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The Nonconformist’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

By Danya Henninger
February 4, 2014
Photo by: Danya Henninger

Forget elaborate tasting menus and free roses. If you’re not already booked into an “experience” that will probably make more of an impression on your wallet than on your palate, check out these options for some nontraditional Valentine’s Day fun.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For '80s fans: Dance party at Pub & Kitchen

    February 14 is prom night at this Rittenhouse tavern. Starting at 8 PM, stop in for some spiked punch and dancing - a DJ will spin ‘80s tunes, and there will even be a photographer around to snap embarrassing pics.
    What to order: Deviled eggs, baked oysters, chicken liver toast
    How much it will set you back: $30-$40 per person (depending on how late you plan to party...)

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For stay-at-homes: To-go boxes at Ela

    Chef Jason Cichonski has put together take-out packages that include a special three-course meal for two. All you have to do is reheat (you can even take credit for cooking, if you’re clever about it).
    What to order: Ginger-poached lobster tail, shaved kale salad
    How much it will set you back: $100 for dinner for two and a bottle of bubbly (order here)

  • For offal freaks: Sup at Southwark

    New chef Sam Jacobson is a big fan of less-common meats, and in addition to the regular menu items, he’s been putting out lots of offal specials at this Queen Village dining room (real-deal haggis was a recent offering).
    What to order: Salt-and-pepper sweetbreads, seared calf's liver
    How much it will set you back: $50 per person

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For beer geeks: Sip brews at Resurrection Ale House

    If your real true love is beer, head to this Grays Ferry pub, where proprietors promise no candles or dim lighting, only lots of really great brew.
    What to order: Yards Rye IPA, Sierra Nevada Ovilla Quad
    How much it will set you back: $25 per person

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For tapasheads: Spend happy hour at Torrero

    Happy hour at this new Italian Market tapas house runs long, from 5-8 PM, and the changing selection of three-for-$5 pintxos pair perfectly with $2 mini pours of beer (zuritos) or wine (chikitos).
    What to order: Serrano ham croquettes, octopus, patatas bravas
    How much it will set you back: $15 per person

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For mezcal-ophiles: Get smoky at Sancho Pistola’s

    There’s an impressive selection of agave spirits at the new Fishtown venture from the Jose Pistola’s guys, and the mezcal drinks are great paired with chef Adan Trinidad’s fish dishes.
    What to order: El Ruben cocktail, hamachi tiradito appetizer, tuna-topped guacamole
    How much it will set you back: $30-$40 per person

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For food-truck fans: Kick back at Garage Philly

    If you want to remove yourself from all things sentimental, spend your eve at this no-frills game room on East Passyunk. The rotating rosters of guest food-truck chefs means you can get great street food indoors.
    What to order: Whatever the truck is serving, plus craft cans of beer
    How much it will set you back: $15-$25 per person

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For morning people: Splurge on breakfast at High Street on Market

    Make it an early-bird special (really early, that is), and go all out for breakfast at Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp’s Market Street cafe. (If the Rival Bros. coffee isn’t strong enough, you could always pair your Danish with a breakfast beer.)
    What to order: Hickory Town egg sandwich, Red Eye Danish, beet-cured salmon
    How much it will set you back: $15 per person

  • For BYO aficionados: Take your best bottles to Figs

    Adorably cozy, this Fairmount BYO serves a Moroccan-influenced menu and knows how to treat your wine right.
    What to order: Crispy duck breast, braised lamb tagine
    How much it will set you back: $35 per person

  • For taco fiends: Order the whole menu at Loco Pez

    This Fishtown taqueria has at least 10 different fillings for tacos available at any given time, and you can order them as one-offs, making it relatively easy to try them all in one special sitting.
    What to order: Tacos. And then more tacos.
    How much it will set you back: $30 per person

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    For charcuterie addicts: Share salumi at Le Virtu

    Chef Joe Cicala has one of the city’s best in-house meat-curing programs, and you can sample the best of his wares by starting your dinner with the grand tasting board. (NB: reservations are already filling up fast for this East Passyunk fave.)
    What to order: Affettati misti, maccheroni alla mugnaia
    How much it will set you back: $50-$60 per person

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Places Mentioned

Le Virtù

Italian • East Passyunk Crossing

Food25 Decor22 Service24 Cost$51
 
 
 
Loco Pez

Mexican • Fishtown

Food23 Decor16 Service20 Cost$18
 
 
 
Figs

Mediterranean • Fairmount

Food26 Decor19 Service23 Cost$33
 
 
 
High Street on Market

New American • Old City

Food25 Decor21 Service23 Cost$45
 
 
 
Jose Pistola's

Bar • Rittenhouse Square

Atmo.19 Decor17 Service20 CostI
 
 
 
Southwark Restaurant

American • Queen Village

Food25 Decor23 Service25 Cost$59
 
 
 
 
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