Date Night: Fine-Dining Restaurants

Looking for fettuccine alfredo with a side of romance? These restaurants serve up a romantic setting alongside a delicious meal.

A couple enjoying a meal in an indoor setting of Caretta restaurant.

For an unforgettable meal with Gulf vistas to match, reserve your table at Caretta on the Gulf at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach.

A great meal with some soft lighting, stylish decor and lovely views is sure to set the mood for romance. Whether it’s a first-time rendezvous or a well-deserved night away from the kids, you’ll find some excellent options here!


The Black Pearl, Dunedin

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When you walk into this quintessential Dunedin spot, the first thing you might notice is the subdued lighting. It’s perfect for date night – as is the French and New American menu you’ll find at The Black Pearl. Thanks to Chef Christopher Artrip, it’s a sumptuous affair featuring the likes of escargot en croute or white truffle lobster risotto – a perennial favorite. From amuse bouche to dessert, the food here is crafted with all five senses in mind. Speaking of dessert, the tarte tatin (spiced granny smith apples cooked in brown butter and served with puff pastry and whipped cream) is made for sharing. Bonus: you’ll be in the heart of walkable downtown Dunedin, steps away from the perfect nightcap.

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The Restorative, Dunedin

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Since it first opened in an unassuming Dunedin storefront in 2017, food critics have been writing near-sonnets praising the fare you’ll find at The Restorative. This offbeat-but-sophisticated small restaurant offers an ever-changing list of innovative dishes crafted with precision, plated in kaleidoscopic arrays that rival fine art. The menu changes two to three times a week here, taking advantage of the freshest seasonal offerings. Expect both large and small plates featuring house-made pastas, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and freshly caught fish (see a sample menu). The wine list isn’t massive, but it’s as meticulously curated as the food. And the dessert menu? Words don’t suffice. The limited seating lends itself to an intimate meal, and the clean, simple décor creates an atmosphere that’s classy but far from stuffy.

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Caretta on the Gulf, Clearwater Beach

A group of friends enjoying a meal with a view at Caretta restaurant.

With amazing food and views to match, Caretta on the Gulf at Sandpearl Resort is a treat for the senses.

While you’re met with professional valet service and white tablecloths at this elegant restaurant at Clearwater Beach’s opulent SandPearl Resort, there’s no jacket required at Caretta on the Gulf. Opt for outdoor seating for Gulf breezes or sit indoors by the floor-to-ceiling windows – either way, if you time it right, you and your date are in for a sunset show. There’s plenty of fresh seafood on the menu, from Gulf grouper to Chilean seabass. Organic herbs and vegetables inspire the menu here, as does a wine list you’ll have to see to believe. 

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Salt Rock Grill, Indian Shores

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The Salt Rock Grill is a landmark restaurant located in Indian Shores that offers lovely views of the Intracoastal Waterway. For locals, it’s a go-to spot for special occasions. It's known for hand-cut U.S.D.A. prime and choice grade beef, fresh dayboat-caught seafood, a raw bar and a top-notch wine cellar. Come here for beef that's been aged then grilled over a natural oak-and-citrus-wood pit fire. The wine list, a Wine Spectator "award of excellence" winner, features some familiar labels as well as limited-run bottles oenophiles will love. Bonus: after your meal (or before, depending on when you go), you can stroll across the street to catch a romantic Gulf sunset.

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1200 Chophouse, St. Pete Beach

A plated dish and red wine pairing at 1200 Chophouse on St. Pete Beach

This hidden gem restaurant offers an upscale ambiance, with steaks seared to perfection at 1200 degrees.

Come early and come hungry to this tiny, locally loved steakhouse in St. Pete Beach. 1200 Chophouse doesn’t take reservations, so you’d be wise to plan an early dinner or prepare to relax with a drink while waiting for your table. Order the angus ribeye, New York strip, filet mignon, or a porterhouse steak for two – no matter what you select, you won’t be disappointed with your perfectly cooked cut. Dining out with a pescatarian? A variety of seafood offerings are available, including pan-seared sea bass, shrimp in Creole barbecue butter, and twin lobster tails.

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Maritana, St. Pete Beach

A young Asian couple in nice clothing walks into the elegant Maritana restaurant at the Don CeSar resort

Maritana at the Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach offers a fine-dining experience.

Recent renovations have given this seaside restaurant in St. Pete Beach a clean, modern makeover to make dining at award-winning Maritana an even more sophisticated affair. Located at The Don CeSar (aka the "Pink Palace") the menu has a wow factor that's in keeping with its landmark setting, which is perfect for popping the question or celebrating an anniversary. Expect fresh snapper and grouper with Mediterranean and Floribbean touches, mouthwatering desserts and an excellent wine list. The aesthetics inside are pretty spectacular, but you're also just steps away from the stunning sunsets outside.

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Birch & Vine and The Canopy, St. Pete

Two ladies enjoying cocktails at The Canopy rooftop bar in downtown St. Pete

The Canopy rooftop lounge is one of the St. Pete's most popular gathering spots.

Stay at The Birchwood, a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown St. Pete, and you won’t have to wander far for a great meal – Birch & Vine offers an intimate dining room as well as shaded sidewalk seating. Sandwiches and salads make up the lunch menu, perfect for a break after shopping or museum-hopping. Dinnertime is a showstopper with entrees such as mare e monti (shrimp and mussels with confit tomatoes, mushrooms and spring peas) and a ribeye meatloaf with buttermilk mashed potatoes. Choose from more than 450 wines. For one of the best views of Tampa Bay in the area, head up to The Canopy, the Birchwood’s rooftop lounge. Enjoy cool breezes, craft cocktails and tasty bar bites such as smoked brisket flatbread, fries poutine or pub style Brussel sprouts. 

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Il Ritorno, St. Pete

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Sophisticated Italian fare, exposed brick and a business-casual dress code (no flip-flops) elevate your date night at this popular downtown St. Pete spot that looks out onto bustling Central Avenue. Il Ritorno owner and executive chef David Benstock strives to create rustic dishes informed by fresh, seasonal ingredients. Dishes are plated with the same elegance as your surroundings. The wine list is quite lengthy – especially the reds. To really step things up, opt for the chef’s six-course tasting menu with wine pairings.

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The Left Bank Bistro, St. Pete

interior of Left Bank Bistro French restaurant in a historic bungalow with chandelier, leopard print chair and tables in background

Charming Left Beach Bistro is a place to relax and indulge in excellent French cuisine.

Cozy,” “charming,” “amazing,” and “fabulous” are the words that jump out from the reviews for The Left Bank Bistro, a lovely little hometown spot on 9th Street in St. Pete’s MLK District. Housed in a renovated 1920s bungalow with an intimate dining room as well as covered porch seating, this hidden gem offers lunch, brunch and dinner to admiring guests. Try a dish that diners rave about – the boeuf bourguignon, a Burgundy-braised short rib that’s slow-cooked for four hours, or savor the bouillabaisse, made with fresh local fish in a saffron lobster sauce. With its French-inspired cuisine, the menu is limited for vegetarians, but you'll find a couple of good options such as the vegetable garbanzo stuffed zucchini with saffron potatoes. There's live jazz on Thursday nights. Reservations are accepted.

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Rococo Steak, St. Pete

The majestic facade of Rococo Steak.

On the south end of downtown St. Pete, Rococo Steak is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner.

For one of the most elegant dining experiences in the area, head to Rococo Steak on the south end of downtown St. Pete. A far cry from the stuffy steakhouses of yesteryear, the menu here is as imaginative as the art on the walls. The sensory experience begins before you walk in. Rococo is housed in a historic building, renovated with a certain grandeur. You’ll find steak in every form on the menu, but here’s a little-known secret: The brilliant kitchen staff expertly concocts dishes for every dietary style. Just call ahead – the kitchen will create something amazing for you, if you have a special request or dietary needs. Rococo Steak is the only restaurant in town to win Wine Spectator’s Best Award of Excellence.

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Sea Salt, St. Pete

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As the name - and the ice chest featuring fresh-caught fish near the entrance - suggest, seafood is the star on the menu here. A great option for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion, Sea Salt features an 80-foot-long raw bar. Salt is also part of the experience: More than 130 different types of salt are used on the menu here. As you walk in, a large structure may catch your eye: the wine tower, which contains the 4,000 wines that constitute the sommelier’s vino-pairing palette. While an intimate sit-down dinner is a romantic affair here, the daily happy hour holds its own as a great spot for a rendezvous with a special someone.

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The Urban Stillhouse, St. Pete

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Urban Stillhouse demonstrates that fine dining doesn’t have to be a stuffy, formal affair. Instead, this industrial-chic restaurant in St. Pete’s growing Warehouse District offers an ultra-cool cocktail menu to match its uber-cool setting. Bourbon-inspired entrees and seasonal menu items are crafted on the wood-fired grill, using locally sourced ingredients. Try the American Wagyu ribeye served with miso roasted parsnips, the crispy whole catch-of-the-day, or the fig and hazelnut-crusted lamb chops. (Tip: Bourbon-lovers will want to make a reservation for their tasting experience that includes a bourbon flight and an appetizer.) While not formal, this is a place where folks celebrate special occasions, so no beach attire, flip-flops or athletic wear, please. Reservations are accepted.

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Latitude 28

At Latitude 28, the tantalizing aroma of fresh herbs and spices welcomes you, setting the stage for an unforgettable culinary journey. The soft sounds of waves caressing the shore gently seeps through the floor-to-ceiling, linen-draped windows creating a symphony of tranquility, perfect for an intimate dinner date. Just a couple of our chef's favorites include the Sojuk Pide and the Wagyu entree. Ask your server about their favorite beverage or take a pick from any of our hand-crafted cocktails or mocktails.

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