First rule of date night: take a shower. Second rule of date night: go somewhere fun. We’re neither willing nor able to help you with the former, but we have your back on the latter. Below are 15 places that cover just about any dating situation. From intimate dining rooms with fireplaces, to big spots with live music, one of these Boston restaurants will be exactly what you’re looking for. Just please, for everyone’s good, remember rule number one.
This guide is presented in partnership with MINI - so you can spend less time picking a great restaurant, and more time on the things that matter. Like, for example, your date.
If you’re thinking about co-starring in a wedding with this person, take them to The Red House to see what they’ll look like inside of an elegant party venue complete with antique furniture, a fireplace, and a candlelit tent. You probably shouldn’t tell them that this is kind of a trial run, but you should order the two-for-one oysters that they serve every night.
This is one of the most interesting restaurants in the city’s most interesting neighborhood. If you’re tired of planning out your conversation topics before your dates, come to this JP tapas spot which is part-bookstore, part-record store, and part-living room of the chef-friend you don’t have. Hit up the patio if it’s nice out, the slope-side cabin of a dining room when it’s not, and always order the stuffed dates. We also love the chicken wings, which are well worth the mess on your fingers, and a great way to test just how sloppy you can get before your date refuses to be seen in public with you.
Contrary to its name, there are actually six or seven tables in this French-ish prix-fixe spot in Cambridge. Regardless, you should sit at the chef’s counter, where you’ll get to watch what looks to be a choreographed cooking show put on by the three chefs who run the place. On recent visits, we loved the homemade garganelli with clams, but you should check the menu every month to see what’s new.
If you want to get into Oleana on a weekend night, plan accordingly. The relatively few tables in this small but much-loved Mediterranean restaurant on the edge of Inman Square book up quickly. It’s worth the effort, though, and it’s a little easier to get in during the summer when the backyard is open. Order some wine, and then pick out a few good-looking mezzes to share. If your date isn’t interested in the Sultan’s Delight, it’s kind of a red flag.
Across the street from the State House at the top of Boston Common, this white-tablecloth French restaurant feels like the center of the city. Save it for when you have something to celebrate, because it’s a little pricey for a random Tuesday night. Or you can just cut into a pretty perfect foie gras dish and celebrate that.
B&G Oysters in South End is an upper tier seafood restaurant that won’t let you down. The back patio is perfect for a summer evening date, but the small underground dining room works too for when Boston weather is particular Bostony. Get a glass of wine - because this B&G just feels like a glass of wine type of place - and don’t miss the fried oysters.
The American-ish comfort food at Beehive works for most occasions, and is particularly great for brunch. But you should come here with a date for the nightly live music. Split the duck au poivre and have fun at this loud, underground restaurant that makes you feel a little cooler than you probably are (though still not as cool as the guitar soloist, because nobody’s ever as cool as that guy).
Just about everything is served family-style at this small Asian fusion spot in the South End. Expect fun cocktails, really great smells, and a lively atmosphere that always feels like a party. You should also know about the “cheap date” special on Mondays and Tuesdays, assuming you appreciate the idea of a fun, affordable prix-fixe menu with punny names. Which you should.
The normal a la carte menu at Ten Tables is so good that you might initially be disappointed to end up there on one of their special menu nights (monthly wine dinners on Tuesdays, shared suppers on Sunday, and pasta Thursdays at the bar). But that’ll just give you a reason to come back. This is a small neighborhood spot where you’ll eat some chicken or scallops that make you feel like you had a home-cooked dinner. It’s perfect for when your relationship has moved into the “let’s just have a nice quiet evening” stage.
Hungry I is textbook-romantic thanks to its Beacon Hill location, Victorian interior, and small courtyard. It’s a little pricey, but the classic French dishes and atmosphere make it a great spot to slowly sip on a glass of wine and pretend this is your own living room. If you and your date don’t know each other too well yet, stay away from the escargot. For breath purposes.
Maybe you record tasting notes in a leather-bound notebook, or maybe you’ve been known to sip a glass of wine and say, “Huh, this one’s a little more red.” No matter how many outlandish adjectives you can or can’t come up with to describe fermented grape juice, the people at this wine bar in the Fenway will help you find something you like. This dark, intimate spot is more for drinks and a bite than for a full meal. (Definitely go for the lamb-stuffed tomato.)
Bondir is good any time of the year, but you really want to be here on a night when it’s snowing (or at least, when it’s snowing in December and snow is still fun instead of rage-inducing). It feels like a little cabin in the woods that serves the type of hearty food you can’t cook yourself. It’s a tasting menu every night, so you’ll probably want to check the website before you book, but you can expect dishes like mutton and pumpkin molasses sorbet.
Prezza is far enough from Hanover Street that you won’t have to deal with packs of tourists, but close enough that you can make your way over there for an espresso and cannoli at the end of the night. For dinner, you’ll get respectfully done, old-school Italian food in a candlelit dining room that doesn’t force the ambiance with too much viola music. We recommend starting with the burrata and ending with the tagliatelle.
When you need to show your date how classically cool you are, taking them to a hidden steakhouse in the back of a Downtown Crossing bar is a pretty good idea. Keep in mind, though, that you almost always need a reservation (this place is the size of your bedroom) and you can’t use your cell phone in here, so if the date isn’t going well, you’re not going to be able to call for help.
It’s appropriate that Puro is on Newbury Street, because this subterranean spot filled with cool people and pop art murals feels like an art gallery launch party. They do ceviches best, but don’t miss the panko-fried oysters. The big menu of small plates makes this is a good option if it’s still early in the game and you don’t quite know what your date’s into yet.