Remember last year when you swore you'd make Valentine's Day plans way ahead of schedule so as not to repeat the twelve-hour scramble of years past? It might be too late to get a reservation at the top spots in town, but you haven't missed the window entirely -- not yet. But put off calling around (or, let's be honest, browsing on OpenTable) too long, and you'll be left throwing together a DIY shindig or trying to make up your mishap to an angry date.
This Valley classic, which originally opened in 1937, is offering a "Romance in the Desert" menu to be enjoyed in the picturesque setting at the base of Camelback and Mummy mountains. The three-course dinner options include a salad of hearts of Romaine with lobster vinaigrette, a Lovebird Duo of pan-roasted chicken breast and leg confit with herb crust, center-cut filet with sweet(heart) potato gratin and asparagus, and Chilean sea bass with wild-for-you mushroom ravioli and haricot verb. Dessert is a choice of chocolate hearts with dark chocolate cake, milk chocolate ganache, and white chocolate mousse or strawberry shortcake with berry compote. The Valentine's menu is $105 for two and includes El Chorro's famous sticky buns, bread and butter, coffee, and tea. Wine pairings are an additional $25 per person. For reservations, call 480-948-5170.
The museum might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of romance, but if the love of your life is a musician or even an avid listener, the MIM might be the perfect spot to woo him or her. The museum is hosting A Very Vintage Valentine's Day from 7 to 9:30 p.m. There will be live music from The Sugar Thieves, Savoy Hop Cats, DJ Smite, and more. The evening will also include gallery tours, a photo booth, live painting by Valley artists, and a cash bar. Appetizers will be served, and each guest will receive a complimentary beverage. The menu includes Wilson Ranch pork green chile cocoa sliders with cheddar and bacon, chickpea-saffron falafel with sweet pepper harissa and honey, and tuna-basil-pine nut cakes with herb-caper aioli. Tickets are $65 per person.
Take a romantic getaway without having to drive out of the Valley at Carefree Station, where you can cozy up in the greenhouse-style atrium or enjoy the twinkling lights of the courtyard garden. The regular menu will be on offer, but the kitchen will also be cooking up some holiday specials on February 14. Limited-time options include Supreme Oscar, all natural chicken breast topped with jumbo lump crab and béarnaise sauce, served with heart-shaped mushroom ravioli and candied beets; surf 'n' turf filet and lobster tail combo served with his and hers potato rings and grilled vegetable hearts; and 18 oz. lobster tail poached in butter and served with lobster mashed potatoes and hearts of palm. Pastry chef Heather Nasworthy will be making red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, frozen chocolate soufflé, berry bellini, sugar cookie hearts, and Chambord and amaretto filled chocolate-covered strawberries. For reservations, call 480-488-8182.
A three-course romantic dinner is quite a deal at Scottsdale's The Cove Trattoria. For $39 per person or $69 per couple, enjoy choices like beef carpaccio with capers and parmesan, seafood risotto with a trio of scallops, salmon, and halibut, and grilled lamb chops with pesto sauce and sautéed radicchio, asparagus, and snow peas. Dessert is a fresh baked chocolate raspberry torte. The regular dinner menu will also be available. Call 480-951-8273 for reservations.
Fox Restaurant Concepts
Is your sweetie a big fan of Fox RC? Pick from one of eight Sam Fox restaurants that will be offering holiday specials. Blanco Tacos + Tequila is planning a prix fixe menu for two, available from 4 p.m. to close for $45 for two people. North will have a three-course Italian meal ending with tiramisu or butterscotch pudding, available starting at 4:30 p.m. for $40 per person. Enjoy a heart healthy meal at True Food Kitchen for just $25 per person. It includes chicken sausage pizza or hummus appetizer, roasted chicken farro or pan-seared sea bass, and a dessert trio. Zinburger's dinner for two includes one side, two burgers, and two drinks for $40. The Arrogant Butcher, The Greene House, Modern Steak, and Olive & Ivy will also be serving limited menus for the occasion.
Bring your love's favorite wine or beer when you dine at Mark's Café, a BYOB restaurant in Tempe that will be serving a special four-course meal. Dinner begins with crab cakes with remoulade and a mixed green salad salad, and entrée choices include filet medallions with black pepper brandy sauce, macadamia-crusted salmon with orange hollandaise, chicken piccata, and roast pork loin with raspberry chipotle. There will be chocolate cake with raspberry sauce for dessert. Prices range from $40 to $46 per person including a non-alcoholic beverage, tax, and tip. There will be dinner seatings at 5, 6:30, and 8 p.m. Reservations are required; call 480-839-6455.
Hate the lovey dovey holiday? Join Hula's for an Anti-Valentine's celebration, where there promises to be no reservations, no pressure to bring a date, and all-night happy hour deals. Basically, this is the place to bring your best friend, casual hook-up, or who-knows-where-we're-at S.O. Along with $5 appetizers, $3.50 draft beers, and $5 signature cocktails, heartbreak Baja fish tacos will be on the menu. The cheeky restaurant also invites you to bring a photo of your ex to burn in the big fire pit on the patio. For your trouble (y'know, dating that piece of work in the first place), you'll get $5 off a future visit.
Want to take your date dancing after dinner? Call 480-947-6468 to make your reservation for The Mint's three-course prix fixe menu, available from 4 to 10 p.m. on Valentine's. Dinner will include crisp oysters with wasabi creamed spinach and bacon aioli followed by a duo of roasted filet mignon with crab butter and Schezwan grilled shrimp with shitake mushroom and potato gratin. After enjoying vanilla and espresso panna cotta with chocolate and strawberries, stick around for when The Mint switches gears from romance to dancing.
The Herb Box
Both locations, SouthBridge and DC Ranch, will have a three-course dinner meant for sharing. For $69 per couple, you and your date can enjoy duck confit crepes with sweet corn and poblano, spinach and ricotta gnocchi with heirloom tomatoes, lemon zest, kale, and basil pesto, and chocolate beet cake with bittersweet chocolate ganache. The meal includes one glass of Prosecco or Strawberry Darling cocktail per person. For reservations, call 480-289-6160 to reach Old Town, or 480-289-6180 for DC Ranch.
In addition, The Herb Box Market will have small and large to-go/delivery options for Valentine's, priced at $55 and $75 for two people. Baskets include gourmet selections like cheese and charcuterie board with house-made fig and port jam, roasted free range chicken with tomato gorgonzola butter, and pink meringue cupcakes with raspberry curd. Plus, you get a bottle of wine or Prosecco and rose petals to create the perfect setting. Basket orders must be placed by 5 p.m. on February 12; call 480-289-6161.
One of Laura Hahnefeld's favorite new restaurants of 2012, Davanti Enoteca is planning a romantic menu of Italian delicacies. The "Amore a Prima Vista" (Love at First Sight) menu will be available February 14 to 16 for $65 per person, $30 for wine pairings, and plays out in seductive fashion, starting with a glance, then embrace, peck, and kiss. The second course, embrace, includes choice of tortellini di ricotta with black truffle and chervil, gnocchi di patata with wild boar ragu and pecorino Toscana, or fettucini al Burro with a farm fresh egg and caviar. Entrée is a choice of crispy duck with amarena cherries and cara cara oranges, dry aged NY strip steak with wild mushrooms and crispy onions, or Georges bank scallops with cauliflower, raisins, and pine nuts. The dessert, a final kiss of flavor, is Italian baked Alaska with stewed cherries and Nutella. For reservations, call 480-659-1800.
The Tapatio Cliffs Resort nestled at the base of Phoenix's North Mountain offers two Valentine's dining options that are sure to impress. Different Pointe of View is offering a four-course prix fixe dinner for $110 per person that includes appetizers like rosemary port wine braised short rib and winter ale potato and cheddar bisque, entrées like filet mignon with truffle parmesan risotto and citrus-scented butter poached Maine lobster with angel hair pasta, and choice of chocolate passion heart or Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée for dessert. Pointe in Tyme Grille's dinner is $45 per person and includes options like warm brie with cherry compote, pan-seared grouper with jumbo lump crab risotto, and New York strip steak with parmesan gratin potatoes, crimini mushrooms, spinach, and cipolini in red wine demi-glace. For reservations, call 602-866-6350 to reach Different Pointe of View, or 602-866-6348 for Pointe in Tyme.
Want a no-fuss Valentine's but still want to use the holiday as an excuse to eat good food? An evening at Bungalow Bar & Grill is in your future. This laidback Scottsdale restaurant is popular for its burgers, tacos, and salads, but the crew in the kitchen can cook a killer filet mignon too. For Valentine's Day, diners can choose from entrees like grilled marinated pork chops with applesauce (2 for $20); tempura-battered chicken breast stuffed with shrimp, mushrooms spinach, mozzarella, and red peppers with orange sauce ($16); and filet mignon with bleu cheese, sweet merlot sauce, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and mushrooms ($23.50). Call 480-994-1888 for reservations.
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West Valley residents, you do not have to drive an hour across town to enjoy some of the best dining in metro Phoenix. Call 623-566-2224 to make a reservation at Arrowhead Grill now, and you'll have more time to romance your sweetheart back at home after dinner. The Valentine's Day five-course dinner is $69.99 per person and includes starters like crab leg cocktail, pretzel fondue, and Rhode Island-style calamari. There are eight entrées to pick from such as New York strip steak, prime rib, rack of lamb, and succulent pork porterhouse. For dessert, select butter cake, flourless chocolate cake, strawberries and chocolate fondue, or strawberry or raspberry cheesecake.
Queen Creek Olive Mill has several ways to celebrate Valentine's at the mill, where the restaurant will offer delicious specials available through the weekend, and at Biltmore UNION, where diners can enjoy Italian fare at Trattoria del Piero. There will be Bubbles & Board specials including appetizers, dessert, and sparkling wine perfect to share with your special someone. For an indulgent gift, stop by Biltmore UNION before the holiday to get the "Local Love" gift basket ($180) including a bottle of almond sparkling wine and two red velvet cupcakes from Trattoria del Pieora, a dozen red roses from White House, and more.