Whether your goal is to celebrate a special occasion or simply step away from routine, date night most often means dining out. Our picks for the best date night restaurants Atlanta offers boast romantic settings plus menus that skew toward sophisticated flavors with nary a chicken finger in sight.
Extras like live musical entertainment, fireplaces or patios to suit the season, and even private tables offer temptations to linger at these romantic restaurants in Atlanta. Our advice: Warn the babysitter it may be a late night.
Aria, nestled in Buckhead, offers an upscale dining experience. Expect white tablecloths, dim lighting, attentive service, and mouthwatering dishes like duck confit, octopus tempura, braised lamb shank, and jumbo lump crab cake.
The generous wine list presents more than 270 different options, making this one of the most high-class wine bars in the city. More than 1,500 bottles of red and dessert wines are stored in a cellar that’s also home to a secret hideaway: A sole booth in the wine cellar is available for reservations, perfect for couples who seek pampering service in a private space. Dine surrounded by the peaceful quiet of resting wine bottles.
Insider’s Tip: Want a really fun way to enjoy Aria at home and in Buckhead? Check out our “Romance at Home” section below.
10 Degrees South is located in Buckhead but it feels like Johannesburg. Come to experience authentic contemporary South African culture and tastes in a candlelit dining room without jetlag. The menu presents a fusion of French, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, German and Malaysian cuisines in dishes that feature game meats, fresh seafood and seasonal produce flavored with intoxicating spices.
Continue the palate safari with a glass of wine from the extensive list of South African labels. Save room for dessert like Di’s Delight, a moist fruit sponge cake. Acoustic musical performances in the bar help set a romantic mood.
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Bar Margot, located on the mezzanine level of the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta in Midtown, is a funky hangout for grownups. Creative bites and dinner entrées like fresh oysters, crab toast, sweetbreads and frog legs, and kale salad are offered alongside top-notch beverages from coffee to cocktails, shaken and stirred by some of the city’s leading bartenders.
To help set a hearty mood, a deejay spins selections from the vinyl library of nearly 10,000 records by artists in a wide range of styles every Friday and Saturday night from 9 p.m. to Midnight. Depending on time of day, day of week, and who has gathered, the vibe at Bar Margot ranges from relaxed to vibrant but is always enjoyable.
Canoe, set on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Vinings, boasts lush, manicured gardens that are picture-perfect—savor the view and fresh air by dining al fresco at a table on the terrace whenever the weather outside is delightful.
The menu includes modern American cuisine prepared from fresh, seasonal ingredients with options like slow-roasted rabbit, lamb Bolognese, grilled salmon and other delights. Consider starting your date night in the restaurant’s River Bar, sipping your pick among 300 wines.
City Winery Atlanta, in Ponce City Market across from Historic Fourth Ward Park, is a full-function winemaking facility and barrel room that also offers a concert venue, full-service restaurant and bar. Dishes on this menu are globally influenced and made to pair with wine since more than 400 different wines are available by the glass, including some made on site.
A “dinner and a show” date night is simple here since concert tickets automatically include dinner reservations. But if you prefer to skip live performances, you can opt for dining only.
King + Duke is my favorite Ford Fry restaurant, especially for date night. It was named one of the best restaurants of the year by GQ Magazine and Esquire, and rightly so with behemoth 24-foot hearth celebrating the art of fireside cooking.
Select something light, like the scallops in brown butter, or go big with their signature 44 oz tomahawk steak. If you’ve come ready for a true feast, then consider the five-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings at the chef’s table.
Named one of the 20 best Italian restaurants in the US by the New York Post, Sotto Sotto is the go-to restaurant for celebrities, athletes, and even a past President. Chef-owner Riccardo Ullio serves simple, regional food in a lovely, romantic setting within Inman Park.
Start with a selection from the all-Italian extensive wine list and pair that with the smoked burrata. There is so much to love here – the homemade pasta, the risotto, the fish. Do what we do, and order several small plates to share.
Nikolai’s Roof, which sits atop the Hilton Atlanta, boasts world-class dining: It was the first restaurant in the Southeastern U.S. to receive the coveted Four Star Award from AAA, and has held onto the honor for 27 consecutive years (longer than any other restaurant in Atlanta).
The fine dining menu presents modern American cuisine with Russian influences, more than 900 wine options, and signature house-infused vodkas. Swanky sophisticated white-gloved dinner service with panoramic views of the Atlanta skyline is offered Tuesday through Saturday.
The Painted Pin, located on Buckhead’s industrial Miami Circle, is an upscale boutique adults-oriented bowling alley with impressive food and wine menus. Bowling is a classic date night activity, but this place surpasses the average alley: “We have well-rounded, high-quality beverage offerings with depth and breadth you’d expect of a fine dining restaurant,” says proprietor Justin Amick, who also happens to be one of Atlanta’s leading sommeliers.
Every wine on this menu is available by the glass and bottle, with an average of about 20 different labels featured on any given night. High-quality food options include fried oyster sliders, blackened mahi tacos, and prosciutto and pineapple wood-fired pizza, among other temptations.
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Polaris revolves atop the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Atlanta. Alongside its chic retro vibe, the bar and restaurant offers a view that changes throughout the visit since the entire blue dome completes a full rotation every 45 minutes. Every seat in this dining room is a good one, since all tables are near the windows. Bold flavors and creative presentations define these indulgent handcrafted cocktails, small plates and seasonal entrées.
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Red Phone Booth, located downtown Atlanta in the Dailey’s building, is a Prohibition-inspired speakeasy that’s so authentic to history the entry is hidden (inside an easy-to-spot red phone booth on the sidewalk) and a secret code is required for access. The code is so protected that we can’t publish it here, but we can reveal one way to get it: Dine at Amalfi Pizza upstairs and the server can share the code if you ask nicely after the meal.
It’s worth the effort to gain access to Red Phone Booth because the cocktails are top-notch, made to order with impressive details like fresh-squeezed juice, hand-chipped double-reverse osmosis ice, fresh-cut garnishes, and rare spirits. Cocktails are the primary focus, but small plate options include Neapolitan pizza (from the sister restaurant upstairs), fresh seafood, carpaccio, and an array of desserts.
The space has a rich masculine vibe with big leather couches and dark woods. Cigar smokers are welcome to light up; a complex air filtration system is in place to help ensure all visitors can breathe easy.
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Restaurant Eugene is the signature restaurant of James Beard Award-winning Chef Linton Hopkins. Located in Buckhead, it makes our “best of” list thanks to impeccable service, intimate candlelit atmosphere, and luxurious dishes that showcase seasonal ingredients sourced from farmers and producers who the kitchen team knows by name.
The inspired preparations change routinely, with delightful creations like sorghum lacquered quail with chestnut flour gnocchi, glazed Napa cabbage and O’Henry sweet potato. Or kampot-crusted ribeye cooked in its own tallow with puffed tendon, King Richard leek and whipped aligot. Or whatever most tempts your taste buds.
South City Kitchen, in Midtown, feels extra warm and cozy when the weather outside is frightful thanks to its fabulous fireplace, but the Atlanta mainstay is a great date night option year-round. The menu offers sophisticated preparations of Southern favorites like she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes, Carolina trout, shrimp and Geechee Boy grits, pulled pork and other delights.
Plentiful drink options and attentive service also help make dinner here feel like a special treat. (Note that the restaurant is located inside a 1920s bungalow that’s not wheelchair accessible.)
Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, on the ground floor of the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, showcases contemporary Southern cuisine from James Beard Award-winning celebrity Chef Art Smith. Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef opened this Atlanta date night destination in 2011.
The Georgia native’s menu showcases Southern classics like chicken and dumplings, shrimp and grits, Carolina gold rice risotto, bourbon-glazed pork shank, 12-layer red velvet cake and more. The stylish Bourbon Bar serves more than 70 distinct bourbons plus an array of cocktails from every era including pre-Prohibition classics.
PS. This inspire you to take a road trip? Consider this Bourbon adventure.
The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View, spins atop The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta, the city’s fifth tallest building. The tri-level dining room and cocktail lounge, which was the site of Burt Reynolds’ 1981 movie Sharkey’s Machine, is a place to sit and gaze out at Atlanta while listening to mellow live jazz performances that entertain without interrupting conversation.
Sip a cool cocktail or bite into a delicious dish like vanilla butter poached prawns, sautéed duck, confit pork belly, herb-roasted lamb chops, bone-in ribeye and more. Save room for dessert like crème brulée.
Two Urban Licks, in Poncey-Highland, combines dinner and a show with its knockout menu of fiery American cooking and live musical entertainment. Among the vast array of mouthwatering dishes on this menu are several featuring smoked meats and shellfish. What’s more, you can feel like thieves, “stealing” wine from the first-ever barrel tower of wine—a perfect date night experience to share with the one who stole your heart.
Blues performers take the stage every Tuesday through Saturday night from 8 p.m. to Midnight while radios blare on Sundays and Mondays. Note that the volume and energy of this place is ramped up, so come to enjoy foot-tapping togetherness rather than hushed intimate conversation.
Vino Venue, in Dunwoody, endures as one of our date night faves. Whether you’re heading in for a few samples of fine, a dinner or a full-on cooking class, you just can’t go wrong.
Think of your visit as more of a Date Night Experience than a low-key romantic dinner when you tackle the self-service wine tasting area. Want to continue the occasion at home? Vino Venue is home to about 200 different bottles of wine. Bring home a bottle to enjoy between this visit and the next.
Romance At Home
If you’re looking to add a little romance, but can’t make it to one of these above-mentioned exclusive destinations… try something new and different with Atlanta’s newest cookbook Fearless Innovation, written by Chef Taria Camerino.
The cookbook is 285 gorgeous page with 50 food and drink recipes from Atlanta’s best chefs. The recipes are not too difficult if you put your mind to it…but more lavish than the ones you’d find hiding on your grandma’s bookshelf.
While you’re waiting for dinner to cook and you’re sipping on a glass of wine, check out the front portion of the book where Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado tells the story of Atlanta’s history and how its people, food and restaurant scene impacted the American civil rights movement to helped dismantle and overcome Jim Crow laws. How? With the belief that people, regardless of race, should be encouraged to simply share a seat at the table.
Back to date night….Dan and I explored the cookbook by making Gerry Klaskala’s Zinfandel Short Ribs. Chef Klaskala has made a name for himself around the country, and certainly in Atlanta over the last three decades as the owner of both Canoe and Aria.
Pine Street Market is our go-to butcher, but we had to head to Patton’s Meat Market in John’s Creek to get the ideal beef short ribs for this recipe. With all the ingredients secured, including two bottles of Zinfandel for the dish (+ 1 for sipping) we made the preparations as well as the noshing our fun date evening.
Even better – we followed the at-home version up with a visit to Aria for a taste of Chef Gerry’s “in-real-life” version. I have no words – both were sensational but nothing can beat actually sitting down with wine and candlelight at Aria.
With recipes from Chef Gerry plus 29 other Atlanta stars, you can’t go wrong trying any of the recipes in Fearless Innovation.
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Thank you to the Atlanta CVB for hosting us at Aria and treating us to a copy of Fearless Innovation. Opinions here are our own – always. And Aria is ALWAYS a good idea!
This post was originally written by Hope Philbrick in 2018, but has been updated significantly since its original publication.