The Nonconformist’s Guide to Valentine’s Day

Forget expensive tasting menus and free roses - check out these quirky ways to celebrate instead
February 4, 2014
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.

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...)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

east passyunk
valentine's day