Valentine's Day isn't always the easiest dining night of the year. Places are crowded. It's tough to score a reservation. Service can be harried. But what the heck else are you going to do? Stay at home and open a can of tuna for your sweetie? Unacceptable.
With that in mind, we offer our suggestions for last-minute V-Day options: five that require a reservation (which you'll want to secure, like, instantly), and five more casual options. Play your cards right, and you might just be able to persuade your date to order dessert to go. We suggest something involving whipped cream.
Just by showing up you get a rose and a glass of champagne -- a surefire tactic if you happen to be in the doghouse for forgetting your last anniversary. Three courses, including choices such as Greek salad, prime rib and chocolate cheesecake, will be $55 or $75 with wine pairings, plus tax and tip. 910 Houston St., Fort Worth, 850-9463; www.zambranowines.com
Ruffino's Italian Restaurant
All month, chef Asdren Albanese Azemi is serving foods thought to have aphrodisiacal powers: asparagus flan, fig-and-beet salad and Bing cherry pie with roasted cocoa nibs. (No, we didn't know asparagus was an aphrodisiac, either.) On Sunday, his three-course menu will include a glass of wine for $70, plus tax and tip. 2455 Forest Park Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-923-0522; www.ruffinosfinedining.com
The special Valentine's menu offered Sunday night will include four courses for $65. It's an especially good choice if you want to feel the vibe of NBA All-Star mania, without actually having to be a part of the game. 2221 E. Lamar Blvd. in Arlington, 817-640-9981; www.cacharel.net
Lili's offers its V-Day menu Saturday and Sunday. The menu will be $42, not including dessert or wine. Menu selections include duck egg rolls, stuffed avocado, Greek wedge salad, chicken Oscar, beef Wellington and brie and lamb on the vine. 1310 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-877-0700; www.lilisbistro.com
Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana
If you're finally ready to pop the question, or maybe it's your last night out before you get serious about making babies, then this über-romantic spot is worth the splurge. A $95 five-course menu includes an amuse bouche, tapas choices such as lobster chilpachole or rabbit loin in Serrano ham, and entree picks such a prime bone-in rib-eye or sea bass. 3405 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth 817-850-9996; www.lannyskitchen.com
Just show up and eat
Mama Mia Italian Grill and Pizza
Sure, pizza/pasta joints are a dime a dozen in town. But this lovely Italian place just opened in the old spot occupied for years by Palermo's -- and we're eager to see it stick around. Put on the music from Lady & the Tramp, share a bowl of pasta and, perhaps, a lip-smackin' kiss.
1000 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-878-2400; www.mammamiagrill.com
Two lovers. Two sets of chopsticks. One tall bottle of sake. Sounds like a scene out of one of those annoying romantic comedies your girlfriend is always dragging you to. But this surprisingly intimate sushi bar has 15 signature rolls, including the libidinous-sounding Mimosa Roll and the Volcano Roll. (The "Crazy Roll," on the other hands, reminds us of bad Valentine's Day dates past.)
4954 Overton Ridge Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-294-7200; www.sushitao.net
Ten Times Cellar
If you want to keep things simple and affordable yet still romantic, this recently opened wine bar offers more than two dozen reasonably priced by-the-glass and by-the-bottle options. There's also a modest food menu and a couple of dessert options -- cheesecakes made by nearby J. Rae's Bakery.
1100 Foch St., Fort Worth, 817-336 9463; www.timestencellars.com
Sure, the classic chain doesn't exactly specialize in haute cuisine. But on Sunday, you'll no doubt encounter dozens of couples who've been married for decades. What's more romantic than that? (Besides, your friends will reward you with hipster points for eating at the least hip place on the planet on Valentine's Day.)
Multiple locations; www.lubys.com
Fred's Texas Cafe
The chipotle pepper-topped Diablo Burger -- DFW.com Ink's pick for the best burger in the region -- will definitely get your evening off to a fiery start
915 Currie St., Fort Worth, 817-332-0083; www.fredstexascafe.com