Your Guide to Creating a Restaurant-Like Dining Experience at Home This Valentine's Day

Follow these tips for an extra-special dinner with your sweetheart.

Vegetarian Bolognese Bucatini
Photo: Con Poulos

If you want to have a romantic dinner that you can safely enjoy at home, our tips will guide you through creating a one-of-a-kind experience just right for Valentine's Day. Just as you would make proper dinner reservations, mark your calendar with the time you'll plan to sit down to eat. Next, plan out a special outfit! Going out to eat for a holiday like Valentine's Day means getting to don a little black dress or suit jacket and your favorite lipstick. Even if you'd typically feel comfortable dining in loungewear at home, it's nice to go the extra mile and get dressed up for special occasion meals. If you want to plan a double date, schedule a Zoom call or FaceTime with another close couple outside of your quarantine bubble so you can socialize over a cocktail and decadent dessert. Ahead, we're sharing more ideas for making dinner at home this February 14th one to remember.

Set the Table

To elevate dinner at home, set a beautiful table complete with a tablecloth, linen napkins, plenty of candles, and maybe an arrangement of fresh flowers. Even if you're using everyday flatware and plates, these add-ons will mimic your favorite date night spot and make you feel like you're somewhere totally new. After all, accessories can make an outfit complete! For more restaurant-like ambience, create a playlist of jazz music to play in the background.

Create a Menu

Whether you crave old-fashioned Italian-American, the comfort of ramen bowls, elegant seafood, or a steak dinner, build a cohesive menu of recipes at home. Craving a Tuscan-inspired meal? Snack on our Warm Marinated Olives and a glass of Chianti, followed by Grilled Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon and plenty of crusty bread. Dreaming of traveling to Paris post-COVID? Our French bistro recipes will help you create the experience of dining along the Seine from the comfort of your own dining room. For a romantic dessert, how about crème brûlée or Chocolate Pots de Creme for Two?

Shake It Up

If you or someone in your quarantine bubble is an aspiring mixologist, now is the time to get out the jigger and shake up delicious and creative cocktails. If one person is in the kitchen cooking, have the other make cocktails. Pair your favorite base liquor—think: vodka, gin, whiskey, or tequila—with flavorful mixers, like something bright and citrusy or robust and earthy. No drink says Valentine's Day more than Pink Gin Martinis, but feel free to go classic with a Manhattan, Martini, or Negroni, too.

Looking for more inspiration? We have more than a dozen easy cocktail recipes that you can make with three ingredients or less.

Order Takeout

One of the best parts of dining out is not having to cook at all. For a true restaurant-at-home experience, order takeout from one of your favorite local eateries. Not only is it a fantastic way to support restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic (more than 100,000 have closed since March 2020), but it also means that you and your loved ones don't have to cook a thing. Order a couple of appetizers, a primi and secondi, and even a dessert or two and experience the flavors of your favorite restaurant at home.

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