The Nonconformist’s Guide to Valentine’s Day in DC

By Rina Rapuano  |  February 3, 2014

Everybody has an opinion about Valentine’s Day, with some embracing the cheese of it all, others diving into the romance headfirst, and a good chunk of folks refusing to pay inflated prices for set menus on what must be the busiest night of the year at many restaurants. This year brings an even bigger challenge since the big day falls on a Friday - meaning it's going to be crowded just about everywhere, regardless of all that pesky love in the air.

But if you're determined to celebrate - or deliberately not celebrate (with panache) - we've compiled a list of cool, quirky things to do on this divisive day - for lovers, haters and everything in between. 

  • For those who just started dating...

    Where: Not sure what your latest crush is into just yet? Head to Union Market for a food lovers' feast. 
    What to order: Lambs and clams stew and the oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Bar; ramen from Toki Underground; a latte from Peregrine Espresso; and ice cream from Trickling Springs Creamery
    How much it will set you back: About $25 per person
    Date points scored: 5
    1309 Fifth St. NE; 202-543-5459

  • For those who will probably break up on the 15th…

    Where: With all the energy and chaos of DIY Korean BBQ, Honey Pig is as much a feast for the eyes and the ears as it is for the tongue. He won’t even notice that you’re just not that into him.
    What to order: Marinated beef ribs; bulgogi; seafood pancake; bibimbop
    How much it will set you back: About $60 for two
    Date points scored: 3
    Annandale, 703-256-5229; Centreville, 704-830-5959; Germantown, 301-972-2436; Ellicott City, 410-696-2426

  • Credit: Greg Powers

    For those who like romance (but didn’t have time to plan)...

    Where: The restaurant level of Menu MBK just opened, so it’s not doing the formal Valentine’s Day thing - and you might have better luck getting a table since it’s still under the radar. 
    What to order: Escargot; skate wing; grilled quail; sundae; cheese chariot
    How much it will set you back: $100-$150 for two, depending on how much wine you can handle
    Date points scored: 5
    405 Eighth St. NW; 202-347-7491

  • For the newly dumped…

    Where: Black Jack hosts an anti-Valentine's Day happy hour from 5-8 PM, when The Breakup will be projected on a screen while heartbreak tunes play in the background.
    What to order: Half-price pizzas, mussels and drafts, plus two-for-one oysters
    How much it will set you back: About $35 per person for two cocktails and splitting a pizza with a friend
    Date points scored: 0 (Who needs a date, anyway?)
    1612 14th St. NW; 202-319-1612

  • Credit: Daniel Krieger

    Since it’s going to be packed no matter where you go...

    Where: You might as well stand in line at hipster-heavy Toki Underground, the H Street spot serving up ramen at some of toughest tables to get in town.
    What to order: Toki classic ramen; pan-fried pork dumplings; cookies and milk
    How much it will set you back: You can easily get out of there for less than $25 per person
    Date points scored: 4
    1234 H St. NE; 202-388-3086

  • For feeling like a kid again...

    If you want something that really flies in the face of Cupid and his stupid hearts and roses, head to H Street Country Club for hipster fun and games - Skee-Ball, table shuffleboard, video games and an indoor mini-golf course.
    What to order: Nothing complicated; this place is more for the beer and the experience. (In fact, you might do better to pre-game at Dangerously Delicious Pies.)
    How much it will set you back: About $35 for two appetizers and two frozen margaritas
    Date points scored: 3
    1335 H St. NE; 202-399-4722

  • For when you're officially (or even temporarily) off the market...

    Where: Bitter singletons looking to heal a broken heart through their stomachs and longtime couples who can laugh about their food babies should indulge in the house specialties at GBD Fried Chicken and Doughnuts.
    What to order: Bucket of fried chicken; warm vanilla-glazed donut; Key lime donut; a housemade punch
    How much it will set you back: About $50 for two
    Date points scored: 0-3, depending on why you're there
    1323 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-524-5210

  • If you think it might be love, after all...

    Where: At Luke’s Lobster, you get all the opulence of lobster in a fast-casual format. Order, eat and get on your merry way - maybe back home for a glass of wine and some serious snuggling.
    What to order: Two lobster rolls, two beers and two whoopie pies
    How much it will set you back: $46
    Date points scored: 4
    Penn Quarter, 202-347-3355; Georgetown, 202-333-4863; Bethesda, 301-718-1005