Dining at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day can be problematic. Lots of people who don’t go out to eat often fill dining rooms to make the day memorable, but the crowds have a downside.
To meet the increased demand, most of Houston’s better establishments switch to prix fixe menus that allow them to get food out more quickly. Regular patrons may find these options less appealing than going on another less crowded night when they can simply order their favorite dishes off the regular menu.
For those who insist on dining out on Valentine’s, the best advice is to pick a favorite place, go early (before things get too crazy), and hope for the best. While staying home might be the most reliable way to have a pleasant Valentine’s evening, it also lacks the excitement of being out and about.
Thankfully, some of Houston’s bars and pubs are stepping up with options that are a little more formal than their usual service and a little more casual than going to a restaurant. For those still seeking that special someone, this list also includes a few possibilities that would work for groups of friends.
Anvil Bar & Refuge
Houston’s most acclaimed cocktail bar dresses up on Valentine’s Day by curtaining off its windows, covering its tables with white tablecloths, and playing jazz throughout the night. For $75 per person, patrons can reserve a seat at the bar where they will receive a glass of champagne, roses, two cocktails for a specialty menu, and a pour from a fully stocked bar cart loaded with options like El Dorado 21, Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015, Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition 2015, and Yamazaki 12. Seatings are every 90 minutes between 4 pm and 10 pm. For reservations, stop by the bar to purchase tickets.
Momo Food + Wine
The recently-opened Midtown bar offers a bit of nostalgia on Valentine’s with a gourmet s’mores package that includes everything two people need to make the campfire favorite: graham crackers, housemade bourbon-flavored marshmallows, bacon, chocolate, and more. The $45 item also include two glasses of wine. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-582-6335 to reserve.
Public Services Wine & Whisky
The downtown bar (a former Tastemaker Awards winner) starts a new tradition with its Red Sauce Night. Co-owner Justin Yu will serve spaghetti and meatballs; if the cacio e pepe he developed for Better Luck Tomorrow is any indication, it should be good. Pair the pasta with a selection of Italian cocktails, wine, beer, and liqueurs from the bar. The bar's historic location and elegant decor offer just the right setting for a romantic evening.
A dozen roses costs big bucks on Valentine’s Day, which is why this downtown bar is offering its own twist on the popular gift. For $60, two people will each receive three pours of Four Roses bourbon (yellow label, small batch, and single barrel), chocolates from Galleria-area favorite Cacao & Cardamom, and a flower arrangement from Sparrow and the Nest. The price even includes gratuity. Simply purchase in advance on Eventbrite and show up between 3 pm and 2 am on February 14.
For the second year in a row, Houston’s only food hall (for now) has teamed up with craft breweries Brash and Real Ale for an event it’s calling “Bite Me: A Valentine’s Day Affair.” Starting at 6 pm, diners will have the opportunity to feast on food specials from vendors like El Burro & the Bull and aRTe Pizzeria, along with wine specials from the Noble Rot wine bar. Beer drinkers can even take home special glassware to remember the occasion.
El Big Bad
The downtown tequila bar and restaurant helps diners say “I love you and tacos” with a special deal. For $40, diners will receive all-you-can-eat tacos for two (beef, chicken, or pork) with rice and beans, two margaritas, and chips and salsa. Since quantities are limited, the restaurant recommends patrons purchase the package in advance online (via Eventbrite) and make a reservation on OpenTable to secure a table.
Midtown’s Japanese pub will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a whisky-themed party in its mural room. Pitched to women but open to men or groups of friends, the event will feature cheekily-named cocktails (All My Ex’s, Swipe Right, Single Ladies), specials on both Japanese whisky ($9 Suntory Toki, $11 Hibiki Harmony) and bourbon ($6 Old Forester 1897, $8 Four Roses Small Batches), and small bites created by chef Jean Philippe Gaston. A table selling sweets will have plenty to offer those who require chocolate. Bring a picture of a former flame for a free shot (limit two).