Colorado Concierge: Ideas for a Couple's First Valentine's Day Together

For food as fresh, delicious and reasonably priced as this lamb-and-pasta dish at Dio Mio, think fast-fine.
For food as fresh, delicious and reasonably priced as this lamb-and-pasta dish at Dio Mio, think fast-fine. Mark Antonation
We’ve all been faced with the “Where should we go?” question. Sometimes the answer is obvious, but other times we need help. Whether it’s finding the perfect place to celebrate the right occasion, determining what kitchen can accommodate an unusual dietary restriction, or maybe just discovering a new place to satisfy a late-night craving, we've got you covered. The Colorado Concierge will help you find the best restaurant, bar or cafe to suit your specific needs.

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and prime reservations aren't exactly easy to come by with less than a week to plan. The official night of romance is one of the busiest holidays for the restaurant industry, and oftentimes one of the more symbolic date nights for couples, so making a game plan requires a certain strategy. Paired with the pressure of a newer relationship, the search can be extra-tricky. This week's question comes from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous so that his girlfriend doesn't figure out his plans:

My girlfriend and I have been together almost a year, and I want to do something really special for our first Valentine's Day together. I just don't want to over-do it or create expectations that might make things less than perfect. Help!
Making recommendations without knowing specifics about a couple's preferences is not the most straightforward of tasks, but here are five Valentine's Day date ideas for the couple looking for something fun, romantic and not overly extravagant with less than a week to spare.

White Lies DNVR
800 Sherman Street

Consider getting adventurous with a plant-focused experience at White Lies DNVR. This sophisticated venue — Black Eye Coffee by day and sexy cocktail bar by night — also boasts a wonderful dinner menu. For Valentine's Day, chef Rocky Hunter is serving a five-course Vegantine's feast titled "Love Is a Vegetable Garden," complete with a choice of cocktail, wine or non-alcoholic beverage pairing. Reservations can be made by purchasing an all-inclusive couples package (gratuity included), with price dependent on the seating style. Single tickets are also available.

click to enlarge Cider plus chocolate equals love at Stem. - STEM CIDERS
Cider plus chocolate equals love at Stem.
Stem Ciders
Stem Ciders
2811 Walnut Street #150

Take advantage of the numerous beverage pairings happening around town, like the cider-and-chocolate pairing at Stem Ciders. Located in Denver's RiNo area, Stem offers a collection of core, seasonal and firkin-poured cider varieties. For Valentine's Day, Stem has invited Denver-based Cultura Craft Chocolate to pair its products with cider in the tasting room, where cider-and-chocolate flights will be offered for $25 per person. Reservations are not required, and flights will be available from 6 to 9 p.m.

click to enlarge Dio Mio is a great spot for a casual date night. - DIO MIO
Dio Mio is a great spot for a casual date night.
Dio Mio
Dio Mio
3264 Larimer Street

Nab a ticket to Dio Mio's first special event since opening on upper Larimer late last year and get all Lady and the Tramp-style with a four-course Italian dinner. A $60 ticket for two includes an amuse-bouche, choice of appetizer, a plate of pasta and a dessert. Beverages and gratuity are not included with the ticket. With ’90s R&B playing all night long, the romance potential at Dio Mio looks strong.

Cheese & Provisions
2432 West 44th Avenue

For a food-and-beverage experience that doesn't require a reservation or ticket, consider venturing to Cheese + Provisions to build a customized meat-and-cheese platter to serve as an appetizer or shared dinner. The best part? You can enjoy beer and wine as you shop! Cheese + Provisions sells an assortment of specialty items to trick out any platter, including spreads, nuts, crackers, chocolates and preserved accoutrements. Bonus: As a Valentine gift, enroll in a cheese-and-beverage class for a later date while shopping for a Valentine's Day picnic. Cheese + Provisions is open until 7 p.m. on Valentine's Day.

The Source 
3350 Brighton Boulevard

Make your Valentine's Day date about all of the finer details by visiting one of Denver's mixed market spaces like the Source. Grab flowers from Beet & Yarrow flower shop or enjoy oysters on the half-shell at RiNo Yacht Club while sipping handcrafted cocktails, interesting wines and craft beers from near and far. For more exploration, sample wild ales from Crooked Stave, saddle up at the Comida bar for nachos and margs, and grab an Italian dessert or artisan chocolates inside Mondo Market. If the weekend is a better chance to spend time with your sweetheart, head to the Source between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 11 or 12 for a craft cacao and chocolate pop-up market, with swoon-worthy products from six different chocolate purveyors.

Pro tip: If you didn't snag the restaurant reservation you hoped for, don't give up! Ask the host or manager to be added to the waiting list in case someone cancels, or ask if any seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Many of Denver's best restaurants hold a few tables for walk-ins.

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Lauren Rapp works in experiential marketing by day and moonlights as Westword Colorado Concierge, answering your dining-specific queries.
Contact: Lauren Rapp