Valentine’s Day is coming and though it may seem early, restaurants are booking up.
I’ll talk about what a few restaurants here are doing for the big day. But since sometimes you can’t get a table and some people can’t stand the crowds of Valentine’s Day, I’ve included a few alternatives that still involve something delicious.
As always on popular days, make a reservation. If a restaurant is booked, try for the weekend before Valentine’s, which falls on a Tuesday this year. This is not a comprehensive list, so feel free to call your favorite restaurant to see what they’re doing.
Sweet treats: If you’re eating dinner at home with your sweetie, you can enjoy a Valentine’s-themed dessert if you check out the Sunshine & Sugar Bakery Valentine’s pop-up sale from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 11, at downtown store Root at 1424 Fulton St.
This home-based business (who you may have seen at the Clovis evening farmers market) will sell cupcakes, pie pops (mini pies on a stick) and macarons, the decadent French sandwich cookies that take an advanced skill level to make. Several varieties of macarons will be for sale, including salted caramel, birthday cake and some shaped like unicorns.
The Fresno Wine & Chocolate Lovers weekend runs from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12. For $10, visitors can go to 17 wineries. Tickets can be purchased at your first stop.
The Madera Wine & Chocolate Weekend happens the same weekend, but from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 if purchased in advance online, $30 the day of the event.
The Painted Table: The catering company that took over the former Daily Planet at 1211 N. Wishon Ave. in the Tower District is hosting several romantic meals. Two dinners – one on Feb. 11 and another Feb. 14 – run from 5-9 p.m. They cost $117 per couple and will have four to six courses.
Brunch runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, and costs $21.99 per person. Bottomless mimosas and bloody marys are an extra $6.
The owners are promising lots of surprises – they wouldn’t spill the beans about what they are – and love potion themed cocktails.
Heart-shaped pizza: Me-n-Ed’s will once again be selling its heart-shaped pizza, a large one-topping for $12.45. This deal is extremely popular, as in one of the chain’s busiest nights of the year. You could end up waiting a long time. So, order early for delivery, and remember that takeout and dine-in options are available. Plus, you can get the heart-shaped pizza from Feb. 7 to Feb. 15.
Lela’s Pizzeria also sells a heart-shaped pizza now through Feb. 14.
Upscale dining: If you want to go all out for your Valentine, Erna’s Elderberry House is the place. Erna’s, in Oakhurst, promises lots of flowers, candlelight, harp music and of course, top-notch cuisine.
It also has several special meals starting the weekend before the Valentine’s Day. Dinners are served Feb. 10 and Feb. 11. Sunday brunch is available Feb. 12, along with a “Valentine Epicurean Dinner” that evening. Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 will also have special meals.
See Erna’s website for menu and pricing details, though most meals range from $68 for brunch to $128 for dinner.
For $70, a couple gets movie tickets that can be used that night or later, two glasses of prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine) or non-alcoholic cider, an appetizer, two entrees and two scoops of ice cream with truffles from next door business Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
Romantic setting: School House Restaurant & Tavern in Sanger turns romantic for Valentine’s Day with rose petals and candles on the table.
Diners can get a three-course meal for $75 per person from 5-9 p.m. The meal includes entrees like a Manhattan steak, scallops and meatloaf. For dessert, options include limoncello cheesecake, caramel-apple bread pudding or a chocolate truffle bar.
The restaurant has created some Valentine-themed cocktails for the night like the hanky panky (light rum, ginger-passion fruit syrup and lemon) and the Valentini (chocolate-raspberry vodka, Chambord and a chocolate rim).
Local chocolate goodies: California Gourmet Co. (formerly Bouquet of Fruits) sells all kinds of goodies, including a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries in all sorts of colors and styles for $36.95 and a half dozen for $21.95. Also Valentine’s themed are chocolate-dipped Oreos, chocolate-caramel apples and a pretzel crunch.
The goodies can be purchased in person at the store at the Pavilion shopping center at Bullard and West avenues, via phone at 559-346-0208 or online. The company ships most items.
There’s pie: Marie Callender’s has ongoing specials that are fitting for couples, including a two for $25 deal and a two for $30 deal. For the $25 deal, diners can choose one appetizer, two entrees (including a “knife and fork chili burger or chicken street tacos), and two slices of pie.
The $30 deal is similar, with a broader range of appetizers and more entrees (like pot roast or double shrimp pasta) to choose from.
Both deals come with slices of pie from the more than 30 kinds available, including coconut cream, lemon meringue and apple.
All-American food: Mimi’s Cafe is selling a three-course meal for $18.99 (plus the cost of your drink) from Feb. 11 through Feb. 14.
Diners can choose from a half roasted chicken, jamabalaya pasta, beef pot roast and more, along with soup or salad and a piece of creme brulee cheesecake or French silk mud pie.
A Valentine’s drink: Eureka! restaurant at 7775 N. Palm Avenue near Nees Avenue, has a special “don’t fizz with heart” cocktail. It’s made with gin, house-made strawberry simple syrup, lemon juice, egg white, heavy cream and soda water.
It’s available from Feb. 9 through Feb. 14. Eureka! recommends pairing the cocktail with its bone marrow burger and chocolate torte for a Valentine’s date.
Valentine beer: 559 Beer is selling a pink-tinged beer, it’s Wawona Strawberry Ale made with strawberries from Wawona farms. It can be purchased at 559 Local at 604 Fourth St. in Clovis and some Valley Save Mart stores.