World's Most Romantic Restaurants
- Love Boats: The World's Sexiest Cruises
- Spice Things Up With a Valentine's Day Trip
- Ultimate Adventures: 15 Trips That Will Change Your Life
- Top Ski Resorts and Hotels 2008
- The World's Sexiest Islands
Credit: Courtesy of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Contrary to what your eighth-grade girlfriend may have told you, romance isn't all about flowers and heart-shaped candies. But the word "romantic" has become so sappy and overmarketed that it's often tough to remember its actual meaning (we prefer the Byronic sense of "remote, adventurous, mysterious"). And sadly, many so-called romantic restaurants rely on the same clichéd formulas whether you're in Mexico or Manhattan: bland decor, food-as-afterthought, stuffy waiters, and the inescapable strolling violinist/guitarist/accordionist (does anyone actually enjoy that?). So this year, we'll help you reclaim romance, one mesmerizing meal at a time. Our 12 restaurant picks from around the world have all the right elements—a seductive view, an unhurried atmosphere, terrific food—but never veer into sentimentality. Because style mixed with subtlety is a more potent aphrodisiac than straight saccharine.
Why Go: It's less hippie—and more chic—than similar beachside cantinas along this sleepy stretch of the Riviera Maya.
A Side of Atmosphere: Imagine your most effortlessly stylish boho buddies opened a hotel on a prime piece of Tulum beachfront (with the requisite straw-topped huts and curving palms strung with colorful hammocks). In the platform restaurant, where candle-filled chandeliers swing from the thatched ceiling, you'll get almost as buzzed from the tickling trade winds and sultry salsa beats as you will from the potent margaritas.
Appetite for Seduction: The back-to-basics menu revolves around a single element: fire. A starter of spicy, seafood-based "firestone" soup — named for the single red-hot rock that's added to make it simmer — is ladled tableside. The most succulent entrées, like the slow-cooked, beer-marinated lamb wrapped in banana leaves, come from the brick-lined barbecue pit.
The Hot Seat: Couples gravitate toward the single table on the stand-alone circular platform: It's under palm trees, away from the restaurant and even closer to the electric-blue Caribbean.
Why Go: Carved from the evocatively weathered remnants of a 17th-century sugar mill, this small, standout restaurant is as alluring as any beachfront spot.
A Side of Atmosphere: Candlelight bounces off stone walls in the open-sided dining room, which is surrounded by a dense, jungly garden: You'll feel as though you've stumbled across your own secret hiding spot.
Appetite for Seduction: The owners, food writers Jeff and Jinx Morgan, serve some of the Caribbean's most elegant eats. Typically West Indian ingredients like shrimp, conch, and pork get punched up with Thai chiles, white truffles, wasabi, and morello cherries.
The Hot Seat: You'll have the best view of the dining room if you sit in front of the waterfall, which was fashioned from the mill's original copper cauldron.
Why Go: When you dine at 7,700 feet, you look down — not up — at the Rockies. And being together above the clouds will leave you breathless (well, not literally, we hope).