Though the calendar lists February 14 as the official day to celebrate romance, true love knows no bounds and special date nights are a year-round affair. In the cold, winter months, why not revel in the warmth of sharing a lovely dinner with someone dear to your heart? With that in mind, we’ve found 7 truly romantic restaurants across Texas where you can take your special somebody for a fabulous feast.
1. Brennan’s of Houston
Lovebirds in H-town continue to find Brennan’s of Houston a foolproof choice. Opened in 1967, this outpost of the New Orleans favorite has lost count of the marriage proposals, anniversary dates, and other special dinners staged here.
Unfolding within a 1929 Spanish Colonial–style building in Midtown, settings include an elegant dining room, where a dramatic tableside bananas Foster presentation leaves a lasting impression, and a brick courtyard that glows from the light of vintage gas lamps. Classic dinner choices include signature dishes like grilled oysters, shrimp rémoulade, boudin-stuffed quail, and the don’t-miss gumbo. At the renowned jazz brunch, you can indulge in eggs Benedict and eggs Sardou—on one plate.
Bonus: Request the Terms of Endearment table, made famous by Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine in the namesake movie.
2. Elephant East
If you’re in love with elevated interpretations of Southeast Asian foods, book a cozy table at Elephant East. In Dallas’ buzzy Harwood District, the joyful bistro and lounge seduces diners with its hand-carved wooden elephant panels, bamboo greenery, and tropical flowers.
Chef Thomas Griffin calls on his upbringing in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and Thailand for menu inspirations that include steamed baos stuffed with pork belly, cucumber, pickled shallots, and apple char siu; Singapore noodles with Chinese sausage; and Korean short ribs with sticky rice and kimchi.
Bonus: Order a glass of Austin-based Texas Sake Company’s Junmai sake, full-bodied with melon, anise, and tropical fruit notes (be sure to designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol).
3. Brasserie Mon Chou Chou
San Antonio's Historic Pearl District evokes love for a bygone era, thanks to the meticulously restored 1800s buildings sitting on a quiet reach of the San Antonio River. Within the complex is Brasserie Mon Chou Chou, created by a group of French natives, including chef Laurent Réa.
Feast to your hearts’ content on classics like fresh oysters on the half-shell, duck confit, escargot, mussels and frites, and chunky lobster bisque inside a burnished puff pastry, and you’ll think you’ve been transported to Paris. For dessert, don’t pass up the crème brûlée
Bonus: Mon Chou Chou is an affectionate nickname for someone very special to you; what could be a better place to celebrate love?
4. Ellerbe Fine Foods
Anyone who’s fallen hard for the New Orleans Garden District will find pure romance in Ellerbe Fine Foods, a favorite destination in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood. The renovated 1920s service station exudes a gentility so palpable you can almost smell magnolia blossoms when you walk in. Chef Molly McCook calls on her Louisiana upbringing to craft dishes made with seasonal ingredients she handpicks from local purveyors—meaning the menu can change at a moment’s notice.
Expect to find dishes like black cod with rosemary, capers, and garlic, arranged atop cannellini beans and sautéed mushrooms; or tea-brined Texas quail with sweet potato–jalapeño spoon bread and collard greens with ham hock.
Bonus: Need something special arranged in advance? Ask general manager Cory McBride to have a bottle of champagne waiting for you.
Lutie’s, the restaurant at Austin's Commodore Perry Estate hotel, is named for the estate matriarch, who was known for hosting lavish social gatherings. Everything about the place beams beauty, from the Jazz Age decor—with its velvet furnishings, Murano chandeliers, and profuse greenery—to the food.
The latter comes from the hearts of husband-and-wife duo Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu, executive chef and executive pastry chef, respectively. They’ve channeled their worldwide cooking experiences into dishes like sunchoke falafel with roasted garlic and herbs; whole roasted black sea bass; and chocolate shaved ice with vanilla Chantilly cream. Lutie’s menu changes regularly, based on seasonality and ingredient availability.
You can also sip their extraordinary creativity in specialty cocktails like the Indigo Kick, a blending of vanilla-infused vodka with blackberry-basil shrub, local honey, lemon, and ginger beer.
Bonus: Seal the romantic interlude with an overnight stay in one of the Commodore Perry Estate’s luxury rooms or suites, surrounded by 10 acres right in the city.
If you’re passionate about history, you’ll be enthralled with the magnificently renovated, century-old Hotel Paso del Norte and its many romantic design details. Your dinner destination within is 1700°, an upscale steak house in El Paso with original chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows, and 1920s-inspired interiors fashioned from wood, leather, and marble.
The menu includes a classic seafood tower, smoked tomato bisque, rack of lamb, bison tomahawk steak, black pepper–crusted tuna, a superb wine list, and barrel-aged cocktails.
Consider a glass of champagne before dinner in the renowned Dome Bar, where you’ll sip beneath a spectacular Tiffany-style stained glass dome.
Bonus: Check out the view from the rooftop El Mirador bar before retiring to your posh room for the evening (ask about romantic getaway packages, including dining credits).
7. Perini Ranch Steakhouse
James Beard Award–winning country steak joint Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap makes any occasion feel special—especially if you nab a table beside one of the two roaring fireplaces. Carved from a weathered old family ranch building, this 40-year-old landmark near Abilene draws guests from across the country to enjoy mesquite-grilled bone-in rib eye and mesquite-roasted prime rib, along with smoked pork ribs and the best fried quail legs you’ve ever tasted.
Owners Tom and Lisa Perini treat guests like family, and Lisa is a sommelier who can point you to a special wine. Tom’s grandmother’s strawberry shortcake, incorporating freshly made sugared biscuits, is the finish everyone loves best.
Bonus: Book one of the luxe guest quarters on the ranch property, a perfect spot to share a bottle of wine on the porch.
Food/travel writer and cookbook author June Naylor loves roaming Texas to find the best places to share with her nearest and dearest. She is a frequent contributor to AAA Explorer. Her other articles include:
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