Usually this time of year, Eater SF is helping amorous readers snag last-minute reservations while trying to help them steer clear of stuffy and overpriced menus. Of course, wining and dining is going to look different this Valentine’s Day, but at this point in the pandemic, we all know how to celebrate a holiday at home, right?
Restaurants are sharing love with big takeout specials, from splashy steak and oysters to cheesy fondue and fresh pasta. Bakeries are bringing joy with sweet treats, with heart-shaped cookies and rosy pink cupcakes. And it’s never too late to pick up a bottle of bubbles or box of chocolates. Here’s how to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home this year, even if you’re just taking yourself on a hot date to the kitchen table.
Note: Many restaurants are running special menus and items for the holiday, far too many to include on any one list. This is just a handful of highlights. It’s definitely worth checking in with your favorite neighborhood spots as well, who will be running special menus and would really appreciate the love.
The old-school steakhouse is fully committed to a classic steak dinner with all the fixings. The Valentine’s Day menu has a lobster starter with throwback hearts of palm, a big bone-in porterhouse, the legendary house potatoes, and never least, creamed spinach ($110 for 2 servings).
Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse
If you’re up for searing your own steak at home, wagyu obsessives can stock up at the butcher shop just next door to Niku. Nothing says romance like a meat box beautifully arranged with a “flight” of three different prefectures of A5 wagyu, an ounce of caviar with a little spoon, and fancy pink salt ($220 for 2 servings).
In encrusted-in-pastry land, Maison Nico is bringing back the breathtaking duck pithivier. The Valentine’s Day menu includes that savory pie stuffed with duck breast, duck liver, pork, and quince, together with a sweet tart filled with chocolate and blood orange ($80 for 2 servings). They’re also recommending a bottle of Loire cabernet franc that’s dark, fruity, and duck friendly ($45).
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Meanwhile in the sweet little oyster category, of course Hog Island is selling their Cali-grown sweetwaters live and by the dozen, either small enough for slurping raw, or big enough for brushing with chipotle-bourbon butter and throwing on the grill. Toss in cleaned, cracked Dungeness and caviar for a fish feast.
The pasta institution in Russian Hill is rolling up the rotolo (fresh pasta sheets bundled into scrolls). The Valentine’s Day menu also includes an insalata with arugula and shinko pears, Dungeness crab panna cotta with trout roe, a charred lobster with spring onions and Meyer lemon, and tiramisu ($270 for 2 servings).
Eater SF has spotted more than one fondue menu around town. But the true cheese authority is the Matterhorn, the over-the-top Swiss restaurant, which is now offering fun fondue kits for bubbling up at home.
Le Dix-Sept Patisserie
This botanically inspired bakery always has beautiful floral colors and flavors. The Valentine’s specials include the brioche “love” knots dusted with raspberry and rose, a chocolate version of the excellent canelés, as well as a mixed box of half a dozen treats ($50), and even bouquets.
Black Jet Baking Co.
In cute mini cupcakes, the Bernal corner bakery never disappoints. Choose from five mini cupcakes ($7.50) or six adult cupcakes ($18) with recklessly abandoned sprinkles; half a dozen heart-shaped homemade Oreos ($7.50); or good old-fashioned cake, now available for preorder in a smaller 8-inch size.
The new confectioner in the Castro has boxes of truffles stamped with floral designs ($19.95 for five pieces, $42.95 for 12 pieces). Or go big with a chocolate tower, which includes a wide array of truffles stuffed with tea, coffee, booze, fruit, nuts, and more, as well as rainbow hearts “filled with love,” and a chocolate lily pad and frog.
The Nopa cocktail bar has a few love potions in pretty little bottles. The “Heart of Hearts” includes brandy, amaro, campari, walnut liqueur, and cacao bitters. While the “Hello, Is it Tequila You’re Looking For?” is a tender mix of tequila, almond liqueur, cassis, and ginger and lemon. There are also snack options, with togarashi caramel corn and mini red velvet cupcakes.
Still looking for something special? These other maps may be of service.