Valentine's Day Food and Drink Ideas for Every Kind of Lover — or Hater

Fish in love at Bamboo Sushi.
Fish in love at Bamboo Sushi. Rachelshootsfood (IG)/Rachel Adams

The somewhat sickening time of year has come again — when people put pink and red hearts on everything, roses become currency and restaurants construct elaborate "romantic" menus for couples to swoon over. But just because Valentine's Day is near doesn't mean you have to bore yourself with a tired piece of meat for two or piles of overly sweet bonbons. This year, try something different, something daring, something delicious. And whether you do it with your sweetheart, your best friend or your mom, just make sure you spend the holiday having fun, spreading love and indulging however you wish.

click to enlarge Chocolate samosas at Saucy Bombay. - COURTESY SAUCY BOMBAY
Chocolate samosas at Saucy Bombay.
Courtesy Saucy Bombay
A Feast of Aphrodisiacs
Finding aphrodisiacs isn't hard, given that the list includes favorites such as oysters, strawberries, chickpeas, chocolate and champagne. For something totally sensual, go for the complete Kama Sutra Lovers' dinner at Bombay Clay Oven (65 Steele Street). This four-course meal ($69.96 per person) consists of many aphrodisiac ingredients such as the lover's bisque with oysters and fresh ginger; baby shrimp pulao with cinnamon, cardamom and saffron; lamb ribs with ginger; and rose-studded milk hearts with cardamom. Call the restaurant at 303-377-4454 to reserve a table. If you don't want to spring for a whole dinner, you can get two chocolate samosas at the restaurant's fast-casual sibling, Saucy Bombay (2600 East Colfax Avenue), for just $3 for two — only on February 14.

click to enlarge The blackened calamari at White Pie. - WHITE PIE
The blackened calamari at White Pie.
White Pie
Anti-Valentine's Day Shenanigans
So you hate Valentine's Day — we get that. Crush that chubby-cheeked Cupid by feasting on blackened goodies at White Pie (1702 Humboldt Street), which is partnering with TRVE Brewing for the occasion. The heavy-metal brewery will pour some of its darkest beers, and the restaurant will offer pizza with a black, charcoal-infused crust, black squid-ink pasta, a dish dubbed "death by calamari," and blood-orange f'rosé (otherwise known as a frozen rosé). Dishes will be à la carte and first come, first served during the pizzeria's normal business hours (5 to 10 p.m.).

And if you want to skip Valentine's Day altogether, consider heading to Citizen Rail (1899 16th Street) on Thursday, February 15, for the Lonely Hearts Late Night Happy Hour from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. The fete features an old-school-style high school dance with 1990s ballads, neon Jell-O shots and a bowl of punch — spiked, naturally. Call the restaurant at 303-323-0017 for details.

click to enlarge Poka Lola - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Poka Lola
Danielle Lirette
For a Ritzy Valentine's Day
The New York steak tasting at Urban Farmer (1659 Wazee Street) seems perfectly designed for couples; with eighteen ounces of pure meaty magic, the sampler is not only delicious, but it's also fun to taste and compare three different styles of beef: grain-fed, grass-fed and dry-aged. And, if you want to go all out, add the extra wagyu steak to the mix.

If you're in the mood for something classy but not quite as time-consuming as a full-on dinner, Poka Lola Social Club in the Maven Hotel (1850 Wazee Street) has a slew of kiss-worthy tipples, like the Bitter Hearts Campari Spritz and a chocolate-laced egg cream spiked with Fernet. For love bites, you can woo your honey with fried oysters, caviar-topped deviled eggs and a lobster blini.

click to enlarge Eating with strange devices by the artist Esther Hernandez. - REDLINE CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER
Eating with strange devices by the artist Esther Hernandez.
Redline Contemporary Arts Center
Try Something Totally New
This year, RedLine Contemporary Arts Center (2350 Arapahoe Street) is hosting a special Valentine's Day dinner fundraiser with local artist Esther Hernandez. Yes, there will be food, but, it's not what you'd expect in the slightest. Instead of the usual knives, forks and spoons, Hernandez has created a set of unique utensils meant to help couples get to know each other better. That means navigating the food and interacting with your partner over an organic vegetarian dinner provided by the Mercury Cafe. Before settling down to this one-time-only meal, you can take in the art at the center and enjoy the sounds of Preteen OD and J Hamilton Isaacs. There are several seatings throughout the night for the $100-per-person ($75 for members) experience, so visit the RedLine website for complete details and to make online reservations.

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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington