Navigating Valentine’s Day restaurant reservations can be tricky, after all many of the standby romantic places in New York City like Gramercy Tavern and Butter have all been booked up, or cost more money than you feel like spending. Rest assured, plenty of restaurants in the city still say “love is in the air” without such a crowd, and some of them even keep romance on the more affordable side.
At this small, intimate Williamsburg restaurant that just happens to be in a Kullman car from the 1920s, you can’t help but to have a romantic meal — no matter the day. There’s just something about the low-slung ceiling, sensual lighting and film noir feel that says discreet romance. The local, seasonal menu changes daily, so the Valentine’s Day menu isn’t set in stone, but past menus have included roasted beets with fried quinoa and pickled cayenne, rabbit confit, filet of red snapper with lentils and horseradish, and ricotta cake with pear butter. Always available is the restaurant’s scrumptious burger, and to many, that paired with a strong beer or juicy glass of red is the perfect date combo. No reservations. 85 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-486-3077, dinernyc.com
What’s more romantic than taking in the twinkling lights of NYC with your sweetheart? Not much, yet many people forget about this revolving Midtown eatery. After all, it’s easy to overlook this restaurant — it literally towers above the rest. Located on top of the New York Marriott Marquis, this high-end restaurant offers a visage of the city from every angle, all while you dine on a three-course prix fixe of contemporary American cuisine. Dinner items include seasonal specialties such as parsnip bisque with white miso and honeyed chestnut crema, crab cakes with mustard fruit relish, wild boar chops with cauliflower risotto, and burnt caramel pudding. Reservations recommended. 1535 Broadway, 47th and 48th floors, 212-704-8900, theviewnyc.com
With large, comfy booths, superb service and delectable Spanish fare, this Gramercy restaurant has all the fixings for a date night out. Yet, due perhaps to its lack of more traditional trappings like exposed brick walls or dripping candles, it’s not often thought of as “romantic.” The good news is that reservations should be easier to come by on Feb. 14. Wow your sweetie by ordering a sherry tasting to match a range of small plates — traditional chicken, pork belly and beef croquettes with mint aioli, and steamed brioche buns stuffed with pulled oxtail, mushrooms and kale. Or go for the entrée-sized seared Imberico pork, a tender dish with nutty flavor that will make you fall in love instantly, and isn’t that the point of Valentine’s Day? 345 Park Ave. South, 212-255-4086, manzanillanyc.com
There always seems to be flowers on the tables of this quaint, somewhat hidden restaurant in SoHo that’s got plenty of two-seat tables just made for dates. Dine on caramelized onion soup with French lentils, avocado and salmon tartare, and date-roasted lamb shank. Add one of the independently sourced bottles such as a Cotes du Rhone, and toast to love. Reservations recommended. 25 Cleveland Pl., 212-274-0900, theclevelandnyc.com
Head over the bridge and into the loving arms of this Queens restaurant, where the view of the Manhattan skyline is second only to the grand Italian-style menu. Braised short rib ravioli, smoked trout and endive salad, and lemon scented chicken are just a few of the offerings, which are complemented by a 100-plus bottle list. Though this white-linen, elegant space isn’t in the Manhattan spotlight, it can still get crowded, especially on special occasion nights. Reservations recommended. 401 44th Dr., 718-482-0033, watersedgenyc.com
Get more ideas for what to do on Valentine’s Day in New York City.