Perhaps the year’s most emotionally polarizing holiday is right around the corner, and the pressure is on. How much better does a Valentine’s Day dinner have to be than a regular date? What if your date thinks you’re, like, super uncool because you didn’t think to bring them to a speakeasy? Are the gals ready for a big brunch or just a few cocktails? Is it manly to create crafts together and talk about your exes?
Whoever you celebrate with, Valentine’s Day is, frankly, made the f(udge and strawberries) up and you can do anything you want, with no obligations except to those you truly love. Your secret admirer and excellent wingmag, CultureMap, is here to make sure you look cool and have fun doing it. Even if you just take yourself home, that’s a holiday well spent.
Kinfolk Lounge & Library
This intimate, historical venue (in the cellar underneath the Moonshine Grill) is sure to impress a date. It doesn’t get more underground than this. Treat your special someone to champagne by Palmer & Co, chocolate-covered strawberries, charcuterie, and macarons by La Pâtisserie ($75 per person). The visit also includes two of its celebrated cocktails, from a personal collection of liquors Bar Business magazine says the owners have been building for over 20 years. It’s a tiny place, so you’ll have to book early. Visit resy.com to snag your reservation.
Leslie Knope, foremother of Galentine’s Day, reminded us “what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, and work.” Thankfully for Austin galentines, this city has no shortage of any of those things. Stop by the waffle bar during brunch at Trace (in the W Austin hotel) to make your dream stack with your favorite toppings. A live DJ will inspire you, with help from (probably multiple) $5 glasses of rosé. Book on opentable.com. Check later times for a more serious prix fixe dinner ($92) that includes roast duck, beef filet, and polenta.
Nothing says “you get my heart pumping” like red meat. Is that creepy? Okay, maybe you’re just excited for an occasion for a very nice steak dinner, and award-winning Texas institution Perry’s Steakhouse is ready. Two specials are available for the big day and a February 20 replay: a straightforward three-course prix fixe (starting at $65 per person), or a “Candlelit Dinner for Two,” with rose petals and chocolate-covered strawberries (starting at $125 per couple). Both packages are available for dine-in or takeout service. Book or order online, leaving six days for pickup.
One Austin bakery is on top of every possible holiday or late-night need, and it’s Quack’s. The neighborhood staple is known for its imaginative, meticulously, and sometimes irreverently decorated sugar cookies, which this year include “some 18+ only cookies.” For the true romantics out there, Quack’s has a long list of other sincerely lovely offerings, such as white chocolate raspberry cupcakes; red velvet macarons; and hot decaf mocha with caramel, hazelnut, and whipped cream. Stop into any Quack’s location to see what’s in the cases, or call 512-453-3399 for more info.
Punch Bowl Social
Palentines (a new CultureMap exclusive term for gender-neutral galentines) and new couples looking for a more casual holiday outing will find everything they need and more at the retro, eclectic Punch Bowl Social. There’s plenty to do, including bowling, karaoke, and vintage arcade games. Order classic Southern food (chicken and waffles, Tex-Mex) and sip on a themed Shot Through the Heart Punch in between the many possible activities. Make reservations online, and check for activities you may need to book ahead.
This combination cocktail bar and workshop offers a chance for Valentine’s Day celebrators of any relationship status to go home the night of the 14th with a sense of accomplishment. If you’ve ever wanted to combine drinking and hammers, A.) God help you, and B.) this is the place for you. The “V-Day Project Social” lets crafters choose from a menu of more than 30 projects ($42 for all projects), to be completed at their own pace. There will be plenty to bond over, and a lot more freedom than at paint night. Reserve a space at upstairscircus.com.
Violet Crown Cinema
If it’s been too long since your last movie date, the Violet Crown has you covered with a lighthearted throwback. It’s playing the perfect ’80s rom-com inspired by Romeo and Juliet: a young Nicolas Cage ventures out of Hollywood and falls for a valley girl. The two navigate complicated teenage social dynamics amid the backdrop of a New Wave soundtrack and obligatory prom plotline. The theater serves gourmet versions of theater food, from snacks to salads, pizzas, and cakes, so you can still woo your sweet with some sweets. Tickets for the 7 pm showing ($15) are available on violetcrown.com.