Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, many restaurants are setting the mood with specials all weekend. So you’ve got a multitude of options for kindling the flame with the food-lover in your life: from classic prix-fixe dinners for two to cooking classes and burlesque shows. See below for a comprehensive guide to the best Valentine's Day dinners and dates in the Denver-Boulder area. (And see our holiday preview for additional great suggestions.)
For Contemporary American Cuisine
Newly arrived chef Matt Selby has a five-course tasting menu in store at this lively LoHi fixture (pictured): prime your palate for Iberico ham-wrapped scallops over risotto with porcini butter, Mexican redfish with rose-petal salad and passion fruit gastrique, and more ($55).
1691 Central St.; 303-477-4582
“Something for Each, Something for Two, Something for Both of You” - that’s the theme of the special à la carte menu at this white-hot Ballpark arrival. Think mix-and-match nibbles like brisket-stuffed fritters with garlic pudding and housemade corn dogs, followed by shareable plates such as bacon-wrapped monkfish and éclairs for dessert. Add wine pairings for $25.
2020 Lawrence St. Unit A; 303-942-0262
Frank Bonanno’s famed Capitol Hill flagship presents a five-course prix fixe of luxuries like crab Louis, white truffle-fondue ravioli and veal Wellington with foie gras-creamed spinach ($110 per person/$185 with wine pairings; optional cheese course available for $20).
225 E. 7th Ave.; 303-832-4778
Set in a courtyard off Larimer Square, Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch’s picture-perfect French gem is crafting a three-course prix fixe of chilled, anise-poached prawns with pastis mignonette; classic tournedos Rossini; and mango-passion fruit crepes ($45 per person). Moreover, weekend brunch guests will enjoy a glass of bubbly on the house.
1420 Larimer St.; 303-825-3232
This suave date-night favorite has a très élégant special menu planned: at present, dishes like white-asparagus velouté with black-truffle-butter lobster claw, foie gras au crème caramel, and Dijon-braised rabbit in Bordeaux sauce with pommes Anna are priced à la carte, but the kitchen may yet set a fixed four-course price, so ask for details when you book your table.
1011 Walnut St., Boulder; 303-998-1010
This splashy downtown slice of Paris (pictured) is giving its guests three to four choices for each of three courses, from shellfish bisque with basil essence and Brie-stuffed artichokes to grilled New York steak with green-onion croquettes and chocolate fondue for two ($67.50 per person; optional wine pairings available).
1512 Curtis St.; 303-534-1155
You’ll enjoy several choices for each of the four courses on the menu at Alec Schuler’s sophisticated Boulder hideaway, among them seared foie gras with pear-date mostarda, handmade lobster agnolotti and roasted rack of lamb over red-pepper polenta (Friday-Saturday; $69 per person).
2785 Iris Ave., Boulder; 303-443-5100
Ryan DiFranco’s snug, casual Golden Triangle cafe will serve you and your sweetheart your choice of two salads and two pastas - either beet-goat cheese ravioli in walnut-cream sauce or gnocchi in lamb-shoulder ragu - followed by chocolate truffles and accompanied by two glasses of wine ($55). Or get a full bottle for an extra $15.
955 Lincoln St.; 720-253-1244
Frank Bonanno’s Capitol Hill destination, pictured, is doing a five-course prix fixe studded with luxuries like foie gras torchon, sea-bream crudo with osetra caviar and dry-aged duck breast with wild mushrooms ($100 per person/$170 with wine pairings; optional cheese course also available for $20).
711 Grant St.; 303-832-6600
Indulge in fried oysters with smoky aioli, truffled lobster garganelli in three-cheese fonduta, bistecca with gorgonzola mousse, chocolate bomboloni and more during a five-course tasting from chef Elise Wiggins at this urbane downtown haunt ($75 per person).
900 17th St.; 303-296-3525
For Fans of Flavors from Around the Globe
While the Denver branch of Rayme Rossello’s ultra-hip Mexican joint will keep things simple with a couple of specials (wild mushroom-lobster tamales, for instance), the Longmont flagship is offering an entire à la carte menu of them February 13-16. Head in Thursday through Sunday for ginger-spiced butternut-squash sopa with seared scallop, chile-and-cider-braised pork shoulder, buttermilk pie and more.
3350 Brighton Blvd.; 303-296-2747
721 Confidence Dr., Longmont; 720-204-6455
LoHi's postmodern small-plates mecca plays with flavors from every corner of the world, and Valentine's Day will be no different. Following an amuse bouche, the four-course selection jumps from Mexico (posole verde with pumpkin seeds) to India (wild-mushroom dosa) to Morocco (tagine with duck and lamb sausage) and beyond ($65 per person/$95 with wine pairings).
2030 W. 30th Ave.; 303-993-3120
Though Ryan Leinonen hasn’t finalized the menu, diners can expect to sample his Ballpark eatery’s signature modern Scandinavian cuisine in the form of three courses supplemented by an amuse bouche, intermezzo and Champagne toast ($75 per person/$100 with drink pairings).
2134 Larimer St.; 303-379-9759
Both Zengo, Richard Sandoval’s sexy Latin-Asian fusion favorite in Riverfront, and the swanky adjacent tequila lounge La Biblioteca will serve the same four-course array of specialties, from hot-and-sour soup with foie gras dumplings and chipotle-miso black cod to Chinese-braised beef short ribs with huitlacoche-corn jus and cajeta flan (Friday-Sunday; $65 per person).
1610 Little Raven St.; 720-904-0965
This Boulder farm-to-fork charmer is offering a four-course prix fixe that ranges from salmon sliders with black-truffle aioli to pan-seared scallops in fresh ginger-cider vinaigrette ($68 per person). It’s supplemented by a number of cocktail specials like A Romp on the Beach, combining Sombra Mezcal with local raw honey syrup and lime.
2018 10th St., Boulder; 303-786-8585
Boulder’s original source for local, seasonal farmhouse fare is cooking up a four-course meal that includes diver scallops with Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and crispy pancetta; quinoa gnocchi in mustard vinaigrette; and stout cake with coffee crème anglaise ($85 per person/$120 with wine pairings).
1039 Pearl St., Boulder; 303-544-5973
Meanwhile, the Kitchen’s LoDo outpost has its own four-course dinner planned, some highlights being pheasant terrine with housemade ciabatta rolls, grilled octopus with chorizo over potato puree and salsa verde, and brandied apricot pound cake ($75 per person). Caviar and other items from the raw bar will be available for a supplemental fee.
1530 16th St.; 303-623-3127
This eternally hip LoHi go-to, pictured, has created a five-course menu (including an amuse bouche) that’s rich in vegetarian, gluten-free and dairyless options. Think caramelized mushroom soup with sunchoke croquettes and sherry crema, spiced green-lentil cakes over celery-root pasta puttanesca and absinthe panna cotta with maple cotton candy ($65 per person/$95 with wine pairings).
1600 W. 33rd Ave.; 303-993-4200
For Meat Lovers
The four-course menu at Four Seasons’ swanky modern steakhouse starts with two appetizers like a duo of lump crab and oysters or smoked salmon with citrus mascarpone, continues with truffle-honey-glazed duck breast or braised short ribs over hibiscus risotto and wraps up with a chocolate tasting or berry panna cotta (Friday and Saturday; $75 per person).
1111 14th St.; 303-389-3343
To capture the memories from your three-course surf-and-turf meal (oysters, prime filet and all), the Ritz-Carlton branch of John Elway’s steakhouse is installing a photo booth complete with props (Friday-Saturday, $60 per person).
1881 Curtis St.; 303-312-3107
Troy Guard’s downtown steakhouse opens on February 13 - and it’s getting right down to business with a four-course Valentine's Day menu featuring lobster ravioli, New York strip, king crab legs and sticky toffee cake (Friday-Sunday; $85 per person). 1801 California St.; 303-293-8500
UPDATE: Guard & Grace opening pushed back to March.
Frank Bonanno’s subterranean barbecue sanctuary is treating couples to a family-style feast of Caesar salad, prime rib, lobster tail, two sides and chocolate-raspberry whoopee pie ($60 for two).
1422 Larimer St.; 720-524-8050
For four days straight (February 13-16), the brand-new branch of this national chophouse will offer guests their choice of the three-course Ruth’s Classics prix fixe ($42.95 per person) or a surf-and-turf special composed of twin lobster tails with either ribeye ($57.95) or filet, pictured ($47.95).
707 15th St.; 303-825-0713
For Beer Buffs and Wine Connossieurs
Balistreri Vineyards with Hosea Rosenberg
Soak up the atmosphere in the cellar of a working urban winery (pictured) over a meal from acclaimed Blackbelly Catering chef-founder Hosea Rosenberg. Accompanied by six wines, five courses include beef tenderloin with blue-cheese risotto and salted-caramel budino with wine-soaked cherries (6:30 PM; $214 per couple).
1946 E. 66th Ave.; 303-287-5156
Adjoining The Empty Bottle wine shop, this tiny, relaxed Old South Pearl find will prepare a four-course menu featuring sherried mushroom soup, lobster-scallop pesto salad, butternut-squash ravioli and more; all dishes are also available à la carte (Friday-Saturday; $45 per person).
1884-1886 S. Pearl St.; 303-284-0784
Chef-brewer Ian Clark hosts a Barley & Hops for Beer Lovers Dinner at his Boulder brewpub: highlights of the five-course feast are a malted-marrow marshmallow paired with Obitus American Brown Ale and hop-cured strip loin with coffee-roasted beets alongside Rigley Red Rye IPA.
5290 Arapahoe Ave. Unit I, Boulder; 720-638-5193
This upscale Boulder brewpub has put together a full slate of dishes for its three-course affair: rosemary rock shrimp over creamy grits with vermouth emulsion, confit duck leg in green-peppercorn jus and spiced chocolate pudding with hazelnut brittle and coffee whipped cream, for instance ($40 per person).
1125 Pearl St., Boulder; 303-447-2739
And Now for Something Completely Different
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
February 13-15, this Ballpark cooking school is leading a cooking class for couples centered on aphrodisiacs, including oysters with vanilla mignonette, spice-rubbed chicken and chocolate pavlova. Students will receive two glasses of wine each to accompany the meal they prepare, but they can also purchase a full bottle for $29 (Thursday-Saturday, 6-9:30 PM; $89 per person). On Valentine’s Day only, the staff will demonstrate the art of pairing five wines with chocolate desserts (6-8:30 PM; $69 per person).
1937 Market St.; 303-308-9300
To supplement its treasure trove of cheeses, chocolates and boutique wines, the Boulder gourmet retailer is cooking up a complete dinner for two ($50): pistachio-mint-crusted lamb with yogurt sauce, wood-roasted root vegetables, green salad with golden raisins and pomegranate seeds, and flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Call in advance as quantities are limited; pick-up is required at 5:30 PM.
1825B Pearl St., Boulder; 720-389-8096
Mary Nguyen’s artisan cafe-bakery in Uptown is doing door-to-door deliveries of its Sweet Tooth Basket ($95). The elaborate package of treats contains a dozen each house-baked macaroons, alfajores, chocolate-chip cookies and oatmeal-raisin cookies, as well as caramel corn, almond toffee, chocolate caramels and peanut butter meltaways. Order by February 7.
1552 E. 17th Ave.; 303-832-8663
While offering an array of menu specials, this funky organic kitchen is also hosting Draglesque, a revue with the Rocky Mountain Kings and Boulder Burlesque. Buy $10 advance tickets here or pay $12 at the door; 10% of all proceeds goes to transgender support group Safehouse.
2027 13th St., Boulder; 303-449-0120