16 last-minute Valentine's Day ideas and reservations in Austin
So you waited too long to make Valentine’s Day plans. You like that Bumble date more than you thought you would at this point, or someone special decided to come into town last-minute. Maybe you’re just [whispers] a bad planner. Don't worry, while other CultureMap readers sold out our earlier recommendations, Austin is littered with great restaurants and fun things to do, so here’s a plan you can pass off as your own.
Some of these options are regular seated dinners that seem to still have quite a few options left. Some don’t take reservations at all, so you’ll just have to arrive early. Still others — as a last resort or a full game plan depending on how you want to play it — are nontraditional plans that are likely to remain fairly open despite the holiday. Either way, go forth and conquer love.
True Food Kitchen
True Food Kitchen at The Domain has lots of open slots if you’re willing to sit outside, and is a good option for something a little more than casual — especially if your sweetheart is vegan, gluten-free, or has any dietary restrictions you’re not used to planning around yet. Order from the regular or holiday menu, which features three special cocktails, two wine bottles, a starter of burrata and acorn squash, and two entrees: grilled salmon and steak. For dessert: a chocolate tart. Reserve on OpenTable.
Joi Asian Bistro
Here’s what yours truly did last Valentine’s Day: Joi Asian Bistro, also at The Domain, had plenty of seats available to reserve, good prices, and easy options to share, all amid a trendy atmosphere. You’ll have to get there a little early or a little late, but there’s still standard, counter, and outdoor seating available. The Valentine’s menu includes chef specials and “his & hers cocktails” alongside the regular menu, and these options are available on both the 13th and 14th if you decide to skip the rush altogether. Reserve on OpenTable.
It doesn’t get better than Hillside Farmacy for casual dates in a beautiful environment, with great comfort food. We don’t know how we got so lucky, but this bustling brunch favorite somehow has dinner reservations left in several slots on February 14. The Valentine’s Day prix fixe ($90) includes a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, beet carpaccio, surf and turf or risotto, chocolate-dipped strawberries and crème brûlée. Reserve ($45 deposit) on Tock.
Wanderlust Wine Co.
This wine bar is shaped like a brewery, with lots of seating and a mostly-open layout. It’s not a romantic dinner for two, but it might be more interesting: a wine and charcuterie tasting. There are a few time slots still available at the downtown location to get to know whatever selections they have ready for the big day (including vegetarian options and wine-based jello shots). After that’s over, hang around to taste more wine at your own pace. Reserve on Tock.
The first step before attempting anything on the rest of this list is to stop by a bakery and get some sweets so that no matter what happens with crowds, you’re prepared. Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery, the feeder bakery for Lady Quackenbush’s Cakery and Captain Quack’s, lost about a week’s worth of business because of the recent winter storm conditions and power outages. Quack’s is always ready for holidays with cookies decorated on-theme, dense cupcakes, and right now, super-popular pop tarts. Bakery Lorraine also has a list of seasonal treats through Valentine’s Day including grapefruit tiramisu, heart moonpies, raspberry rose japonaise, and more.
Not sure about you, but it seems silly to stop going to bars just because we’re not single anymore. For casual-but-cool vibes in neighborhood staples, consider the bar that always loves a theme, Nickel City, or vinyl connoisseurs Long Play Lounge. Hotel bars are a great option for getting fancy, too. Try Fairmont Austin, Hotel Zaza, or the South Congress Hotel, so even if those are too crowded, you’re in a good area to walk to something else.
There’s no better day to sing about love — or fall more in love with how goofy your person can be — than Valentine’s Day. St. Elmo’s Brewery is hosting a karaoke party from 7-9 pm. More dedicated karaoke spots with private rooms to rent with friends include Hi Tunes and The HighBall at Alamo Drafthouse. It may take some Googling, but it shouldn’t be hard to find something open and nearby.
This is a good occasion to use your body language. Austin Inspired Movement is teaching partner dances; The weekly Sensual Tuesday salsa and bachata classes fall on Valentine’s Day this year. If prepping something seductive for a night in is more your Valentine’s Day speed, Revolt Pole & Aerial Fitness is coming up on its first anniversary next week, and has a few options to get in a sexy flow. On February 13 that could mean beginner pole, back-to-back classes on February 15 for beginner pole and flow work, and intermediate classes on February 14 for people who already have some practice.