| November 16, 2012

Whether you're searching for the perfect romantic restaurant or worrying about what to do on your next date, planning a memorable night can be stressful. Luckily, there's a way to kill both of those pesky birds with one stone: Head to a restaurant where you can cook your own dinner.

We know it sounds counterintuitive at first, but cooking your own food offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience that you and your special someone will never forget. It's also a great way to ease the tension on first dates or break free from the same old "dinner and a movie" mold. Best of all, you might learn a few tricks to take home and try out in your home kitchen.

Here are five great restaurants where you're in charge of the night's menu.

The Melting Pot

Take a dip at The Melting Pot, the fondue chain where hungry patrons dip, dunk and drench each of their bites before chowing down. Enjoy a melty cheese fondue for an appetizer, simmer your main course in a savory broth, and feed each other chocolate dipped treats for dessert. Each location also features a secluded Lover's Lane booth for couples who prefer more privacy while they dine.


Benihana's Be The Chef program offers a unique experience for your special someone. Purchase this gift package for a loved one, and they'll recieve a personal teppanyaki training session with a professional Benihana chef. Afterwards, he or she (along with the trained chef) can treat you and two guests to a demonstration of their talents.

California Shabu Shabu

Japanese-style shabu-shabu cuisine is becoming more and more popular stateside, and for good reason: It's fun. At places like the California Shabu Shabu restaurants, diners order up vegetables, seafood and thinly sliced meats which they cook at their own table in a pot of bubbling broth. And because the food is simmered and not deep-fried or sautéed, shabu-shabu is a great option for the health conscious couple.


Craving something sweet? Try capping off your special night at Cosi. This national restaurant chain allows guests to roast their own s'mores using a tabletop fire pit. It's like camping, but with better lighting and access to indoor plumbing.