Going out to eat on February 14 is typically amateur hour. From expensive prix fixe menus to cheesy decorations to predictable chocolate desserts, many restaurants tend to cater to the Hallmark holiday’s biggest cliches. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to plan a romantic date under more mellow conditions. Here, a few suggestions that should be chill, fun, and sweet, while avoiding most of the schmaltz.Read More
10 Low-Key Valentine’s Day Dining and Drinks Destinations in Seattle
Sweetness without all the sap
For those looking for French vibes without snobbiness, this low-lit gem in Greenwood is a good bet. There are plenty of cocktails to set the mood, such as the Edith Piaf (with vodka and creme de violette) and a whole list just for absinthe. Plus, the poutine is some of the best in the city, using gruyère instead of cheese curds, along with a rich, mushroom-based gravy.
Couples who like a little old school arcade action may enjoy this divey Fremont spot, which claims to have Seattle’s largest collection of vintage coin operated arcade machines. There’s a whole 80s rec room vibe going on, which may make one nostalgic for those innocent days of yore, when Valentine’s Day meant letting one’s crush play that extra life at no charge. Game on.
For couples not afraid of a little spice, this Sichuan spot on East Broadway should fit the bill. The dining room is warm and cozy, and there are plenty of shareable plates, such as the smoky braised duck, a silky eggplant in aged vinegar, and lamb jiaozi. Don’t forget about the refreshing specialty cocktails, including the Intercontinental, with ginger washed baiju, roasted banana, passion fruit, and soda.
A grocery store date? Absolutely, especially when this new fancy version of popular Korean shop H Mart in South Lake Union has so many delights. One of the main attractions is a fantastic steam station, serving up doughnut-shaped dumplings (kimchi, beef, and vegetable with glass noodles). But there is also an extensive selection of other great options in the small food court, along with a robust bakery. Plus, K-pop socks make a great Valentine’s gift.
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Always one of the more underrated date spots in the Seattle area, the wine and small plate-focused restaurant has a downtown Bellevue, as well as one in Belltown location. Among some of the more date-friendly plates are kolkata pepper-glazed cauliflower fritters and lamb meatballs with sumac hummus, which go well with Black Bottle’s carefully-curated drinks list, which includes a February special called Hot & Bothered with mulled wine, cranberry, brown sugar, and spices.
Vinnie's Raw Bar
This sibling spot in Belltown to acclaimed Rob Roy and No Anchor pairs natural wine and seafood, including plenty of seasonal oysters on the half shell. It’s high concept, but low pretense, with colorful, homey décor, and an open kitchen where one can chat with the shucker on duty. Knowledgeable servers guide diners through a wine list with quite a few unconventional options, such as a peppery, handmade chenin noir and plenty of skin contact roses.
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Little Neon Taco
It can be easy to overlook this laid-back, but elegant Mexican restaurant on a quiet First Hill stretch, but it’s just the sort of spot that makes for a surprisingly intimate escape. The menu blends classic tacos like lengua and adobada with new twists, like the cueritos with soft pork rinds; all approachable dishes, without trying too hard. Plus, the short cocktail list is stellar, with margaritas, daiquiris, and mezcal old fashioneds that have some kick.
This pizzeria, which has grown to four locations in the Seattle area, has an outpost on a quiet, leafy corner in Mount Baker. The thin-crust pizzas are excellent, the salads are surprisingly substantial, and the cocktails, such as the smoked orange margaritas, leave an impression. Though the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, it does have an online system where you can check ahead for the wait times for a table, which is handy.
West Seattle’s Spanish and Moroccan tapas bar boasts a cozy space, in keeping with a compact menu. The tapas here are as artful as they are packed with flavor; classics like Spanish squid ink paella swim with freshly grilled prawns and scallops. Along with the Casablanca-inspired motif, potent cocktails, like A Kiss From Kenitra (with house-infused chamomile bourbon, chambord, and cava) help set the mood.
Deep Sea Sugar And Salt
If there’s ever a time to start the night out with cake, Valentine’s Day would be it, and this Georgetown staple delivers the goods in a charming house on Carleton Avenue. Among the flavors served by the slice are longtime fan favorites, like the London Fog and 9LB Porter, along with seasonal flavors, such as cardamom raspberry rose. There are even a six-pack of cupcakes available for the big day, still available for pre-order.