From Zoom dates to to-go cocktails and make-at-home meal kits, the concept of date night has certainly evolved over the past year and a half. Happily, for those who prefer a more traditional concept of a romantic evening, booking a table (or picking up takeout) has gotten a whole lot easier.
Whether you’re seated in a candle-lit streatery, easing back into your favorite steakhouse booth, or dialing up for delivery at a much-missed haunt, there are all sorts of ways to support local restaurants, and more importantly, keep the romance alive (aka skip stove time in favor of sharing a meal made by the pros).
In the market for cozy Japanese bar bites? Maybe comforting fare served with a side of live music? Or perhaps seaside seafood and tiki cocktails? Here’s a look at the most romantic restaurants in Philadelphia and New Jersey to raise a glass and share a meal with that special someone.
Izakaya by Yanaga (Fishtown)
Over the past decade, chef Kevin Yanaga has made a name for himself in Philadelphia’s sushi scene. His latest venture is an intimate Fishtown sushi bar and izakaya that marries classic Japanese ingredients with a fun fusion flare — think soft shell crab bao and maitake maki with yakitori sauce.
Dining at the restaurant: Grab a seat at the dimly lit bar and get ready for an intimate evening filled with creative cocktails and sake flights paired with Yanaga’s unique spin on Japanese fare.
Takeout: For those looking to enjoy the izakaya experience from the comfort of their own homes, Yanaga’s full menu is available for takeout and delivery.
Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Valentine’s Sushi Class by Chef Kevin Yanaga. Book by heading to the Experiences section here.
SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club (Spring Garden)
Philadelphia’s premier destination for live jazz and Southern-inspired eats makes for an absolutely ideal date night. South welcomes a roster of local and national artists to perform in its warm dining room, while the kitchen turns out inspired takes on classics including hot honey drizzled fried chicken, shrimp over locally milled grits, and vegetarian gumbo.
Dining at the restaurant: South is open from Thursday to Sunday with live events each night, with both ticketed and non-ticketed events. A full calendar of events can be found on its website.
Takeout: Comforting plates such as mac and cheese, cornbread, and slow-roasted turkey wings are offered for takeout and delivery from Thursday through Sunday.
Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: A Very SOUTHern Valentine’s Day Dinner. Book the Experience here.
SouthGate (Graduate Hospital)
Named for one of the ancient gates of the Fortress Wall of Seoul, this Korean-American gastropub is a cozy Graduate Hospital corner perfect for sharing small plates and cocktails. A selection of fruit-infused sojus offers couples a chance to sample everything from easy drinking plum and strawberry flavors to a house-made chile variety. With drinking snacks from Korean fried chicken and kimchi fries to large-format offerings including bossam, SouthGate’s menu is made for sharing with your SO.
Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining is offered at SouthGate, and diners can choose to order off the menu — or make date night especially easy with a fun $40 prix fixe for two that includes banchan, wings, and a choice of two entrees.
Takeout: From Korean tacos to bulgogi burgers and kimchi-dressed Brussels sprouts, SouthGate’s full menu is available for takeout or delivery.
With Rittenhouse Square views and a timeless brasserie menu, there’s a reason that Parc is always packed with couples enjoying a little piece of Paris in Philadelphia. Whether it’s a third date or a notable anniversary, the perfect way to kick off a meal at Parc is with a bottle of bubbly and an impressive seafood plateau. Don’t miss out on dessert — the pastry team here is world-class.
Dining at the restaurant: In addition to Parc’s already expansive indoor-outdoor seating set-up, the restaurant has added additional heated dining alcoves stretching down Locust Street.
Takeout: Parc is open daily, and those looking to dig into bistro favorites such as steak frites and French onion soup can opt for pickup or delivery.
The Victor Cafe (East Passyunk)
Forget dinner and a movie — Victor Cafe offers date night with live opera performances. Servers at this longtime South Philadelphia favorite set down plates of veal saltimbocca and chicken piccata before bursting into Verdi and Puccini every 15 minutes throughout the evening.
Dining at the restaurant: Indoor and outdoor dining options are available at Victor Cafe, and, weather permitting, the singing servers serenade both in the dining room and for those seated on the sidewalk.
Takeout: While the Victor Cafe experience might not be complete minus the singing staff, the restaurant’s Italian menu travels well for takeout.
Fork (Old City)
Fork has been Philadelphia’s big-deal date-night reservation since 1997. It’s no surprise that this Old City institution has been the site of countless proposals — the dining room is effortlessly romantic, the service is spot on, and the new American kitchen is always evolving and innovating.
Dining at the restaurant: Comfortable indoor and outdoor seats are open for diners to enjoy a creative, seasonally inspired menu. The lineup currently includes a cassoulet with duck breast, sausage and kimchi, monkfish with fall vegetables, and a brown butter miso apple tart.
Takeout: Takeout and delivery are on offer for those looking to replicate the Fork experience at home.
Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Valentine’s Day Menu. Book the Experience here.
The Frog and the Peach (New Brunswick, NJ)
New Brunswick’s The Frog and the Peach might come from humble beginnings — the space was a newspaper press and a luggage manufacturer — but since 1983, the Dennis Street building has been transformed into a gorgeous place for brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks. The most romantic seats in the house are located in the Garden Room, a light-filled greenhouse space featuring tropical foliage.
Dining at the restaurant: The Frog and The Peach’s new American menu is on offer in the restaurant’s heated outdoor seating areas as well indoors and in several private dining rooms.
Takeout: Putting together an intimate evening for two is easy when The Frog and the Peach offers its full menu for takeout. Choose a few starters, such as roasted bone marrow with mushroom confit and house-smoked salmon, and split a Long Island duck breast with sweet potato boulanger.
Experiences: Check out the special experiences available at this restaurant: Seasonal 3 Course Valentine’s Day Menu. Book the Experience here.
Elysian Cafe (Hoboken, NJ)
This warm leather- and wood-appointed bar and bistro in Hoboken is rich with romantic history. It’s the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the city and has housed everything from a salon to a Prohibition era ice cream parlor. These days, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus lean French with frisée salads, croque madame, and moules frites.
Dining at the restaurant: Diners are welcomed into Elysian Cafe’s storied dining room to take in the restaurant’s 126-year history complete with a hand-carved bar and stunning ceiling molding.
Takeout: Hearty plates such as poutine, steak au poivre, and short rib macaroni au gratin can be picked up or delivered.
Bonney Read (Asbury Park, NJ)
Candlelit dinners might be the go-to when thinking about a romantic night out, but sometimes a raw bar meal right by the beach and a couple of rum cocktails is just the thing. This breezy Asbury Park spot is the place to dig into a hands-on feast of peel n’ eat shrimp, a kettle of snow crab legs, and a flight of Caribbean rums.
Dining at the restaurant: Sustainably sourced seafood, cold beers, and tiki-inspired drinks can be enjoyed in The Bonney Read’s Cookman Avenue dining room or on the restaurant’s outdoor patio.
Takeout: A luxe lineup of takeout can be ordered online, including special occasion add-ons like caviar service and lobster cocktail.
Adega Grill (Newark, NJ)
Inspired by the wine cellars of Portugal, this Newark restaurant is decked out with stone walls, roaring fireplaces, and no shortage of flickering candles and fine wine. Spanish and Portuguese plates are served with complementary wines from the Iberian Peninsula.
Dining at the restaurant: Reserve a seat at the bar or grill and get ready for flaming Portuguese chorizo served tableside and plenty of seafood offerings such as clams in garlic and cilantro broth and grilled octopus.
Takeout: The full menu is available for pick-up.
Steak 38 (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Those looking for a truly old-school night out will be thrilled to discover this hidden steakhouse gem in South Jersey. Seasoned servers shake up frosty martinis while the kitchen turns out pitch-perfect takes on timeless favorites such as oysters Rockefeller, shrimp cocktail, and prime rib.
Dining at the restaurant: Steak 38’s dining room is open and ready to introduce diners to the retro joys of tableside Caesar salad and flaming bananas foster.
Takeout: The full steakhouse experience is available to pick up.
Il Capriccio (Whippany, NJ)
North Jersey’s special-occasion Italian destination is a family affair. Within the restaurant’s Venetian dining room, diners can sample well-executed Italian-American dishes made with a combination of thoughtfully sourced imported ingredients alongside produce grown in the chef’s garden. Couples looking to splash out can opt for New York strip Piemontese, tagliatelle with lobster, and wild-caught shrimp scampi.
Dining at the restaurant: Il Capriccio is offering seating in a dining room outfitted with white tablecloths, Italian antiques, flocked wallpaper, and plush upholstered furniture.
Takeout: Il Capriccio is not currently offering delivery, but the full menu can be ordered for curbside pickup.