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Top Romantic Spots to Dine

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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South Carolina is a land of amorous plenty when it comes to romantic dining. Looking for the perfect place to wine and dine your honey? Here are a few outstanding choices:

Charleston

Charleston Grill is a tradition for many Charleston visitors seeking elegant, intimate dining. Known for culinary masterpieces that marry Lowcountry flavors with European touches, this restaurant is a standout, attracting couples and others with discriminating tastes. An excellent wait staff, elegant dining room, live jazz, garden views and a highly regarded wine cellar work together with the menu to make Charleston Grill a true dining icon. 

Chez Nous is a small, European-inspired gem that’s big on culinary excellence as well as romance. The fact that it’s a little off the beaten downtown path is the first hint that you and your love are in for an intimate treat. Housed in a former residence, this restaurant serves only seasonal fare and the limited, but always-remarkable menu – two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts – is reset daily. This is the place to go for adventurous foodies in love. 

Fulton Five is ready to transport you and your honey straight to Northern Italy. Tucked away on a downtown side street, this restaurant has been in the romance business for a quarter century. Reserve your share of the amore, settle in, then wine and dine one another to your hearts’ content – and that content is guaranteed. 

Peninsula Grill is a Charleston institution with a romantic Southern ambience and world-class reputation for fine food. Begin your meal with a Champagne toast at this internationally recognized, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. For a grand finale, split a slice of their sumptuous, multi-layered coconut cake. 

Columbia
Al's Upstairs Italian has been synonymous with romantic dining since opening in 1979. Housed in a century-old building overlooking the city skyline, this restaurant is known for impeccable service and expertly prepared Italian dishes.

Hampton Street Vineyard, located on the bottom level of the Sylvan Building, has a real “hidden gem” feel as you take the stairs down and enter the wine cellar-style restaurant. A multiple recipient of Wine Spectator’s “Best Award of Excellence,” the dining room is intimate, yet hums with the steady energy of an iconic, big city restaurant. The food is exceptional and the wines, divine. 

Nonnah's in the Vista offers intimate surroundings, a menu with a farm-to-table focus and a renowned lineup of house-made, decadent desserts perfect for sharing. For a special treat, reserve a five-course chef’s tasting. Even if you dine elsewhere, though, Nonnah’s specializes in great endings with flaming coffees and desserts.

Saluda's in Five Points also claims vintage digs, operating in an impressively renovated WWI officers’ club. Drink from fine crystal in this grand hall, the focal point of which is a stunning Victorian mahogany bar reclaimed from the Blakely Hotel in Philadelphia. The menu matches the fine décor, with dishes that reflect a mingling of European and contemporary Southern flair.

Greenville

Larkin's on the River has a prime spot on the banks of the Reedy River in the heart of downtown Greenville and serves food worthy of its special locale. Housed in one of a handful of buildings in the area dating back to the Civil War, it was renovated with an eye toward preserving historical elements and playing up the vintage beauty. Exposed brick, wood floors and an outdoor dining porch overlooking the river make for memorable, romantic dining.

Passerelle French Bistro charms with an Old World feel and authentic dishes. It’s easy to suspend your disbelief and pretend you and your date are dining in a cozy European café. For the ultimate in romance, reserve a table on the patio overlooking the waterfalls on the Reedy. 

Rick Erwin's Westend Grille lures lovers with its rich ambience: dark wood, low lighting, white tablecloths and a stellar menu. The fresh seafood and steaks are top-notch. 

Trattoria Giorgio is a charming, quaint Italian café. The dining room is small and intimate – perfect for quiet conversation and making eyes over dishes of pasta, piccata and panna cotta. 

Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand

Aspen Grille offers dining that’s sophisticated, warm and relaxed – perfect for couples wishing to linger over a fine meal and fabulous wine. The service is impeccable, the tablecloths, white and crisp, and the food, Southern inspired with contemporary twists. 

Flamingo Grill – the name sizzles with a hint of sexiness and fun. The retro vibe – ‘50s art deco – invites couples to experience dining that’s a bit whimsical, but decidedly romantic. The fresh seafood dishes and steaks that issue from the kitchen reflect a more serious aesthetic, though. This is top-notch dining in a setting you won’t soon forget. 

The Library has the intimate feel of the real deal with book shelves and cozy spaces for dining on delicious fare with European flair. But it’s the tableside preparations by tuxedoed servers that wow the couples crowd: traditional Caesar salad, Steak Diane, flambe desserts and other offerings deliver an entertaining, delectable dining experience.

Parson's Table in Little River serves fresh seafood and more in surroundings that harken back to the 1800s Methodist church that was once housed here. Stunning stained glass windows, dark wood and antiques, including a Tiffany lamp, enhance the Southern ambience and will fill you and your sweetie with warm fuzzies.  

Hilton Head

Charlie's L'Etoile Verte is just as special as it sounds. Named for a Paris café once frequented by the owner, this restaurant delivers a dining experience worthy of any Francophile’s admiration. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients inform the menu that is a perfect fit with the pretty French Country décor. Settle back, play a little footsie and savor treats like escargot, roast duck, fresh local fish and rack of lamb paired with a fine wine. 

The Jazz Corner is where you take your love for a great meal served up with a live jazz soundtrack. The supper club vibe is alluring and so are the dishes crafted in the kitchen: bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, herbed-grilled certified Black Angus filet mignon, lobster mac-and-cheese. There’s a lot of love in the air and on the table when you spend an evening here. 

Ombra Cucina Italiano is where lovers on the island go for fine Italian dining and ambience. Enjoy traditional dishes with modern touches as well as a robust wine list, including some of Italy’s best like Brunello and Amarone. 

Sunset Grille, optimally situated on the Intracoastal Waterway overlooking Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, is known for breathtaking views and expertly crafted dishes. The combo makes for a magical dining experience that is a perfect mix of upscale and casual. Nothing like that laid-back island vibe and a glorious sunset to put you in the mood for love.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.