Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Luckily for those looking to book tables for two, metro Phoenix has an abundance of restaurants that fit the bill. Some are fancy. Some are casual. From intimate rooms of flickering candles, coved ceilings, and wooden floors to a sunset-bathed diner, here are eight of our favorite romantic restaurants in greater Phoenix.
Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva
Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva, located in the historic flatiron Bragg's Pie Factory building on Grand Avenue, is chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's most intimate restaurant to date. Its small, 27-seat dining room is almost impossibly charming, with a crisp white interior artfully adorned with striking murals by well-known local artists like Lalo Cota; floor to ceiling windows with views of downtown Phoenix; and tables draped in white tablecloth. It's a naturally cozy space, in other words, that's ready made for a romantic meal for two. The menu, which has evolved in recent months to include a new stable of creative vegano dishes, is artful and refined. The marquee attraction remains the restaurant's multicourse menu de degustación (tasting menu), which is available in both vegan and omnivore versions.
The peppermint-striped structure that houses Welcome Diner's kitchen is a salvaged, refurbished, string-lit 1940s diner from Kansas, currently located in the historic Garfield neighborhood. Michael Babcock and company give diners a southern experience. Biscuit dishes are the cornerstone of the menu. You can get the fluffy Dixie staple served with pork, fried chicken, or Andouille. The menu is filled with down-home Southern dishes, like fried green tomato sandwiches and po' boys. This is a spot for an unpretentious V-Day experience. Be sure to order a Hurricane and a slice or two of pie.
Scott Conant's sprawling modern Italian restaurant on Seventh Street is ideal for a romantic dinner. Upholstery is plush and red leather. Tunes and good drinks flow. Service is friendly, and if you want to share plates the staff often divides them onto separate plates for you. The bar area is roomy and comforting, and so is a nice patio overlooking the run of restaurants down Seventh Street. Be sure to get pasta. And if you and your significant other are into chocolate, the budino dessert is an absolute must.
House of Tricks
With its sun-dappled patio, tree-covered bar, and two historic bungalows, it's no wonder Robert and Robin Trick's cozy dining oasis in the heart of Tempe remains as popular as ever 30 years into the game. Tuck into a candlelit table on the outdoor patio or around the vintage stone fireplace indoors and enjoy a rustic, farm-forward, seasonally inspired menu, which mixes French and Southwest flavors into elegant plates of grilled meats and fish, bright produce, and delicate sauces.
For couples who share a love of artisanal pizza, there may not be a more charming place to enjoy it than this early-20th-century bungalow in the Roosevelt Historic District. Owner, chef, and Tuscan pizzaiolo Guido Saccone not only serves up top-notch wood-fired pies, but luscious pasta and salads as well. And Cibo's (pronounced CHEE-boh's) outdoor patio and inside rooms of hardwood floors, exposed brick, and colorful artwork make this urban pizzeria as easy to snuggle up with as your partner.
One eyeful of the surroundings at this fine-dining establishment at The Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, and it's easy to see what may once have inspired the restaurant's namesake, legendary artist Lon Megargee, to call it home in the 1930s. An enchanting patio and an indoor setting of old Arizona charm — think wood-beamed ceilings, beehive fireplaces, and wrought-iron chandeliers — are perfect spots to enjoy chef Jeremy Pacheco's artful American cuisine and drinks made with Lon's private label whiskey from Del Bac.
Chef Matt Carter's (The Mission, Zinc Bistro) restaurant is set in a charming yet sophisticated little 1920s bungalow in Old Town Scottsdale. Serving American cuisine with touches from all over the globe (think Berkshire pork country ribs and duck confit meat balls with foie gras), romantics can enjoy their meals inside rooms decked out in gold-flocked wallpaper, red leather banquettes, and chandeliers, or outside on a sprawling patio complete with white picket fence, brick fireplace, and a grand ol' tree.
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This farmhouse turned eatery, nestled in the historic Farm at South Mountain, is a love fest both in setting and cuisine. And its rural tranquility makes a lush backdrop for guests as well as chef Dustin Christofolo, whose daily menu of contemporary American farm cuisine includes ingredients harvested at next-door Soil & Seed Garden. Whether clinking glasses of vino at the exclusive Brick Oven Table on the patio or holding hands over a dish of dreamy homemade pasta in front of a crackling fire, this restaurant and wine bar's got amore written all over it.