Here are our top picks for romantic restaurants in the city of SF.
What to Order: The 25-year-old restaurant — one of Zagat’s top-rated each year — will be serving a $250 tasting menu that will feature five courses, including an intermezzo and dessert. Expect outright opulence with ingredients like Maine lobster, foie gras and veal taking center stage. Spend an extra $145, and you’ll get a different wine with each course that’s so personalized that the kitchen will tweak dishes until they work just perfectly with a particular pairing.
Insider Tip: Acquerello is closed on Sunday and Monday, but is making a special exception for Sunday, February 15 — perfect if you’re looking to celebrate the occasion without the usual crowds.
What to Order: Chef-owner Jacqueline Margulis is still finalizing her menu, but will be serving a set prix fixe for $250, excluding wine, service or tax, and will include both a savory and a dessert soufflé.
Insider Tip: There are still spots available, but the sought-after soufflé spot has been receiving 40 to 50 inquires a day about Valentine’s Day reservations, so don’t waste a second getting your name put on the callback list.
What to Order: If there’s one spot in San Francisco that might ignite that passionate flame, it’s Bix, with its art deco setting, white-jacketed servers and tucked-away location. For Valentine’s Day, the restaurant is offering a flexible, four-course set menu for $65, which also happens to be a downright steal. Order the establishment’s classics — like the potato pillows, little gem salad, lobster spaghetti and bananas Foster — and it’ll actually cost you less than ordering the same thing on a regular night.
Insider Tip: Don’t feel like committing? Walk in, and you can order the same tasting menu at the bar, where you’ll get an up-close-and-personal view of the solo pianist and jazz trio that’ll be playing that night.
What to Order: Skip the special-occasion cost of Benu and enjoy Corey Lee’s magic for a lower price point at Monsieur Benjamin, his modern French bistro, where all the usual à la carte dishes will be on offer. Aphrodisiac believers should start off with a glass of Lassalle champagne and a platter of Beausoleil oysters with sea urchin, then move on to escargots Bordelaise, frogs' legs with garlic and lemon, and finish with the widely lauded gateau Marjolaine.
What to Order: Gitane’s taking reservations over the phone and online for its four-course, $85 prix fixe menu ($45 extra for wine pairings), which will conclude with a chocolate cremeux, made more luscious with marshmallow, coffee cream and chocolate bark.
Insider Tip: Want the Valentine’s Day experience without feeling rushed? Then book a reservation for February 13, when the restaurant also will be serving its usual à la carte menu, plus its Valentine’s Day prix fixe under the radar, so you can have your four-course prix fixe — and your bacon bon bons too.
What to Order: With no prix fixe menu, Mazza Luna, the year-old Lebanese wine bar on Van Ness, is ideal for established couples looking for an affordable and low-key V-Day event. Begin with an assortment of classic meze (don’t miss the fatet betnjan, fried eggplant with pine nuts, garlic yogurt and pita croutons), then move on to the restaurant’s specialty, the kaft bil sayniye (oven-baked beef and lamb with potato and tomatoes).
Insider Tip: For an extra-special bottle of wine, spring for the Domaine Wardy Cabernet, a red wine from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley that’s hard to come by here in California.