Whether you’re celebrating a milestone, an anniversary, or a Tuesday, dinner out with your significant other is always a treat. But beyond the good company, how do you up the romance factor of your average dinner out? Besides great food, these three restaurants served up something special in their ambiance. Read on for my picks for the best restaurants in Gainesville for a romantic evening out!
When I want to get dolled up for a romantic night on the town, Dragonfly is always my first choice destination. The excellent food and sleek, dark ambiance make this downtown Gainesville restaurant a prime locale for romance. The décor is modern, focusing on clean lines and low lighting, and trust me when I say that dim lights are a girl’s best friend on a date where she’s worried about looking her best. Those lights will also work their magic on the food: artful arrangements of sushi and sashimi on clean white porcelain plates. For anyone who’s a fan of sushi, or willing to give it a try, Dragonfly is a must-see.
I haven’t met a sushi roll I didn’t like at Dragonfly, so feel free to pick from anything on their menu ($5 to $15 for most rolls). However, it would be a crime against cuisine to go without ordering their wontons ($5 for 4), stuffed with imitation crab and cream cheese, and drizzled with apricot sauce. In fact, go ahead and order a couple of plates’ worth; nothing ruins a date like fighting over the last heavenly wonton.
This place is definitely a diamond in the rough. It’s easy to miss while driving past it on SW 13th street, and its location (next to the 24-hour Adult Store and across the street from the IHOP) don’t appear to bode well for it. However, appearances can be deceiving. Inside, Chopstix is a panoply of Pan-Asian décor. Rich gold and red hues fill the restaurant, and the smell of fresh steamed vegetables fills the air. For the most romantic experience possible, arrive just before sunset and request a table overlooking Biven’s Arm Lake. If the weather is warm and balmy, you’ll also get the chance to see Florida alligators swimming in the lake!
Chopstix has delicious, fresh food at reasonable prices. The average price of a generously-portioned entrée is about $9. While the sushi is good, the noodle bowls and fried rice are even better. The combination Chinese fried rice was more than big enough for two, so go ahead and be risqué; dip both sets of chopsticks in the same bowl!
Just a stone’s throw away from Dragonfly, Amelia’s is an Italian restaurant that suits the classic romantic. The ambiance is comfortable, and the music quiet. It feels more like you’re in the tastefully-decorated living room of an Italian family than a restaurant, sans awkward “meet the parents” episode to spoil the romance. This is the perfect setting for a date with lots of talking and, if all goes well, sharing a tiramisu ($6) at the end of the night.
While entrees can be a little pricey, they’re well worth the cost. The chicken parmesan ($15) is tender and flavorful, and the red snapper sautéed with garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice is a bit of a splurge at $24, but is the perfect combination of moist and flaky. If you’re on a budget, try ordering a couple of appetizers instead and sharing; antipasti range from $9 to $13.