We know what you’re thinking… Valentine’s Day? Already? We’ve just depleted our savings on holiday presents and big, blowout parties for New Year’s Eve. Yes, Valentine’s Day may be almost a month away, but bars and restaurants throughout the city are already busy planning. If you don’t want to get shut out of a reservation (and consequentially banished to the couch by your significant other), you’d better start planning too.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered with Valentine’s Day restaurant options that will appeal to any taste, and even more importantly, any budget. Pull out all the stops with a six-course dinner at the hushed, romantic Corton, or squeeze in just under the $100 per person mark with a progression of Iberian-accented plates at Aldea. Not that you need to break the bank to show that special someone you care. Personally, we’d be just as happy to grab a killer burger and fries at NYC’s preeminent gastropub, The Spotted Pig, or knock down some pins at Williamsburg’s flashy bowling alley and restaurant, Brooklyn Bowl. Even singles (or just the resolutely Valentine’s Day averse) will find something to love on this list, from an evening of martinis and manicures with the girls at Beauty Bar, to shots and half-priced cocktails at the rowdy Aussie spot, The Sunburnt Cow.
Valentine’s Day Restaurant Choices
Address: 239 W Broadway, btwn Moore St and Beach Sts.
Phone: (212) 219-2777
It’s easy to spend $400 (or more) on dinner for two during Valentine’s Day, when demand is high and financial inhibitions are lowered after one too many glasses of champagne. So if money isn’t an issue, be sure to check out Paul Liebrandt’s $155 tasting menu at Corton, a modern and super serene French restaurant in Tribeca. There aren’t any windows in the sparse, butterfly and bird-stenciled room, but who wants to people watch when you can gaze lovingly into your partner’s eyes over a bottle of Grand Cru? Or you could sneak a peek into the semi-open kitchen. You might just spy the famously theatrical chef, Paul Liebrandt, shaking the White Miso Crème for your L’Oeuf and Osetra Caviar in a nitrous canister, or aiming a smoking gun at your Duck with Black Birch, Young Ginger and Rose.
Bouley Test Kitchen
Address: 88 W. Broadway btwn Warren and Reade Sts.
Phone: (917) 237-3205
You’ll get a lot more than just a Valentine’s Day dinner out of a visit to the Bouley Test Kitchen, chef and restaurateur David Bouley’s interactive classroom and event space. But it won’t come cheap. $650 (plus an extra $125 per person for wine pairings) is the cost of a couples-only cooking class and dinner with David Bouley himself. You and your sweetie will learn how to prepare an extravagant, six-course meal using local, all-natural ingredients. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor as your favorite tunes drift from the keys of a Steinway Grand Piano. Sure, it’s a lot to spend on one night out, but think of it this way… you’ll save yourself a few hundred bucks next year by recreating that meal at home.
Address: 31 W 17th St., btwn 5th Ave and Avenue Of The Americas
Phone: (212) 675-7223
George Mendes’ charming Aldea is the ultimate place to take a date. We love the light dappled, sky blue interiors that evoke the elements of water, air and earth, and the refined, yet rustic menu, inspired by the Iberian Coast. And it’s surprisingly affordable by Valentine’s Day standards. Aldea is offering a three-course, prix fixe menu for $85 this year (which includes multiple options for each course), and a six-course chef’s tasting menu for $110. How will you choose between the Foie Gras Terrine with Poached Lady Apple, and Spanish Octopus with Lemon-Squid Ink Puree? Easy… you’ll get one of each, then cozy up and share both.
Address: 142 W 10th St. btwn Waverly Pl and Greenwich Ave.
Phone: (212) 206-0606
Chef David Santos earned raves on Chowhound for Um Segredo, an underground supper club hosted out of his apartment on Roosevelt Island. He eventually took a more conventional path by opening up a brick and mortar eatery of his own, Louro. And while the West Village restaurant is definitely worth a visit for Portuguese-inspired dishes like Fry Bread with Smoked Tomato and Dourade with Pickled Banana, it’s good to know that he hasn’t abandoned his supper club aesthetic entirely. Every Monday night, Santos hosts the Nossa Mesa Supper Club series, focusing on quirky themes like “The Sopranos” (featuring Housemade Mootzarell), and “Elvis” (Peanut Butter and Banana Bread Pudding). Valentine’s Day may not fall on a Monday this year, but it’s still getting the supper club treatment with a “Love Songs by the Beatles” dinner party. For $85 per person, guests can feast on All you Need is Love (interpreted as a Mashpee Oyster with Bergamot Granita), When I’m Sixty Four (Dry Aged Beef with Aged Cheddar Whipped Potatoes), and Here, There and Everywhere (Chocolate Brownie for Two). Sounds too fun and cheeky to pass up, doesn’t it?
The Spotted Pig
Address: 314 W 11th St. btwn Hudson and Greenwich Sts.
Phone: (212) 620-0393
We enjoy fancy cocktails and elaborate dinners as much as anyone on Valentine’s Day. But honestly, when you’re already with the one you love (and you’re not afraid to get grease stains on your shirt), it’s hard to beat the simple pleasure of sharing a burger and a beer. We’re not just talking any burger (no one’s suggesting you treat your sweetie to White Castle on Valentine’s Day). We’re talking about one of the best burgers in NYC, the juicy, Roquefort cheese-topped creation at April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig. Deposited on a fluffy, brioche bun and sided with a pile of perfectly crisp shoestring fries, it’s the height of satisfaction… especially when accompanied by a tall glass of 21st Amendment Bitter American, or Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
Address: 119 W 56th St. btwn 6th and 7th Aves.
Phone: (212) 708-7414
You can’t beat the prices at the no-frills Burger Joint, tucked behind a curtain in the basement of the Le Parker Meridien hotel. Fast-food style patties (but soo much better!) are topped with your choice of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, mustard, or ketchup, and clock in at a wallet friendly $7.58 (or $8.04 with cheese). Don’t forget to order one of their killer milkshakes, too. And you know what the best part is? With all of the money you’ve saved (providing your date is going well), you can go ahead and book a suite upstairs, with views of the Manhattan skyline.
Out of the Ordinary
Address: 136 Metropolitan Ave. btwn Wythe Ave and Berry St.
Phone: (718) 384-3980
We’re not saying that Brooklyn doesn’t have its share of haute, super luxe restaurants (Blanca and Brooklyn Fare anyone?). It’s just that the borough is our go-to for quirky, out of the box dining and entertainment. We especially enjoy the indie art house, Nitehawk Cinemas, which provides a full service menu of food and cocktails, inspired by film. Yep. That means you can dig into a plate of Dynamite Shrimp and Grits, and sip on a Candyland (a sweet concoction of Blackberry Liquor and Bourbon), while taking in a viewing of “Django Unchained.” Unsurprisingly, Nitehawk has put an equal amount of thought into their lineup for Valentine’s Day, scheduling Buster Keaton’s “The Navigator,” a dizzy romp of love-fueled missteps and exploits. The February 14th festivities will also include a themed pre-show montage, a kissing contest (sort of strange, no?), and plenty of Valentine’s Day-friendly nibbles and drinks.
Address: 61 Wythe Ave. btwn 12th and 13th Sts.
Phone: (718) 963-3369
Brooklyn Bowl is another excellent, alternative option to your standard, prix fixe Valentine’s Day dinner. Set in a renovated Williamsburg iron foundry, the LEED-certified green space features 16 lanes, an elevated bowler’s lounge, a music stage for live bands, and food that far exceeds expected bowling lane fare (ie. flabby chicken wings, microwaved pizza, and dented cans of Miller Lite). That’s because the brothers behind Blue Ribbon, Bruce and Eric Bromberg, have created a menu of tasty, N’awlin’s inspired food just for Brooklyn Bowl. Look for fantastic Fried Chicken, overstuffed Muffaletta sandwiches, Cajun Shrimp Cocktail, and thick Nutella Milkshakes spiked with lots of Bourbon. Of course, the best way to show your sweetheart you really love her this Valentine’s Day is by (sort of, kind of, on purpose) throwing a gutter ball or two.
Address: 231 E 14th St. btwn 2nd and 3rd Aves.
Phone: (212) 539-1389
Who says that your Valentine’s Day plans have to center around conventional, lovey-dovey things, like candy kisses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, and flowers? Furthermore, where is it written in the Valentine’s Day rulebook that you even need to have a date? Single or not, we say that it’s the perfect opportunity to catch up with the girls. Beauty Bar, an old-timey beauty parlor refashioned as a cozy cocktail lounge, is the ultimate no boys allowed retreat. For only $10, you and your favorite ladies can get a manicure, kick back with a martini, and pretend that Valentine’s Day is just like any other day… because honestly it is.
The Sunburnt Cow
Address: 137 Ave C., btwn 8th and 9th Sts.
Phone: (212) 529-0005
Sometimes, being young, attractive and single is the best revenge on Valentine’s Day. It certainly is a lot more fun to flirt with the hunky Aussie bartenders at The Sunburnt Cow when you don’t have a ring tying you down. That’s the idea behind this lively East Village pub’s Anti-Valentine’s Day party, which includes a DJ, drink specials, free shots on the Ice Luge, and (this bears repeating), seriously hunky Australian bartenders. Oh, and a trip to the Sunburnt Cow isn’t quite complete without an order of Fish & Chips.