Dubuque is a lovely Iowa metropolis located on the banks of the majestic Mississippi River, known for renowned attractions such as the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which details life in and around the beautiful river region.

Couples can explore area landmarks such as the 19th-century Mathias Ham House mansion, operated as a living history museum today, and the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, which offers nature trails and outdoor recreation opportunities. Eclectic restaurants line the city's historic downtown district, ranging from classic Italian bistros to inventive New American restaurants helmed by award-winning celebrity chefs.

1. Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar

Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar
© Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar

Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar is the vision of award-winning executive chef and restaurateur Kevin Scharpf, who was named as one of FSR Magazine's top 40 under 40 rising culinary stars in 2016. Scharpf, who competed on the 16th season of popular Bravo television series Top Chef, serves up excellent farm-to-table fare in a rustic dining space in Dubuque's burgeoning Historic Millwork District, working with local farmers and growers to ensure peak ingredient freshness and quality.

Diners can enjoy excellent creative American fare at lunch and dinner throughout the week, paired with a high-quality selection of craft beers and house cocktails. Main courses include unique offerings like Dandan Szechuan noodles, parsnip ravioli in hazelnut brown butter sauce, beef shoulder tender with sweet potato pave and root vegetables, and seared sea scallops with sunflower seed risotto.

Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar, 955 Washington St Suite 101, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-587-8899

2. Caroline's Restaurant

Caroline's Restaurant
© Caroline's Restaurant

Caroline's Restaurant is the signature dining experience of the Hotel Julien, which dates back to 1839 and is located within convenient walking distance of area attractions like the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. The restaurant, which is open throughout the week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service, is known for its creative American cuisine with modern twists, served up in a charming historic dining space.

Diners can enjoy high-quality entree selections like veal lollipop rib chops with blueberry Merlot demiglace, summer squash ribbons with Mexican street corn, maple plank Atlantic salmon with chili honey and mixed vegetables, and local Angus ribeye steaks with pickled sweet peppers and potato pavé. After dinner, couples can retire in luxury at their choice of the hotel's refined rooms and guest suites, which offer luxurious amenities like whirlpool tubs for two and self-service minibars.

Caroline's Restaurant, 200 Main St, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-588-5595

3. Copper Kettle

Copper Kettle
© Copper Kettle

Copper Kettle is a delightful American-style eatery known for its gluten-free and low-fat health-conscious options, serving up moderately-priced menu offerings for the entire family to enjoy.

The restaurant serves as a more affordable alternative to some of Dubuque's pricier gourmet restaurants, making it a great choice for couples looking for a romantic dining experience on a budget. Elegant main entree preparations include buttermilk-brined crispy fried chicken, walnut-crusted salmon with honey basil walnut crust, kimchi braised pork belly platters, and flat-iron steaks prepared with red wine butter and crispy shallots. Casual sandwiches are also served up at lunchtime, including favorites like muffalettas and pepper jack jalapeno sandwiches.

Copper Kettle, 2987 Jackson St, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-845-0567

4. Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
© Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar offers some of Dubuque's most authentic Asian fare, owned and operated by restaurateurs Guang Ming Chen and Yi Mei. Diners can enjoy selections from the restaurant's massive sushi bar, which serves up signature rolls, sashimi, and cold bar appetizers throughout the evening.

A hibachi table provides culinary theater entertainment as chefs prepare entrees based on diners' protein choices and vegetable selections cooked to perfection. Full dinner menus highlight classics like beef teriyaki, shrimp or lobster tempura, Japanese-style yakisoba noodles, and tempura udon, served up alongside bento box dinners featuring diners' choice of two entree selections. Couples can also share a variety of classic Japanese and modern pan-Asian appetizers, including selections like barbecue teriyaki squid and hamachi kama.

Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, 3187 University Ave, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-845-0698

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5. L.May Eatery

L.May Eatery
© L.May Eatery

L.May Eatery was opened on Dubuque's beautiful historic Main Street in 2007, named in honor of its owners' grandmother and paying tribute to her delicious traditional home cooking. The restaurant offers menu offerings for every taste, including extensive vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings prepared with fresh, local seasonal ingredients.

Gourmet comfort food fare served up at dinner throughout the week includes gluten-free macaroni and cheese bowls, rosemary chicken pizza with balsamic reduction, stuffed bell peppers drowned in coconut curry sauce, and "crabby shrimp" Oscar with lemon rice pilaf. High-quality chophouse fare is also served up, including fall-off-the-bone pork shanks and Iowa black Angus filet mignon with garlic horseradish compound butter. Handcrafted cocktails are paired with fine wine and beer selections from the restaurant's full-service bar.

L.May Eatery, 1072 Main St, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-556-0505

6. Lina's Thai Bistro

Lina's Thai Bistro
© Lina's Thai Bistro

Lina's Thai Bistro is a charming Thai-style restaurant owned and operated by married duo Lina Qiu and Gordon Gao, known for its authentic traditional Thai dishes and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant is renowned throughout the Dubuque region for its authentic fortune noodle dishes, crafted from thick-cut, stretched dough and served up in preparations like pattaya street noodles, koi soi, and traditional glass noodles. Creative main dishes include house specialties like crying tiger beef, Korean short ribs, and lemongrass sausage with wok-braised eggs.

Traditional curry dishes are also on the menu, along with sizzling seafood platters and spicy favorites like kung pao and Thai chili cashew noodles.

Lina's Thai Bistro, 2055 Holliday Dr, Dubuque, IA 52002, Phone: 563-588-2345

7. Pepper Sprout

Pepper Sprout
© Pepper Sprout

Pepper Sprout serves up delicious American-style cuisine offerings at breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the week in a casual, relaxed dining environment. Reservations are strongly recommended at the lively restaurant, which is a top choice in the area for date nights and business get-togethers.

Diners can enjoy creative modern fare at lunch and dinner throughout the week, including unique house specialties like barbecue chicken Vermont cheddar mac and cheese waffles, cowboy caviar wild king salmon, pan-seared duck confit with bing cherry marsala sauce, and blackened walleye in shrimp and Andouille sausage Creole sauce. Couples can also share inventive appetizer plates like baked brie puff pastries, cast-iron maple-glazed fall vegetables, and supper club trays prepared with homemade braunschweiger and warm pretzel sticks.

Pepper Sprout, 378 Main St, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-556-2167

8. Timmerman's Supper Club

Timmerman's Supper Club
© Anastasiia/stock.adobe.com

Timmerman's Supper Club is one of Dubuque's longest-operating dining institutions, originally opened in 1961 by local social figure Helen Timmerman. The club, which is overseen today by Gary Neuses and Jodi and Mark Hayes, offers charming, relaxed dining experiences in a beautiful supper club environment that overlooks the banks of the gorgeous Mississippi River.

Diners can enjoy high-quality steak and seafood entree selections at dinner throughout the week, including favorites like grilled ham steaks with pineapple, flame-roasted mahi mahi with sesame vinaigrette, house specialty hand-cut ribeye steaks with Béarnaise sauce, and Greek pasta primavera tossed in white wine and feta cheese garlic sauce. Specialty cocktails pair with an extensive wine list, available by the glass or by the bottle.

Timmerman's Supper Club, 7777 Timmerman Dr, East Dubuque, IL 61025, Phone: 815-747-3316

9. Vinny Vanucchi's

Vinny Vanucchi's
© Vinny Vanucchi's

Vinny Vanucchi's is the second outpost of the popular Galena restaurant of the same name, owned and operated by married duo Jack and Deb Coulter. The restaurant is known throughout Iowa for its delicious traditional Italian menu offerings, highlighting slow-cooked sauces and classic family recipes.

Family photographs line the walls of the restaurant's dining space, which showcases checkered tablecloths and exposed brick wall elements. Couples can choose from a variety of delicious Italian favorites on the restaurant's dinner menus, including house specialties like fettuccine primavera, pasta alla Vinny with real lump crabmeat, Uncle Paulie's baked penne, and chicken Compomare sauteed with broccoli, mushrooms, and tomatoes in wine cream sauce.

Vinny Vanucchi's, 180 Main St, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-588-9600

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10. Woodfire Grille

Woodfire Grille
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Woodfire Grille is the signature dining experience of the Diamond Jo Casino, located within Dubuque's delightful historic downtown district. The restaurant serves up exquisite USDA Prime steaks alongside fresh seafood entrees and fine house specialties, complemented by a selection of 32 wines by the glass or more than 200 bottles stocked within the casino's wine cellar.

Diners can choose from classic steakhouse options like filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip, or Porterhouse or try one of the restaurant's unique internationally-influenced house specialties like Moroccan-spiced beef kebabs, pan-seared scallops, and Thai seafood pasta. Adjacent to the restaurant, the casino's lively floor offers more than 1,000 slot machines, along with a wide variety of table games and live music performances most evenings.

Woodfire Grille, 301 Bell St, Dubuque, IA 52001, Phone: 563-690-4755

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