The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Romantic Restaurants

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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.
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.

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.

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Photo by Mai Pham
Crab cakes garnished with edible flowers at The Capitol.
10. The Capitol at St. Germain

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.


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Heavy red ropes as decor bring a rich vibe to Sushi Raku.
9. 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.


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Photo courtesy of Mockingbird Bistro
8. 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.


Location Info

Sushi Raku - CLOSED

3201 Louisiana, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mockingbird Bistro Wine Bar

1985 Welch St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Just Dinner

1915 Dunlavy, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Antica Osteria

2311 Bissonnet, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Feast - CLOSED

219 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Brenner's on the Bayou

1 Birdsall St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Rabelais

2442 Times Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rainbow Lodge

2011 Ella Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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16 comments
Tomball mom
Tomball mom

I would have put Lynn's steakhouse on the list...but admit I haven't been there for a few years. Is it still good, with great personalized service?

AtaboyLuther
AtaboyLuther

RDG and of course, Zorro's Buffet on the Southwest Freeway.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Ristorante Cavour in the Hotel Granduca is on the formal side, but very romantic and rustic -- transports you to somewhere in Italy with its plush jacquard cushions, dramatic window treatments and draping, wood panelling, old-world European decor. The restaurant itself is small and intimate, they have excellent in-house sommelier and wine list. Just had my first dinner there last week as a pre-Valentine's and it couldn't have been more romantic! If the weather is good, you can go out on the patio by the lit pool and order dessert or get drinks by candlelight, too.  The current chef, Renato de Pirro, was invited to cook at the James Beard House in 2011, one of only 2 chefs in Houston!

ostiones
ostiones

Your parents married 21 years ago.  You ARE the worlds youngest restaurant critic.

Chiknkitchn
Chiknkitchn

Pictured is the Old Rainbow Lodge, right?  What does the new one look like?

Pm
Pm

Solid list, but it feels incomplete without Mark's.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Wow, a list I'm actually in complete agreement with.  I might have added Baba Yega's, but that is more of a daylight type of place.

Diageoloc
Diageoloc

 Well, yeah. And there's a bedroom just upstairs.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Long story short: My mother and stepfather married 21 years ago. And since I was lucky enough to have both an awesome dad and an awesome stepfather for most of my 31 years, I refer to all three of them interchangeably as my parents.

gadfly
gadfly

That is the new one.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 The pic that says Brenner's is the old one.  The new Rainbow Lodge is pictured that says Rainbow Lodge.

Wyatt
Wyatt

 I haven't been to Baba Yega in a couple years. At some point did it get romantic?

Fiddlesticks
Fiddlesticks

At no point has it ever been romantic. Quaint, maybe, romantic, no.

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