You can’t go wrong at these date night restaurants.
#1 – Basil Leaf – With its intimate setting, candlelit tables and pasta so mouthwatering you won’t want to share even a noodle with your date, Basil Leaf is a date night dream. The restaurant is cozy and boasts dishes like homemade spaghetti and meatballs and tortellini cordon bleu (complete with bacon and cream sauce) so if you’re planning on a weekend night, make sure to factor in a wait time.
#2 – 715 – This is a restaurant that cares about the details and every single plate that passes from kitchen to table reflects that. 715 has nightly specials and never misses a chance to wish a celebrity happy birthday at the bottom of the menus they print daily. All pasta is house-made, and you cannot go wrong with any of the meat and cheese board choices. An elevated drink menu, chic atmosphere and funky lighting will add the perfect touches to your night.
#3 – Port Fonda – Is your heart set on fresh margaritas, mouthwatering meats and tangy salsas? This new Lawrence installation dishes up authentic tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and cazuelitas (also known as sopes) with a fancy twist. Port Fonda originated in Kansas City with chef Patrick Ryan, who has since been named Kansas City’s best chef by Pitch Magazine. In 2013 and 2014 he was nominated for Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef Midwest and was a 2015 semifinalist for the James Beard Awards Best Chef: Midwest. Chances are, you’ll enjoy your meal.
#4 – J. Wilsons – J. Wilsons is Johnny’s Tavern all grown up-refined, mature and polished. The owner of this West Lawrence spot, formerly known as Mariscos, also owns the popular sports bar Johnny’s Tavern. J. Wilsons is stylish yet comfortable, and, according to their website, “inappropriately good.” If that doesn’t sound like a perfect Valentine’s Day spot, I don’t know what does.
#5 – Bon Bon! – Head to this East Lawrence newbie if you want a fun array of gourmet, bite-size eats. This joint grew under the wise eyes of Codi and Simon (they created the Burger Stand, so they know what they’re doing). This spot is so adorably branded you might not ever want to leave, unless you get to take a swirly Bon Bon! straw with you.
#6 – RND Corner Grille – Steak, oysters, duck confit-you are in for a treat at RND Corner Grille. This restaurant gets its name from the “Round Corner Drug” building it is located in and will welcome you into an elegant evening with classic, upscale American fare. It’s the kind of place where you will want to sip, dine and toast the evening away.
#7 – Merchants Pub & Plate – This bank building-turned-eatery holds its ground as a popular farm-to-table dinner choice on Mass St, offering delicious plates like stuffed mushroom arancini, crab cakes, and the mac and cheesemonger. Merchants is also a favorite host for happy hour-there are 30 craft beers on tap that change daily, and an expansive wine and cocktail menu.
#8 – Genovese – Genovese has you covered if you’re looking for classic Italian cuisine with a classy, Euro vibe. Good luck choosing off the wine menu-the only thing harder may be deciding between the pappardelle and the spinach and fresh ricotta ravioli. Even better, this place is known for their desserts-birthdays and dates often end with house-made tiramisu or limoncello mascarpone mousse cake.