So you've decided to buck the traditions this year and take your sweetheart somewhere for dinner that won't be an overpriced, overcrowded mess of boring pasta dishes and flourless chocolate cakes. Good on you!
Valentine's Day -- or any good date night -- can be much more romantic when you mix it up and head somewhere exotic. The sense of shared adventure or simply the open flames from a hot pot can heat up the evening like no fancy white tablecloths could ever do. Here are a few suggestions for the more spontaneous and intrepid diners this Valentine's Day, and remember: Nothing's sexier than having an open mind.
5. Shisha and skewers at Cafe Mawal
Weather permitting, sit outside at Cafe Mawal where the huge patio sprawls out underneath a canopy of oak trees and fairy lights. After a dinner of freshly grilled meats, spend the evening talking and blissing out with some Arabic coffee and apple shisha in a shared hookah, passing the tip of the hose back and forth between your lips. If you'd rather pass the evening with a few glasses of vino in a similar manner, you can also get excellent kebab and shisha along with Lebanese wine at Skewers.
4. Hot pot at Thai Spice
It's like camping for grown-ups...who hate the outdoors. At places like Thai Spice (which has a very good Thai-style hot pot at its location on 8282 Bellaire), the waitresses crank up the hot pot burners for you and leave you and your date to cook a meal of your own in the bubbling broth.
3. Doro wat at Blue Nile
The dining room at Blue Nile has grown more and more elegant over the years, making it a surprisingly ideal location for a date night. Order a bowl of spicy doro wat (chicken stew) to get warmed up, and cool it off with glass bereles of tej, Ethiopian honey wine that packs a strong, sweet kick.
2. Egusi at Finger Licking Bukateria
As with the Ethiopian cuisine at Blue Nile, egusi and most other Nigerian foods are also eaten with your hands, hence the name of Finger Licking Bukateria. And what's not sexy about sharing a bowl of fufu with your partner, sucking stray bites off your fingers as you lounge in FLB's comfortable chairs? By night, the place becomes a local hot spot complete with DJ, dim lights and drink specials.
1. Chargrilled oysters at Wild Cajun
If oysters are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, you can stock up on sex appeal for the night at Wild Cajun. This season, Gulf Coast oysters are best eaten cooked over an open flame due to their assertive taste (not as much delicate brine this year, thanks to the drought). And Wild Cajun has our favorite grilled oyster treatment in town: chargrilled and topped with a bit of sweet, hot ginger and wilted scallions. Suck them down and then suck some heads on a few pounds of crawfish when you're done; just remember to wash your hands very thoroughly before touching any *ahem* delicate parts later on Valentine's night.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.