10 Tips for a Delicious Valentine’s Day

We’re celebrating #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary all month long — and there are so very many already, thanks to Valentine’s Day! We’ve named the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America and the 25 Most Romantic Cities in America. Plus, we’re running a super-easy-to-enter #savorthelove Valentine’s Day giveaway in which you could win dinner for two. But we’re not stopping there. To make sure you have the best weekend  yet, we’ve gathered 10 tips for a delicious Valentine’s Day. Read on to set yourself up for success.

Tips for a Delicious Valentine's Day

1. It’s not too late to find the perfect table. If you’ve just remembered Valentine’s Day is less than a week away, don’t fret. OpenTable has got you covered. Did you know that almost half of all Valentine’s Day reservations are made in the week leading up to February 14? In other words, there’s still time to snag a terrific table at a top restaurant.

2. Use the notes/special requests field when booking – and be specific. Too often diners write, “I’d love a great table,” but they don’t go into detail about what “great” means to them. Is it a booth? A dimly lit table off to a corner? Name some particulars to score a table that suits your tastes.

3. Talk through extra-special special requests with a manager. If you have elaborate special requests that go above and beyond what most restaurants typically offer (say, asking that rose petals be scattered on the table or having a particular bottle of Champagne or type of flower awaiting your date), stop by the restaurant or call and speak with a manager to inquire if your request is feasible.

4. Celebrate all weekend long. Happily, Valentine’s Day falls smack in the middle of President’s Day weekend, giving diners opportunities to celebrate on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. In fact, in a recent OpenTable survey, more than 30% of respondents indicated that they were planning on dining out on Saturday, February 13. So pick the day that is best for your schedule.

5. Brunch with bubbles! If you don’t have off on President’s Day, and you’re worried about staying out late on the school night that is Sunday, consider brunch with bubbles on Saturday or Sunday, which gives you plenty of time to recover before Monday morning. Also, be on the lookout for special Valentine’s Day/President’s Day brunches at restaurants near you.

6. No date? No problem. There are Valentine’s Day specials for singles happening on the 13th and the 14th. For example, I|O at the Godfrey in Chicago will be hosting Valentine’s Nightcap on the 13th, a party for singles and those with “it’s complicated” relationship descriptions. Similarly, the J. Parker is hosting a Sadie Hawkins 90’s dance party on the same night.Continue Reading

No Date, No Problem: 11 Valentine’s Day Celebrations for Singles

Singles know it all too well. Come February, and everywhere you look you see hearts — even the clouds appear heart-shaped. But, bless your hearts, that doesn’t keep you from participating in Valentine’s Day fun. In fact, according to a recent survey by OpenTable, many singles (42%) across the country are looking forward to dining out in celebration of Valentine’s Day this year, and one in three  (35%) plan to dine with multiple platonic friends or family members. If you’re looking for something a little more tailored to your status, however, we’ve found 11 Valentine’s Day celebrations for singles that you’re sure to heart, many with fun, tongue-in-cheek menus and cocktails — and even anti-Valentine’s Day music and activities. And, since VD falls on a Sunday this year, expect lots of Galentine brunch deals, too.

Carmine’s, Las Vegas, Nevada
Eat your heart out. Carmine’s Italian Restaurant at The Forum Shops at Caesars is featuring a “Girl’s Gone Garlic” meal — a full-course fixe menu that includes items like Carmine’s Caesar Salad, Penne all Vodka, a gigantic Titanic Sundae, and a bottle of Prosecco for $125. Or, order the “My Heart Will Not Go On” meal that’s all about that humongous Titanic Sundae and a bottle of Prosecco for $65. Book a table at Carmine’s.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, Miami Beach, Florida
This South Beach heartthrob invites singles and their friends to “Shuck Valentine’s Day” with an “interactive bar experience that allows singles to engage both the bartenders and oyster bar shuckers.” The way it works: Grab a single friend and you’ll get a bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, ½ dozen Island Creek Oysters, choice of warm or cold lobster roll, and a slice of Grandma Celia’s Lemon Meringue Pie for $75 per duo. Awww, shucks! Book a table at Izzy’s Fish & Oyster.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

I|O Godfrey Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
Slip into I|O — atop the Godfrey Hotel — for a Valentine’s Nightcap singles party on February 13. You’ll get a glass of Champagne and, if all else fails, you can always surrender your love to the sweet dessert and candy bar. If you meet Mr. or Ms. Wonderful, you’ll want to book a booth — which comes with a bottle of bubbly to share. Or, cuddle up in the lounge’s insulated clear-dome igloo where you’ll admire city views and nibble on yum yums. Things getting interesting? Get a room. Book a table at the I|O Godfrey Lounge.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Pistache French Bistro, West Palm Beach, Florida
Pucker up! This modern French bistro will feature a kissing booth — for French kissing, of course. There will also be aphrodisiac-inspired cocktails, such as the sexy signature Blood Orange Martini, and a three-course VD brunch option — think roasted duck and waffles (poached egg, spicy grain mustard, maple syrup) and Crepes Suzette (caramelized orange butter sauce flambé in liqueur Bauchant, vanilla ice cream). A three-course Galentine dinner menu will include Salmon Tartare (smoked and fresh salmon, cilantro-avocado mousse, grapefruit-ginger oil, pickled shitake, lemon aioli, and brioche croutons), Moules Frites Mariniere (Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in white wine-garlic-shallot broth and served with pommes frites), Filet au Poivre (pepper-crusted beef tenderloin with a black pepper brandy sauce), and a chocolate and raspberry gateau (dark chocolate ganache, raspberry coulis, and vanilla cream). Book a table at Pistache French Bistro.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, Asbury Park, New Jersey
It’s all about the communal tables at this authentic biergarten—so you won’t be subject to PDA from the couple in the table-for-two in the corner of the room. The VD theme here? “Is Love in the Cards for You?” The way it works: When you arrive, you’ll be given half a playing card and if you find the person with the other half of the card, you’ll bring it to the bar for a complimentary beer (Let’s hope your match isn’t wearing lederhosen!). The menu is classic Austro-Hungarian biergarten food — Organic Chicken Paprikash (paprika-braised chicken, lemon, egg noodles, parsley, and sour cream), Weisswurst (veal and pork belly sausage seasoned with parsley, garlic, and lemon), and Apfelstrudel with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Book a table at Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

South Water Kitchen, Chicago, Illinois
Drown your sorrows with head bartender Dan Rook’s #SingleforLife cocktail. It’s a riff on the regular cocktail menu’s Cocoa Flip with two ounces of Larressingle VSOP Armagnac, ½ ounce Tempus Fugit Crème de Cocoa, ½ ounce Cynar, ½ ounce, ½ ounce cinnamon syrup, and egg white, and it’s garnished with Peychaud’s Bitters in the shape of a heart. A real heartbreaker. Book a table at South Water Kitchen.

Valentine's Day Celebrations for Singles

Area Four Restaurant, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Grab some grumpy single friends — or go alone — and get silly with chef Jeff Pond “Hater’s Valentine’s Day” menu of spicy pizza with arrabbiata “angry” sauce, skewered chicken hearts, and gingerbread-people style cookies that you can decorate as voodoo dolls. Ready for your check? It’ll come with hate hearts — you know, those sweet, heart-shaped candies, except these are stamped with less-than-lovely messages. Bonus: Sad flicks will be shown on the bar’s TVs. Book a table at Area Four Restaurant.

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Lively Up Yourself: 9 Legend-ary Jamaican + Ethiopian Dishes for Bob Marley Day 2016

February 6th marks what would have been Bob Marley’s 71st birthday. Born in Jamaica, the reggae icon considered Ethiopia his spiritual home. To celebrate the two rich veins of his heritage, we are highlighting nine outstanding dishes from the Caribbean island and the eastern African nation. These history-rich foods embody and showcase the culinary traditions of each region. Guaranteed to satisfy your soul on Bob Marley Day 2016 – and guaranteed to be one of your #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary!

Mr. Brown’s Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
Skewered shrimp are marinated in a ‘catch a fire’ jerk sauce made with plenty of Scotch Bonnet peppers that ain’t for the faint of heart. Luckily, the sweet, soothing mango salsa keeps things cool. If that’s not enough, we recommend a tart Ting grapefruit soda or a guava milkshake to quench the flames dancing across your tongue. A side of fried plantains or coconut milk-enriched rice ‘n’ peas will also help. Make a reservation at Mr. Brown’s Lounge.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Das Ethiopian Cuisine, Washington, D.C.
Can’t make up your mind on what to order? The vegetarian entrée sampler is a good way to go. Featuring eggplant and carrot wat stew, miser wat (red lentil stew with traditional Ethiopian Berbere pepper spice), and tikil gomen (ginger and garlic amped cabbage, potatoes, and carrots) and more, its served on a bed of spongy injera bread that’s meant to be used as a utensil — and then promptly eaten. Make a reservation at Das Ethiopian Cuisine.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Taste of the Caribbean, Seattle, Washington
Meet your new favorite appetizer. Salted codfish, onions, peppers, and West Indian spices are balled up, battered, and deep-fried. Zigzagged with hot sauce and speckled with scallions, we bet you can’t eat just one of these tasteful takes on the Caribbean classic. Make a reservation at Taste of the Caribbean.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ethiopian Diamond, Chicago, Illinois
Think of tibs as an Ethiopian stir-fry. To create tibs quosta, spinach is sautéed with garlic and onions, and then mixed with juicy chicken chunks and green peppers. Of course, it’s served with plenty of injera bread, so you can fold up the components together fajita-style. Make a reservation at Ethiopian Diamond.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ja’ Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Chef Errol Gallimore, a Jamaican transplant, cooks his home-style oxtail in an aromatic brown sauce until the meat is falling off the bone. The rich stew is fortified with butter beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, and several varieties of pepper and is complemented with spicy rice and fried plantains. Goes well with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer. Or three. Make a reservation at Ja’ Grill.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge, Houston
If Ethiopia has a national chicken dish, it just might be doro wat. In this rendition, a bone-in drumstick and thigh are slow-simmered in a spicy slurry, not unlike a thick barbecue sauce, and accompanied by a hard-boiled egg. We’re fond of mashing all the components together to create a barbecued chicken ‘n’ egg salad, which we roll up in torn off pieces of injera. Make a reservation at Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge.

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Chinese New Year 2016: Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with a Fabulous Feast

This month, we’re celebrating #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary. And another one of those reasons is Chinese New Year 2016! It happens Monday, February 8th, marking the Year of the Monkey. Also known as the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year is typically celebrated over a family dinner for a reunion of sorts. Whether you’re dining with your family or your friends, restaurants are ready to help you celebrate with delicious feasts that center around traditional dishes as well as delicacies. Markus Tschuschnig, general manager at La Chine in Manhattan, notes, “The New Year is one of the most important holidays in China, and when people go out to celebrate, they favor luxury dishes. At La Chine, we’re serving abalone from China, for example, along with sea cucumber.” People might not order these dishes year round, but they will to celebrate the New Year.” Here are a few of our favorites.

Chinese New Year 2016

La Chine, New York, New York
La Chine restaurant, located in the storied Waldorf-Astoria hotel, serves Chinese haute cuisine that has been receiving rave reviews since opening its doors in the fall of 2015. Taking things to the next level, chef Kong Khai Meng is introducing a special Chinese New Year menu. Available February 8-13, it will include special provincial-style fare, such as “Lo Hei” Yusheng Raw Fish Salad, a traditional dish that symbolizes prosperity and good fortune (Did you know that the higher you toss this salad the more prosperity you will have? It will be tossed tableside at La Chine, but, according to Tschuschnig, not so high that guests should fear wearing the salad rather than eating it.), BBQ Buddhist Duck, Beijing-style Dong Bo Pork Belly, Sesame Rice Dumplings, and the luxe Traditional Braised Abalone with White Truffle Drops. After each meal, based on the tradition of hongbao, diners will receive a lucky red envelope. There’s not money inside, but there is a chance to win a prize, such as dinner for 2, Champagne, or dessert. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year 2016 at La Chine.

Chinese New Year 2016

WP24 by Wolfgang Puck, Los Angeles, California
The Chinese New Year celebration at WP24 kicks off on February 9 with Wolfgang Puck’s first Traveling Night Market. The evening begins with a traditional lion’s dance at 6:30pm and continues with the Night Market featuring live-action stations preparing Chinese delicacies such as Alaskan King Crab Lo Mai and a Whole Roasted Peking Duckling and concludes with a sumptuous three-course dinner prepared by chef John Lechleidner, including 5 Spice Marinated Colorado Lamb Chops and Szechuan Peppercorn Crusted American Wagyu Rib Eye with oxtail Shanghai noodles. A special six- or eight-course Chinese New Year tasting menu will also be available February 10-19. Incorporating elements of heat throughout, the menus feature flavorful dishes such as a Red Chili Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank and “Szechuan Style” American Wagyu Rib Eye. WP24 continues its tradition of finishing the Chinese New Year meal with its classic Wishing Tree adorned with red envelopes. Guests may select an envelope which holds a proverb, message, or special gift, such as a complimentary spa treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa or a cocktail. Make a reservation for Chinese New Year at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck.

Chinese New Year 2016

Hinoki & The Bird, Los Angeles, California
Executive chef Brandon Kida has created a unique spin on the Chinese dessert that is the mooncake at LA eatery Hinoki & The Bird, which serves cuisine inspired by travels along the Silk Road. His Adzuki Bean Cheesecake is served with honey mocha, coconut anglaise, and coconut crisp, and it will be on the menu the week of February 8. Typically consumed during the Mid-Autumn festival, mooncakes are also popular for Chinese New Year and year round. They were once believed to give the eater special powers, and we can guarantee you’ll feel special after feasting on Kida’s twist on this classic. Make a reservation at Hinoki & The Bird for Chinese New Year 2016.

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