Be My Valentine: If your sweetie requires high-end, high-up dining, the Valley offers plenty of choices. Among the best:
Top of the Rock (the Buttes, 225-9000): This beautiful room provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the Valley. The Southwestern-themed food looks just as good. If the lobster Napoleon is on the menu, don't hesitate. Mary Elaine's (Phoenician, 941-8200): Gaze at the Valley from the same spot that enchanted Charlie Keating and wife Mary Elaine. Rumor has it you can still hear their words echo: "Look at all those suckers down there." The food, though, is no rumor. It's first-class, inspired by the Mediterranean. The obsequious service is sure to impress. Etienne's Different Pointe of View (Pointe Hilton at Tapatio Cliffs, 863-0912): A dazzling view, a snazzy room and elegant food make this a real special-occasion spot. Rack of lamb will have you oohing and baaing. If the only view you need is of each other's eyes, these places serve exceptional fare:
Cafe Terra Cotta (Borgata, Scottsdale, 948-8100): Gorgeous Southwestern fare that joins meat, fruit, chiles and spices in artful combinations. Scrumptious gourmet pizzas, too. Franco's Trattoria (9619 North Hayden, Scottsdale, 948-6655): One of the town's premier Italian kitchens. Bresaola, veal chops, risotto--a genuine Florentine delight. Ruth's Chris Steak House (7001 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 991-5988): Nothing romantic about a slab of meat, you say? This place will change your mind. About the best steaks you're likely to run across, and everything else--appetizers, side dishes, desserts--is just as good. Vincent Guerithault on Camelback (3930 East Camelback, 224-0225): The ideal spot for couples who no longer have anything to talk about--the food here will inspire plenty of conversation. Terrific veal sweetbreads, and expertly prepared grilled fish. If you've got more love than money, there are still a few budget options:
Honey Bear's BBQ (5012 East Van Buren, 273-9178): Honey Bear's great Tennessee barbecue sauce doesn't smell like Chanel No. 5, but it gets most fellas just as excited. Munching these ribs is a sensual delight. Guedo's Taco Shop (71 East Chandler Boulevard, Chandler, 899-7841): Terrific marinated beef, pork and chicken, charbroiled to perfection. If tacos be the food of love, play on. Pho Bang (1702 West Camelback, 433-9440): Vietnamese food that will spice up any relationship. Grilling your own beef and shrimp should start your evening off with a romantic sizzle. Gung Hay Fat Choy: It may be the Year of the Dog, but that's no reason not to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
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If you want to turn Valentine's Day into an all-day eating orgy, you can start by feasting on dim sum. Both China Doll (3336 North Seventh Avenue, 264-0538) and Great Wall (5055 North 35th Avenue, 973-1112) serve a huge variety of these brunchtime treats. For authentically exotic fare, check out C-Fu Gourmet (6438 South McClintock, Tempe, 831-8899). It features seafood so fresh, it's alive when you order it. In the same league is Big Wong (616 West Indian School, 277-2870), where you can enter the mysterious world of clay-pot cooking.