By Gwendolyn Knapp  Updated 1/29/2020 at 4:37pm  Published in the February 2020 issue of Houstonia

Houston’s 10 loveliest tables await your next date night—whether it’s this Valentine’s Day or any day of the year. Oh, and the food is exceptional, too.

MAD
If you can’t swing a trip to Madrid, the next most romantic option is to secure two seats at this flashy new avant- garde gem. Reserve a seat in the dining room, with its plush velvet banquettes and glowing neon accents, or, if you don’t have six months to wait for a reservation, grab a seat at the bar. Make sure to try at least one of Luis Rogers’s feats of Spanish molecular gastronomy—sphere-ified olives, perhaps, or the tomate en su jugo. And no matter how captivating your date, don’t forget to ogle the incredible interior design, complete with Picasso artworks, Chihuly chandeliers, lush banquettes, and custom-made sculptures. It doesn’t get more luxe than this. 4444 Westheimer Rd., River Oaks District

Killen’s Steakhouse
There’s nothing quite like sitting close together near a fire, and at this rightly famous steakhouse you can dine fireside al fresco even in winter, thanks to the most inspired seating option ever—patio tables with small fire pits built right into the middle of them. 6425 Broadway St., Pearland

Brennan’s of Houston 

IMAGE: JACK THOMPSON

Brennan’s of Houston
Sunday mornings are dreamy at Brennan’s, when the restaurant serves up its renowned Big Easy–inspired Creole Jazz Brunch. Request a seat in the lush courtyard, where you’ll still receive the white-tablecloth treatment, only surrounded by fragrant greenery, a gurgling fountain, sunshine, and live jazz wafting through the air. Heat things up with a table-side flambé of Bananas Foster for dessert. 3300 Smith St., Midtown

Rainbow Lodge
A favorite for weddings and engagements, this classic Houston log cabin offering local fish and game truly makes for a romantic meal, whether you dine on the deck overlooking the lush yard and the lodge’s very own gurgling stream, or inside among the cozy decor and giant fireplace. Either way you’ll leave with a warm heart. 2011 Ella Blvd., Timbergrove

Rosalie Italian Soul
Roses on the wall. Roses on your seat. Rosé in your glass. At Rosalie, the buzzy new restaurant inside the equally buzzy C. Baldwin Hotel, they’re even right there in the name. Italian soul food brings the romance, too. The focaccia and the crab manicotti are a must, and go ahead and order another bottle of wine—chic hotel rooms with glitzy downtown views abound, so you don’t have to drive home. 400 Dallas St., Downtown

La Lucha
The sister restaurant of beloved River Oaks oyster bar State of Grace is also a great spot for a raw dozen. Just like its neighborhood—the Heights—it’s classy but hip. The well-appointed dining room, which pays homage to the long, lost San Jacinto Inn, gets dark and cozy at sundown. We recommend curling up on a cushy leather love seat to slurp Gulf oysters on the half shell with a glass of Muscadet. 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., Heights

Rosie Cannonball
At this sleek new Italian eatery, a favorite of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander, ask for the single high- top table overlooking the bustling chef’s line. It feels a bit like dining in front of your own personal fireplace thanks to the large wood-fired pizza oven. You’ll want the trout roe pizza with a bottle of Beaujolais (let one of the two master sommeliers pick), and do save room for executive pastry chef Shawn Gawle’s sexy desserts. 1620 Westheimer Rd., Montrose 

Third Coast
Tucked away on the top floor of the John P. McGovern TMC Commons building, this “modern Houstonian” restaurant is one of the city’s most fabulous hidden gems. It’s quite romantic, even appearing in wedding mag The Knot. Request a spot along the east side of the dining room—hint: Tables 82–85 have the best views—relax in your comfy dining chair, and order the house favorite, chef Jon Buchanan’s red snapper with green curry. 6550 Bertner Ave., Texas Medical Center 

Café Poêtes
For a daytime date, grab a window spot at this French bistro. The afternoon tea service is as dreamy as it gets, with delicate tableware, a wealth of handmade éclairs—try the savory gravlax-and-artichoke—and dainty choux pastries. There’s also brunchy cocktails to liven up your fancy white tablecloth. It’s all very Parisian, right down to the café’s overstuffed bookshelves. 122 W. Gray St., Fourth Ward 

Cureight
In the luxurious tasting-menu room tucked away in chef Austin Simmons’s highly acclaimed restaurant Tris, every seat is at the chef’s table. In fact, there’s just 24 spots available, all overlooking the kitchen through a gorgeous glass and steel partition, where Simmons and his team flit about, plating exquisitely creative eight-course meals for those lucky enough to snag this exclusive reservation—seatings are only available Thursday to Saturday. 24 Waterway Ave. Ste. 128, The Woodlands