According to some, love is a battlefield, the drug, and blindness. But when it comes to dining out, one thing it shouldn't be is all-the-time expensive. That's why we've come up with a list of 10 favorite casual romantic restaurants that go easy on the wallet (between around $15 and $40 a person), serve up fantastic and sometimes unique fare, and still pay off in the sentimental surroundings department. Now get out there and get your sweet on.
Originally the first post office in Chandler in 1926, this cozy wine bar and eatery comes courtesy of Gavin Jacobs, a former bartender and manager at House of Tricks in Tempe. With its lounge-worthy patio and intimate interior featuring low lights, roomy leather chairs, and a flickering fire, it's easy to get familiar with a new friend over a bottle of wine and a tasty dish (bruschetta, perhaps?) from an affordable menu of contemporary American classics.
Sunnyslope's lounge-ready wine bar features stellar Spanish-style tapas, bruschetta, Napoletana flatbreads, and other Italian-inspired dishes enjoyed in a relaxed and intimate indoor setting or on a sprawling, flora-filled patio. With a wood-fired oven the only means of cooking available, it's easy to get romantic with a glass of wine and a golden, crunchy slice of fresh baked bread while igniting the flames of a different kind -- if you know what we mean.
Don't blame us if this Spanish-style South Mountain mansion built in 1929 is one you and your lover never want to leave. Boasting a barn turned wine bar out back (cue dining under the stars) and a cozy, wood-floored dining area with a stately wooden bar, coved ceiling, and subdued lighting inside, this gem of contemporary American cuisine is impressive enough to justify frequent date nights.
This vibrant eatery in a remodeled brick building in Old Town Scottsdale (with a second location in Buckeye) boasts over 100 imported Italian wines to complement a menu of traditional Italian fare as well as a little amore. Share standout dishes like the Emiliana salad, a cheesy Cinque Formaggi pizza, and the decadent Dolce Cella Casa, a calzone filled with Nutella and banana that comes in two sizes -- big and Colosseum -- for a sweet ending to a delicious date-night dinner.
C'mon, even the name's romantic. As the only Cambodian restaurant in the Valley (maybe even the state), this unassuming hidden gem in Central Phoenix is a deliciously unique experience best shared. Amid deep burgundy walls, wooden-slat benches, and Southeast Asian décor, this authentic Khmer dining experience includes delights such as loat cha (a rice noodle and beef stir fry), bok lahong (shredded green papaya and carrot salad), and baynchaiv (turmeric crepes filled with bean sprouts, shrimp, ground pork, onions, and sweet and sour sauce).
In business for over four decades, this longtime favorite of the Phoenix dining scene in North Phoenix, with a convivial (but inviting) atmosphere, comes courtesy of affable owner George Vassilou. A menu of family recipes features top-notch lightly breaded calamari, pasticio (think Greek lasagna), and a Mt. Olympus-size baklava/cheesecake concoction. Add a selection of Greek beers and nearly two-dozen kinds of ouzo, and you've got yourself a romance, Greek taverna-style.
Yoshio Otomo's sophisticated and sleek restaurant in a tiny storefront in Chandler feels like the Japanese version of a lover's hideaway. Share some sake under dim lights and over dishes like buttery Saikyo black cod, ochazuke rice porridge, or a lively daikon radish salad -- or just hold hands under the stellar sushi bar and watch the magic happen. Don't miss the luscious desserts from Otomo's wife, they're easy to fall in love with, too.
Home is where the heart is, especially if it's a historic 1913 bungalow. Pronounced CHEE-bo ("food" in Italian), this cozy eatery in the Roosevelt Historic District is wonderfully charming, and its comfy-close atmosphere is perfect for couples. Dine indoors amid dim lights on a perfect wood-fired pizza, housemade fresh pasta, or fresh salad, or snag a table outside among the trees and twinkling lights where the two of you can raise a glass to a perfect romantic evening.
Looking to elevate your romantic dining experience? This easygoing second-story neighborhood Mediterranean- and Italian-inspired bistro in Arcadia should do nicely. Share a bowl of stellar white clams de braise then move on to excellent wood-fired pies like the Provence chicken and Tuscan. Of course, the two of you will want to spend lots of time on the inviting patio, drinks in hand, with a view of Camelback Mountain in the distance.
Hidden in the back of the Gaslight Square Plaza in Central Phoenix, chef Cullen Campbell's home of inventive raw seafood, handmade pasta dishes, signature mozzarellas, and wood-grilled fare satisfies on both a romantic and a gastronimical level -- and special prices frequently offered on three-course meals mean affordable deliciousness. A welcoming space features intimate bay-window nooks, wood and fabric, and flickering candles. And if there were ever a cocktail to be loved, it's one made up by Crudo Bar owner Micah Olson.
All our favorites lists also are available on our Best Of app -- see it in action here.
And check out our other lists: 10 Favorite Spots for Crepes in Greater Phoenix 11 Favorite Phoenix Beers 10 Favorite Spots for Seafood in Greater Phoenix 10 Favorite Gelato Spots 10 Favorite Burrito Joints in Metro Phoenix 10 Favorite Spots for Wings in Metro Phoenix 11 Things to Eat and Drink Before You Leave Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Hot Sauces and Salsas Top Ten Spots for Mac 'n' Cheese in the Valley Three Favorite Espresso Shots in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Farmers' Markets Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Eleven Favorite Favorite Places for Sushi in the Valley Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Cupcakes Eleven Favorite Barbecue Joints in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Wine Bars Ten Favorite Phoenix Irish Restaurant & Pubs Six Favorite Specialty Cocktails in Phoenix Ten Favorite Metro Phoenix Craft Beer Bars Ten Favorite Gourmet Pizza Shops in the Valley Five Favorite Japanese Restaurants in Phoenix Ten Favorite Margaritas in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Coffee Shops in Phoenix Five Favorite Thai Restaurants in Metro Phoenix Eleven Favorite Ice Cream Shops in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Phoenix Happy Hours Five Favorite Sonoran Dogs in the Valley Ten Favorite Hot Dogs in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Desserts in Phoenix Ten Favorite First Date Restaurants Ten Favorite Burgers in Greater Phoenix Ten Favorite Downtown Phoenix Restaurants for Late Night Dining Ten Favorite Vegetarian Entrees in Metro Phoenix Ten Favorite Chinese Restaurants in Greater Phoenix
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