Extravagant restaurants, flickering candles, delicious meals and chocolate-filled desserts—these are all the makings of a perfect date night and there are plenty of spots in Orange County that will provide just that. Whether you’re looking for a light-strewn patio or a dining room overlooking the sea, these OC restaurants have plenty to offer couples who are looking for a romantic night out.
Ritz Prime Seafood
2801 West Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Following a five million dollar renovation, Ritz Prime Seafood opened up along the Newport Beach harbor. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer ample opportunities for harbor views, colorful sunsets and stargazing once the sun set, making the tables that line these windows the most romantic ones in the house. The menu is filled with sustainable seafood, fresh ingredients and quality wines. Start off the evening by sharing a Ritz Tower, a customizable seafood dish; choose things like oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster while you wait for the rest of your meal. Follow it with a cioppino, an aged steak or the fish of the day, caught earlier that morning. Pair the fare with French white wines or California reds and make sure to savor the Eight-Layer Coconut Cake with housemade passion fruit puree before heading home.
Selanne Steak Tavern
1464 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Selanne Steak Tavern’s interior is filled with bright white décor which contrasts beautifully with the wooden accents and brown seating throughout. Wine bottles and oversized glasses line the cabinets, showcasing their amazing selection of award-winning wines and champagnes, and the contemporary design is a nice touch as the restaurant is located within a remodeled 1930s home along PCH. Enjoy your meal on the veranda where the glow from the fireplace will keep you warm on chilly nights while providing romantic flickering light. For dinner, consider sharing the 32-ounce Wagyu Cut Steak. It is crafted to feed two and comes with marrow butter as well as Bordelaise sauce. For dessert, the tavern offers a white chocolate mousse coupled with wild strawberries and brown butter genoise.
305 North Harbor Boulevard
Fullerton, CA 92832
With a heavily European-inspired interior, the romantic atmosphere here is ideal for date night. Located in the basement of Villa Del Sol, a historic complex filled with shops and restaurant, a dim staircase provides access to the restaurant, but once you reach The Cellar, the bright chandeliers light up the cave-like walls and arches. With its isolated location and Old World décor, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported directly to Old Europe. Start off with the Prince Edward Island Mussels, cooked with white wine, chorizo, lime and cilantro, before ordering a main dish. One great option is the Chateaubriand, the chef’s cut loin that serves two. It is coupled with seasonal vegetables, roasted marble potatoes and Béarnaise sauce. Diners should also consider the Pan Seared Branzino, a sea bass served over a bed of baby spinach. For dessert, choose from the chocolate soufflé with salted caramel
Orange County Mining Co
10000 South Crawford Canyon Road
Orange, CA 92705
A combination of elegant and rustic prevails at the Orange County Mining Co, a restaurant that sits atop a hill in Orange. With views of the sprawling city below and the coastline way off in the distance, there are few spots in Orange County that appear as mystical as this. Old and new are blended at the restaurant, creating a space that blends gold rush inspiration with modern food and drink. Aside from Sunday brunch, the Orange County Mining Co is only open for dinner, ensuring that romantic sunsets and sweeping night views abound. If you desire a starter, try the spinach artichoke dip or the coconut beer shrimp with Cajun marmalade. With dinner comes a salad bar, but guests can also order grilled chicken breast with teriyaki sauce and pineapple or the Ruby Red Rainbow Trout with Cajun dusting and lemon butter. Their premiere dessert is the Miner’s Mud Pie, which layers mocha ice cream, walnuts and chocolate fudge in a cookie crust.
619 Sleepy Hollow Lane
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
The light, airy dining room at Driftwood Kitchen is an ideal spot to wine and dine on a date night. The narrow deck sits over the beach, offering incredible sunset views and cool ocean breezes and is the perfect setting. Inside, the floor-to-ceiling windows are lined with white-painted wood and wicker chairs. Their ocean-to-table motto is amplified by the ocean-themed tables, which are decorated with starfish, shells and glowing candles. Their diverse menu offers unique ingredients not found at typical seafood restaurants, but it is expertly prepared and flawlessly presented. Make sure to try their caramelized Onion & Leek Soup, which is presented in a small ceramic mug, covered in Gruyere cheese, and the summer squash blossoms are stuffed with ricotta and chunky heirloom tomato sauce. Entrees consist of Bay of Maine Monkfish served with Tuscan kale and the grilled colossal Tiger Prawns, coupled with dates, whole roasted cauliflower and crispy shallots. For dessert, they have a Braeburn apple brioche —perfectly crisped, drizzled with honey and topped with vanilla ice cream—or artisan sorbets in unique coconut-pinepple, blackberry or mango flavors.
2930 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Habana is a hip place to dine and relax. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Habana offers a mixture of traditional and modern Cuban food—a cuisine that is a little more rare than others in Orange County. Iron chandeliers and warm-hued light displays brighten up the dim interior, but the most romantic spot at Habana is the outdoor patio. With lights strewn in the trees and plenty of lush green plants and flowers around, it is a magical environment that goes well with their unique fare. Start the night with handmade empanadas or shrimp and ahi ceviche, then order some classic dishes like Paella a La Habana filled with chicken, shrimp, fish, mussels and clams or the Bistecca de Navarra, a dish composed of grilled steak, a red wine reduction, potato goat cheese mash and grilled artichokes. End the meal with their famous flan.
690 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Newport Beach-based Oak Grill is a charming, elegant restaurant that offers alfresco seating on the deck, perfect for date night. The contemporary décor is complemented with glittering light fixtures hanging from the trees above, adding to the casually luxurious atmosphere. A fire pit coupled with the plush pillows on the lounge chairs create a relaxing environment to enjoy dinner and chitchat. Start your whimsical night with one of 50 different California wines on the Oak Grill menu then decide which of the contemporary dishes you’ll dine on. For an appetizer, consider sharing the Mushroom & Truffle Thin Crust Pizza with Gorgonzola and wild arugula. For dinner, savor the Jidori chicken or the prime rib eye, which comes with Lyonnaise potatoes and grilled asparagus. For dessert, sip on a 20-year-old Fonseco Tawny port wine, which pairs nicely with the chocolate amaretto torte—pistachio cake, amaretto mascarpone mousse and dark chocolate ganache.
1313 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
Located at the Disneyland Resort, Napa Rose is an upscale restaurant within the Grand Californian Hotel. The warm hues of the California-themed restaurant make it more than just a Disney eatery. Spend your night in the Napa Rose Lounge, an extension of the restaurant that offers the same menu, or ask to be seated in the section overlooking California Adventure for a view of the park’s lights and rides. The ever-changing menu focuses on seasonal ingredients and dishes inspired by Napa Valley tastes. For a romantic meal, split the pan-roasted diver scallops that come with lobster-lemon sauce. Follow it up with duck breast with a side of coastal mushrooms and black figs or the filet mignon served with a fennel puree. Desserts are often changing too, but, if available, try the Baileys pot de crème, an espresso and mascarpone-filled, Tiramisu-inspired dish.