Whether it’s a first date, a night away from the kids or the anniversary of a 30-year marriage, one of the very best date ideas is a night out for a romantic dinner. From good conversation over glasses of fine wines to delectable meals in some of the most stunning settings in Orange County, it’s not hard to understand why many couples opt to have dinner out. Next time you’re in search of a romantic destination for a date-night meal, consider these local restaurants.

(Credit: Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel)

1 Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 240-2000

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Located at the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, it’s no wonder that Raya is an ideal spot for romantic dining. The cliff-top restaurant sits adjacent to floor-to-ceiling windows offering the most impressive views of the coastline you’ll find in Orange County. Take in scenes of the wild surf washing up on the sand and pelicans soaring by as the sunset sky turns shades of pink, orange and lavender. The Pan-Latin menu includes dishes like grilled Spanish octopus, petite lamb lollipops, avocado crab cocktail, Pacific halibut, black cod, pan-seared scallops and a smoked swordfish dip with corn tortilla chips. On top of that, Raya has a selection of deliciously strong cocktails to enjoy with your meal.

(Credit: Selanne Steak Tavern)

Selanne Steak Tavern
1464 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-9881

The historical home that houses this steakhouse is one of the most charming settings in the area, dating back to the 1930s. The quaint property has been reimagined and renovated to include a simple yet stylish interior as well as a romantic veranda perfect for alfresco dining under ornamental lighting. Savor the warmth of the nearby fireplace as you make your selections from a menu that includes everything from cauliflower soup, burrata, caprese salad and ravioli to oysters, prawns, salmon and filet mignon. Selanne’s impressive list of Champagne selections will complete the romantic feel of any meal.

(Credit: Orange County Mining Co.)

Orange County Mining Co.
10000 South Crawford Canyon Road
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 997-7411

The view at Orange County Mining Co. is absolutely unrivaled. Set up high on a hill, the restaurant’s glittering candlelight is enhanced by the sea of lights stretching out to the Pacific. The rustic atmosphere, resembling an old-time saloon, makes the perfect place for a steakhouse dinner. Whether you enjoy a filet mignon, top sirloin or rib eye, the meal is sure to be fantastic too. Other extravagant dishes include the baby back ribs, Alaskan crab legs, sautéed salmon fillet and the lobster tail. For dessert, enjoy decadent options like the cheesecake, mud pie or the Mother Load ice cream sundae. Also at Orange County Mining Co., you’ll find a selection of cocktails served by the pitcher as well as wines by the bottle from the Miner’s Cellar.

(Credit: Alan de Herrera)

The Cellar
305 North Harbor Boulevard
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 525-5682

Located in the basement of the historic Villa Del Sol landmark, an outdoor oasis and courtyard in Fullerton, this restaurant has a vintage elegance that remains intact despite updates to the building that houses it. In operation for nearly 50 years now, The Cellar offers stone walls, deep colored décor, bright chandeliers and plenty of arches within, ensuring that the setting is not only historic but romantic as well. For dinner, dine on something warm like the lobster bisque or French onion soup, or elegant European-inspired dishes like duck breast, bone-in rib eye, salmon, bone marrow or lamb. Pair your meal with The Cellar’s cocktails, crafted with everything from rose gin and aged rum to rye whiskey and mezcal.

(Credit: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa)

21500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 845-4776

Just across Pacific Coast Highway from the beach, Watertable’s outdoor patio offers a beautiful view of the ocean by day and a star-filled sky overhead by night. The restaurant’s interior is equally as lovely with a simply, modern décor that makes it romantic inside or out. Expect the menu to change seasonally based on the produce that is available—both for the food and the cocktails. Share a plate of things like Hamachi crudo, pan seared scallops or herb-grilled baby lamb chops when you arrive then work on your main meal. Choose from items like sea bass, chicken breast, prime New York steak or lobster tail. There are a variety of sauces made from scratch, including a white wine butter sauce, a veal red wine demi sauce, a blend of olive oil with sea salt and a popular bacon jam.

(Credit: Summit House)

Summit House Restaurant
2000 East Bastanchury Road
Fullerton, CA 92835
(714) 671-4111

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For a romantic night out, visit the Summit House, where the environment is modeled after a European inn. You’ll find hospitable staff and a welcoming environment in which to chat in addition to the impressive menu. Offering an array of dishes from ahi sashimi, baby greens salad and truffle fries to crab cakes, artisan cheeses and artichoke hearts, diners can follow up their appetizers with meals like slow-roasted prime rib, Colorado lamb shank, Chilean sea bass, rosemary garlic chicken or filet mignon. With candlelight and a beautiful view of Orange County’s lights, the atmosphere is romantic. It also doubles as a wedding venue, with a terraced amphitheater and gazebo available for ceremonies and a ballroom for the following receptions.

(Credit: Driftwood Kitchen)

Driftwood Kitchen
619 Sleepy Hollow Lane
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-7700

For a romantic dinner at Driftwood Kitchen, arrive before sunset and sip cocktails from the adjoining Stateroom Bar as you watch the colors stretch across the sky. The rich woods and nautical décor of the bar will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the decks of a vintage boat. But, when it is time for dinner, make your way into the white, airy dining room. The beige and teal accents and ocean-inspired décor are perfect for Laguna Beach, and the massive open-air floor-to-ceiling windows facing the ocean allow you to hear the waves crashing just below the restaurant. The menu changes seasonally, but some staples remain—and all are delicious. Munch on the squash blossoms, stuffed with ricotta cheese, or the parker house rolls before selecting a seafood option like the fried branzino, grilled jumbo prawns or pan seared halibut.

(Credit: 21 Oceanfront)

21 Oceanfront
2100 West Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 673-2100

As its name implies, 21 Oceanfront is situated right next to the water, making it an obvious spot for a romantic date night. The Victorian décor and views of the ocean make it an elegant atmosphere in which to dine. When you first arrive, select one of the restaurant’s award-winning wines, many of which are designed to complement specific dishes on the menu. As with many upscale restaurants, the focus is on steak and seafood, though you can enjoy swordfish, lobster tails and crab legs in addition to standard options like salmon, sea bass and halibut. With great food comes great desserts, and 21 Oceanfront certainly doesn’t disappoint with delicious ends to their meals. The assorted menu offers a chocolate soufflé, a warm apple tart, chocolate cake, crème brulee, key lime cheesecake, a gelato trio and more.

(Credit: The Ranch)

The Ranch
1025 East Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92805
(714) 817-4200

A romantic meal is always enhanced by a little excitement. Those looking for nighttime entertainment during their date night should stop by The Ranch, where a high-quality meal can be paired with plenty of fun like live music and line dancing in the accompanying saloon. You’ll find plenty of innovative dishes on The Ranch’s menu, from starters like the country fried quail with apricot barbecue sauce to entrees like Maplewood smoked chicken with gruyere focaccia and desserts like the Milky Way-inspired ice cream sundae. The dim atmosphere is perfect for an intimate evening while you dine with your love, but don’t discount the fun of dancing together on the saloon floor once your meal has settled.

(Credit: Montage Laguna Beach)

30801 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 715-6030

Chef Craig Strong crafts a blend of French and Californian cuisine at Montage Laguna Beach’s Craftsman-style Studio restaurant, an eatery that sits near the ocean offering unparalleled views for a romantic night out. The restaurant is on the small side, making it even more special on intimate nights out, and there is very little to stand in the way of your views of the blue ocean and soaring sky. Expect to listen to the waves and feel the breeze as you dine on fresh dishes like ahi tuna poke or seared scallops to start the night. Move further into the menu for choices like smoked squab with huckleberry, crab basil soup, lobster risotto, king salmon, venison and grilled beef tenderloin.

(credit: Cathy Z./Yelp)

3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 557-5679

While most upscale, romantic restaurants are steakhouses or have menus filled with seafood, AnQi is a special locale with high-quality Vietnamese-inspired food. The décor complements the Asian influence and maintains a luxurious environment in which to relax and enjoy each other’s company. An all-day menu offers things like crispy salmon, pan seared branzino, roasted chicken and the restaurant’s popular garlic noodles. Those looking to share their places can choose from garlic pepper vegetables, fried rice, white cheddar potato puree or truffle fries. Don’t end the night without sampling either the Vietnamese banana fritters, beignets or flourless chocolate cake. They also offer ice cream made tableside.

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Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.