From Châteaubriand and champagne to cocktails and sushi to dinner and a movie, our international restaurant suggestions have you covered for Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is barrelling down on us, and studies project that we will spend almost 21 billion dollars on each other to celebrate this week. The majority of that money will go towards romantic dinners as 51% of us make dinner reservations, making Valentine’s Day the second busiest day in the restaurant industry. One of the biggest dilemnas facing diners on Valentine’s Day, though, is where to go. Our travel writers have chosen their favorite places around the world. If you are lucky enough to be in one of these cities this week or in the future, we hope you’ll check them out.
One Ten Craft Meatery
Since it first opened its doors a few years ago, One Ten Craft Meatery, located downtown in my hometown of Warsaw, Indiana, has become my go-to restaurant for special occasions, especially Valentine’s Day. An ardent supporter of “buying local,” One Ten sources its products from Indiana or one of the five states that surrounds it. That farm-to-fork concept plays out on the exquisite dishes plated in One Ten’s kitchen. My go-to has always been their rib eye, a hunk-of-meat testament to the fine details that chef and owner Jason Brown and his staff exhibit every day in their craft. The meat is always cooked as ordered with a crusty delicate outside layer combining with the tender and juicy insides to create a memorable dining experience. It is haute cuisine dressed up as Midwest comfort food—proof that the heartland just might know what it’s doing when it comes to beef.
Tom Westerhof Hooch and Nosh
Thomas Hill Organics
Paso Robles, California
Escape to California’s Central Valley and experience one of the best farm to table dinners at Thomas Hill Organics. Owner Debbie Thomas has created an atmosphere that’s suitable for everyone, but it is especially romantic should you be looking for a Valentine’s Day getaway. They offer a menu that changes seasonally, but start out with their Dungeness crab cakes or short rib tacos. Main course temptations include vegan Shepherd’s Pie or Thai Chili Salmon. Dessert offers several sweet treats like an olive oil cake and a seasonal fruit cobbler. An extensive wine, beer, and cocktail list awaits you as well. Enjoy the low-lit dining room, or cozy up with your honey on their gorgeous heated patio.
Mary Farah Along Comes Mary
Spoonriver has all the right ingredients to make your Valentine’s Day special. Whether serving trout (my favorite), a vegan charcuterie, or the amazing Spoon Burger of lamb and Moroccan spices, Spoonriver relies on local growers and freshest ingredients. Owner Brenda Langton has pioneered both vegetarian cooking and women chef-driven cuisine in the Twin Cities. This restaurant, her third, sits above the Mississippi River and next to the Guthrie Theater. In summer, the patio opens to the exceptional Mill City Farmers Market. Reserve a table for a romantic dinner, or try a creative cocktail and appetizer in the Minneapolis’ oldest district.
Kristin Henning Travel Past 50
The Cannery Restaurant
Newport Beach, California
The Cannery Restaurant, located on the Rhine Channel in Lido Village-Newport Beach, has stunning views of the boats on the water. We enjoy sneaking upstairs to the bar where we can see them all gliding past. The Happy Hour is our favorite. From 3:30-7:00 pm weekdays, cocktails and many of the sushi items are half price. Our two favorites include the Ahi Tuna Tartare Tacos and the Cannery Cut Roll with tuna, crab, avocado and a rich unagi sauce. The restaurant’s warehouse building was originally built in 1921 as a commercial fish cannery, and some of the conveyer belts still exist above. It is a charming setting for us to toast Valentine’s Day while not over-eating. Check out The Cannery here.
Deirdre Michalski Tastes and Travel
The Big Texan
If Marshal Dillon took Miss Kitty out to dinner for Valentine’s Day in Amarillo, Texas, The Big Texan is the place he would choose. Ho used in a building that is like a Western movie set, it’s bright yellow with a blue and red sign informing you that you have arrived at The Big Texan. There’s a life-sized windmill, cowboy paraphernalia, wooden swings and benches, and a huge plastic bull which has a sign proclaiming “Free 72 Ounce Steak.” Yup. It’s free IF you eat it all.
The dining room decor continues the Old West theme with wagon wheels, mounted animal heads, revolvers, imitation gas lights, and a mural of mountains with an Indian teepee in the middle. The upstairs balcony tables have red drapes similar to those seen at an establishment like Miss Kitty might run. A trio of guitar-playing cowboys wanders the floor playing requests. The cooks are searing those super delicious steaks at a fire pit right out front and center. Free or paid, you can’t go wrong with those steaks. Read more about the Big Texan on their website or here.
Kathleen Walls American Roads
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Bayview Farms is a wonderful restaurant for a romantic dinner. The restaurant sits on the family homestead of Chef Clark Day. The limestone structure, dating back to 1831, and the intimate set up of the dining room are perfect for quiet conversation as you feast on locally sourced food. From the menu, we always enjoy the Panko-crusted Gunn Hill brie with mixed baby greens as an appetizer. Our go-to entrée is mint mustard-encrusted lamb rack accompanied by rosti, creamed leeks, and a radicchio, mint and shallot slaw. The finale is our favourite dessert, Maple Creme Caramel. The chef and his team suggest wines which compliment each course of this wonderful meal.
Lori Sweet and Sylvio Roy Voyage Writers
Le Restaurant~Badrutt’s Palace
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland’s St. Moritz is called the Top of the World for more that its altitude, and there is none finer in this glamorous city than Le Restaurant in the renowned Badrutt’s Palace. Dress up in your finest and walk the catwalk in Le Grand Hall, a place to spot the rich and famous. Then enjoy the gueirdon service at a candlelight dinner. The staff is there to make your wishes come true, and you can order whatever you want, regardless of what it is on the menu. The sky is the limit from the Oscietra Caviar hors d’oeuvres and creamy lobster bisque flambéed with cognac to the Châteaubriand for two. Book a stay and opt for the chauffeur to pick you up at the airport or train station in the 1968 Rolls Royce Phantom limousine. It formerly belonged to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Linda Fasteson Notable Travels
Salvatore’s Ristorante Italiano
Las Vegas, Nevada
Living in Las Vegas, we have no shortage of great restaurants for any meal whether it be special or simple. Choosing one to highlight is difficult, but Salvatore’s Ristorante Italiano is one of our favorite’s for celebrations. Located in the Sun Coast Hotel and Casino, Salvatore’s combines a menu based on Tuscan cuisine with spot-on service. Phil Baker, inspiration for The Fabulous Baker Boys, provides nightly entertainment that adds to the stylish and romantic atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with any dish you choose, but I like the Fettuccini Primavera, a delicate mix of fettuccini and fresh vegetables such as asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, and more. My husband suggests the grilled lamb chops, prime meat cooked to order and accompanied by roasted potatoes. Toast your love with one of their hundreds of wines, and you’ll have a dinner to remember.
Christine Cutler Cold Pasta & Red Wine
New York, New York
When you’re looking for a sexy, French bistro in New York City that will impress a date or just to romance yourself, check out Jubilee in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay neighborhood on the east side. It’s a lovely French bistro with a British/Irish feel. Sounds odd, right? And yet, somehow it works. Upon entering this neighborhood jewel, you will be transported from the gritty streets of Manhattan to a beautiful European oasis with cozy, clandestine nooks and crannies.
Jubilee’s menu has all of the usual suspects found at traditional French bistros such as French onion soup, beef bourguignon, Dover sole meunière, escargot cassolette, etc. However, the selection of moules or mussels offered here is C’est Magnifique! A blackboard displays about ten different types of mussels from which to choose but I highly recommend the mussels Provencale which are broiled on the half shell. The garlic flavor is stellar and the presentation is stunning. They come with your choice of French fries or salad.
Melissa Falk Feeding Off the Rails
Pizza e Birra
St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia
Whether you’re with that someone special or on you own this Valentine’s Day, you will feel the love at Pizza e Birra with its welcoming staff and delicious food. Pizza e Birra’s secret is the woodfired oven. Every pizza base has that delicious flavour and texture that you only get from a traditional wood oven. My personal favourite is the Margherita, a combination of tomato, Fior di Latte cheese, and basil—the colours of the Italian flag. While the menu is simple, order a pizza accompanied by salad and a glass of wine or beer, and you cannot go wrong. Check out their menu here www.pizzaebirra.com.au
Robyn Nowell Robyn’s Seasonal Kitchen
If I could be in Seattle, Washington, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’d return to Tulio’s Ristorante for Italian dining at its best. Located in Hotel Vintage Seattle, Tulio has been a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner for several years running and has been included on Travel + Leisure’s best Italian restaurants in the U.S.
If you share dinner with your sweetheart there, what should you order? Although it’s not listed on Tulio’s special Valentine’s Day menu, I’d start with Penn Cove mussels served Sicilian style, and beet salad with apples, walnuts, feta cheese, and sherry vinaigrette from the antipasti/insalate menu. For the main course, you might choose the lamb sirloin, served with Fregola sarda (similar to pearl couscous), olives, currant, mint, and basil yogurt. If red meat isn’t your thing, consider the crab risotto or the swordfish, wood-roasted “caponata style” with egglant.
Oregon, California and Washington wines dominate the domestic wine list, but there are a plethora of Italian vintages, too; just ask the sommelier for a recommendation. Dessert choices range from those on the light side—house made gelato or sorbetto—to Tulio’s special take on tiramisu or chocolate mousse with “boozy” cherries. Before stepping out into the cold evening air, fortify with a warm Tulio Toddy, a Rock’n Rye house-spiced infusion with honey and fresh lemon.
Debbra Dunning Brouillette Tropical Travel Girl
The plant filled orangerie of Baczewski restaurant sparkles with romantic light. This popular spot in the charming UNESCO World Heritage old town recreates traditional Russian and Polish dishes with a twist. Valentine’s Day calls for all shades of red, and the vegetarian in me loves a good beet dish. My husband and I would start our meal with hot pink borscht served in its own ice bowl and accented with an herb and lemon decoration that complete the creative presentation. Next, would be a darker shade of beets with walnuts and prunes rolled into a tasty main course. We’d wash all of this down with pink peppered vodka. After all, the family has been creating their many versions since 1782.
Alison Abbott Green With Renvy
For a different Valentine’s Day experience, look to the Enzian, a special dinner theater located a little north of Orlando proper. It features both new and old films, international films, shorts, film festivals, competitions, and events such as holiday celebrations and wine tastings. Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday that draws couples in for a romantic and elegant dinner and movie affair. The Enzian staff has put together an evening that—in lieu of the usual menu—includes a dinner buffet with a carving station, pasta, vegetarian fare, a mashed potato bar with various toppings, a choice of salads and vegetables, a variety of beverages, and a complimentary glass of champagne. Nothing Bundt Cakes supplies a number of mini desserts. The buffet service and live music run from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. The film selection (Love Actually, this year) begins at 8:00 as diners continue to enjoy their meal.
Diane Dobry Getting Hungary