A show of hands, here: who is ready for Valentine’s Day? Chances are, you booked your reservations weeks ago, and now just have to wait. But for the rest of us? It’s okay if you haven’t. I see this holiday as an excuse to go out to eat. So maybe go somewhere that you haven’t been yet. I’ve curated a list of my favorite spots, from the West End to the East End and back again. This is your Valentine’s Day, so do it your way!
Bao Bao Dumpling House made a very well deserved appearance on my Date Night guide and it’s a must if you want a casual night out. Yes, dumplings are a great way to spend time with the one you love, without completely breaking the bank. Combine with a few drinks after from The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box (another Date Night must) and you’ll forget all about the commercialism and controversy that come with this “holiday”.
Lolita has the atmosphere and menu that you want in Portland on Valentine’s Day. Not to mention, a killer wine menu that you’ll be perusing all night. Not a wine person? The cocktails are lovely as well. But the most lovely of all? The unique menu offerings, like their squid ink spaghetti (don’t knock it til you try it) or their wood roasted clams. With small, medium and large plates, you can get exactly what you want and still leave happy.
Blue Spoon is a great option if you’re looking for a relaxed and laid back evening, though you could always do a Valentine’s Day morning brunch instead! If you go for dinner, make sure to order the mussels…completely out of this world and filled with enough broth to comfortably dip the fresh, crusty bread that they provide you with!
Miyake is fantastic if you want some of the best sushi that the East Coast can offer you. Make sure to have a reservation though, because you’re not the only one who is thinking of sushi on Valentine’s Day, I assure you. Chef Miyake has been called a visionary in the sushi world, and you’ll see why very quickly. Freshly prepared sushi is like heaven on earth, when it’s just right!
Sur Lie is a relative new comer to the scene, and that’s what makes it a delicious choice for Valentine’s Day! Not only is the interior gorgeous (think rich wood, roomy bar and lots of space) but the food is perfectly shareable. What more could you want on a holiday that’s dedicated to love and romance? Small plates like the Creamy white beans or crusty bread topped with shrimp make for one tasty evening.
Stop by the recently opened Tiqa for Mediterranean cuisine like Portland has never experienced before. As of publication, it’s only been open for a few weeks, so they are still working some of the kinks out, but I can confidently say that they’ll come into their own. For one, fresh bread made every morning is the best possible way to start a meal, and they don’t disappoint. What I really loved when I went for dinner is the versatility of the menu. It would be incredibly simple to just order a few small plates and have that as your meal, and it would fill you up. But the entrees were too tasty sounding to pass up, so Seafood Stew (Sofregrita) it had to be. Mussels, calamari, chunks of lobster and clams in a savory thick tomato base and lots of vegetables. Could there be a more perfect meal on a cold January day?
Paciarino is the requisite Italian restaurant. Who knows more about love than a country that is always thought to be the most passionate? At Paciarino, Italy comes to you. As someone who lived and studied in Florence when I was in college, I can confidently say this is Italian food that Italy would approve of. With homemade pastas, thick, rich sauces and an abundant wine list, you’re going to wish that every day could be Valentine’s Day.
For drinks after: Just in case you want to, stop by MJ’s Wine Bar for a drink or two. I can’t think of a better way to end an evening centered around love than one that ends with a glass of wine (or dessert). Their Prosecco choices are my favorites, but knowledgeable bartenders make sure that whatever you order is exactly what you want.
You can’t have dinner in Bayside without listing Back Bay Grill. This is truly a Portland institution, and it’s where you’ll find me this year. Promises of a meal I won’t forget are on the tip of my tongue. It’s hard to last in the restaurant industry for a long time, but Back Bay Grill has stood the test of time, having been open for over 10 years. Can’t wait to spend my Valentine’s Day dinner here!
There’s plenty of new places opening in the Bayside area, but one you need to check out first: Schulte & Herr. Briefly mentioned in my best of brunch post, Schulte & Herr is authentic German, open for brunch, lunch and dinner. Some may believe that there are no hidden gems in Portland, but I whole heartedly think this is one of them! BYOB means you can bring a nice bottle of Riesling for your Valentine’s Day dinner without breaking the bank. I’ve only been for brunch, but I have to tell you: it was one hell of a meal!
Of course, these are just some of the many options that are available to you for Valentine’s Day but I’ve yet to go wrong with them!
Happy Valentine’s Day and happy food adventures!