If you’re anything like me and Ido, you have no idea what you’re doing for ANY holiday – let alone Valentine’s Day – until a week before (or… Sometimes… Day of?). Let me help take some pressure off you and your boo this Valentine’s Day and suggest some of my favorite romantic and delicious restaurants around NYC.
All of the pics are linked to the restaurant’s website if you want to check out the vibes and menu.
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!
Lucien in the East Village has been a longtime favorite of mine. It’s a tiny French-style bistro churning out classic and delicious French food. The energy of the restaurant is reason enough to pay a visit – you’ll find fun group dinners, a lively bar, and romantic date nights packed into this adorable spot on any given night. Even if you’re dining solo this Valentine’s Day, grab a seat at the bar, settle in for a glass of red wine, and transport yourself to Paris for an hour… Or three.
Another classic French favorite of mine is Buvette in the West Village. Not only is it a brunch institution, but they also serve fabulous European dishes throughout the day and until 2am. Buvette isn’t always easy to get into, but if you show up early and prepare to grab a drink somewhere nearby, I can promise it’s worth the wait and definitely worth it for a special Valentine’s date.
Via Carota comes from the same team behind Buvette, and it’s definitely its quieter little sister. They serve amazing pasta alongside local and exciting veg dishes because, you know, *balance*. I love the warm vibes in here and the restaurant itself offers a homey and charming aesthetic for you and your lover.
If you’re looking for something more casual, head to Diner in Williamsburg. The food is consistently excellent, and it’s a fun experience as the restaurant is built in a 19th-century dining car. These people know what they’re doing, they own Marlow & Sons next door. This is a great spot for a relationship in its early stages – not too much pressure, but still absolutely worth it to leave the warmth of your apartment in the middle of February.
Frank is your spot if you’re looking for non-fussy-but-still-special Italian. I love Frank and all of its sister restaurants (all located in the East Village). The servers are passionate and informative, and they offer specials on a nightly basis. The restaurant is unpresumptuously sweet with a sign outside simply calling it “A Place to Eat”. Pro Tips: DO NOT sleep on the spaghetti limone, practice your Lady and the Tramp pasta-eating, and note that this is cash-only, so come prepared.
KING’S COUNTY IMPERIAL
One of my favorite Asian restaurants is King’s County Imperial. This modern Chinese restaurant gained a following with their original location in Williamsburg and have since opened a second location on the Lower East Side. They serve epic soup dumplings (and dumplings of all kinds), fun cocktails, and brew their own soy sauce. I wouldn’t call this your typical meal of romance, but if you’re a couple who feels comfortable feeding each other endless dim sum and taking turns carrying each other home, this is your spot.
Cervo’s is a Spanish-Portuguese restaurant on the Lower East Side that has somehow managed to fly mostly under the radar. Cervo’s is the sister to Hart’s in Bed-Stuy, and honestly, I highly recommend both restaurants. However, Cervo’s is mostly seafood and changes its menu daily, which I love. I like this for Valentine’s Day because of the cute (and fresh, and delicious, and unique) share plates they offer. They’re also serving an a la carte menu on the 14th featuring a “Seafood Tower of Love”! HELLO, sign me up.
Charlie Bird is the original restaurant from the team who has since graced Manhattan with Pasquale Jones and Legacy Records. If you can’t get a reservation ahead of time, don’t count it out. They usually save space for walk-ins and have a fun bar with intelligent and helpful staff. The wine list is insane, and they are constantly bumping the best hip-hop for all to hear. An incredible raw bar and crispy baby suckling pig with some Jay-Z gently raging in the background? It’s almost too good to be true. Get some pasta to share, and enjoy the casual-cool aesthetic with your babe.