People have been falling in love (or at least in like-you-a-whole-lot) in restaurants and over shared food since the beginning. It's no secret. Rather than be obvious and point out swanky places established couples go for Valentine's dining, here's a list of places for potential boyfriend or girlfriend test drives (I mean, memorable first-date experiences). To those singles willing to brave asking someone on a Valentine's date I say: if it doesn't turn out well, at least the food will be good and you won't be out too much loot.
While some may argue better, more authentic Thai restaurants exist in Tacoma, the richly decorated interior with cozy semi-private booths, prompt unrushed service, very affordable pricing ($5-$13), almost 30 different beers and wines to chose from, convenient location and free parking, and reliably tasty food that's consistently prepared deliver a win at Silk Thai Cafe on Sixth Avenue. Swimming Angel, red curry tofu, spicy fish and crab rangoon are popular dishes. See also Lemon Grass (Olympia), LeLe's (Hilltop Tacoma and Gig Harbor) and Wanna Thai (Lakewood).
[Silk Thai, 3401 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.756.1737, silkthaicafe.com]
Sorrento Ristorante Italiano
Owner and Chef Franco Cannava is passionate about the dishes he creates and prepares at his Sorrento Ristorante Italiano, a gem in Olympia. His genuine passion is made obvious during Franco's table visits to explain the menu, make wine suggestions and tell of his daily old-school gourmet specials - a filet mignon dish and ravioli with crab and cream sauce are consistent crowd-pleasers. Wines are predominantly Italian; desserts like almond and chocolate flake cannoli are swoon-worthy. This is real Italian food. This is a full experience, not just somewhere to eat. Go here if you aim to impress and like interacting with staff. A comfortably paced dinner could take a couple hours. See also Casa Mia (Lakewood), Europa Bistro (Tacoma), Il Lucano Ristorante (Gig Harbor).
[Sorrento Ristorante Italiano, 430 Legion Way SE, Olympia, 360.352.9915]
Sushi Go Round
Fun and casual, nothing says "don't read too much into this date being near Valentine's Day" more than grubbing on conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi) while listening to suggestive pop and R&B at Lacey's Sushi Go Round. Color-coded plates indicate the price of à la carte selections of deep red tuna, seasoned edamame, seaweed salad, barbeque eel with sweet sauce and orangey-pink salmon tucked into cream cheese rolls. Order udon noodle bowls, specialty seafood and desserts directly from blow-torch-wielding chefs. Try fizzy, marble-in-the-top Ramune sodas. See also Sushi Revolution (Tacoma Mall), Blue Island Sushi (Federal Way), Marine Polis Sushi Town (Puyallup).
[Sushi Go Round, 1360 Galaxy Dr. NE, #A, Lacey, 360.455.8411]
Great Northwest Popcorn & The Melting Pot
Dinner may be a might over the top for a first-date for some. Check out the sweet stuff at Great Northwest Popcorn. Nostalgia-inducing taffy, jelly beans, gourmet popcorn and fried ice cream compete for attention. Get some to go and munch and stroll across the Bridge of Glass for a brisk and beautiful Northwest evening. Into keeping warm? The Melting Pot has bubbly pots of milk, dark and white chocolate just begging for pieces of strawberry, brownie, marshmallow, cheesecake, banana, pound cake and even Rice Krispies Treats. See also All American Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt (Olympia), Ben & Jerry's (Gig Harbor), Menchie's Frozen Yogurt (Federal Way).
[Great Northwest Popcorn, 1948-A Pacific Ave., Tacoma 253.779.5676]
[The Melting Pot, 2121 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.535.3939]
This option costs more, but is a powerhouse of choice cuisine, dessert, drinks and live entertainment all in one place. Gordon Naccarato, Pacific Grill's owner and executive chef, along with his talented staff, created a special Valentine's menu available Friday, Feb. 11 through Monday, Feb. 14. Tagged as "A Weekend of LOVE," it's sure to be a hit. A highlight of the love run will be fresh-faced singer Chris Anderson - a crooner who gives a nod to Old Blue Eyes and current wedding reception playlist favorite Michael Bublé - will keep the romantic fires burning Saturday, Feb. 12 down the block in PG's Events Center. If this show's menu has but half the variety that their New Year's Eve show had - lamb, goat cheese, stuffed dates, filet mignon, crab, oysters, prosciutto roll - it will certainly make for happy couples. The show and buffet rings in at $60 per person ($35 concert, $25 appetizer/dessert buffet), with champagne thrown in as a bonus. The action starts at 7:30 p.m.
[The Pacific Grill Events Center, Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m., $60 per person, 1530 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.3535]