These 10 romantic restaurants in Phoenix are perfect for date night | Phoenix New Times

From the Top 100: Impress your date with these 10 romantic Phoenix restaurants

Romance is in the air at these 10 metro Phoenix restaurants.
Modern French bistro Sottise resides in a historic building in the Roosevelt Row arts district built in 1909. It's one of many perfect date destinations in Phoenix.
Modern French bistro Sottise resides in a historic building in the Roosevelt Row arts district built in 1909. It's one of many perfect date destinations in Phoenix. Sottise
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Each year, we roll out a refreshed list of the Top 100 Restaurants in Phoenix. With quite so many to choose from, the list encompasses all genres and styles of food from fancy to fun and everything in between.

But if you are looking to surprise that special someone or really impress your date on Valentine's Day or beyond, here are 10 restaurants from the list that scream romance. They are intimate, the lighting is just right and the food is sure to set sparks flying.

On your next date night, check out one of these 10 romantic Phoenix restaurants.

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Pair a sophisticated pasta dish with a glass of wine or a cocktail at Caffe Boa.
Tirion Boan

Caffe Boa

398 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
For first dates and graduation dinners, Tempe’s Caffe Boa is a staple. This long-standing Mill Avenue restaurant is the perfect contrast to the bustling bars and clubs just steps away. Both an Italian restaurant and wine bar, it is open for brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner.

Make sure to try the outstanding pastas, such as a block of lasagna resting in a pool of cream-tinted bolognese or the Ravioli Zucca, filled with butternut squash and topped with toasted hazelnuts and sage swimming in a garlic butter sauce. Complete your meal with a creative cocktail, pour of wine or a flight of Rakija, a double-distilled fruit brandy popular in Serbia and throughout the Balkans, for something a little different.

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Cibo in downtown Phoenix creates the perfect atmosphere for sipping an Italian liqueur.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Cibo Pizzeria

603 N. Fifth Ave.
For a desert town, Phoenix has a surprisingly large number of Italian restaurants. Cibo Pizzeria (it's pronounced CHEE-boh) is one of the best. The downtown restaurant serves fare like signature wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, salads, saltimbocca bread, and fresh limoncello made from a family recipe by Chef Guido Saccone.

But aside from the house-made pasta, killer burrata, and wine list, Cibo also boasts some next-level atmosphere. The lush garden patio is one of the finest in Phoenix — between the lights and the gentle chatter, it literally twinkles — and the 1913 bungalow, with its exposed brick, creaky hardwood floors, and soft glow from the windows, doesn't hurt the vibe, either. Reservations highly recommended. Would-be weekend walk-ins take note: It's usually all booked up.
click to enlarge FnB restaurant exterior.
Treat your date to the exceptional cooking of chef Charleen Badman at FnB.
Lauren Cusimano


7125 E. Fifth Ave., #31, Scottsdale
We probably don't need to tell you about FnB, the Scottsdale kitchen helmed by culinary sage Charleen Badman. You probably already know she scours local markets for common and arcane ingredients from our state's popular and marginal family farms, about how she plates food braiding gastronomic threads from the Sonoran Desert to South America to the Levant.

You might not need us to tell you how into vegetables she is, or how she still cooks in her restaurant kitchen just about every night, years after starting in Old Town. And probably, you don't need us to vouch for FnB, because the James Beard Foundation did just that in 2019.

Maybe, too, you don't even need us to tell you about FnB's drink program. Co-owner and beverage guru Pavle Milic curates one of the more interesting wine lists in town. Filled entirely with Arizona options, the list provides a crash course in the wondrous vintages of fermented grape juice our state is making. Maybe, too, you don't need us to tell you that the tucked-away FnB bar might be the restaurant's best spot to drink and eat. Maybe you know about FnB's quirks and lore, its layers of greatness. But we're excited to tell you anyway.

click to enlarge Bar seating at Francine.
Grab a table or get cozy at the bar at Francine.
Jackie Mercandetti


4710 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale
Patrons are immediately immersed in European elegance when they walk into Francine. The exposed ceilings and bar take center stage, leaving room for seating that feels intimate and offers plenty of people-watching. The restaurant itself is a menagerie of bustling voices in an open kitchen, servers in formal attire, and a dose of patrons in sequins and sparkling dresses.

It isn’t just about the atmosphere, though. The French cuisine is bold and sexy. Details are important to owner and celebrity chef Laurent Halasz, whose mother’s recipes lay the foundation for the French menu that offers glimmers of the Mediterranean. All dishes are presented like colorful paint palettes with herbs and edible flowers — entrees focus on including veggies, homemade pasta and rich sauces minus the butter. For starters, the beef carpaccio and the grilled octopus are fan favorites. Other standouts include the Chilean Seabass and the bone marrow bucatini. At Francine, expect both a visual and culinary experience.

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The rotating menu at Progress is perfect for sharing.
Tirion Boan


702 W. Montecito Ave.
Dining at this compact eatery occupying the easternmost suite of the historic Wagon Wheel building in the Melrose District feels like a visit to Biosphere II: Loads of plants and greenery mingle with natural wood and light, creating an earthy experience unlike any other in the Valley.

In June 2022, the restaurant merged with its next door neighbor, The Montecito Wine Shop, to become one concept: Progress Restaurant and Wine. The constantly changing, seasonally driven, five-course tasting menu is still available, but since the restaurant reopened, options are now served individually. So if you just feel like swinging by, grabbing a bottle of wine from next door and enjoying it over a plate of steak tartare, that's perfectly fine.
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Sottise's fruits de mer is a showstopper.
Allison Young


1025 N. Second St.
The quaint white bungalow features hanging string lights and a large porch. If not for the diners noshing on seafood towers and escargot, one could easily mistake it for a family home. But this French eatery serves specialties decidedly more sophisticated than what mom used to make, including a buttery, glossy gray Kaluga caviar that will set you back a cool $150 for 30 grams. Baked brie with Calvados brandy-infused honey and hazelnut vinaigrette, and pesto pasta with crushed pistachios and torn basil, are less of a splurge but equally delicious.

Enjoy the French fare as you dine at marble tables. The bistro’s rustic interior showcases exposed brick, washed wood floors and green plants that climb the walls. And the vino here is just as good as the fromage. Sottise is the sister to Melrose District’s Progress restaurant and wine shop and boasts plenty of wine from around the world, ranging from a citrusy sparkling rosé to an organic gamay with notes of raspberry and plum.

click to enlarge Tia Carmen dining room.
The dining area of Tía Carmen at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is both cozy with elegant.
Tia Carmen

Tia Carmen

5350 E. Marriott Drive
The ambiance of Tia Carmen is intentional in its efforts to honor the Southwest region and Mexico. As you walk through the large wooden doors, you’re greeted by an earthy vibe and elegance. Chef Angelo Sosa wanted to re-create a reminder of his experience with his Aunt Carmen when he first learned food was his love language. The menu is not only a homage to his roots and to indigenous people but also a festival of culinary delights.

Highlights include ember-roasted purple yam, chicken guisado, Baja striped bass, yucca brulee and native grain fried rice. Ingredients are sourced locally, reflecting Sosa’s desire to support the community. The entrees are complemented by craft cocktails, including the gin-based Hibiscus Desert Balloon, a yuzu and bergamot Paloma and Mi Tia, a tropical drink that honors Sosa’s family.
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Treat your sweetheart to a sweet dessert at Tratto.
Allison Young


1505 E. Van Buren St.
The best Italian restaurant in metro Phoenix is Chris Bianco's high-end but rustic trattoria, Tratto. Here, the Bianco team has crafted stunning pastas in shapes such as spaghetti alla chitara and tagliatelle using precise, intelligent local flours suited to the specific noodles at hand. At Tratto, the kitchen can rock out a classic pomodoro or cacio e pepe, sure, but arguably the more bracing, place-rooted gems are those that more completely embrace what Arizona can provide.

Favorites from the rotating menu include the lamb ragu, the al limone (using local lemons) and the pastas entwined with the day's local bounty. Pasta, too, is just one element of Tratto. There are thoughtful starters, such as a chickpea fritter or some of the most unsung crudos in town. The drink program is unique and animated by similar ideas as Bianco's food, leading to a beautiful ride not unlike ripping down an Italian coastal highway. We're talking house-made liqueurs from apex local fruit and some of the most esoteric, incandescent amari Italy has to offer. Talk to your barman, and he will go as deep as you deem necessary.

At Tratto, follow the menu's lead, which is directed by Bianco and the seasons, and you'll be in for a treat. This is a great spot for any kind of dinner and a great place to share soulful food with people you love. Everything is done with the highest intention, right down to the olive oil and bread, which is so good you could eat it until totally stuffed and go home happy.
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Valentine has romance in the name.
Allison Young


4130 N. Seventh Ave.
ts Arizona-centric food and drink creations have brought this cozy and sophisticated Melrose District hot spot recognition from Esquire magazine and The New York Times, the latter of which was enamored with Valentine’s soft pretzel crafted from white Sonoran wheat and served with butter blended with Arizona-grown guinea hen fat and a hunk of local honeycomb. At this restaurant, the spotlight shines on ingredients sourced from the Southwest. Dishes include the lauded elote pasta with Hassayampa asiago cheese. For brunch, try the steak & eggs, made with Rovey Farms grass-fed beef and Two Wash Ranch eggs.

At the adjacent speakeasy Bar 1912, sip on cocktails that pay homage to the 48th state. Bone marrow and mesquite smoke distinguish the Cattle drink, while the Cotton boasts pistachio extract, pistachio oil, pistachio milk and pistachio “cotton candy.” House-made pine liqueur crafted from foraged Arizona pine cones and tips is the base for the Forest. Save room for bar snack, including nuts, foie gras-stuffed olives and quail ramen eggs pickled with tamari, mirin, piloncillo and sherry vinegar.

click to enlarge Elote at Vecina.
Try a fresh take on elote at Vecina. The menu of small plates is perfect for sampling and sharing.
Tirion Boan


3433 N. 56th St.
Vecina, a fiercely original restaurant that opened its heavy front door in Arcadia in 2019, is a gem from start to finish. A one-of-a-kind menu is driven by vegetables, rooted in Latin America and laced with countless dimensions of chile heat. It also drills down to molecular details like few other places in Arizona. For instance, elote, simple street corn, contains some 40 ingredients. Other dishes include unlikely elements, such as a beautifully pepper-centric habanero salsa that gains its creamy X-factor from butter.

When you enter the minimal restaurant with a bar in the middle, you don't expect such a nuanced approach. What you sense when you enter is smoke — grill smoke that perfumes the restaurant from the rig in the kitchen, where mesquite burns and plays a role in almost every dish on the menu. Most of those dishes are small: potatoes with jalapeño crema, Peruvian-style hiramasa ceviche with an unspeakably lush coconut-based sauce, cauliflower crushed by 900-degree heat, a pepper-kissed romaine salad with Mexican Sriracha. Large-format plates go big. They've included a blackened pork chop with dazzling escabeche and, yes, carne asada rib-eye with thick ribbons of mesquite-perfumed fat. The beer list has rare finds, and a five-page wine list has options for every diner and every dish.
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