Okay, so Valentine’s Day is a whole thing. For some, it’s the worst dining evening of the year with forced ambiance and pricey prix fixe menus to making reservations in a panicked frenzy; and to others, it’s an excuse to get all lovey-dovey with new or long-term partners. Nevertheless, it’s one of the busiest dining days of the year.
To help make planning much easier, Eater is here with selective picks for specific situations and desires, all for Tuesday, February 14. The clock is ticking — book those reservations or orders now because many of these meals will sell out soon.
Where to book highly coveted meals far in advance
Okay, first things first: Valentine’s Day reservations at many higher-end restaurants around Austin are already booked. We would’ve recommended Uchi/Uchiko and Barley Swine, but there are no more reservations left. Nevertheless, there are still some other solid offerings, but, again, yes, book these ASAP.
Yes, it’s one of Austin’s go-to high-end restaurants, and, yes, there are still reservations available for Jeffrey’s on Valentine’s Day evening. The $225 four-course meal includes dishes like lobster bisque, wagyu beef tenderloin, and the sharable chocolate souffle, all rounded out by top-notch hospitality and a wonderous wine list. (1204 West Lynn Street, Clarksville, book reservations online)
There are still some late-night tables available at Southern restaurant Olamaie, which is offering a prix fixe menu for the evening. The $150 offer includes three courses, with dishes like Jefferson red rice and Gulf shrimp, okra gumbo, and grapefruit semifreddo. Plus there are add-ons for caviar and wagyu ribeye steaks. (1610 San Antonio Street, Downtown, book reservations online)
New Texan restaurant Emmer & Rye is offering a six-course tasting menu for $150 for each person. Expect an array of pastas, vegetables, and meats, plus optional wine pairings for $95 and a la carte cocktails. There’s also a take-home dessert. (51 Rainey Street, Downtown, book reservations online)
Where to go for your first Valentine’s Day together
Ah, new budding new romances. There can be a lot of pressure for a couple’s first Valentine’s Day together, but it’s worth remembering to have some fun and relax.
Italian restaurant L’Oca d’Oro is doing one of its epic music-centric dinner parties. This year’s Love V. Hate Dinner takes on a whole 1970s vibes with songs and projected music videos from pop icon Abba and cult favorite Big Star. The $100 per person menu includes family-style dishes such as cabbage dolmades, mafaldine with smoked short ribs, hot chicken milanesa, and cardamom doughnuts. There are beverage pairings for an additional $60, and yes, 1970s attire is encouraged. (1900 Simond Avenue, Mueller, book reservations online)
Cocktail bar Kinfolk is offering a fun drink and snacks-filled Valentine’s Day evening. The $50 ticket comes with two drinks, a cheese/charcuterie/macaron plate, and an aperitif. If you’re in the mood to meet new people, grab a seat at the community table. (303 Red River Street, Downtown, book reservations online)
Where to go if you’ve been together for 10 years
When you’re used to each other, Valentine’s Day isn’t an occasion to attempt to impress each other, but rather, it’s a day to just show appreciation for each other.
Chic New American restaurant Josephine House is hosting a Valentine’s Day version of its usual weekly steak night special. The $150 meal includes grilled steak options, among other smaller bites and sweets. (1601 Waterston Avenue, Clarksville, book reservations online)
The Diner Bar, the Thompson Hotel restaurant from the award-winning Mashama Bailey, is tackling its first Valentine’s Day with a prix fixe menu. The meal includes items like hoecakes paired with caviar, oysters, molasses-brined quails, and the strawberry-laden Eton Mess sundae. It’s $150 per couple. (501 Brazos Street, Downtown, book reservations online)
Lobster is hella festive and indulgent, so partake in loads of seafood at Garbo’s. There are nos special menus, so just expect a la carte whole lobsters and lobster rolls, oysters, fish and chips (which are available only on Tuesdays), and much more. (12709 North Mopac Expressway, Parmer Point, book reservations online)
Where to go for a last-minute Valentine’s Day meal
Some people are planners, others prefer being spontaneous. And luckily for the former, Austin is chock-full of very casual, no-reservations-needed food trucks. Of the ones that are open on Tuesdays, check out Cuantos Tacos for fantastic tacos (and BYOB your own beers) or Pedroso’s for pizza plus drinks from host site Night Owl. (Cuantos: 1108 East 12th Street, Central East Austin; Pedroso’s: 8315 Burnet Road, Wooten)
And then there’s the New American wine restaurant Birdie’s, which never takes reservations. This does mean y’all should show up earlier to ensure a cozy indoor table at the counter-service spot (doors open at 5 p.m.), and enjoy all the wines and dishes. (2944 East 12th Street, Chestnut)
Where to hang out with a group
If you’re looking to hang with friends/couples/etc., cidery and bar Cidercade is hosting a party. For $10 entry, people can select different wristbands indicating their relationship status — green for single and open to talking, yellow for complicated ones, and red for taken. Also on deck are drinks and games. The party runs from 7 p.m. to midnight. (600 East Riverside Drive, South River City, buy tickets online)
French restaurant Justine’s is hosting an a la carte Valentine’s Day meal that’s sure to be festive, with dishes like king crab legs, grilled half lobster with duck fat smashed potatoes, and a gateau marjolaine for dessert. There is a very, very tentative anti-Valentine’s Day party for afterward, but stay tuned for details. (4710 East Fifth Street, Govalle, book reservations online)
Where to bring home stellar Valentine’s Day meals
Rather stay in for your Valentine’s Day date? In these times, takeout meals have come more of a thing, and many local spots are offering to-go meals.
Chef Dong Ho Choo of Japanese sandwich cafe Choo Sando also runs his own takeout impeccable omakase business, which includes a special Valentine’s Day option. The $260 box includes oysters topped with uni, caviar, and roe; sashimi rolls, nigiri, crudo, and a strawberry sandwich. (5222 Burnet Road, Rosedale, place pickup orders online and pickups take place on Tuesday, February 14 with timed slots)
Where to indulge in fantastic desserts
Desserts are honestly the best part of any meal and celebration, and this is truly the case for Valentine’s Day. Also, be sure to look over Eater’s picks for the city’s best candy and chocolate shops for more ideas.
Grab indulgent seasonal thick sandwich cookies from Cookie Rich for the holiday. There’s the chocolate cookie with a filling of chocolate fudge and dark cherry jam, and the oatmeal cookie sandwiching a vanilla cream cheese frosting. There are all sorts of sized packs ranging from four packs to best sellers. (1801 North Lamar Boulevard, West Campus, place pickup and local delivery orders online, and there is national shipping)
The Austin location of San Antonio’s Bakery Lorraine is baking up a ton of Valentine’s Day desserts. For in-person pickups, there are chocolate raspberry tarts, grapefruit tiramisus, heart-shaped moon pies, fraisier cakes, and much more. And then the bakery is also offering macaron boxes paired with bouquets created by Emma Lily Flowers. (11600 Rock Rose Avenue, Suite 100, Domain Northside; place pickup preorders for macarons online for Wednesday, January 25 through Friday, February 10; the other desserts are available for in-person dining and pickups from Saturday, February 11 through Tuesday, February 14)
For similar ideas, check out Eater’s guides to casual Valentine’s Day destinations, date nights, romantic restaurants, finer dining restaurants, and chocolates.