathtaking backdrops for an unforgettable proposal.
Robrt Pela is an NPR affiliate correspondent whose writing has appeared in Psychology Today, The Advocate, and for 30 years in Phoenix New Times.
Bahar Anooshahr contributed to this guide.
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