Top 10 romantic restaurants in the Twin Cities

Categories: Top 10

Aphrodisiacs at the ready
​The theater of dining is an excellent way to set the stage for an encore, maybe even a standing "O" that extends far into the following day. The only thing you need other than a willing partner is a restaurant up to the task. A perfect date-night dinner is a delicate balance of fine food, complimentary lighting, a skilled server attuned to a guest's needs, and a blooming connection between two people.

Here are our choices for 10 of the best local restaurants for romance.

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A Thai romance
10. King & I Thai
In some ways, our ideas about romantic dining are a little baffling. Sitting at a table with a starched white tablecloth, fearing the moment you might drop a fork, just isn't very libidinous. Feeling comfortable is romantic, and so is putting a flower from your drink in your hair. And what could be more sensual than the scent of lemongrass, Thai basil, and red coconut milk rising up from your food? How about shamelessly feeding your honey a steamy bite of pad Thai or an icy passion-fruit sorbet? At the King and I Thai you can savor the beautiful mix of sweet and spicy that is Thai cooking. You can also share a flaming Tikki Love Potion for two. Most important, you can partake in these erotic delights in a very private booth with your shoes off, dress slipping off shoulder, hair messy, and hands a-wandering--no one around you will be any the wiser. (1346 LaSalle, Minneapolis; 612.332.6928)

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Romance comes from the most unexpected locations
9. Black Forest Inn
When one thinks "romance," one does not usually think "beer garden," but if you can snag a spot on the Black Forest Inn's outdoor patio in the summer, you and your sun-dappled sweetie (or sweetie-to-be) will be basking in it. As shadows play fetchingly on your darling's face, try a beer sampler (a neat array of tiny beer shots), or share a plate of tangy paprika schnitzel. The fresh multigrain rolls, served with sweet butter, are also particularly good. Afterward, feed him or her warm apple strudel--or, if the heady combination of sunshine and sauerkraut gets the best of you, retreat to the dark, Germanic bar for a sweet dessert of kisses near the taps dispensing all that delicious imported German beer. Then again, if you happen to steal a kiss between courses, probably no one will notice--your cover will be the sweet sounds of the burbling fountain and the happy chatter of other sun-dappled, or later, streetlight-dappled, diners. (1 E. 26th St., Minneapolis; 612.872.0812)

Love's lost embrace
8. Forepaugh's
Everyone knows how to set the mood for romance: a lit fireplace in a private nook, candlelight, fine wine, haute cuisine, and a ghost. St. Paul's Forepaugh's is right on point. Since its top-to-bottom renovation two years ago, the historic restaurant has tried to downplay the ghost (legend has it a former maid, Molly, in love with the original master of the house, Joseph Forepaugh, haunts the third floor where she hung herself in the late 1800s), but it sacrifices nothing of the other romantic elements. Each table in the three-story Victorian mansion is its own cozy nest, tucked into one of the many rooms and odd corners of the house. Lovebirds dine on beef Wellington, braised lamb steak, and slow-roasted salmon from an extensive menu of New American cuisine, while sipping on any number of fine wines or classic martinis. On Valentine's Day the place is packed. The maitre d' recommends putting your 2013 reservations in now. And while the bartender insists there's no ghost, should you feel a cold chill next to the warm fireplace, or a slight breeze on the staircase, it's okay to assume it's Molly and wrap your arms a little tighter around your sweetheart--just to add to the romance. (276 S. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.224.5606)

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Beautiful food, ambiance, and company
7. W. A. Frost
W.A. Frost has a reputation for having more romance than the Love Boat, more charm than a whole factory run of that cereal the leprechaun shills for, a patio that's more beautiful than a pyramid stack of Miss Universe contestants, and more fireplaces than God in His Heaven. There is nary a spot inside this neighborhood institution that doesn't, by design, make a dinner guest look more appetizing. Even in the bar, where the small plates are so attractively priced, every dish is sure to impress every guest. In any season, WA Frost specializes in love, exciting and new. (374 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651.967.7259)

Savor Sapor
6. Sapor Café
What is love? Is it the ability to look past a surface and see the true wonder and beauty inside? Is it an appreciation of real thoughtfulness, serenity, and clarity of vision? Is it when you want to focus on your date, and not on the raucous razzmatazz and racket around you? If you have answered yes to these questions, report immediately to Sapor, the most under-appreciated restaurant in Minneapolis. Once there you will find the elegant, bold cooking of Tanya Siebenaler (her miso-glazed salmon with wasabi potato cake is legendary), a decor of peaceful earth tones rendered in modern angles, a charming and affordable beer and wine list, and--hallelujah!--a room that is always mysteriously half-empty, and gloriously still enough that you can hear what your date really has to say. Of course, you might ask, if the quietness of Sapor is such a selling point, why are we writing about it? Because we love them so much, and love is blind. Though it's not blind enough to notice that sometimes it's really only us and our dates enjoying this charming restaurant with its copious free Warehouse District parking. More than anything, we want the best quiet restaurant in the Twin Cities to remain a romantic ace in the hole, and so we have appealed to you: Buddy, won't you share some love? (428 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.375.1971)

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