We hate to break it to you, but Valentine’s Day is next week. You know you should have made a reservation already, but there are just too many choices! Whether it’s your first date, your 40th, or a one-night stand, we’ve got your perfect Valentine’s Day dinner destination. Here’s our guide to lovey-dovey meals that best suit your relationship status. XOXOXO
You’re single, and—as they say—ready to mingle
You just want to let loose with a few frilly cocktails (or chat up the gals—or guys—that drink them). Melrose’s luxe Parisian-style cocktail lounge, Pour Vous, should fit the bill. Snag some seats near the fireplace, under the domed skylight, or in one of the darker corners and sip some expertly mixed liquid courage. For a breath of fresh air (or a little privacy), step out to the back patio and take a seat in the antique trolley for a little bell ringing.
You really like them, but your wallet says differently
You want to impress your new flame, but your paycheck won’t cover Cupid’s tab. Chef Govind Armstrong’s Post & Beam is offering a three-course dinner of farm-to-table fare for just $30. Start with a love night-themed cocktail, “Aphrodite’s delight,” and satisfy your decadent palates with dishes such as oysters on the half shell and a heritage pork chop with cherry confit—all without the decadent price tag.
You can also venture downtown to Mo-Chica, where chef Ricardo Zarate is preparing a Peruvian-inspired three-course menu for $49. Start the spicy evening with a glass of complimentary cava while you mingle through dinner repartee with pisco shooters or yellowtail tiradito. Really want to dazzle your date (and found an extra few bucks between the seats)? Opt for the optional wine pairing.
It’s your very first date – keep it cool
Wow, you picked Valentine’s Day for your first rendezvous? Bold. Now you want to make the night memorable, but don’t need all the roses and violins, either. We’ve got just the thing: Over at LACMA, Ray’s restaurant will be serving three- and four-course meals prepared by chef Kris Morningstar for $65 and $75, respectively, but that may be a bit much. Instead, spend the early evening walking around the museum, gawking at the Kubrick exhibit or just giggling about the nudes in the permanent collection. Then, pull up a plush red bench at the casual Stark Bar lounge, where you can get to know your future spouse while nibbling on flatbread and olives and sipping craft cocktails. If the date goes well, you might even want to take the requisite cheesy pictures by the Urban Light sculpture. (We all do it.)
It’s only your third date—don’t scare them off
You really, really like them, but they don’t need to know that—yet. Susan Feniger’s STREET is offering a four-course dinner for $60 that’s just plain fun. Each of the pan-ethnic dishes is inspired by an ‘80s band: “Cyndi Lobster,” “Soy George.” It’s all innocent and lighthearted—until you catch a glimpse of starlight shining into the courtyard….
And nothing says “we’re just chillin’” like beer. Savor local brews at Chloe’s, the tucked-away tavern at Golden Road Brewing, while noshing on a three-course menu of dishes such as braised short rib and sundried tomato polenta. The $40 price tag comes with a complimentary rose (ooo!), a Golden Road Growler filled with the beer of your choice, and a pair of keepsake Belgian Snifter Glasses. Dinner, drinks, a gift and a rose? Go, you.
You’ve been dating for months now and, frankly, it’s time to put out
Count on a meal of known aphrodisiacs to seal the deal. At Palihouse, a $60, three-course meal has enticing options such as loup de mer and vanilla-almond semifreddo—a pre-dinner glass of wine or shot of Patron are included (um, yes).
Nothing sets the mood like oysters! Slurp down a few dozen at the Hungry Cat’s raw bar. While you’re there, $75 or $85 will earn you a three-course seductive feast of Dungeness crab, steamed black cod, and tandoori-spiced albacore tuna.
A little capsaicin should spice things up. Playa’s $60, three-course Mexi-China menu will get your juices flowing with Ginseng bay scallops and fire-charred pork chops. Oh, and tequila. It never fails.
This is it, the big night!
You’re going to be telling the “how we got engaged” story for years—make sure a good meal is part of it. Reserve a table by the window at Manhattan Beach’s the Strand House and make the most of the epic ocean view. She’ll certainly say “yes” to the five-course $150 spread, including ricotta cheese panna cotta with black truffle vinaigrette, Nantucket bay scallops, and even a glass of bubbly rosé before dinner. Toast to your future with an after-dinner drink at the downstairs Strand Bar.
You’re newlyweds—stay in and snuggle
Scratch the take-out and opt for an intimate, homemade dinner, For $160, Out Of The Box Collective can have your cozy night covered, with a box that’s filled with all the farmers’ market necessities (and saves you from a mood-killing trip to Whole Foods). Nibble on dried persimmons and artisanal goat cheese while you and your love get dirty in the kitchen. The “Feast Weekend Chef Box” includes all the components to make a delectable meal of lavender, garlic, and herb-rubbed steak with roasted amorosa potatoes. Finish the feast off with strawberry crepes with locally made strawberry jam.
It’s a friggin’ miracle but you landed a babysitter—now, to celebrate!
Time to splurge on a swanky night. Hurry up and score a reservation at Suzanne Goin’s elegant Lucques, which is offering an indulgent five-course meal for $125. Savor every last morsel of scallops with toasted cornbread and succulent veal chops with carrot puree. You could probably use the wine pairings, too—it’s an additional $50, but this may be your last chance for a while.
Or, dine under the starlight in the greenhouse-inspired dining room at Tavern. A $95, four-course meal includes all manner of fancy-schmancy grub, including oysters, caviar, a poached duck egg. Call the sitter—tell her you’ll be late.
You’ve been married forever and might actually have nothing to talk about
If sitting across the table from your loved one feels just like every other Thursday night, try a Valentine’s Day cooking class at the Market on Holly. For $60, learn how to concoct an elegant meal of roasted fennel and orange salad, lobster and scallop risotto, and chocolate fondue while sipping wine, grazing on charcuterie, and mingling with your classmates. Take home a jar of honey-lime vinaigrette as a keepsake of your reignited love.
You just broke up—Cupid can go $*!% himself
So you just got dumped—or maybe you were the one doing the curb-kicking. Either way, the thought of lovey-dovey couples and candlelit restaurants is whittling away at your appetite. Before you down that bottle of wine by yourself, grab some friends and express your bitter sentiments at the Urban Oven pizza truck. The chalk-board-painted mobile pie-slinger encourages patrons to scribble anti-love messages on the side of the truck (swear words are encouraged) while devouring a slice of crusty, cheesy goodness from L.A.’s only wood-burning pizza oven on wheels. Urban Oven will be waiting for your stupid Cupid messages (and pizza cravings) at the downtown L.A. art walk starting at 6 p.m.