SPONTANEOUS DATES are fun. Spontaneous dates on Valentines Day are…stressful, to say the least. Haven't thought of anywhere to take your sweetheart(s) for the most romantic day of the year? Don't worry, you haven't earned the worst-special-friend-of-the-year award just yet. Instead of settling for a hasty last minute reservation at the Cheesecake Factory, try some of our favourite restaurants in the area that still have a couple tables for two (or more) available.
You do you — MP Mongolian BBQ ($)
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you can’t treat yo-self. Maybe you're not sold on this whole mushy-gushy holiday, or you think it's a government conspiracy plot to commercialize intimate relationships for the sake of…god knows what. Fear not, MP Mongolian BBQ in Menlo Park embraces your current disdain for hearts and romance, and invites you to indulge in a Mix-and-Match-Theatrically-Prepared-All-You-Can-Eat-Stove-Top-Stir-Fry! Boy that was a mouthful—but so are the delightfully self-seasoned meats, veggies, noodles you can eat there.
Added bonus: don’t even bother dressing up. Not only is this place super casual, but also, wearing some sort of elastic waistband is definitely the move to accommodate for seconds…and hell, thirds. Who even needs to look sexy when you’re already getting bang for your buck at $14 per person? Did I mention they also have Egg Rolls and Chicken Katsu? At barely a mile away from campus you could probably Lyft there faster than it would take to order Dominoes.
"OMG! You like Kygo too?!" — Delfina Pizzeria ($$)
You prefer a bouquet of rosemary to actual roses, 'cuz you’re chill like that. Your date likes that about you. In fact, it’s a double date, because the more the merrier. Split a couple inventive pizza pies at this trendy quintessential Bay Area staple, down on Emerson Street in Downtown Palo Alto. The inside is artsy and very SF, but if you want to be able to talk at a normal volume, ask to be seated in the gorgeous heated outdoor patio. Then, order a fresh and minty vodka Mio Mao, the perfect drink to help you play it cool while you sit across from that hottie. The hip cocktails are tasty and the wait staff will card you, so beware…
Now comes the hard part…what to order?! The bright and citrusy Tricolore Salad made with endive, fennel and parmesan, paired with the messy sausage ’n’ pepper Salsicca pizza are a combo made in cielo. The 4 Formaggi isn’t a bad option for vegetarians either—I mean, what’s Valentines without a little bit of cheesy fun?
50 Shades of Fishy — Odori Sushi ($$)
It’s pals night out, and y’all are feeling sassy and classy. This cute semi-upscale Japanese sushi spot is an ideal pre-movie dinner spot with nice comfy group-accommodating booths, the tastiest sushi rolls, and sippable sake boxes. When dining at Odori, it would serve you well to pair the mild and sweet unfiltered Nigori Sake drink with a lightly fried Agedashi Tofu appetizer and the Cherry Blossom or Lion King Roll. The atmosphere is friendly and the lighting is fabulous, so dress-up, take pictures, and feel free to let your (well-fed) “inner goddess” sashay to your hearts content.
Go Big or Go Home—Portola Valley Lobster Shack ($$$)
If you prefer french fries over flowers, but still want to make your affection known, you need to check out this hidden gem. Nestled in the charming campy Ladera shopping center in Portola Valley (read: that forested area you pass on the way to the I-280) is the tastiest seafood restaurant in the South Bay. The place is the ultimate oxymoron—bougie yet laid-back, hokey yet homey—sporting a boathouse theme complete with wood plant benches and nautical decor reminiscent of a real-life Krusty Krab Restaurant. But, skip the Krabby Patty (actual menu item) and instead opt for a double trouble of their signature Lobster Rolls for you and your date to share. It’s not cheap but it’s guaranteed to impress.
Choose from two types—the Maine Lobster Roll, mixed with mayo, chives, salt, and pepper, or the Naked Lobster Roll, plain with drawn butter and mayo on the side, both served in a fluffy buttered toast with medium-cut fries and coleslaw on the side.
Insider tip? The lobster meat comes cold in both, but try asking for The Naked with the lobster warmed-up. You won’t regret it.
Love can be hot, cold, fun, tough, fleeting, fulfilling, fantastic, everything and more. All those can pretty much be applied to food too. But something that food nor love should never be, is bland and boring. Even if you're not that serious with the person you're seeing, or happy to spend the night hanging with friends, reserve a table and make a little time to indulge and have a great night.
By: Roxy Reaves