The city’s restaurant scene proves that Philadelphia really is the City of Brotherly Love, especially around Valentine’s Day. Travel our streets and you’re bound to find enchanting candle-lit bistros and intimate cafes around every corner. Here are five of Philadelphia’s most romantic dining spots to share with your sweetie.
Lunch Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Brunch Hours: Sat-Sun 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Sun 5 p.m.–10 p.m.; Mon-Thurs 5 p.m.–10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 5 p.m.- midnight
Tapas have become the “It” cuisine lately, but at this romantic hot spot, Jose Garces’ (of “Iron Chef” fame) tapas are as authentic as can be. And since tapas are made for sharing, get ready to get intimate. Popular dishes at Amada include the pulpo a la gallega (Spanish octopus) and albondigas (lamb meatballs). Share a pitcher of sangria and enjoy each plate as they come out–each better than the last. And for an impressive bit of trivia, tell your date that amada means beloved.
Hours: Tues–Sat 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m.
Read any reviews on Fond and you’ll notice a trend: “Awesome little BYOB in South Philly!” Those reviewers are on to something, because this place is little and it is awesome. For a romantic dinner, you can’t go wrong with Fond’s intimate atmosphere. In fact, Philadelphia magazine voted it Best Restaurant for a First Date in 2011. Maybe it’s the amazing pork belly entree or the sublime malted-milk milkshake with peanut brittle, chocolate crumble and peanut butter ganache. Or perhaps it’s even the members of the wait staff, who are professional but never annoying. But there’s something that makes Fond so awesome, and you’ll just have to find out what it is for yourself.
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Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Filled with fresh flowers and leafy plants, a healthy dose of wrought iron and soft lighting, this American bistro near Logan Square is reminiscent of New Orleans. Add in the jambalaya and spicy Louisiana barbecue shrimp, and you and your date might feel like you’ve been transported to the Big Easy. But this is not the raucous Mardis Gras Big Easy, but that of the gentler Tennessee Williams era. In fact, this charming cafe got its moniker from Mr. Williams’ play of the same name. Check the website; Rose Tattoo Cafe offers special menus for Valentine’s Day.
Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sun 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Friday Saturday Sunday has been a Rittenhouse Square mainstay for almost 40 years, enchanting scores of lovers with its cozy, hushed upstairs dining area and romantic lighting. Fans clamor for the luscious cream of mushroom soup (with local Kennett Square ‘shrooms) and butternut squash ravioli and wouldn’t think of leaving without the creme brulee. One of Friday Saturday Sunday’s best attributes though, is the fact that it only marks up its wine ten dollars (in some restaurants, wine mark-ups can be as much as 200 percent!). Your date will be impressed that you’re not only romantic, you’re sensible, too.
Hours: Mon-Sat 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sun Closed
“Possibly the best Italian restaurant on the East Coast,” raved Mario Batali. Yes, that Mario Batali. At this 35-seater in Washington Square, you can’t help but feel the intimacy, and you might as well get comfortable, because you’re going to be there a while. But that’s a good thing, as Zagat deems Vetri the “Best Philadelphia Transporting Experience.” Presently, Chef Marc Vetri’s tasting menu is the only dining option, and it’s an experience you won’t forget. The spinach gnocchi melts in your mouth, the sweet onion crepe with white truffle is delicious and sensuous, and the apple fritters with maple gelato have inspired many food critics to wax poetic. Settle in to this comfortable, elegant dining room and prepare to be transported.
Note: Most restaurants have Valentine’s Day specials; be sure to call or check their websites before the big day. You don’t want to disappoint, so make sure you make your reservations for Valentine’s Day (and the weekends surrounding it) early.
Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.