The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Romantic Restaurants
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
Photo courtesy of The Rainbow Lodge A fireside table at our No. 1 pick. See more restaurants that almost made the cut in our romantic restaurants slideshow.
Most people have their own, definite and occasionally unique ideas of what is "romantic." For example, an old friend of mine once tried to woo a girl by making her lasagna in his home to the sounds of the most romantic music he could think of: the soundtrack to Gladiator. (Long story short, they ended up dating for years.)
That applies to me, as well. I have my own ideas of what's romantic in a restaurant: quirky or eccentric spaces that encourage cozy dining and long stretches of time spent at a table over excellent food and wine. These other 16 restaurants just narrowly missed making the cut -- that's how many gorgeous dining rooms we have in this city. Your mileage, as always, may vary -- and we want to hear about your own favorite Houston restaurants for romance in the comments section below.
10. The Capitol at St. Germain
Photo by Mai Pham Crab cakes garnished with edible flowers at The Capitol.
It's evident from the moment that you walk into The Capitol at St. Germain that it's no mere restaurant. Its dual bars, private lounge and main stage replete with red velvet curtains signal a modern supper club, the type that hosts intimate jazz bands during the week and full shows on the weekends. But there's nothing stuffy about this swanky downtown supper club, which offers playful and well-constructed dishes on its full menu, such as a foie gras trio called Menage à Foie and wickedly strong gin martinis.
9. Sushi Raku
Heavy red ropes as decor bring a rich vibe to Sushi Raku.
This popular Midtown spot beckons with its blue-light-wrapped trees planted along the sidewalk outside the glass-walled entrance. Inside, attention to aesthetics extends to the artwork and exquisitely composed plates of sushi and sashimi. Well-dressed patrons fill the restaurant during happy hour, almost contributing to the artful décor and the sense that you're dining in a Los Angeles hot spot. Extensive offerings of sushi rolls and nigiri are complemented by grilled items and cold and hot sides. A full bar offers specialty cocktails, beer and wine, and a special chef's menu features seafood flown in daily from Tokyo.
8. Mockingbird Bistro
Photo courtesy of Mockingbird Bistro
This is a perfect place to enjoy a big fat steak with frites and an earthy Rhône red wine, or simply an amazingly rich Kobe hamburger and a cold beer. The American-Mediterranean menu from Chef John Sheely and his right-hand man, Jose-Luis Vela, doesn't try to wow you with cleverness, but the quality of the ingredients elevates the simple dishes to unexpected heights. The medieval decor is a welcome breath of funkiness that keeps the restaurant from being too stuffy, and the newly extended bar -- all done in the same elegant mahogany as the original -- has a revamped cocktail menu and an allure that makes you want to stay put all night long.