On Valentine's it can seem like all of your favorite, affordable restaurants are out to get you. Even Finale, Boston's go-to desserterie, has found a way to make two small plate dishes and one shared dessert ring up to a whopping $55!
For a Valentine's Day that won't break the bank in a lovely, intimate locale with delicious, artfully platted, aphrodisiac-centric cuisine, check out these picks for an affordable Valentine's dinner:
Dali Restaurant & Tapas Bar
North of Harvard Square
Dali takes reservations from noon to four on Valentine's Day, but after that, it is first come, first serve. Probably one of the few truly amazing restaurants in the Boston area that you can still snag a table at without any advanced preparation, Dali is also serves till the wee hours. Their late night bar menu (until 12:30) is chock full of the usual favorites for those whose Valentine's activities cause them to miss dinner.
What really makes Dali a stand-out for a Valentine's Day dinner is the ambiance. Though the interior is actually incredibly spacious, each table feels like it is in its own incredibly decked out niche. The decor ranges from beaded curtains to Klimt-esque walls of Gaudi-style dripped gold. And pretty much any item on their small plate, striking sauce and perfectly cooked meat-ladden menu belongs in an aphrodisiac cookbook.
Vinoteca di Monica
Boasting both some of the most authentic Italian food and some of the affordable prices in the neighborhood, Vinoteca di Monica is a no-brainer for a romantic dinner. Add in the lauded wine list and highly knowledgeable wait staff, and you couldn't ask for more.
A surprisingly cozy space given it's open plan layout, the tables for two are booths tucked around the outer edges of the room, keeping you safely away from the chatter of the larger tables in the center. Go for the handmade pasta (pasta fatta a mano) - enough to fill you up, artfully made, and worth every penny.
From those looking for a romantic evening in a cozy space to those irreverent souls who don't understand what all the pink hearts and fuss are about, Savant Project offers a dinner menu for everyone. It is also one of the few places where you can still make use of the patio, due to copious heat lamps.
The "Love it" menu features sashimi, artichokes, filet mignon, flour-less chocolate cake, and wine pairings for $45, while the "F@$k it" menu ($30) included beer pairings, burgers, wings, and fried twinkies. Whichever you choose, expect perfectly plated food and an intimate, though hip, vibe.
The Helmund in Cambridge
As the only Afghan restaurant in the Boston area, Helmund is good enough to make anyone fall for the cuisine. Though the restaurant is spacious and noise can be an issue at times, the low lighting and privacy-respecting waiters will quickly make your forget your fellow customers.
In a place where everything is great but you have no idea what anything on the menu means, the waiters at Helmund are a great help. There are ample vegetarian options, particularly among the appetizers, which a great place to start to get accustomed to the cuisine. The baby pumpin Kaddo and leek and spiced potato Bowlawni pastries are highly recommended.
The vibe is brasserie mets old-fashioned American dinner, the space is small enough to be cozy without yet verging on cramped, and the New American cuisine is homey, but artfully assembled. A perfect spot already during the day, this Tremont Street locale positively shines with candlelight and warmth for a romantic evening meal.
There are some special Valentine's Day options, but they mostly look over-priced and underwhelming. Thankfully, this is one place that will still let you order from the regular menu. Though Metropolis' menu is populated with classics like hanger steak and pork chops, you cannot go wrong with the risotto with fresh market ingredients, which changes almost daily.