There's no getting around it: Valentine's Day is lame. It always has been, and we've always treated it with a healthy amount of cynicism. But this year? Let's just say the events of the past twelve months have been exhausting in a way that's resulted in substantially depleted snark reserves. So while the fake holiday is — and will continue to be — really, really dumb (as anyone who's ever received a giant red teddy bear from a roadside vendor can attest), we just don't have the energy to be (too) mean about it in 2021.
If you want to take out someone special in your life and pay a lot of money for a prix fixe menu, get on it. If you want to splurge on chocolates and flowers and all things sweet, have at it. Spread some love this year, because God knows that you, the people in your life and especially the businesses below could all use it.
1526 Blake Street
Nothing says romance like a bunch of drunken dudes staggering around Bourbon Street slurring, "Show us your tits!" Thankfully, we're much more civilized way out west (aren't we, bros?), and Brass Tacks' Mardi Gras-themed celebration on Valentine's Day (Fat Tuesday is just two days later, on February 16) is sure to be less Girls Gone Wild than "girl's gotta get her gumbo on." Reservations are open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Tock, where you can reserve a seat at the table for a three-course prix fixe dinner with options like gumbo (duh), a crawfish "lobster" roll, muffaletta, king cake and beignets. And, of course, the bar will be pouring classic NOLA cocktails: Hurricanes, Vieux Carrés and Sazeracs.
Burns Family Artisan Ales
2505 West Second Avenue
There isn't much to be sad about when you're sharing a pair of bottles as delicious and strong as those from Burns. (There's even less to be sad about if you get those two bottles all to yourself.) On Saturday, February 14, the brewery is joining forces with personal chef/catering company Thistle & Mint for a takeout beer dinner. Couples can opt for vegetarian or carnivorous versions of a meal that feeds two (sassafras duck or Brussels sprouts with pickled grapes, scalloped potatoes and chicory crème caramel) plus two 500ml bottles of beer (a rum-barrel-aged imperial brown ale and a bourbon-barrel-aged vanilla milk stout), all for $80 bucks. You'll also be able to tune in for a livestreamed concert on the brewery's Facebook page. Sadly, if you're a carnivore and your sweetie is a tree-hugger, you can't mix and match the entree option. What to do? Dump them — stat — stash your leftovers in the fridge, and enjoy both beers on your own. Get tickets on Eventbrite no later than Wednesday, February 10.
Cook Street School of Culinary Arts
43 West Ninth Avenue
If Denver residents have a love affair with anything (other than craft beer and weed), it's brunch. So skip VD dinner and opt for brunch at Cook Street instead. The culinary school's Cooking With Cupid brunch runs from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will have you whipping up fried duck with blueberry waffles and lemon-thyme syrup, as well as cheese soufflé with chives, mushrooms and cured egg yolks. The price tag ($125) includes in-person instruction and recipes to take home; enroll on Cook Street's website.
Denver Urban Gardens
1031 33rd Street
Normally, we can predict with some degree of accuracy what a Valentine's Day meal in a restaurant is going to look like (prix fixe menu, crowded dining room, harried servers). This year? Making any kind of prediction is a fool's errand, especially when the world's most beloved epidemiologist (call me, Dr. Fauci) can't predict whether or not eateries are going to be open. So stay home and put your money toward a good cause at a fundraiser for Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the development of community gardens across the city. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., join chef Biju Thomas (of Mixn Match and the late, lamented Biju's Little Curry Shop) making a cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage; fattoush; winter veggie roast with chicken, falafel or tofu; and a pistachio pastry for dessert. Order a VIP meal kit for two for $250 (which includes a ticket to the virtual Zoom cooking party with Thomas, all ingredients for dinner and cocktails for you and your date, a bottle of Boulder Spirits Pink Gin, sweet treats from Hammonds Candies, Teatulia tea and Bee Healthy candles), on DUG's website and pick it up at the outfit's office. You can also opt to purchase your own ingredients with the Table for Two package (includes an ingredient list and access to the party) for $150.
And starting this Friday, February 5, you have a chance to win a VIP ticket package for the event on DUG's Instagram page. The contest will be live until midnight Wednesday, February 10. You can also get 10 percent off your tickets with the promo code "sweet."
This Denver company rounds up desserts from local businesses (such as the Inventing Room), packs it all up in a box with a hand-drawn card and ships it anywhere in the country — so your honey can get sweet stuff they won't be able to snag in a supermarket (or anywhere else). Desserted is currently offering two Valentine's Day boxes ($60 and $95) that include frosted sugar cookies, honeycomb candy, cookie dough, sandwich cookies and more — though you can also opt for other boxes named "Good Enough" (for when you just can't bear to be single on February 14); "Overachiever" (for when you screwed up last Valentine's Day); and even a gluten-free box (for when you love baked goods, but they don't love you back). Order on the Desserted website before Monday, February 8, which is when the boxes start shipping to your beloved.
3536 South Broadway, Englewood
Our favorite bar-that's-just-a-bar (except during the Plague Times, when everywhere that's open is a restaurant) is turning into Singlewood Grand for the night, with a $30 takeout package for you-just-you. It includes a custom cocktail put together based on your preferences (not your booze preferences, mind you, but sandwich, music, cheese and chess preferences); a pack of bar-branded playing cards so you can spend the night playing Solitaire; and conversation hearts, since you won't be talking to anyone else. Find out more on the bar's Instagram page and pre-order your package on the Grand's website by Wednesday, February 10, for pick-up on Thursday, February 13, or Saturday, February 14.
3401 East Colfax Avenue (inside Middleman)
Over the years, the Internet has come up with plenty of dumb ways to describe the person you're having sex with. At least two of those bear enough resemblance to a fluffy white foodstuff that we now have Baolentine's Day, courtesy of Misfit Kitchen. The tiny kitchen will be turning out dumplings and bao filled with foie gras and duck; butternut squash and sage; itty-bitty hamburgers; oyster mushrooms and bacon; and crab and cream cheese (or jalapeños and cream cheese). Other items — crispy duck salad, char siu short rib and okonomiyaki crab cake — are also on the menu. You can reserve a table in-house from 3 to 8 p.m. on Misfit's website, or pre-order takeout no later than Friday, February 12. Find the full menu on Misfit's Instagram page.
3600 West Colfax Avenue
Say it with beer — and beer-infused desserts — at Seedstock with the brewery's $25 Valentine's Day package. For that price, you get a Crowler of your choice (if you're taking it to go) or two beers (if you're staying in the taproom), plus Scotch ale brownies and Bohemian ale salted caramels made with Seedstock's own brews, along with chocolate-covered pretzels. A limited number of the kits will be available for purchase at the brewery from Friday, February 12, through Sunday, February 14, but you can guarantee yours by pre-ordering on Eventbrite now.
2639 West 32nd Avenue
One of the most intimate restaurants in town hasn't cooked up a Valentine's Day menu in five years (to be fair, Spuntino is a perfect date-night spot no matter what day it is). But this year, it's offering a very limited number of reservations in its heated outdoor tent, as well as for takeout. The four-course menu includes 36-layer lasagna, pomegranate and pistachio lamb shoulder, and mango and cardamom pudding; it will run you $120 per couple, plus another $120 for three of the eatery's always-excellent wine pairings and a pour of the house amaro. Visit Spuntino's website for the full menu, online ordering (with pick-up on Valentine's Day from 5 to 8:30 p.m.) and instructions for reserving a table (which are unusual and include the line "There once was a man from Nantucket...").
2669 Larimer Street (in Denver Central Market)
Go traditional — but very, very fancy — by getting sweets for your sweet at Temper. The chocolatier is, not surprisingly, offering a few packages for V Day (including bonbons with bubbles and bouquets, as well as an edible chocolate box filled with its stunningly beautiful creations) but our favorite is the fondue-for-two kit that includes high-quality dark chocolate with marshmallows and a Liège waffle for dipping. (You'll have to supply your own semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy cream to get started). The kit is $18 and available for purchase through Valentine's Day in person at the Denver Central Market.
Know of a good Valentine's Day deal around town? Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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