With the recent winter storm shutting down all of Charlotte this past week, Valentine's Day probably wasn't top priority for many people. (Seriously, how many of you actually bought a gift for your lover before Tuesday? Kudos to you if you did.) But February 15th is just as good a day as any to celebrate your undying love - it'll also probably be safer to drive then, too. Here are just a few restaurant picks for everyone from the seasoned romancer to the couple who couldn't get a babysitter.
For couples on a budget
The Diamond on Commonwealth Avenue is ideal for those of us without much to spend. An old-fashioned jukebox helps to set the down-to-earth atmosphere of this classic American diner. The fried oyster basket is one shareable dish that will get you both in the mood for lovin'. Or if you're going for a more blatantly suggestive eating experience, the Diamond has a variety of hot dog options, from hand-dipped corn dogs to all-beef to veggie dogs with plenty of topping choices. End your night by sharing one of the diner's Southern-style desserts.
For those with a special diet
If you or your lover has dietary restrictions - vegetarian, vegan, paleo diet, what-have-you - Lang Van on Shamrock Drive is the place to be. On top of garlic-fried tofu that is, I swear, better than bacon, this Vietnamese culinary cornerstone offers familiar and exotic meats to satisfy any carnivore. Old faithful chicken, pork, beef and shrimp are joined by duck, squid and crab to satisfy the most adventurous taste buds. Lang Van has more than 10 options for pho fans, on top of dozens of other menu items. But if you'd rather have an intimate evening in, this restaurant offers take-out and delivery.
Not for the faint-of-stomach
For a truly indulgent Valentine's, look into Chima Brazilian Steakhouse. Gentle, intimate lighting and a per-person flat fee characterize this restaurant. Staff circle the room with different meats and you eat as much and as many different dishes as you like, with a salad bar that has been called "salad paradise" by some online reviews. Gourmet desserts include passionfruit mousse, tiramisu, papaya cream, crème brulee and much more. If you and your lover are adventurous (or maybe a bit gluttonous), Chima is the venue for a truly memorable Valentine's.
For the whole family
It's Saturday night, and you can't find a babysitter. Don't fret! You can still share a great dinner with your love & co. at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. There are tons of shareable dishes, like hummus, nachos and a variety of dips, on top of pizza, tacos, and gourmet burgers. Plus, nine flavors of jumbo wings (because, let's face it, nothing's sexier than getting messy with your loved ones). Tie it up with its award-winning crab cakes, and you've got a venue ready to satisfy kids and adults alike.
If you envision the traditional romantic evening out, spend your February 15th at Carpe Diem on Elizabeth Avenue. Marble floors, mahogany doors and copper lighting create an elegant atmosphere that's both pleasing and formal. Every menu item here has a fancy name - the Prince Edward Steamed Mussels will set the mood for the night. Or, if you're like me (Southern at heart and love all things fried), try the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast. All entrées can be split between two people, and salad options are available in entrée sizes for those of us watching our diet (though, come on, treat yourself this once).