By Chandler Longbons and Miguel Otarola
Valentine’s Day, the day that can make you realize how lucky you are to be in love, make you realize that it’s time to move on or make you realize it’s time to get back out there after the only Valentine you get is from your mom. Whether you think it is right or not, V-Day is a big deal and what you choose to do for it can say a lot about you and the future of your relationship. Thankfully, Phoenix has a ton of great options for impressing your better half and ones more unique than the typical dinner and dessert at the Compass Room.
We sent out two reporters, Miguel and Chandler, to find the most romantic restaurants around downtown and midtown. Chandler chose St. Francis, The Breadfruit and Pane Bianco. Miguel selected Tuck Shop and Postino. All are amazing selections, but the reasons between each are different. Miguel and Chandler will tell you just what they saw as blank/amazing/cool/romantic/killing in these locations.
If you are looking to make an impression with a new date, then St. Francis is the place to go. Out of all the restaurants I visited, this one was by far the most attentive to detail. The excessive amount of full-length windows, wood flooring and brick walls lend to the warm atmosphere. Candles cover each table, and wrap their way up the staircase that leads to upstairs seating.
If sitting inside isn’t your thing, St. Francis has a full-service bar open to the elements and a large patio area with decorative lights adorning the overhead vines. Basically, it doesn’t get more romantic than this. Their menu is equally impressive with wood-fired seasonal options and an emphasis on locally based products.
Avondale native David Sawicki walked out of St. Francis more than satisfied.
“I’ve never had a bad meal here,” said Sawicki, whose favorite dish is the whitefish. He added that the service at St. Francis is always great.
My only criticism is that some of the options are a little pricey for the average college student, but the experience is well worth it. St. Francis will be releasing a special Valentines menu as the holiday approaches.
Address: 111 E. Camelback Rd.
Mon-Thu 5 p.m.- 10 p.m.
Fri & Sat 5 p.m. -11 p.m.
Sun 5 p.m.- 9 p.m.
A small car or bike ride to 12th street, just north of McDowell Road, will take you to Tuck Shop, a house-turned-restaurant that serves what their menu calls “neighborhood comfort food.” One of Tuck Shop’s greatest date assets is its ambiance.
The warm and cozy dining room really sprouts romance, and the food selection has a perfect combination of both savory and sweet flavors. For those couples that do everything together, Tuck Shop makes it easy to share their delicacies, including the creole-madiera duck breast served with asparagus and Okinawa potatoes.
Tuck Shop delivers high-end presentation and a comfortable eating experience, making it a great place to dress fancy, flutter your eyelashes and eat your food in little bites. Oh, and there are free cookie dough balls at the end.
Tuck Shop will be offering a special Valentine’s Day menu that can be seen on their Facebook page. This dinner consists of a starting, main course, and dessert plate, all for $60 per person. They will be taking reservations, so call quick, as they are likely to fill up soon.
Phone: (602) 354-2980
Address: 2245 N. 12th St.
Hours: Tues-Sat 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Compared to my previous restaurants, Pane Bianco offers a more casual feel, offering optional take-out. With picnic table seating inside and out and large dining tables it doesn’t offer as much of an intimate atmosphere, but is ideal for a first-time date or even a double date.
The décor is rustic antique, with portraits adorning the white brick walls. A fireplace sits near the front of the restaurant, complete with quirky chalkboard-drawn flames. Chandeliers, lanterns and candles decorate the dining area, with a long countertop spanning one side of the restaurant.
Though known for their lunchtime gourmet sandwiches, Pane Bianco’s dinner menu includes Italian favorites such as specialty pizza, antipasto and spiedini. As one of the sister restaurants to nationally-renowned Pizzeria Bianco, you can get similarly amazing food without waiting on an available table for hours.
The airy atmosphere and award-winning food make Pane Bianco a must visit, and why not make the trip this Valentine’s Day with a date? Valentines specials will be released later in the week.
Address: 4404 N. Central Ave.
Mon-Thu 4 p.m.- 9 p.m.
Fri & Sat 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.
“We offer Caribbean cuisine, and fresh seafood in the middle of the desert,” said The Breadfruit owner and head chef Danielle Leoni.
With entrees such as coconut-curried tofu, guava-glazed pork belly and wood smoked mussels, The Breadfruit has a menu unlike any other in downtown Phoenix. Not only is the food unique, but the dining area also has a flare of its own.
A small raised patio decorated with strings of lights marks the entrance to the restaurant. When you walk into The Breadfruit, the first thing you will notice is a rum bar, stocked to the ceiling with Caribbean specialties.
The main dining area is no larger than the average living room, but the size adds to the intimate atmosphere, along with the Jamaican-style music and dim lighting. One of the elements that appealed to me was the hidden courtyard in the back of the restaurant. Completely off the street, this lounge provides an isolated area for couples to chat after dinner.
A Valentine’s Day four course menu with optional cocktails (for those under 21, Jamaican inspired non-alcoholic drinks are also offered) is expected to be released Sunday at the price of $55 per person. Reservations are highly recommended, as the restaurant is already half booked.
Address: 108 E. Pierce St.
Mon-Thu 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Fri & Sat 5 p.m.- 11 p.m. with cocktails until 12 a.m.
Postino Wine Cafe
A few streets past the Camelback and Central light rail stop is Postino Winecafé, located on the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Colter Street. As Downtown Devil food expert Jack Fitzpatrick mentioned in his review of Postino, the indoor and outdoor seating is complimented by “stylishly dim” lighting, really setting the mood for a romantic date.
While Postino offers rich salads and panini, the restaurant’s main calling card is its intricate bruschetta creations. A combination of a Mediterranean-style appetizer, a bruschetta board and a glass of their select wines for those over 21 will both satisfy the stomach and win over your date. If you are looking for dining that is modern, fresh and light, consider celebrating Valentine’s Day here.
Postino will not present a different menu for St. Valentine’s Day. However, this makes it the perfect place to enjoy a low-key evening of wine and bruschetta, sprinkled, of course, with some conversation and googly eyes. If you’re working at night, Postino will make a great Valentine’s lunch location as well. They will be taking walk-ins throughout the night.
Address: 5144 N. Central Ave.
Phone: (602) 274-5144
Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Fri 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sat 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sun 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Heading anywhere else around downtown for V-Day? Let us know!