Making plans for Valentine’s Day can be stressful. It’s one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants.
Taking time to plan ahead is a sure way to set the tone for the big day and avert any drama. The Westside offers an array of choices for any budget.
Here’s a look at five top dining destinations.
1) Vito in Santa Monica offers old world charm with classic Italian cuisine. This family owned establishment has been a prominent dining locale for more than 30 years. You won’t find a prix fixe menu here. Owner Giovanna Somma explains, “We don’t like to limit what our customers can eat on Valentine’s Day, and we don’t want to charge more.” Vito has a strong fan base and caters to many local residents who are frequent diners. Along with specialty services such as Caesar salad being freshly prepared at your table, Vito is also known for its Spaghetti Della Casa (shrimp with cognac sauce).
“People come from all over for our Catalina Sand Dabs,” said Somma.
Each day, Vito offers several specials of the day. Due to the overwhelming response, the sand dabs have become a signature dish of the restaurant.
Romance will be in the air this special day – rose petals will be strewn throughout the restaurant and each woman will receive a rose. 2807 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica. Reservations: 310.450.4999, vitorestaurant.com.
2) Manchego on Main Street in Santa Monica is a Spanish tapas restaurant that recently moved down the street to a larger location.
“We serve small plates that are accompanied with Spanish wine… simple, fresh, yet elegant,” said owner Ashkan Amir.
Amir said Manchego was previously a food only establishment.
“We can also impress our Manchego fans with our carefully picked and reasonably priced wine selection,” he said.
The four-course prix fixe menu created by Amir runs $50 per person and will include a complimentary glass of champagne. There will be two seatings. 2518 Main Street, Santa Monica. Reservations: 310.450.3900, manchegoonmain.com.
3) Barlo Kitchen + Cocktails, located in the Hotel Erwin, celebrates the holiday with an un-Valentine’s Day menu.
Barlo’s Chef Adam Steudle is speaking up for all the single ladies (and men) with comedic dubbed dishes such as “Forever Alone Frites,” “Bitter Greens,” and more.
Top it off with Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream served for one at your table (no sharing here). This dessert comes with a complimentary romance novel. 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice. Reservations: 424.214.1063, www.hotelerwin.com.
4) Tavern LA in Brentwood has cornered the market on romance with its popular dining atrium beneath a glass ceiling.
Co-owner Chef Suzanne Goin has created a four-course prix fixe menu for $95 per person. Sommelier and co-owner Caroline Styne has put together a wine supplement perfectly paired with each dish for an additional $40. Tavern LA is located at11648 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles. Reservations: 310.806.6464, tavernla.com.
5) The Culver Hotel opened in 1924 and has been beautifully refurbished. The Grand lobby offers a spacious romantic setting with a vintage accent. The Culver Hotel celebrates Valentine’s Day with a gourmet four-course dinner priced at $58 per person.
The evening will feature live music with the Leslie Nesbitt Jazz Band.
The regular menu will be available as well as the happy hour (from 4-7 pm). High tea is another option between the hours of 3 pm to 5 pm, with a reservation (24 hours prior).
Here, several dining areas are available such as the Crystal Dining Room or the bar area known as the Velvet Lounge. When making your reservation, be sure to request your desired dining location. 9400 Culver Boulevard, Culver City. Reservations: 310.558. 9400, www.culverhotel.com.
Whatever you decide, be sure to call the restaurant of your choice to confirm the desired menu and to make that very important reservation. Happy Valentine’s Day!