I posted something in the forums over the weekend looking for a romantic restaurant in Seattle..and while I got some interesting responses (thanks for the McDonald’s tip) the best advice I got came offline, from a friend who recommended Cafe Juanita. It’s a bit of a haul to get the place, as it’s located in Kirkland (our waiter said the chef, Holly Smith, will hopefully open a restaurant in Seattle next) the food, the service, and the atmosphere all made the drive worth the time. The dimly lit, cozy, wooden-walled dining area overlooks a wooded, private garden on one side and the open kitchen on the other, so you have a view of both the greenery outside and the chefs inside.
The food is all Northern Italian-inspired, and ranges from simple appertifs (we had glasses of champagne and small hunks of parmasean cheese to start) and salads (delicious greens and figs) to rich but simply made main courses (my boyfriend had oxtail risotto, I had the fish of the day--I forgot what kind it was, of course), both of which were ample portions and delicious without being too heavy. And it should be noted that all the ingredients are organic. Our waiter was really friendly without being overbearing, recommending great wine, brining over extra treats since he knew we were celebrating a birthday, and overall making it a great dining experience. Sara Dickerman also reviewed the place, and you can check out her praise here, but going through the Stranger archives it looks like the place has been a favorite for years. While Café Juanita is by no means inexpensive, the higher cost of the food is very reasonable and is definitely matched by the quality of the dishes prepared. Highly recommended in the romantic restaurants category.