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Arts & Culture

Putting The Lust In Culture Lust: What To Do This Valentine's Day

Diners can get up-close-and-personal with the ocean at The Marine Room.

I know the significant other you read about from time-to-time in my posts will deny this to the death (and rightfully so), but I’ve never invested much meaning in Valentine’s Day. As someone who’s worked in restaurants for the breadth of her college career, I’ve never been able to spend the day with the one I love, and instead I'm stuck delivering steaming entrees to quivering new couples playing footsie, or, more often than not, arguing (or trying not to argue) over the bill.

So, yes – adorable Google Superbowl commercials aside, I’ve become pretty much V-day desensitized. But after researching this article – mon dieu! – look at all of the events afoot! Whatever your thoughts are towards Saint Valentine and his merry band of arrow-toting sycophants, there are plenty of options around and out of town for V-Day.

P.S. – it might just rain, so plan accordingly.


For Traditionalists

If your Valentines doesn’t feel complete without a seaside glass of Champagne after a 5-course meal, we adore the matchless views and ambience of the stalwart Marine Room. This Sunday, splurge on their special menu, which includes a slew of surf-and-turf options, like antelope loin, filet mignon, and butter-basted lobster tail. Suit not optional.

Formerly known as Laurel, Cucina Urbana has made a name for itself amongst local foodies for its inventive array of Italian remixes (like pancetta-egg pizza and short rib pappardelle) and stellar, store-within-a-store wine list. Make a reso for this Sunday and enjoy these offerings from their regular menu, plus a couples-only surprise addition.

30th Street’s requisite purveyor of upscale comfort food, Urban Solace, will still be dishing up its locally legendary Duck-a-roni and cheese biscuits, along with a prixe fixe $36 3-course menu that’s ideal for a date with a healthy appetite.

For Locavores


Deliciously cutting to the chase is Starlite, whose weekend menu features aphrodisiac-infused entrees, elixirs and appetizers for two, like oyster-artichoke soup, steak and scallops, and Valhrona chocolate fondue. As an added bonus, a list of all lust-inciting ingredients utilized is located on the side of the menu. Asparagus, saffron, onions: all amorous. Who knew?

Meanwhile, at Farmhouse Café, choose from delicate plates like pan-seared lemon sole or the heartier pan-seared strip loin on their Valentine’s Day menu (3 courses for $45, plus $25 additional for wine pairings). Oysters and Champagne Mignonette are also on the menu for some blush-inducing additions.

For Adventurists

Get touchy-feely with your date (ha…no, literally… you eat with your hands) at Muzita, a homey, bright-yellow Ethiopian bistro nestled just off Adams Ave. Our picks: Zigini Beggie (Berbere Braised Leg Of Lamb with
Stewed Tomato & Onion) or Shiro (Eritrean Style Seasoned Ground Chickpeas), accompanied by a glass of honey wine.

Into role-playing? Pretend you’re in a Tolstoy novel and stop by the Pomegranate Russian-Georgian Restaurant on El Cajon Blvd and sample some Khachapuri (cheese pie), vegan borscht, and Chicken Tabaka. For dessert? Toad’s Sweat ice cream. Just trust us.

For Frugalists

All of the eateries above may sound irresistible, but listen up, readers: if you want to win over your date while slyly saving some change, there’s really nothing more thoughtful than a home-cooked entree. Saturday or Sunday morning is ideal for visiting one of S.D.’s myriad Farmers Markets (I love Little Italy's) and picking up some fresh, on-the-cheap ingredients. If you’re just as lumbering with a knife as I am, check out Food Gawker or Smitten Kitchen for some beautiful, simple dishes – no sautéing required.

For Cynics

Those who are unattached or simply want to avoid the restaurant scene’s inundation of canoodling couples (yes, I said canoodling): why not spend Sunday celebrating self-love - no, not that kind - with a few spa treatments?

I like Spa Velia’s bohemian ambiance and Milk and Honey Cocoon, which you can cap off with more indulgence with a post-treatment trip to the nearby Extraordinary Desserts. Get a history lesson while rejuvenating at one of the oldest day spas in CA, Escondido’s Golden Door. Or, just hole up and try one of these in your PJ’s.

Feeling melancholy? I'm a firm believer in the healing power of some hip-shaking, and Saturday,El Dorado will host its Red Lips party, replete with beats from DJ Gabe Vega, a photo booth, and wax lips at the door.

Treasure hunting for vintage bijoux and 50’s pulp at Kobey’s Swap Meet is always appealing – grab a few of your closest friends this Sunday and head to the Sports Arena to cull some one-of-a-kind Valentine’s gifts of your own.

For Escapists

It’s Modernism Week in Palm Springs, so take a trip up the I-15 and rekindle your mutual love for Charles and Ray Eames and Bakelite in the desert heat. On Saturday, meet local luminary Don Wexler and peruse vintage Escher at the 10th annual Modernism Show; Sunday brings an architecture tour on a double-decker bus and a thoroughly Modernism Mixer.

For a chilly alternative, head northeast – thanks to the past week’s bipolar weather patterns, the mountains of Julian and Ramona are now snow-capped, making a fireside V-Day weekend totally plausible. Boarders and bunnies should drive further north to Big Bear for its multiple layers of fresh powder.

I won’t reveal too much about L.A.’s Museum of Jurassic Technology – that’d spoil its surprisingly quirky charm – but let’s just say it’s not about dinosaurs. It’s curator David Wilson’s MacArthur Genius Award-winning spin on our willingness to take for granted the information bestowed by museums and those cultural powerhouses. You and your date will bond (and laugh) trying to separate its wacky, seemingly irrelevant facts from fiction.