Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about pricey, prix-fixe menus, schmoopy specials or cheese Fifty shades gray specials. It can be a tolerable, even fun, vacation if you do it right.
Toast on brunch
Valentine’s Day lands on a Saturday this year, which means the whole weekend is a fair game. Instead of a forced romantic dinner, why not opt for a fun brunch? Cheers with lobster rolls and mimosas at Hank’s Oyster Bar; indulge in short rib hash and sticky buns at Blue Duck Tavern; linger over Eggs Benedict at Mintwood Place; or grab a dim sum at Washington’s best spot right now, A&J Restaurant (Annandale and Rockville locations). Washington is a brunch city, and there are plenty of places to try. A number of places also offer special Valentine’s Day menus, including a “lovers brunch” at America Eats Tavern ($ 50 per couple); a three-course menu at Trummer’s on Main ($ 42 per person); and another at the Commissary which includes a bottle of champagne and oysters ($ 60 per couple).
Dinner at the cinema
Don’t feel like fighting the restaurant crowds? You can still make dinner and a movie all in one. Three new cinemas have opened recently and serve food and alcoholic beverages in the theater, along with other perks. Angelika at Mosaic makes addicting popcorn in flavors like beer-cheddar and offers dishes like kimchee dogs and a stellar draft list; you can also bring take out from the theater cafe inside. IPic Cinemas in North Bethesda have an even bigger menu: Lobster Rolls! Champagne! —Delivered to your plush leather recliner in the premium seating section. Bethesda’s ArcLight Cinemas also have a cafe inside the theater complex, although you can only bring beer, wine, and other beverages inside while watching the movie.
Eat all the food, drink all the drinks
Valentine’s Day is overkill by nature, so endless food and / or drink is fine. DGS Delicatessen serves hungry mensches with all-you-can-eat pastrami, corned beef, latkes, macaroni and cheese, and more for two hours at dinner, along with wallet-friendly sips ($ 8 martinis, $ 5 beers). Do you prefer to drink your date under the table? Try La Boqueria, where the $ 65 tapas menu includes optional unlimited cava and sangria for $ 20. If you prefer to abuse the daylight, head to Del Campo. The South American steakhouse has a fine menu for V-Day, but also serves unlimited brunch on Saturdays and Sundays for just $ 45 per person with great dishes such as crab toast with caviar, skirt steak Wagyu and smoked pineapple eggs and mimosas.
No, we’re not talking about chocolate body paint. Taking a class together can be a great Valentine’s Day experience and / or gift. Bourbon Steak organizes a course of cocktails and desserts on Saturdays from 11:30 am to 2 pm with barman Duane Sylvestre and Tiffany Mac Isaac from Buttercream Bakeshop ($ 60 per person). At Union Market, Righteous Cheese guides guests through a cheese, chocolate and champagne pairing on Friday and Saturday ($ 70 per person). And while this is not an official seminar, couples can learn a lot about the world of spirits during the tasting of six Dram & Grain cocktails ($ 85 per couple), held Saturday in Jack Rose’s basement; call or text 202-607-1572 for availability.
Stay home, even if you can’t cook
Don’t you know the gravy broth? You can always have a good meal at home. Three Red Apron Butchery locations cook up intimate meals for two, including antipasti, Caesar salad, Bolognese lasagna, and cheesecake ($ 60 for two; pre-order and pickup). Society Fair is also a great bet, with a package that includes coq au vin and a bottle of wine ($ 110 for two; pre-order and pickup). Do you really want to impress your date? Hire a personal chef through the online Kitchensurfing service. The new service lets you choose shaped toques – reviewed by former users – and choose their menus online, then show up to your door ready to prepare a meal ($ 150 per person, alcohol not included).