Okay, so Valentine’s Day is a whole thing. For some, it’s the worst dining night of the year, with forced ambience and pricey fixed-price menus to make reservations in a panic frenzy; and for others, it’s an excuse to fall in love with new or long-term partners. Despite this, it’s one of the busiest food days of the year.
To make planning that much easier, Eater is here with assorted tips for specific situations and desires, all for Tuesday 14th February. The clock is ticking – book those reservations or orders now as many of these meals will soon be sold out.
Where you can book coveted meals well in advance
Okay, first things first: Valentine’s Day reservations are already booked at many of Austin’s upscale restaurants. We would have recommended Uchi/Uchiko and Barley Swine but there are no more reservations. That said, there are some other solid deals out there, but book these as soon as you can.
Yes, it’s one of Austin’s finest high-end restaurants, and yes, Jeffrey’s still has reservations available for Valentine’s Eve. The $225 four-course meal includes dishes like lobster bisque, Wagyu beef tenderloin and chocolate casserole to share, complemented by superior hospitality and a wonderful wine list. (1204 West Lynn Street, Clarksville,Book reservations online)
There are still a few late-night tables available at Southern Restaurant Olamaie, which offers a fixed-price menu in the evenings. The $150 offering includes three courses with dishes like Jefferson Red Rice and Gulf Shrimp, Okra Gumbo, and Grapefruit Semifreddo. There are also side dishes for caviar and Wagyu ribeye steaks. (1610 San Antonio Street, Downtown, Book reservations online)
New Texas restaurant Emmer & Rye offers a six-course tasting menu for $150 per person. Expect a menu of pasta, vegetables, and meats, plus optional $95 wine pairings and a la carte cocktails. There is also a dessert to take away. (51 Rainey Street, Downtown,Book reservations online)
Where to spend your first Valentine’s Day together
Ah, new burgeoning new romances. There can be a lot of pressure on a couple’s first Valentine’s Day together, but it’s worth remembering to have some fun and relax.
Italian restaurant L’Oca d’Oro is hosting one of their epic music-themed dinner parties. This year’s Love V. Hate Dinner takes on a whole 1970s vibe with songs and projected music videos from pop icon Abba and cult favorite Big Star. The $100 per person menu includes family dishes like cabbage dolmades, mafaldine with smoked ribs, hot chicken milanesa, and cardamom donuts. There are drink couples for an additional $60, and yes, 1970s attire is recommended. (1900 Simond Avenue, Mueller, Book reservations online)
The Kinfolk cocktail bar offers a Valentine’s Day evening full of fun drinks and snacks. The $50 ticket includes two drinks, a cheese/charcuterie/macaron platter and an appetizer. If you feel like meeting new people, take a seat at the communal table. (303 Red River Street, Downtown, Book reservations online)
Where to go when you’ve been together for 10 years
Once you’ve settled into each other, Valentine’s Day isn’t an opportunity to try to impress one another, but rather a day to show appreciation for one another.
Chic new American restaurant Josephine House is hosting a Valentine’s Day version of its usual weekly steak night special. The $150 meal includes grilled steaks along with other smaller bites and sweets. (1601 Waterston Avenue, Clarksville, Book reservations online)
The Diner Bar, the Thompson Hotel’s restaurant owned by the award-winning Mashama Bailey, is celebrating its first Valentine’s Day with a fixed-price menu. The meal includes dishes like hoecakes paired with caviar, oysters, quail marinated in molasses and the Eton Mess sundae loaded with strawberries. It’s $150 per couple. (501 Brazos Street, Downtown, Book reservations online)
Lobster is festive and indulgent as hell, so indulge in plenty of seafood at Garbo’s. There are no special menus, so just expect a la carte whole lobster and lobster rolls, oysters, fish and chips (available Tuesdays only), and more. (12709 North Mopac Expressway, Parmer Point, Book reservations online)
Where to go for a last minute Valentine’s Day meal
Some people are planners, others prefer to be spontaneous. And luckily for the former, Austin is full of very casual no-reservation food trucks. For those open on Tuesdays, check out Cuantos Tacos for awesome tacos (and BYOB your own beer) or Pedroso’s for pizza and drinks from host site Night Owl. (Cuantos: 1108 East 12th Street, Central East Austin; Pedrosos: 8315 Burnet Road, Wooten)
And then there’s Birdie’s, a new American wine restaurant that never takes reservations. This means that you should arrive earlier to secure a comfortable table inside at the counter (doors open at 17:00) and enjoy all the wines and dishes. (2944 East 12th Street, Chestnut)
Where to hang out with a group
If you are with friends/couples/etc. want to hang out, Cidercade and Bar Cidercade is having a party. For $10 entry, people can choose different bracelets that indicate their relationship status – green for single and open to conversation, yellow for complicated, and red for taken. Also on deck are drinks and games. The party lasts from 7 p.m. to midnight. (600 East Riverside Drive, South River City, Buy tickets online)
Although full details are not yet available, French restaurant Justine’s is hosting both a Valentine’s Day dinner and an anti-Valentine’s Day party. Stay tuned. (4710 East Fifth Street, Govalle)
Where you can take home excellent Valentine’s Day dishes
Prefer to stay home on your Valentine’s Day date? During these times, take-out meals have become increasingly popular, with many local restaurants offering take-out meals.
Chef Dong Ho Choo of Japanese sandwich café Choo Sando also runs his own impeccable omakase takeaway, which includes a special Valentine’s Day option. The $260 box includes oysters with uni, caviar, and roe; Sashimi buns, nigiri, crudo and a strawberry sandwich. (5222 Burnet Road, Rosedale, Place pick-up orders online and pickups are on Tuesday 14th February with time slots)
Where you can enjoy fantastic desserts
Honestly, desserts are the best part of any meal and celebration, and that really applies to Valentine’s Day. Also check out Eater’s Picks for the best candy and chocolate shops in town for more ideas.
Stock up on delicious seasonal thick sandwich cookies from Cookie Rich for the holidays. There’s the chocolate chip cookie with a chocolate fondant and dark cherry jam filling, and the oat chip cookie with a vanilla cream cheese frosting. There are all sorts of pack sizes, from packs of four to best sellers. (1801 North Lamar Blvd, West Campus, Place orders online for local pickup and deliveryand There is national shipping)
San Antonio’s Bakery Lorraine’s Austin location bakes tons of Valentine’s Day desserts. For in-person pickups, there are chocolate raspberry tarts, grapefruit tiramisus, heart-shaped moon pies, Fraisier cakes, and more. And then the bakery also offers macaron boxes paired with bouquets created by Emma Lily Flowers. (11600 Rock Rose Avenue, Suite 100, Domain Northside; Place pre-orders for pickup macarons online for Wednesday 25 January to Friday 10 February; The other desserts are available for in-person dining and pickup Saturday, February 11th through Tuesday, February 14th)
Check out Eater’s guides for similar ideas casual travel destinations for valentine’s day, date nights, romantic restaurants, upscale restaurantsand chocolates.