The connection between food and love cannot be ignored. Who doesn’t remember that iconic scene from “When Harry Met Sally” that launched a thousand ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ orders? Or the awkward moment in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” when Mark Darcy swoops in to save Bridget from her blue soup? Or the iconic spaghetti moment from “Lady and the Tramp” where noses meet over shared pasta? Romance is intrinsically tied to food experiences because it allows humans to connect in a moment filled with sensory detail.
There is no shortage of romantic dining options on 30A, but we’ve gathered a few of our favorites. Get out, share a meal, and drink in all the romance of being with someone who sets your heart racing because as Virginia Woolf said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Longing for the sultry atmosphere of a romantic New Orleans courtyard? You can find it right in Rosemary Beach at Pescado Seafood Grill and Rooftop Bar.
The jazz-filled spot checks all the boxes for a first date or fiftieth date with its lush garden courtyard and piano bar, handcrafted cocktails, and small bites.
Linger over a Cheeseboard filled with artisan selections, truffle honey, and salumi, or opt for the very shareable duck confit poutine with hand-cut fries. Toast a romantic evening of jazz and Nawlins’ charm with one of their signature cocktails crafted by talented mixologists like the Cheeky Tiki or the Sunset Spritz. Cozy up under the tropical flora with your special someone for an evening of live music, and tasty libations.
For an unforgettable evening, catch a magical sunset over the Gulf of Mexico at the rooftop.
The Courtyard at Pescado is open daily 5:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., but the kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m. You must be 18 years old to enter. Music starts at 6:00 p.m.
One of the oldest cottages on Scenic 30A offers some of the most romantic ambience found on the Gulf Coast. The intimate dining room is filled with Old World Mediterranean charm with its exposed brick, and unique lighting. European-inspired fare combines seasonal, local ingredients with Spanish and Mediterranean flavors for a feast of the senses.
The menu boasts lots of decadent choices to complement your romantic outing—the pan-seared foie gras served on toast with a port wine glaze is rich and buttery, the Basque fish highlights our local bounty of fresh catch while nodding to the traditional Spanish saute preparation, and the Chimichurri steak brings all the flavors of the Mediterranean with its smoked paprika butter and Argentinian herb sauce. And, there is so much more from pastas to lamb.
The wine list is geared towards their regional cuisine and has a number of specially selected Spanish varietals such as Malbec, Tempranillo, and Albarino. When in doubt, call on the highly-trained service staff to guide you to the perfect bottle for your Mediterranean-inspired meal.
Cafe Tango is open Tuesday – Saturday, with seatings at 6:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. Reservations are highly encouraged.
When you enter, the lights are dim, there is a cozy alcove lined with wine bottles to await your table, and a menu to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Restaurant Paradis is one of the only restaurants in Rosemary Beach to take reservations. Make one, and be sure to let them know if it is a special occasion.
The menu has delicious options, but for real romance, get some items to share with your partner. The tuna tartare with its yuzu-infused rice and ponzu sauce is a delicate bite. And, the Turley Red Zinfandel complements the rich blue-black tuna. The coastal cuisine-focused menu, and inclusion of fresh-seasonal ingredients guarantees an unforgettable meal.
Don’t forget dessert to finish the night. I always choose chocolate for its rich, sensuous qualities—it has been considered an aphrodisiac since the time of the Mayans. And, the flourless chocolate torte does not disappoint. An intimate dining experience at Paradis awaits.
Restaurant Paradis is open daily at 5:00 pm for dinner, currently by reservations only. Seasonal hours are Monday- Saturday 5:00 p.m.- 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The Bar/Lounge stays open until midnight.
You know you are in for something special when you approach Seagar’s, Northwest Florida’s longest-running AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. You are greeted by an open-theatre kitchen where you can observe all the details woven into your meal, from the fiery sizzle on the steak, to the delicate garnishes. And, if that is not dinner and a show, tableside service is one of their specialties. Watch as classic fine dining comes alive right at your table for an intimate, personalized experience.
Top-quality steaks are their specialty, but the gulf-fresh seafood is not to be ignored. And, knowledgeable servers can guide you to the perfect wine to accompany dinner from their more than 600-label collection recognized by Wine Spectator as “Best of Award of Excellence.” If you are looking for a luxury meal where every detail is attended to, Seagar’s will anticipate and fulfill all your desires from exemplary service to perfectly prepared food.
Seagar’s at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa is open for dinner Tuesday – Saturday 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 pm, with hours extending until 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Piano entertainment is available Tuesday – Wednesday 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 pm; Thursday and Saturday 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Nostalgia of early Seagrove Beach is preserved at the Surfing Deer. Local legend Cube McGhee and his pet deer Bambi could often be seen on the beach playing in the surf when Seagrove Beach was just a few houses and a dream of paradise. As an homage to these early beginnings and the vision of McGhee, the Hartley’s named their restaurant The Surfing Deer.
With some of the best views on 30A from streetside people-watching to elevated gulf vistas, there is not a bad seat.
And, the menu is as playful as the name with sections for pecking, grazing, and feasting. Selections offer a taste of all the local seafood from grouper to snapper to shrimp, and more with Southern flair. They also offer a daily butcher selection with some of the best bacon jam this girl has ever tasted.
If you are looking for that “Lady and the Tramp” moment, go for the Pesto Pappardelle with its long, shareable noodles dressed in homemade basil pesto cream.
The Surfing Deer is open with indoor, outdoor and high-top bar dining 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m Monday through Saturday. Reservations are recommended.
There is something incredibly romantic about wandering a well-stocked bottle shop, lingering over labels, and finding the exact right wine for the experience you hope to have. Vintij Food & Wine has been a local favorite for over 20 years for their high-quality menu curated to complement their communal dining experience.
The menu has some standouts, including some tasty vegetarian fare. The pistachio-crusted lamb chops are tender and well-complemented with a romesco sauce, and the Khamsa Bowl sings with sweet chili falafel and bright harissa cauliflower. From start to finish, Vinitj’s staff welcomes you in like a family member and ensures your evening is a romantic culinary adventure, much like you would find in those little-known neighborhoods in Italy.
Vintij is open Monday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged as there is limited seating. Be on the lookout for their winemaker dinners for a carefully orchestrated, romantic dining experience.
Drawing inspiration from coastal cities around the world, Alys Beach’s The Citizen, “…works with local and regional purveyors to source the very best seasonal ingredients and fresh seafood from the Gulf…to provide a variety of seafood-inspired dishes ranging from comfort to clean. The Cocktail menu offers a selection of creative, seasonal libations organized by flavor profile, including ‘Bright & Fresh,’ Bold & Boozy,’ and ‘Classically Trained,’…” owner Jeremy Walton said.
Nestled amid Alys Beach’s whitewashed exteriors, The Citizen shines with its marine blue and Mid-Century Modern brass interior. There is a quiet, coastal elegance that exudes from each aspect of The Citizen from their woodfire hearth, to the 18-seat marble-inlaid bar, to the 12-seat raw bar (my favorite), to the scattered tables of the dining room. They do not take reservations unless you have eight or more in your party, adhering to the island lifestyle of the area. But, it is worth the wait.
The oysters are not-to-be-missed for a romantic dining excursion. Even Cassanova, the famous Italian playboy, wrote about their power in his diary, “We sucked them in, one by one, after placing them on each other’s tongue. Voluptuous reader, try it, and tell me whether it is not the nectar of the Gods!”
But, if that is not enticing enough, try some of Jeremy Walton’s favorites, “I typically like to go the route of Chef’s choice for ordering, but if I had to select a few top favorites, they would be the Gulf Shrimp, the Whipped Feta, or the Roasted Avocado Salad.”
The Citizen is open for dinner Monday – Saturday 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. They also have lunch and Sunday brunch hours.
Did I say chocolate was an aphrodisiac? It is, and La Crema has it in all the delectable variations from fondue to molten cake to the Spanish sipping specialty. They do not take reservations, but a seat at the bar is just as romantic as any table in the house.
Set among the cobblestone streets of Rosemary Beach, La Crema is the perfect stop for sharing a sweet nibble after a romantic dinner.
The fondue comes in milk or dark chocolate with fruit, pound cake, and marshmallows to dip and share. Try coating one of the fresh strawberries and feed your partner for a sensory explosion.
But, if fondue is not your thing, there are plenty of other decadent dessert options, and everything’s made-to-order, including the OMG, a whipped espresso cream layered between two warm, gooey triple chocolate cookies. Wash it all down with a selection from their extensive by-the-glass wine list, including my favorite, a Tawny Port with notes of plum and chocolate. The fortified wine enhances all the richness of the chocolate offerings.
Save room for dessert at La Crema; you won’t be sorry.
As Charles Schultz said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
La Crema is open daily 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.