Everyone’s got an opinion about which are Orlando’s most romantic restaurants. Believe me, Orlando has no shortage of options. There are literally hundreds of restaurants in Orlando.
Many of our local publications host reader-selected restaurant awards and ‘best of’ lists that give top marks to the best date night spots. And, after years of research, we’ve discovered quite the assortment of romantic locales worthy of inclusion in your date night rotation.
So, to help you sift through all those winners and to better aid you in your quest to have a perfect romantic evening, here’s a summary of top picks categorized by accolades and ambiance. Enjoy!
**Updated February 2021**
ORLANDO DATE NIGHT AWARD WINNERS
According to voters in our 8th Annual Orlando Date Night Awards, the best Orlando restaurants for couples are:
Orlando Weekly‘s annual Best of Orlando Reader’s Poll compiles the best of the City Beautiful in multiple categories. In the Food & Drink category, the following restaurants were voted by readers as the Best Restaurant for a Date in 2020:
The Orlando Magazine Dining Awards, which use reader votes to tabulate winners in dozens of categories, found these three restaurants to be Orlando’s most romantic in 2020:
COZY COURTYARDS AND PATIOS
This romantic eatery boasts an eclectic atmosphere, a charming shaded patio, live music on the weekends and a fun menu. The restaurant also serves as a neighborhood hot spot as a regular stop on the monthly Thornton Park Wine Walk (a date night must-do).
This neighborhood eatery in Winter Park has a fully enclosed patio dining area with skylights, plus a spacious dining room, bar, and pool table. Find it inside of the Hidden Garden, one of Winter Park’s charming courtyards off of Park Avenue. Feast on charcuterie, upgraded burgers, flatbreads and American fusion dishes while sipping signature cocktails and craft beer.
This relative newcomer to Historic Downtown Sanford specializes in delectable cuisine and top-notch cocktails, all served up in the former home of Sanford’s Old Jailhouse. And, for an added dose of magic, the restaurant boasts a secluded outdoor dining space complete with string lights.
Located just steps away from Lake Eola, Soco specializes in Southern fare and boats one of the best patio spaces in Orlando. Chef Greg Richie is the force behind the creative and contemporary menu dotted with appetizing dishes like chicken-fried cauliflower “steak” and slow-roasted barbecue-glazed pork belly biscuits.
Check out our Outdoor Dining Guide: 75+ Places to Eat Outside in Orlando for tons more ideas.
TABLES WITH A VIEW
WATERFRONT DINING + SUNSET WATCHING
At Disney Springs, The Boathouse serves date-worthy seafood fare best enjoyed at tables overlooking the water. Complete your experience with a ride around the lake in one of the iconic amphicars.
Want a glorious sunset as the backdrop to your meal? Wall to wall windows and an outdoor lounge area provide front row seats to gorgeous waterfront views (especially during sunset) at Canvas in Lake Nona. Feast on New American fare with Latin flare crafted by Executive Chef Bryan Thoman.
Here are a few more of our go-to sunset watching spots:
Get more ideas in our guide to the 10 best places to dine with sunset views.
Certain restaurants are just as famous for their top-notch cuisine as they are for their sweeping tableside views.
California Grill is located on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, providing an aerial view of Disney World and, most notably, the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks. Arrive at sunset for a romantic meal, and then return later to watch the fireworks show from the outdoor deck. FYI: You’ll definitely need a reservation to dine here.
Another favorite, the rooftop deck of Paddlefish at Disney Springs is spectacular no matter the time of day. Clink wine glasses as the sun dips below the horizon, listen to live music, or arrive after dark to indulge in the special late night rooftop menu.
SMALL TOWN VIBE
Escape the high rise buildings and head to one of Orlando’s charming towns, each boasting quaint and unfussy downtown districts filled with romantic restaurants for date night. Here are a few of our favorites:
Chef Hari has received multiple James Beard nominations for his global-inspired restaurants with an emphasis on local & sustainable ingredients. Taste for yourself by booking dinner reservations at his DeLand eatery, Cress.
This romantic eatery is located in the heart of charming Downtown Winter Garden. Chef Ryan Freelove serves Modern American cuisine with a relentless dedication to local and seasonal.
While the space may be casual, the Southern fusion fare created by Nat Russell (Best Chef in Sanford 2018) is off the charts at this restaurant in Historic Downtown Sanford.
It doesn’t get much better than 1921 Mount Dora’s Florida-inspired cuisine in a 1921 building filled with modern art.
Also located in Mount Dora, Goblin Market is a beloved local bistro with a secluded courtyard and three intimate, book-lined dining rooms.
This swanky downtown steakhouse features incredible service, premium steaks (I get the filet mignon every time), fabulous cocktails and the ideal atmosphere for celebrating an anniversary, holiday, engagement, or an over-the-top first date. Cozy booths invite you to linger over your meal and draw out the dining experience for as long as possible.
Other high-end steakhouses include Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster (a staple of the Orlando area for 25+ years), and Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Read our guide to Romantic Steakhouses for a Swanky Night Out for more ideas.
This cozy European wine bar and eatery in Hannibal Square is one of my favorite restaurants in Orlando. The space features local art on the walls and romantic ambiance. Shareable scratch-made entrees and European wines round out the menu, with live music Thursday nights setting the ultimate date night mood.
With so many restaurants in Orlando to discover, I don’t often return to most for repeat visits. But DoveCote is a restaurant I return to time and again. The artful interior, impeccable service, inspired cocktail menu, and upscale French-inspired fare never cease to impress. Favorite entrees include the breaded pork cutlet and lemon thyme chicken. It’s also one of my go-to spots for a relaxed brunch.
Moody, romantic, and a little bit racy, Better Than Sex lives up to the hype. The menu is comprised exclusively of over-the-top desserts best paired with a chocolate-dipped glass of wine.
When it comes to hotel dining, the farm-to-table fare at Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is in a league of its own. For something out of the ordinary, book a seat at the cocktail table, the restaurant’s unique chef’s table experience for cocktails.
Forget about your first date nerves as you order an assortment of shareable plates from this hip and romantic tapas style restaurant. If you’re not quite ready to end the evening, take a walk to Better Than Sex for your dessert course, or marvel at the city skyline over cocktails on the rooftop at M Lounge.
If you want to switch up the usual dinner and a movie first date idea, Eden Bar and Enzian Theater are guaranteed to impress your date. Dine underneath gigantic live oak trees strung with twinkling lights as you sip movie-inspired cocktails paired with fresh entrees. You can also dine inside the theater, but I’m partial to the unbeatable ambiance the outdoor restaurant and bar provides. Plus, it will give you more time to get to know one another.
Located on Park Avenue, The Parkview is an underrated gem for date night. Rows of boutique wine bottles line the walls indoors, while several tables out front provide the opportune place to gaze at Central Park. Items on the menu are made from scratch utilizing local ingredients whenever possible, and there’s an extensive wine list. Impress your date by taking him or her here for a date at one of Park Avenue’s more off the radar wine bars.
- The Ravenous Pig
- The Glass Knife (try to snag a seat at the date night booth!)
- Tori Tori
- Bem Bom on Corrine
Need more inspiration for planning a first date? Here are our reader’s picks for 50 First Dates in Orlando.
Looking for a more intimate setting or a spot for a rehearsal dinner or engagement celebration? A private table or dining room fits the bill. Here are a few of our favorites.
Feature image credit: Canvas Restaurant & Market