If in every crackle of a fireplace hearth, in every star that twinkles all too early in the evening, and in the shush-shush sound of walking in winter wear, you’re hearing a certain name it’s likely you’re in love. If you’re spending days at a keyboard ignoring a cursor and dream of the curve of a cheek, it’s possible you might be sucked right down into the deep romance of the fast-approaching Valentine’s season. It’s best to stop trying to fight the call of time spent with your love and make some dinner reservations pronto. Below, we’ve gathered a list restaurants Lavender loves along with tips for getting the most of a night at each of these eateries with intimate corners, and tasty things for feasting together.
The Sample Room
Step inside this gorgeous historic space in Northeast Minneapolis for soft-hewn dark wood that creates a coziness that’s even better when there’s a dusting of fresh snow outside. The Sample Room feels warm, with amber-tinged lighting that perfectly suits romance. The Sample Room was once The Thies Hotel and Sample Room, which opened in 1893. The building held a few other businesses between now and then, but opened in its current incarnation in the summer of 2002. As the neighborhood around it has changed, The Sample Room has been a steadfast server of locally sourced ingredients built into seasonal comfort food. The intimate setting has made it a popular date night destination for Minneapolis for nearly 18 years.
2124 Marshall St. NE
Jax Cafe is an icon of Minneapolis dining that is every bit as occasion-worthy as ever. The original cafe opened in 1943. That history is evident in the bar area, my pick for the most romantic seats in the restaurant. Although, the entire place harkens back to the glory days of supper clubs. Best to slide into a seat for a Manhattan or big glass of wine before ordering something opulent. This is not a place for a salad date. Splurge on surf and turf with drawn butter and perfectly seasoned steaks. These dishes are classics for a reason. Slide in with your sweetie and let the expert servers care for your every dining whim.
1928 University Ave. NE
612-789-7297, ext. 1
The Commodore Bar & Restaurant
If F. Scott Fitzgerald was still haunting this neighborhood, he would undoubtedly end up at the gorgeous art deco bar inside The Commodore. This stunning historic bar and party space are located in the base of a Cathedral Hill condo building that for years was something of a legend. The room had been closed, but untouched for years, before the owners decided to re-open the room to the public only a couple of years ago. The space retains all the tails and siren glamor of the post-prohibition era. There are plenty of seats to choose from, the glamorized mirrored walls, the sleek back bar to the white and black tile of the dining room, or casually cozy seating near the front bar. This is the perfect spot for a cocktail and snack, but absolutely mandatory dining if your sweetie is the sort that can quote All About Eve off the cuff.
79 Western Ave. N.
It’s almost hard to believe that Cossetta’s was once a tiny Italian grocery store, located in a St. Paul floodplain. What the family-run business has become is nothing short of impressive. Downstairs, there’s an imported market, with fresh bread. There’s a pasticceria with glittering shelves loaded with gorgeous desserts and gelato. There’s a deli that’s always packed with families, but the crowning jewel is the upstairs, elegant restaurant: Louis. If you and your love are dreaming of a trip to Italy, plan an early evening of wandering through all the shops before ending up for dinner at Louis. Share a classic sausage and peppers or a hearty plate of pasta and don’t forget to leave room for dessert. They offer a selection of treats from the downstairs pastry case, built for sharing.
211 7th St. W.
It could be argued that Stillwater is one of the most romantic cities in Minnesota—it’s certainly long on charm. Make a day out of a date by wandering through the plentiful shops and antique stores before settling into this beautiful restaurant at the base of the (relatively) new Lora Hotel. Or, book a room upstairs and wander in for the gorgeous brunch served here. The eggs benedict will lily gild a perfect weekend.
402 Main St. S.
This historic steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis is another sizzling steakhouse from a different era, although there’s a bit more recent of a snazzy ’80s vibe. J.D. Hoyt’s was named for the founders’ two fathers, and the restaurant is a popular stop pre- or post-Twins games in the summer. Known for the Cajun flair on the menu, best to order the pork chops with the signature spice and a Manhattan served up. It’s also a rare North Loop location with easy access—there is a handy valet service on site.
301 N. Washington Ave.