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Valentine's Day on a tight budget: Cheap ambiance is key

Candlelight dinner for two - Cheap Ambiance
Candlelight dinner for two - Cheap ambiance

If you take your Valentine out for a special dinner, you've got to do better than a sports bar or a diner, or even worse, the ultimate sin on Valentine's Day, fast food.

So what is your regular Joe the plumber kind of guy supposed to do if you can't get lucrative speaking engagements for Right-Wing fringe groups? Go for "Cheap Ambiance."

Some people might respond, "You can't eat ambiance," but I can tell you for sure, a little ambiance can go a long way to having a relaxing, romantic evening with your special Valentine.

South Florida, with its beaches and waterways, is loaded with high value cheap ambiance. But for that complete Valentine's Day package that is sure to melt her heart, you need more than a view, and more than just food. You need to find that right mix that impresses straight to the heart. It's not just a case of picking some fancy joint on the water, because some ambiance can be more expensive than other ambiance, and when you're on a tight budget, you need to find a place that offers cheap ambiance with additional value.

So if you're ready to brave the Valentine's Day crowds, here's a few places where you can get a great view (if you're lucky), good food, and a level of service that is slightly more refined than at sports bars and grills for under $20 per person.

How about beachside? Looking out over the sand eating dinner-for-two at dusk can be very romantic, and you can do just that, at the Aruba Beach Cafe in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

How about on the intracoastal waterway? At Shooters Waterfront Cafe USA in Fort Lauderdale, eat and drink on the dock or inside, as the yachts come and go in a steady stream up and down the waterway.

Bimini Boatyard on the 17th Street Causeway in southern Fort Lauderdale is another favorite spot for waterway dining in a pleasant atmosphere.

Just remember, it's not just where you eat, on an impressive menu, it's what you order that can help you get the biggest bang for your buck (no pun intended).

Here's some tips on how to order without looking like an obvious cheapskate.

  • Don't order salad. Men don't order salads on dates.
  • Don't order a hamburger. Don't order anything you eat with your hands because you may end up looking like a "cheap" disgusting pig.
  • Don't order the cheapest thing on the menu, always go for the second cheapest thing.
  • Do order pasta. Pasta dishes tend to be less expensive. Do not order long pasta like spaghetti or linguine if possible, because nothing is less romantic than slurping spaghetti strands into your mouth. Stick with shorter noodles like Rigatoni or Ravioli.
  • Do order a chicken dish. Its generally a cheaper way to go than beef or seafood.

Try to find out what she wants to order before you commit to anything on the menu. If you're lucky and she's a girl that loves burgers, you may get off a lot cheaper than you thought. Be sure to ask her if she wouldn't rather have a pasta dish, because it may be a trap to see if you're trying to be cheap and take her out for burgers on Valentine's Day.

"What an unromantic cheapskate!"

Photo credit: / CC BY-ND 2.0, Creative Commons


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