The most romantic day of the year is near, and the pressure is on. If hearing the words "February 14th" normally makes you break out into a cold sweat, you can relax. It is possible to make that special someone feel special without having to sell a kidney on the black market to finance the effort. For those who can’t quite spring for the many $150 plus tasting menus being advertised in the city, here are 5 places in New York where you can enjoy a romantic atmosphere and reasonably priced food.
55 Grand Street
With fresh Mexican food and an intimate atmosphere, Papatzul is a great spot for a romantic dinner. The décor is colorful and creative, and the lighting is dim enough to set the mood, but not so dim that you can’t gaze upon the irresistible face of your loved one without a flashlight. Though portions aren’t particularly generous, if what you’re after is quality ingredients and artful presentation at a decent price, this is a fun, youthful place to bring your significant other.
Dinner entrée price range: $10-$20
Il Caffe Latte
189 Lenox Avenue
You may not have the funds to take your lover on a fancy European getaway, but you can at least recreate the romantic European café experience without booking a flight. Il Caffe Latte, a cozy full-service café in West Harlem, is ideal for a low-key Valentine’s Day dinner. No tuxes or ball gowns are necessary here, but that doesn’t mean the food is subpar. The variety, from Black Ink Sea Food Ravioli, to New York Steak au Poivre, to Red Snapper with Creole Sauce, is impressive for a casual eatery. For dessert, treat yourself and your date to a slice or two of cheesecake and an espresso before continuing your night elsewhere.
Dinner entrée price range: $11-$19
77 East 7th Street
If you and the (potential) love of your life are beer enthusiasts and you’re ready for a worthwhile gastronomical adventure, enjoy a date at Klimat Lounge in the East Village. Red borscht may not sound particularly sexy, but the Eastern European offerings at Klimat are the perfect accompaniment to an evening of intense eye contact and lingering conversation. The bar does also serve more traditional gastro-pub fare, but sharing a plate of Spicy Worms and Pierogis is a much better story for later than “We had chicken wings and beer for Valentine’s day”.
Price range: $7-$21
129 East 27th Street
While you could stay in and order Seamless, that might not win you any points with your date. Instead, try a candlelit dinner Pippali, a romantic Indian restaurant in Gramercy. The food is excellent, and portions are sizeable enough for two people if you’re concerned about overspending. The menu is enormous, so if you’re unclear on what to order, stick to the Pippali Specialties section, which has a range of delicious, innovatively prepared meat and seafood-based dishes.
Dinner Entrée Price Range: $13-$21
L.A. Burdick Chocolates
5 East 20th Street
Want to kill two birds with one stone? Avoid both an expensive dinner and the tired tradition of giving overpriced boxes of chocolate by skipping straight to dessert. L.A. Burdick’s handmade drinking chocolate, available in several mouthwatering flavors including White and Dark Chocolate, is nothing short of heavenly. The thick, rich chocolate is seriously seductive. Just don’t be surprised if your date ends up professing their undying love to the liquid chocolate instead of to you.
Hot chocolate prices: $4-6