Valentine's Day weekend is upon us. Whether through forgetfulness or neglect, you haven't made a reservation for dinner Saturday night. Thankfully, you're are neither totally screwed nor consigned to the Whataburger drive thru.
A few of Houston's high quality, independently owned restaurant don't accept reservations on any day — including Valentine's.
No promises that they won't be slammed, too, but dining on Valentine's Day is fraught with enough peril that most people will go someplace they know will guarantee them a table. That means opportunity for the adventurous. Here are some options.
Worse comes to worse Whataburger is always available.
Coltivare, the Italian-inspired Heights restaurant known for a massive garden and rigorous local sourcing, doesn't accept reservations. Waits on the weekends can spike to two hours, but the ambitious can usually find a table close to its 5 p.m. opening or 11 p.m. closing. Don't miss the spaghetti with parmesan, black pepper and olive oil.
Weights + Measures, the new bar/restaurant/bakery in Midtown, will be operating as usual for its first Valentine's Day. Chef Richard Kaplan is already tweaking the menu with the addition of a panko-crusted pork trotter and off the menu specials like roasted branzino, beef osso bucco and lamb chops.
Lillo & Ella, chef Kevin Naderi's Asian inspired restaurant in Shady Acres, and Roost, his seasonally-inspired neighborhood restaurant in Montrose, won't be accepting reservations for Valentine's. With pleasant weather predicted for Saturday, checking out Lillo's new brunch on the restaurant's patio could be a particularly satisfying way to spend the day. Naderi promises lots of off the menu specials at both restaurants for dinner.
At Down House, the popular Heights neighborhood restaurant, chef Mark Decker has been tweaking the menu. Recently crowned Prince of Pork at last Sunday's Cochon 555, Decker's added a pork chop that's served with spiced, purple sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli. Seafood fans should consider diver scallops in a brown butter grapefruit vinaigrette.
Austin-based wing joint Pluckers is celebrating its 20th anniversary with retro pricing. Flash back to 1995 with 10 wings, four tenders or a burger for $5. Add a 34-ounce mug of Bud Light for $3. Isn't saving money romantic?
Most of the Chinese restaurants from CultureMap's suggestions for Christmas Day dining don't accept reservations either. Nothing says love quite like hot and sour soup and fried pork dumplings.
Try not to stress out too much about where to eat. After all, sharing a meal with someone special usually works out well. Worse comes to worse Whataburger is always available.