I start looking forward to the whole month of February, like the day after Christmas. It’s all I can do to wait to put up my pink and red in the middle of January– and I’d leave it up until Easter if my husband and friends didn’t think me odd.
But going out on Valentines Day seems to be a joke. You can never get reservations. Getting a babysitter on a school night is tough enough, but when you throw the date-night-of-the-year on top of it– well, you’d better make that reservation in December.
My husband and I tend to stay in for dinner on Valentines Day, cooking and laughing together. He likes to think he’s Bobby Flay and, well, if I could choose, I’d be Ina Garten (she just makes it seem so easy and delicious, right?).
This year the menu is up to me, and I’m still deciding between our favorite lasagna or a juicy steak. There will likely be something a little more thought out than chocolate chip cookies for dessert, but I’m still debating a tart, strawberry cake, or double chocolate brownies with caramel frosting. So so so many options in the dessert department.
Come Saturday, February 16, WE WILL head out though. Here are a few of my favorite local dinners, desserts and activities to hopefully get you brainstorming your own Valentine plans– whether you decide to celebrate on St. Valentines Day or wait until it’s more convenient!
- J&G Steakhouse: Offering a prix fixe menu on Valentine’s Day ($65 pp), including options like tuna tartare and caramelized beef tenderloin and passion fruit souffle– this place is usually my no-brainer when we’re looking for something nice, close and convenient that never misses. The pea soup is the best I’ve ever had, not joking (too bad it’s not in season). Also make sure you try out the black pepper jam.
- Filomena: My husband and I love heading here when in an Italian mood. Although a bit tricky to get to in Georgetown, we never fail finding a parking spot. You know a place is authentic when you can watch a woman hand rolling pasta in the front window. Their manicotti is by far my favorite in this town, and the rigatoni is so close to that we had in Florence.
- 2 Amys: Although not a typical fancy date night top choice, I love the quaint, local atmosphere of 2 Amy’s. Whenever we are in NW DC, it usually heads to the top of my list. I love the Margherita Extra pizza, and recommend the bruschetta with tomato fonduta– yum. This is also a place you could head with a little one or two, if you’ve got them in tow this week. Also note, there are no reservations at 2 Amys, so sometimes you could have a wait. We’ve never had more than 10-15 minute wait when we’ve gotten there before the dinner rush (before 7).
- Bandolero: This place, operated by Mike Isabella (of Top Chef fame), has been on my list of places to try for months now. Similar to his Graffiato, the concept is small, shareable plates. I’m a meat eater at heart, and the suckling pig and skirt steak sound delicious right now.
- Founding Farmers: My choice for brunch, and my husband’s choice for prime rib. This place is perfect for a picky palate AND an adventurous foodie. They always take perfect care of us when we’re there, paying particular attention to my toddler who loves their potato and leek hash browns.
- Serendipity 3: Although it may sound a bit cliche, there’s nothing sweeter than sharing a sweet with your lover. Frrrozen hot chocolate for one or two? Their other desserts are also incredible including the sundaes and cheesecake.
- Georgetown Cupcake: Why not give a nod to the cupcake place that started the local craze? Although I’d judge their cupcakes to be on the small side, they are loaded with flavor. My husband and I still reminisce about the days when you didn’t have to wait an hour in line just to get a red velvet (aka 2007). If the line’s too long at the Georgetown locale, head over to Sprinkles. Their strawberry cupcake is my favorite in the area, if not overall.
- Carlyle: The Old Fashioned Banana Pudding is always a favorite when out with friends in Shirlington. Although I also love the classic Apple Pecan Pie
- Good Stuff Eatery: I am admittedly an ice cream snob. I feel like I can admit that only after growing up in the shadow of Aggie Ice Cream, Farr’s Ice Cream, Casper’s Ice Cream, and Burger Bar. If anyone knows where I can get a SHAKE that even resembles that of Burger Bar in the DC area, please let me know. Until then, I can’t pass up the sweet and creamy shakes of Good Stuff– the chocolate and vanilla is my favorite, followed closely by the marshmallow.
- Catch a live performance: We live surrounded by so many options. The Kennedy Center, Warner Theater, Arena Stage, Verizon Center and Sidney Harman Hall are a few nearby, and have something going on this month. Marionetas de la Esquina (at the Kennedy Center) would be perfect if you’re planning on heading out this weekend with little ones, and Shakespeare Theatre Company’s L’Amour could be an obvious choice for a romantic evening for two.
- Explore the Outdoors: Get beyond the monuments and take a walk around the National Arboretum; have a picnic along the C&O Canal or Rock Creek Park. I love a hike at Theodore Roosevelt Island this time of year too.
- Explore an Art Museum: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art and The Phillips Collectionare among my favorites in DC. After a few attempts, I can honestly say, art is sometimes more enjoyable with the over-age-10 crowd.