Choosing the right restaurant for Valentine’s Day depends on the motivations of your libido. The right spot can mend a hole in the heart, enflame the senses, set up expectations, quell other expectations, and/or send a shot across the bow of love.
If Valentine’s Day dinner just entered your consciousness this year, you better snap to it. Read the following suggestions and make a call — beg if you must, but don’t expect the recession has made getting last minute reservations easy — it hasn’t.
Make Up Food
Possibly you begin the month of love behind the power curve. You’re on the outs with your lover — you need to make a statement — you need to apologize for being a dipshit. You need to pull out all stops and spend a fortune on dinner.
Spending bank proves easy in Tacoma. Reservations at El Gaucho (2119 Pacific Ave., 253.882.0009), Pacific Grill (1502 Pacific Ave., 253.627.3535), Sea Grill (1498 Pacific Ave, 253.272.5656), Stanley & Seafort’s (115 E. 34th St., 253.473.7300) — these fine dining establishments not only deliver the goods, they show how much you care in dollar signs. Dropping $150 for two doesn’t take a college degree — drinks, appetizers, salad, main course, bottle of wine and dessert gets the job done fine.
You get me, you really get me
The “you get me” dinner requires more thinking than the “spending a fortune” dinner. Subjective at best, you must spend time examining your relationship, the personalities involved, where you met, your favorite song, and any food allergies she might have (if you go somewhere she’s allergic to, you deserve to get dumped).
A possible “you get me” place could be ordering a picnic from Metropolitan Market (2420 N Proctor, 253.761.3663) and eating in a favorite spot (the prime rib tastes divine). Maybe accents of the exotic make sense — a desire to be seen as untamed. That’s available at Indochine (1924 Pacific Ave., 253. 272.8200). Or if simplicity rules, il Trattoria di Merende (813 Pacific Ave., 253.722.1993) skips the odd architectural wonders and bizarre ingredient pairings and offers rustic Italian small plates. Or maybe she just wants to feel more than a mom and wife — wishing to feel carried away to another place — a grown-up spot far from the typical bar and grill of the Northwest. Maxwell’s Speakeasy (454 St. Helens, 253.683.4115) easily has your back there — the place is smart looking, smart tasting and delivers consistency. With classy golden brown and geometric details, smart furnishings and hip fixtures, it’s one more restaurant making Tacoma a big city town.
Cheap Skate Spread
The true budget lover skips dinner reservations and instead books a table for four at his mom’s house. But, if you want to keep going out with her, but money is tight, consider the bar area of places like El Gaucho or Stanley and Seafort’s. Go with appetizers in lovely surroundings. If she has a good humor, choose hot dogs smothered in cheese sauce, chili and jalapeños served with Pabst Blue Ribbon and chased by a Moon Pie — for two — at The Red Hot (2914 Sixth Ave., 253.779.0229). The evening won’t set you back past $25. Other similar funky meals include Dickerson’s BBQ (619 Legion Way, Olympia, 360.943.6900), The Shish Kabab (34024 Hoyt Road, Federal Way, 253.835.3444), and Uncle Thurms Finger Lickin’ Ribs & Chicken (3709 S. G St., Tacoma, 253.475.1881).
The Lady Trap
Valentine’s Day might possibly be the night you hope to get lucky. You figure you wine and dine her, and then dessert is on her. You cad.
Saying this is your plan, you could go with the expensive route and hope for the best. Possibly the “you get me” meal accomplishes the same. Avoid the “cheap skate spread” — unless, of course, you are 95 percent sure she’s going to say “no” anyway.
Instead, dine behind closed doors at one of the area’s Asian restaurants with private rooms. Consider Kyoto (8722 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.581.7229) — it features four screened rooms, but more importantly, the food steals the show.