Whether you’re going on your first date or your 1,000-and-first, choosing a romantic restaurant is a key element. You have to bring your A game, of course – charm, wit, and adorableness – but the restaurant does a lot of the heavy lifting. Think of it as a stage set for your own version of “When Harry Met Sally” (or insert your favorite rom-com here). Happily, Virginia Beach has plenty of restaurants that provide a beautiful backdrop for romance, including some that offer fine dining experiences along with delicious food, classic cocktails, and gracious service. Bring on the hearts and flowers (but don’t bring up your exes!) and be sure to order something decadent for dessert, with two spoons. Find your personal couple style below and let the romance begin.



The Atlantic on Pacific Date Night

Too Soon to Tell: The Atlantic on Pacific

Bubbly + bivalves – it sounds like a match made in heaven. For a first-date situation, we can’t think of a better venue than The Atlantic on Pacific. Billed as an oyster/cocktail bar, this waterfront-area hotspot offers enticing sharable dishes including caviar and blinis, a pimento cheese sampler, and crazy-good fried pickles, plus 15 wines by the glass. Grab a coveted seat at the raw bar and watch the oyster shuckers do their thing with great fanfare – talk about a first-date icebreaker! If your date isn’t into things briny and raw, order baked oysters or the pork/shrimp/kimchi dumplings.


Food & Beverage - Terrapin - A22A8312.jpg

Fabulous Foodies at Terrapin Restaurant

If it’s got James Beard Award buzz, you’re in. As a couple, you bond over the best things in life – like the elevated cuisine at Terrapin Restaurant. The sleek indoor/outdoor (heated terrace) space is a date-night go-to, thanks to its sophisticated feel (that cool zebrawood bar!) and Chef Rodney Einhorn’s winning ways with locally sourced, fresh-from-the-farm ingredients. Order à la carte, spring for the four-course tasting menu, or go total YOLO-mode and splurge on caviar service. Add some spice to your night with an order of cacio e pepe.For dessert, make it Valrhona chocolate pudding or a Prosecco float. Could there be a sparkly ring in that float? This place is a popular spot for popping the question.



Zoes Restaurant

Life Is a Celebration at Zoës Steak & Seafood

Are you celebrating a special occasion, say an anniversary, dating milestone, or simply a night away from the kids? Zoës Steak & Seafood is a worthy setting. Think intimate booths, soft lighting, and an open kitchen where you can watch Chef Paul Benton and his team work their magic. Decadence rules here, in the best way possible. The lobster mac & cheese is pure joy on a plate, and if that’s not outrageous enough, how about surf & turf, a triumph of lobster tail, eight-ounce New York strip steak, whipped potatoes, and veggies with scallop butter? You get the idea. All of this, and a wine list that wins praises from Wine Spectator. Nice.


Civil Libation

Healthy & Hip at Civil Libation

Settle into one of the communal tables at Civil Libation and share your love for all things gluten-free, vegan (if that’s how you roll), and downright delicious. This place will win your heart thanks to tasty, shareable fare. Think tuna nachos, squash rings, baba ganoush, and other toothsome bites that meet your #dietarygoals but still feel indulgent. Trendy cocktails and mocktails add playful flair, with cheeky names like “That’s What She Said” and “Friends with Benefits.”


Mermaid Winery

Oenophiles at Heart at Mermaid Winery

United by your love of fine wine? We have the perfect spot for your romantic rendezvous: Mermaid Winery. With more than 800 wines, plus their own varietals, Mermaid offers stupendous sipping. Most guests opt for a wine flight – five one-ounce pours from the winery’s own wines, or a flight of wines from around the world. The menu is designed to be a perfect complement, including a popular spinach-and-artichoke dip, rave-worthy chicken pasta, and “Mermaid Tacos”: blackened-tuna with avocado and charred pineapple. For dessert, what could be more romantic than chocolate fondue for two?


couple sitting at window eating

Cool + Creative: Esoteric

Set in a historic building in the ViBe Creative District, adorable Esoteric is the love child of a husband-and-wife team. How’s that for romantic cred? The food looks like art on a plate, with produce gathered from the garden they share with Commune. The menu is small, but well-curated, with items you won’t see everywhere, like poutine with Virginia ham, and a plant-based version with crispy jackfruit, smoked tofu, and oyster mushrooms. The small plates are most interesting here; the charred octopus is a standout.


Rockafeller's Restaurant

Southern-Fried Chic at Rockafeller’s Restaurant

Virginia Beach is known for waterfront dining. Award-winning Rockafeller’s Restaurant is tops for couples, thanks to its Rudee Inletlocation and gracious service. Some staff members have been here for years, and they really know how to take care of their customers. The grilled BBQ shrimp is simply out of this world, a crave-worthy combination of sweet, smoky and succulent. Shrimp hush puppies, she-crab soup, and classic crab cakes with pimento dipping sauce… this is Southern cuisine at its finest. Don’t miss the “Oysters Rockafeller.”


Becca The Cavalier

Traditional in a Good Way at Becca

“Garden-to-table” is how they roll at Becca, a pretty space with a lushly decorated garden patio at the landmark Historic Cavalier Hotel. (Is your beloved a gardener? Bonus points for choosing Becca.) They grow their own produce and use it in fresh, modern ways (Brussels sprouts with black garlic crumble, anyone?), alongside fish and steaks cooked over an open fire. Wood-grilled “Oysters Becca” is a favorite. Salmon is dressed with their own bourbon-honey glaze. You’ll both be swooning. Now lean in for a kiss already.


person pouring drink at a bar


Adventurous All the Way at Love Song

You two bond over new experiences. You love trying new and intriguing foodstuffs – heck, you’d eat insects-on-a-stick if they were served with the right sauce. No insects grace the menu at Love Song, of course, but you’ll discover a medley of unexpected-yet-delectable bites, served in a bistro setting with a “New York wine bar” vibe. Try gnudi with sheep’s milk cream, caraway, trout roe and dill, or perhaps a sharable plate of salt cod fritters or marinated anchovy and olives, paired with a biodynamic wine. Perfection! Bonus: There’s bound to be good romantic karma at a place called Love Song.


pasta dish set at table

Pasta Is Our Love Language at Sorella’s

Lady & The Tramp had it right – Italian restaurants simply ooze romance. That’s definitely the case at Sorella’s, the Neapolitan sister of local eateries Eurasia and The Atlantic on Pacific. No checkered tablecloths here: Think modern Italian chic. Their handmade pasta and pizzas are magnifico. What’s not to love about orecchiette with Italian sausage, Calabrian chili, rapini and garlic? Given the garlic component, be sure to share that dish. Sorella’s version of stuffed shells with blue crab and prosciutto would make Nonna weep, it’s that good. For dessert? Zeppole, of course, or a blood orange sorbetto with limoncello.


About Our Writer

East Coast-based writer D. Chérie Bair covers travel, food, and outdoor recreation for newspapers, magazines, and online travel sites. She has contributed to several guidebooks for Fodor’s, Michelin, Lonely Planet, and Frommer’s. A global traveler, Bair admits she is “besotted” with Virginia Beach. Her favorite things to do there include paddling with dolphins in Rudee Inlet and loading up on taffy at Forbes Candies.