8 San Diego Restaurants For A Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner

Whether your romantic situation be happily coupled, or something of the “all the single ladies, put your hands up” variety, I think we can all collectively agree there are an expansive range of romantic options here in San Diego, perfectly optimal for making googly eyes and holding hands across the table from your special someone.

Real talk: Landing upon the perfect date night location is a challenge when it’s not Valentine’s Day. Add a high-pressure holiday wherein you are expected to deliver some form of smooth date operation, and it’s just a recipe for potential disappointment.

Let’s avoid that, shall we?

We’ve rounded up a list of places worthy of the investment of your time, money and romantic facial expressions on the one day out of the year solely dedicated to L.O.V.E.

1. Catania

A photo posted by @cataniasd on

When it comes to views, La Jolla never disappoints, and Catania’s rooftop deck provides some of the most gorgeous during-dinner eye candy around. Their menu is influenced by the Italian coast, with other eclectic additions, like starters such as crispy octopus, wagyu beef tartare and yellowtail crudo. Additionally, their cocktails are truly all out of this world. You’re sure to have a hard time not getting cozy.

2. Starlite

If you’re looking for a place that will smack you and your date in the face with ambiance from the moment you walk in, but isn’t over-the-top-fancy, Starlite is your perfect Goldilocks “just right” situation. Starlite is known for their gorgeous bar, but don’t shy away from their equally charming indoor patio. In addition to their entrees, they offer a variety of inventive small plates, like winter squash fritters, chickpea battered local greens and tailored charcuterie boards, and they’re known for their unique Tequila cocktails. Happy sipping, lovebirds.

3. Juniper & Ivy

Acclaimed brainchild of genius chef Richard Blais, Juniper & Ivy is known for their “left coast cookery,” constantly changing inspirations and incredibly artful plates. In terms of places to impress on Valentine’s Day, this bad boy is up there. Dine on Glacier Point Oysters with jalapeno-sorrel mignonette and oro blanco pearls, and stir fry arancini with short ribs and dashi aioli, as you sip a Gaze Hound with Gin, lime, creme de pamplemousse rose and Peychaud’s bitters, and know all is well in your immediately fancier world.

4. The Red Door

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The Red Door has made a commitment to serving locally-sourced, organic and sustainable food, and they’re doing it all from their gorgeous space in Mission Hills. Personally, I’m a sucker for restaurants that put a premium on comfort. Hunker down with your date in one of their many cozy, pillow-laden booths, and you’re sure to feel like you’re dining in a house in a Nancy Meyers movie versus a restaurant in San Diego. Bonus! They’re offering a delicious Valentine’s Day menu, beginning with an amuse bouche, and culminating in a dessert trio to split with that special someone.

5.  Tasting Room Del Mar

If you’re on the hunt for the ideal watering hole to take the wine-lover in your life on this year’s love day, Tasting Room Del Mar just might be your cup of tea (or alcohol). With an expansive list of craft brews, a never-ending selection of wine and a food menu that doesn’t sacrifice on variety or inventiveness, there is sure to be something to satisfy both you and your significant other. Additionally, they offer a pairing for everything, so be sure to ask your server for beer and wine recommendations according to your meal.

6. The Hake Kitchen and Bar

The Hake Kitchen and Bar in La Jolla recently underwent a remodel, and their stunning space, equipped with picturesque ocean views would make the perfect V-day destination. This place puts a serious premium on stepping seafood out of the norm and applying it in creative plates, like their grilled spanish octopus with confit potato, chipotle, watercress, and grapefruit, and their lobster aguachile with chile-pear granita, scallion and cucumber. Furthermore, I can fully attest to the fact that their cocktails are not only delicious, but stunning, and are curated by some of the best mixologists in SD. Make that reservation!

7. Barbusa

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a hearty bowl of pasta, and Little Italy’s Barbusa continues to set the carb bar incredibly high. Whether splitting burrata, getting down on their crudo bar, or indulging in fresh fettuccine carbonara with spring peas, caramelized onions, pancetta and farm-fresh egg yolk, rest assured, you will not walk away unsatisfied. All of their pastas are handmade in their open-concept kitchen, which is visible from pretty much every vantage point in the restaurant. Bonus: It’s located in the perfect neighborhood to romantically walk off all the aforementioned carbs afterwards. Win-win.

8. Herb and Wood

It’s no secret this Brian Malarkey-spearheaded restaurant has received loads of buzz and accolades – and with good reason! Herb and Wood sports some truly eye-popping decor, featuring (but not limited to) beaded chandeliers, carrera marble, lush black leather booths outside and a beaut of a bar adorned with fern fronds.

That alone is enough to make anyone bat their eyelashes, and go all heart emojis.

However, the food and cocktail selection is what seals the deal of the experience. Sometimes hype is worth, well, all the hype. (PSA: For some date-night shopping, their recently opened marketplace, Herb & Eatery, is located in the same vicinity)

Better Book It Now!

Make those reservations and start planning that outfit, because V-day is quickly approaching! Fear not, lovebirds. Stick to this list, and you’re sure to remind them why they picked you in the first place.