Valentine's Day Dining: Good Luck

Although we have attempted to convince you otherwise (just like with New Year's Eve), some of you foolhardy souls are going to splash out on Valentine's Day dinners regardless of any advice we give you. We applaud your valor (but not your apparent determination to brave the crowds) and present you with an array of options for those of you -- which is likely a lot of you -- who are last-minute planners.

Not every Valentine's dinner has to empty your wallet, though, so we've made sure to include budget-friendly ideas as well. Use the cash you saved to buy your sweetheart something sincere and thoughtful -- you can get a box of chocolates or a dozen roses any old day, and it would certainly mean more than giving them on a day when they're made to be trite by rampant commercialization.

With that in mind, good luck, you intrepid diners!

Central Market

The gigantic grocery boutique has an offer that we really like the sound of: Dinner for Two and a Movie. Avoid the mad throngs at the restaurants and simply pick up a prepared dinner for both of you, along with candles, rolls and dessert. Included in the dinner package is your choice of rom-coms The Proposal or 500 Days of Summer (we'd go with the latter, personally). Central Market (3815 Westheimer) has a choice of four different prepared meals, starting at $59.99. That's a pretty sweet deal. Pre-order by 4 p.m. Saturday, February 13, by calling 713-386-1750.

Tasti D-Lite

Frozen yogurt for Valentine's Day? Not quite. The little shop that makes frozen yogurt taste just as good as ice cream has a treat for ice cream cake lovers out there who are trying to avoid the caloric binge: a frozen yogurt cake. Heart-shaped and utterly adorable (as well as delicious), it's also under $10, so you'll come away as both frugal and thoughtful at the same time. But a word of advice: do not -- under any circumstances -- imply that you bought a frozen yogurt cake because your significant other needs to lose weight. You'll be celebrating Valentine's Day alone very quickly afterwards.

Alden Hotel and *17

If you really want to splash out, you can still purchase the Addicted To Love package at the Alden Hotel (1117 Prairie), which includes a four-course dinner at the acclaimed restaurant, *17, on Saturday, February 13, as well as an overnight stay, dancing and live music from Danielle Reich, valet parking, late checkout and breakfast in bed for $499. Of course, if you're just interested in the food, *17 is having a Valentine's dinner on Sunday for $70 a person or $100 with wine pairings. Call 832-200-8800 for reservations.


Back to the more affordable side of the table, Laurenzo's (4412 Washington Avenue) is offering a generous four-course menu for $37.50 a person. It includes your choice of three appetizers, a salad, a choice of entrees (such as lobster and prime rib) and a dessert. Plus, you get the chance to dine in one of Houston's newest restaurants before all of your friends -- just be sure to watch out for that late-night Washington Avenue traffic.

Dessert Gallery

The sweet shop has a dizzying assortment of goodies for your better half, ranging from boxes of long-stem chocolate-dipped strawberries (2 for $7.50 of 6 for $21.50) to fancy cupcakes ($3.95 each). There are simply too many treats for us to list here, so stop by the nearest Dessert Gallery (3600 Kirby or 1616 Post Oak Boulevard) to check them out for yourself.

Porch Swing Desserts

The local bakery that usually only sells directly to individual customers has a sweet treat this weekend: its popular strawberry cake will be available on a very limited basis at Antidote (729 Studewood), the low-key coffee shop in the Heights. Stop in for a leisurely cup of coffee at one of the best little shops in town, and split a piece of the decadent cake with your sweetheart.

For more Valentine's Day listings than you can shake a long-stemmed rose at, head over to our friends at B4-U-Eat.

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Katharine Shilcutt