Best Casual Date-Night Spots

Yes to candlelit hidden gems, no to live mariachi bands

If you're looking for a place to take that (maybe kinda) special someone this Valentine's Day, these 12 casual date-night joints have everything you need: ambiance, cuisine and, of course, plenty of cocktails.

① The Smile (New York)

This East Village darling is cozy and relaxed, creating the perfect ambiance for an intimate yet not-too-intimate meal. And the fresh and seasonal dishes will—dare we say—put a smile on your face.

② Foreign Cinema (San Francisco)

Located in the heart of the Mission, this date-night go-to's warm, playful atmosphere solidifies its standing at SF's best. Guests can choose from a variety of rooms spread throughout the airy space, including one section that screens films while you dine.

③ Sitka & Spruce (Seattle)

Tucked away inside a busy food and retail market on Capitol Hill, this gem simply feels like home. The rustic atmosphere is just as beautiful as the plating, and the menu changes often, so you can always look forward to trying something new. 

④ Tusk (Portland, Oregon)

With beautiful decoration, well-crafted cocktails and flavorful dishes, this PDX mainstay truly is the whole package. Take the stress out of ordering by opting for the Magic Carpet Ride, a chef-selected menu that also allows you to spend more time getting to know your hot date.

⑤ Cane & Table (New Orleans)

If you and your date are on mission to find creative and delicious cocktails, the French Quarter's Cane & Table should be at the top of your list. Not only does the beverage program deliver, the charming layout is made even more appealing with an outdoor courtyard, complete with sunny patio seating.

⑥ Lolita (Portland, Maine)

This Maine original proves that great things do, in fact, come in small packages. The atmosphere is lively but not crowded, and the aesthetic is modern with a hip, rustic twist. It's ideal for the casual date night, since drinks and snacks are available in addition to full dinner service.

⑦ Butchertown Hall (Nashville)

Texas meets Bavaria in this trendy Germantown restaurant. The decor is clean and beautiful with high ceilings and a mossy rock wall that separates the stylish bar from the dining room. Enjoy dishes like brook trout a la plancha and pork shank osso buco cooked on a wood-fired grill.

⑧ The Dabney (Washington, D.C.)

From the cocktails to the cuisine, this sunlit café has the recipe for a successful date night. The vibe is somehow both classic and contemporary, which complements the overall experience.

⑨ Boeufhaus (Chicago)

If you and your somewhat significant other are in the mood for a great steak, then you've come to the right place. This celebrated neighborhood joint serves farm-to-table fare and quality vino in a chatty, comfortable setting.

⑩ Tabaré (Brooklyn, New York)

The exposed brick and dark lighting sets a romantic tone in this popular Williamsburg bistro. Inside, regulars feast on a host of Uruguayan dishes, including empanadas, churrasco and a grass-fed filet mignon sandwich called the chivito completo.

⑪ Alden & Harlow (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

This happening Boston-area resto is exceptionally suited for a low-key date night. Unique cocktails and dishes flood the menu, but leave room for this smoked chocolate bread pudding.

⑫ Little Beast Restaurant (Los Angeles)

Quaint and homey, this cottage-like outpost almost feels like staying in for the night—except for the added benefit of not having to cook. Standout dishes include crispy pork belly, and roast mushroom and black truffle risotto.