So I’m going to admit up front that I’ve never been a big fan of joining the masses on Valentine’s Day in a somewhat forced show of affection and appreciation for my significant other. I get the intention and realize that it drives certain segments of the economy and I’m all for that, but when it comes to the eating out part, I like the element of surprise … a last-minute invitation out on a day that it’s not expected.
Regardless of your timing, here are 14 ways to show your culinary love to whomever that may be.
I’ll start with some area restaurants where the ambience and food combine in a way that will make both of you very happy and stoke those flames of love.
The newish Buona Forchetta in Leucadia has to top that list. And while it can be a tough table to get these days, and it’s cozy, intimate space means you will be sharing the love with your neighbors, it’s so worth it.
Go back to my recent column that dives deeper on this fabulous new addition to the area-dining scene for all the details. From the sensual aroma of the wood-burning oven to the menu that I could eat my way through over and over and never be disappointed, you will find foodie bliss together. For a more relaxed experience, maybe give it a shot during the day, play hooky from work for a weekday afternoon and have a long, leisurely lunch and plan for a long nap after.
Just across the street is another new addition in Chiko and while not quite the same romantic vibe, if your other is a foodie they will definitely enjoy the experience.
I don’t know that there is a sexier space than the back room at Eve in downtown Encinitas. I’ll throw sensual in as another word do describe this space that is very romantic. On top of that you will be eating healthy with their vegan cuisine.
Back up Coast Highway in Leucadia is The French Corner that would be my go-to for an impromptu let’s meet for lunch spot. Their quiche is spot on and their ham and cheese baguette is simple goodness at it’s best. Plus, they usually have some sexy French music playing.
Kai Ola in Leucadia is another favorite date spot. It’s more fun than romantic and again, the food is so good it just induces happiness. If you stick to the sushi, it’s a good place to avoid the dreaded post date food coma.
If you want to add a dose of live music to your date mix, The Roxy in Encinitas is the spot for that. Live music seven nights a week and not a bad seat in the house.
Moving up the coast a bit is Clara in Carlsbad. You will impress your date here for sure as it’s one of the more attractive interiors in the area. The menu is equally appealing and the cocktails are equally delicious.
The Millers Table in Oceanside comes in as my top pick for the perfect setting for a date. It’s an intimate space with a communal table if you feel like getting social or a smattering of tables should you prefer a more one on one thing. Candles burning, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and an ever-changing wine list make this one of my favorite new discoveries.
Rounding out my restaurant selections is Hacienda de Vega in Rancho Santa Fe. It exudes warmth, has great Mexican food, and is a perfect place to have a special evening.
Strolling a farmers makes for a great date and a Sunday morning at the Leucadia Farmers Market would be my choice. There are so many great vendors and options for brunch or lunch. As an added bonus, they usually have live music happening that just adds to the killer ambiance.
My next choice would be to shop for a meal together at one of the many amazing gourmet markets we are surrounded by then collaborate on a meal. Be it Cardiff Seaside Market, Lazy Acres, Jimbo’s, Frazier Farms, Trader Joe’s or Sprouts, there is no shortage of options. Find a mutually agreeable recipe and whip it up together … one of my favorite things to do.
This has to be one of my favorite things to do for a special foodie friend. Head up to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets and hit up the Le Creuset store. Make it a shopping date for some of the highest quality cookware available.
And how about taking a cooking class together? Sur La Table at the Forum in Carlsbad is the perfect place to do it.
If your significant other is a busy, on-the-go professional, a subscription to a local CSA would bring the fresh veggies to your doorstep and be very much appreciated. That or one of the many meal delivery services out there.
So there you have it. I certainly don’t want to discourage readers from going the traditional route on Valentine’s Day, but hopefully this provided some alternative options. I would most certainly acknowledge the day in some form or fashion.