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!
Looking for romantic date night ideas? Check out our guide to Orlando’s Most Romantic Experiences! We’ve also got you covered with 50+ Things to do for Valentine’s Day in Orlando.
Updated June 2022 by Dani Meyering
AWARD-WINNING ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS
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 2021:
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 2021:
(Voting for 2022 is underway now through August 1)
Orlando Michelin Guide
And now the Michelin Guide Orlando Restaurants have been announced.
Highlights include one-star rated and Bib Gourmand recipients.
- Capa at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World — One Star
- Knife & Spoon from chef John Tesar inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes — One Star
- Domu at East End Market – Bib Gourmand
- Strand in Mills 50 – Bib Gourmand
- Bombay Street Kitchen on Orange Blossom Trail – Bib Gourmand
COZY COURTYARDS AND PATIOS
This romantic eatery boasts an eclectic atmosphere, a charming shaded patio, live music on the weekends and a fun menu. While there’s a small patio out front, the restaurant also features an ever-evolving covered outdoor patio. Built out of necessity during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, it has since become the talk of the town and a favorite outdoor dining space. 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. You’re sure to feel the romance here.
Step just off Park Avenue in Winter Park and you’ll find this charming Italian eatery serving up fresh pastas, heavenly pizzas, and incredible specials sure to impress your date. Dine al fresco and pretend you’re in Italy, or make reservations to dine inside the intimate dining room. It’s one of our favorite authentic Italian restaurants in the city.
This restaurant in Historic Downtown Sanford specializes in delectable cuisine and top-notch cocktails, all served up in the former home of Sanford’s Old Jailhouse. This place has one of the most interesting interiors anywhere in the Orlando area. And, for an added dose of magic, the restaurant boasts a secluded outdoor dining space complete with string lights.
True, any of The Imperial’s three Central Florida locations is a good choice. But we especially love the cozy covered patio at the Winter Park location where you can enjoy an intimate feast away from the busier wine bar indoors. Sip thoughtfully-curated wines while sharing bites from the small but refined food menu. Get your phone ready for some Instagram-worthy photos with all the unique furnishings.
Check out our consistently updated 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 paired with seasonal cocktails.
We’d be remiss not to mention longtime favorite Enzo’s on the Lake, a charming Italian restaurant in Longwood situated on the shores of Lake Fairy. It’s one of the classics in Central Florida. Arrive early to wander through the romantic outdoor patio and sculpture garden before your meal.
Get more ideas in our guide to the 10 best places to dine with sunset views.
ROMANTIC ROOFTOP RESTAURANTS
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, Bites & Bubbles offers sophisticated fare in a romantic, cozy setting. Treat yourself to everything from caviar to fine cheeses gourmet burgers. Paired with an exceptional wine or craft cocktail, of course. Snuggle up in the main dining room or head upstairs to the open-air rooftop. Recently, the restaurant was recognized as one of the Top 100 Restaurants in America for 2021 by OpenTable, based on diner reviews.
Recently, Eleven at Reunion Resort reopened with a brand new menu and fresh look after undergoing a full renovation. Snag a table outside on this 11th-floor restaurant for romantic sunset views and Disney fireworks sparkling in the distance once the sun goes down.
Notable newcomers include Illume at the new JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek and AC Sky Bar at the AC Hotel Orlando Downtown. Peruse all of our rooftop dining picks in our guide to the Best Rooftop Bars & Restaurants in Orlando.
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 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.
MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS AT DISNEY
Looking to wine and dine your date on Disney property? From the theme parks themselves to Disney Springs and the assortment of Disney resort hotels, there’s no shortage of romantic restaurants to discover.
A few of our top picks include:
- Be Our Guest Restaurant (Magic Kingdom)
- Le Cellier Steakhouse (EPCOT)
- Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant and Lounge (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
- Tiffins (Animal Kingdom)
- Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar (Disney Springs)
- Wine Bar George (Disney Springs)
- Steakhouse 71 (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
- California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort
- Narcoossee’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa)
- Jiko – The Cooking Place (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge)
- Toledo (Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort)
We go more in depth on all of these restaurants plus additional romantic spots in our detailed guide to the The Most Romantic Spots in Walt Disney World.
ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS TO CELEBRATE A SPECIAL OCCASION
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. Surprisingly, it’s also got an impressive vegan menu. 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.
Moody, romantic, and sultry, Better Than Sex lives up to the hype as one of Orlando’s most romantic restaurants. The menu is comprised exclusively of over-the-top desserts best paired with a chocolate-dipped glass of wine.
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. The new Fabio’s Table dining experience (Saturdays) features a 5-course meal paired with wines, all curated by owner Fabio Perricelli.
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.
NEW Restaurant Alert – The ette hotel Orlando just opened and it is right down the road from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Ette stands for earthy. true. timeless. elegant. This exquisite hotel brings a level of sophistication to this part of town that is needed. Couples will love the sumptuous setting, and its restaurant, Salt and the Cellar by Akira Back is incredible.
All food and mocktails are designed to engage all of your senses. Some of the mocktails, for example, have an aromatic mist or smoked presentation that makes the drinks not only delicious but fun to see and smell. Many dishes have artistic tableside presentations, which makes this feel like an experience rather than an ordinary meal.
BEST RESTAURANTS FOR A FIRST DATE
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.
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 al fresco tables overlook Central Park. Items on the menu are made from scratch utilizing local ingredients whenever possible, and there’s an extensive wine list. This is one of our picks for best brunch in Orlando as well.
Need more inspiration for planning a first date? Here are our reader’s picks for 50 First Dates in Orlando. And Tampa Bay has some pretty amazingly romantic date night restaurants, and romantic experiences, too!
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