Single, searching, shacked up or shackled down. Whatever the case may be, Valentine’s Day is here and so, like the dutiful commercial-holiday adherent you are, you’re looking for a romantic spot to have a nice meal and perhaps enjoy a little entertainment. Or maybe you want a fun, unusual night out. Or maybe you just want to stay in, watch a Lifetime movie and treat yourself to some yummy sweets. No matter what you have in mind, you’re bound to find something on this list. Just know that most of it doesn’t come cheap. Whoever said love don’t cost a thing lied.
IF YOU’RE GONNA GO OUT …
Caulfield’s Bar & Dining Room – www.thompsonhotels.com
So you’ve got a couple of options at Caulfield’s, the sexy, still-under-the-radar Art Deco space at the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills. You can opt for a three-course meal ($68) at the restaurant and have a perfectly fine evening. Or you can hit up the “Best First Date” cocktail event on the private second-floor bar. There, you’ll get a bartending lesson from beverage director Jeremy Back and bartender Pierre Dos Santos, nibble on tray-passed hors d’oeuvres and jump behind the bar to whip up a “Cupid’s Arrow” cocktail for your date. (Or for yourself as the case may be.) The “Best First Date” party is $50 per person and goes 7pm-9pm.
The Market on Holly – www.themarketonholly.com
If you really want to get cooking this Valentine’s Day, head over to The Market for their after-hours cooking class ($60) on Thursday, February 14 from 7pm to 9pm. The evening includes cheese and charcuterie, roasted fennel and orange salad, lobster seared scallop risotto, chocolate fondue with madeleines, a glass of wine, a take-home jar of honey-lime vinaigrette and a recipe card. You’ll learn how to arrange cheese platters, make roasted fennel, cook lobster and scallop risotto, and how to do chocolate fondue. Just don’t expect them to teach you how to find everlasting love.
Downtown LA Art Walk – www.downtownartwalk.org
Go the poor artist route this Valentine’s Day and take your sweetheart (or not) to this free monthly walkabout where you can feast your eyes on art, meet new people and generally feel kinda cool. The Art Walk Lounge located at 634 S. Spring Street will have an exhibit from Iranian photographer Sia Aryai along with a few special Valentine’s Day freebies including bread sampling from Eureka Baking Company and free digital photos from FD Photo Studios. Be sure to hit up the Urban Oven Food Truck, too, for those awesome wood-oven pizzas. Owner/chef Scott Tremonti encourages you to scribble your love (or hate) notes on his chalkboard-painted food truck as you wait for your piping hot pie. You’ll even get free Pig Kisses — calzone-style bits of crust filled with Nutella, bacon and red pepper flakes. See, the best things in life really are free.
Michael’s On Naples – www.michaelsonnaples.com
One of Long Beach’s most romantic dining destinations (hello, it’s on an island!), Michael’s on Naples is the perfect haven for Valentine’s Day. Twosomes can request a table inside Michael’s intimate dining room, behind the doors of the Chef’s Gallery featuring original artwork, or on the heated rooftop where there will be live entertainment on the terrace. The five-course Italian menu is $85 per person or … for a fun, more affordable alternative, stop by the bar or on the sofa around the outdoor fireplace for some wine and shareable plates during happy hour (5pm-7pm) or anytime throughout the evening.
Terranea Resort – www.terranea.com
For the ultimate romantic getaway from LA in LA (County), Terranea hits the spot. Located on the rugged coastline of Rancho Palos Verdes overlooking the Pacific, this beautiful resort is perfect for a staycation or romantic night out. There are a handful of restaurants on the property including mar’sel, which is where you can enjoy a prix-fixe aphrodisiac-inspired menu ($95 per person) with dishes like grilled black mission figs, roasted bone marrow, honey glazed rack of lamb, and chicken with saffron risotto. For dessert, think warm ginger cake, Mexican chocolate tart or champagne granita. Yes, yes, yes!
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa – www.missioninn.com
If you want a mini vacay with prices that are actually within reach, book a room at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. Yes, it’s in Riverside, but that’s part of the unexpected charm of this historic IE hideout. The Sweet Escape Package offered through February 28 is $199 (including tax!) and comes with a deluxe room for two, Casey’s Cupcakes turndown service, $25 resort gift card good at any of the hotel’s restaurants, lounges or Kelly’s Spa (you will loooove this spa) and complimentary valet parking. Other packages are available, not to mention reservations at the hotel’s many restaurants and fabulous spa. And just think, you’ll be part of history — the Mission Inn has been a beloved getaway for celebs and US Presidents for decades. Bette Davis got married here back in the day and Ronald and Nancy Reagan spent their wedding night at the hotel. If those walls could talk.
Howl at the Moon – www.citywalkhollywood.com
Hate love? Well, then sweetheart, this is the party for you. Howl at the Moon dueling piano bar at City Walk is hosting its 6th annual “Love Sux” anti-Valentine’s Day party where you can check your heartbreak at the door by trading in a destroyed photo of your ex for free club admission. Defaced, decimated and demolished photos will be on display in the “Ex Hall of Shame” with the best wrecked photos receiving the top prize. Expect plenty of Valentine-themed games, anti-love songs and sob stories. Admission is $10 or free with a shredded, torn or destroyed photo of an ex.
The Dance Doctor – www.dancedoctor.com
If you’re having a case of “been there, done that” anxiety, John Cassese the Dance Doctor is the prescription you need. This Santa Monica foot doc will get you and your partner in the mood with a private one-hour salsa lesson where you will shake, shimmy and sway in ways you didn’t think possible. You’ll then walk across the street to Border Grill for a four-course Mexican feast. Just try to refrain from dancing on the tables. Dance lesson + dinner is $140 (meal tax and tip not included) and can be booked by calling 310.459.2264.
M Bar – www.facebook.com/mbarboyleheights
If you’re tired of all the contrived romance and consumer-driven pressures of Valentine’s Day, it’s time to get away from it all at the annual F*&#%! Valentine’s Day party at M Bar in Boyle Heights. Hosted by Noel Rod, the night promises a comedy jam to make you laugh so hard you’ll completely forget about all your lame couple-friends and how lonely you really are. (Be honest. You know you are.) DJ Sexypants will be playing all night and there’ll be plenty of drink specials along with $2 quesadillas and $2 hot dogs. Cover is $5.
Mohawk Bend - www.mohawk.la
This cool Eastside restaurant and bar is just the thing for the beau on a budget. Mohawk Bend’s “Cheap Date” menu is $30 per person and offers three courses including your choice of the veg-friendly risotto entree or meaty herb-roasted beef. There’s also a limited regular menu, so you’re not forced to do the prix-fixe if you don’t want to. With all that money you’re saving you can afford to wash it all down with the “Big Spender” flight of four premium beers for $15. Reservations are recommended, call 213.483.2337.
Inn of the Seventh Ray - www.innoftheseventhray.com
Considered one of LA’s most romantic restaurants, Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon is almost completely outdoors and has that rustic/hippie/eco-love vibe on lock. You can choose from the prix-fixe menu on Valentine’s Day or the regular menu that has something for veggie and non-veg types alike.
Rivera – www.riverarestaurant.com
It’s all hearts and flowers at Rivera in Downtown LA. The four-course Corazones y Rosas menu is back for two weeks (now through Thursday, February 21) dedicated to the infamous romance of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The menu includes blood orange and cactus pear salad, sea bass fillet with maize essence, petite filet with malbec wine sauce and black beans, and Brazilian baba cachaca with pink rose chantilly. Cost is $75 per person with wine pairings extra.
Playa – www.playarivera.com
If you’re looking some Mexi-China action this Valentine’s Day head over to Playa. This pretty spot on Beverly Boulevard is doing a three-course prix-fixe menu featuring Mao’s maize cakes, camaron spring roll, sea urchin ceviche, pork chop with hoisin sauce and a Hong Kong chocolate almond torte. Cost is $60 per person with wine pairings extra. And if you can’t/don’t want to go out on actual Valentine’s Day, the menu’s available through Saturday, February 16.
El Cid – www.elcidla.com
Dim red-hued lighting plus an intimate space and stage, all within an underground dining den? Yep, kinda romantical, no? El Cid, the historic restaurant, theater and live music venue is not only celebrating its 50-year anniversary, but it’s also celebrating romance with a Valentine’s Day Dinner & Flamenco show including a three-course, vegetarian-friendly Spanish menu for $60. Reservations available at 6:30pm and 7pm for the 7:30pm show and 8:30pm and 9pm for the 9:30pm show.
Rockwell Table & Stage – www.rockwell-la.com
It’s time to step up your M.O. from the same old dinner & movieplex routine. This Valentine’s Day get yourself some gourmet eats and real-live entertainment at Rockwell in Los Feliz. Enjoy a three-course dinner and the debut of “For The Record: The Marshalls,” a musical homage to Garry and Penny Marshall movies ranging from “Pretty Woman,” “Big” and “Runaway Bride” to “A League Of Their Own.” Dinner starts at 6:30pm, show at 8pm.
Aquarium of the Pacific – www.aquariumofthepacific.org
If you want to make a splash with your special someone, check out the Aquarium of the Pacific, which will be open until 9pm on Valentine’s Day. Sit down and snuggle up while watching sea lions and witnessing the nocturnal activities of other sea creatures. You can also reserve a gourmet dinner and even renew your vows alongside a penguin couple. (Human tuxedo optional.) Late night starts at 5pm with $14.95 admission. Dinner + admission is $64 per adult ($54 per child) and starts at 7:30pm.
Salt’s Cure – www.saltscure.com
Nothing says romance like a sparse white room and a butcher. On Valentine’s night, this famous-for-its-in-house-butchering foodie nook is offering a four-course menu ($70) with wine pairings for an extra $35. For the first course, there’s sea urchin, cured black cod or grilled oyster with beurre blanc and caviar while the main course ranges from “steak and cake” filet mignon and crab cake, duck breast with oatmeal pancakes, or fresh seasonal fish. You also get dessert. No knives required. Call 323.850.7258 for reservations.
Bigfoot West – www.bigfootwest.com
Hey, Cupid, you’re stupid! If that’s your mating call this season, you’re in luck. This woodsy Westside bar is hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Day party starting at 9pm on Thursday with 80s music all night long. Wear your best “Pretty in Pink”-era threads and get ready to work up a sweat.
Public Kitchen & Bar – www.hollywoodroosevelt.com
Located inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, this regal-like resto is offering a $65 menu for all you Valentiners that includes, among other delicacies, filet mignon and white chocolate hearts with clementines and candied rose petals. For an extra $14, you can add Piper Heidsieck Champagne, which is served with mixers like blood orange and hibiscus. For reservations, call 323.769.8888.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art – www.lacma.org
On Valentine’s Day, LACMA is keeping its doors open extra late and adding a few special events for lovers and lonely hearts alike. A selection of the museum’s most popular collections will be on view from 6pm to 9pm (Stanley Kubrick included!). For lonely hearts or those just looking to have fun, take LACMA’s guided Love Hurts tour inspired by works portraying heartbreak, jealousy and affairs ending badly (don’t they always?). You can follow it up with a communal seating RED pop-up dinner or make a romantic reservation at Ray’s. Museum admission $20; Admission + Love Hurts tour $30; Love Hurts tour + RED Pop-Up dinner $60.
Water Grill – www.watergrilll.com
Now that Downtown LA’s perennial seafood favorite has had a gorgeous makeover, it’s the perfect setting for a special dinner. The restaurant is offering a special weekend-long menu from Thursday, February 14 through Sunday, February 17 that includes selections like New England clam chowder, wild seabass and desserts including caramel bread pudding. Three courses for $65.
Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen – www.rocksugarpanasiankitchen.com
For Valentine’s Day this temple to tasty pan-Asian food is offering a $58 four-course dinner complete with a Perrier-Jouet, Grand Brut Champagne toast. The menu includes popular options like crispy chicken samosas along with new dishes such as the sambal roasted trout. Rock Sugar is located at the Westfield Century City Mall, so you can do a little shopping, too. (Which, depending on your circumstance, can either be really romantic or really dangerous!) For reservations, call 310.552.9988.
FOR A GOOD TIME (AT HOME), CALL …
The Spot Gourmet – www.thespotgourmet.com
If you really want to impress that special someone with a romantic dinner but don’t want to deal with the zillion other couples out on Valentine’s Day, the Spot Gourmet’s got you covered. For $99, you’ll get everything for a special Valentine’s Day at home with the “Love Potion #99″ package that includes a four-course meal for two, roses, candles and oh yes, massage oil. It can all be delivered on Valentine’s Day, just make sure to place your order by Wednesday, February 13.
Short Cake – www.shortcakela.com
Give your sweetie some sweets from this Original Farmers Market spot. Try the heart-shaped brownie bites ($3.75 per bag), Linzer hearts with Sqirl raspberry lavender preserves ($3 per pair) or a special chocolate heart cake for $15. These treats, along with a ton of others, are available all week at Short Cake from February 7-17, but you should call 323.761.7976 and pre-order the chocolate cake 48 hours in advance.
La Monarca Bakery - www.lamonarcabakery.com
Say “te amo” this Valentine’s Day with mucho goodness from La Monarca Bakery including their delish pink strawberry shortcake, decadent dulce de leche and, oh yes, chocolate-dipped strawberries. (They can do gift baskets, too.) If you don’t like any of those options, keep things simple and go old school with their pan dulce. Truly. This place makes the best conchas in town.