It’s not too late to save Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014

You might be on this page because you screwed up somehow. Either your plans fell through, or maybe you forgot to make them to begin with. You have four potential remedies to keep tonight from being a total bust. Godspeed.

1. Check out a no-reservations restaurant, as featured in our cover story today. Show up early at one of these nine restaurants -- most of them are pretty romantic! -- get your name on the list, and take your date to a bar for drinks during the wait.

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 9, 2013: Aaron Silverman is the chef and owner of Rose's Luxury a new restaurant on 8th Street in Southeast which offers spicy pork and lychees and brisket for two main course. (Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post) If you can get on the Rose's Luxury list early, this pork-lychee salad could be your Valentine's Day dinner. (Photo by Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

Pros: You could reeeeeeally impress your date if you get into Rose's Luxury on Valentine's Day.
Cons: You could reeeeeeally strike out if you get there too late and spend your Valentine's Day getting pizza, instead. Nobody wants to wait three-plus hours on Valentine's Day.

2. Make a reservation at one of these restaurants on Open Table or City Eats that still have availability around 8ish (as of 12:30 p.m.): Brasserie Beck, the Chesapeake Room, Circle Bistro, City Tap House, Curry Mantra 1, H Street Country Club (where your dinner comes with golf!), Heritage India, Masala Art, P.J. Clarke's, Bandolero, Boveda, Liberty Tree, Perry's, and others.

Pros: Guaranteed plans!
Cons: The most romantic restaurants are full.

3. Try to take someone else's reservation. Here's restaurateur Jeff Black, of Pearl Dive and Black Salt, on his least favorite day of the year: "Valentine’s Day is my highest attrition rate for no-shows, and the only theory that I’m able to come up with is there are guys making reservations for multiple [restaurants] going, ‘Hey honey, I can get you into the top restaurants in the city. Where do you want to go?’ Or these guys are getting into fights with their girls," he said.  "Something happens between making the reservations and showing up. I get the most no-shows on Valentine’s Day. Don’t know if that’s true for other people, but my worst day of the year is Valentine’s Day.”

The fact that plows have not yet gotten to many roads could exacerbate this. But their loss is your gain! Try calling one of your favorite restaurants and see if any last-minute reservations have opened up today.

Pros: You could get really lucky.
Cons: See #1 and #2.

Perry's is going back to its Japanese origins. (Scott Suchman/For The Washington Post) Perry's is among the restaurants that still have availability tonight. (Scott Suchman/For The Washington Post)

4. Cook at home. Valentine's Day is not a good night to go out, says Tom Sietsema. "For the best dining experience, you really should consider going  just before or just after the actual occasion, when prices are sometimes jacked up, amateurs crowd on the scene and expectations are unrealistically high." Better to prepare a simple, intimate candlelit dinner at home. Use our recipe finder to come up with a meal that's simple -- here are a few recommendations from the Food section -- and get yourself to a Whole Foods, stat.

Pros: Romantic, thoughtful. And you don't have to fight the crowds for service or pay extra for a prix-fixe menu.
Cons: Hope you can cook.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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