Word by Aleena Inthaly
It is that time of year where romance is in full bloom in the lovely River City as Valentine’s Day is before us. Richmond is a candle-lit, sweethearted getaway in its own way with numerous places to impress that special someone. There is a variety of amorously delicious spots for students around the VCU Monroe Park campus. For Shafer Bird’s Top Five Valentine’s Day Special, I have gathered together the culinary best for this special occasion.
5) Edo’s Squid
There’s nothing more romantic than a place hidden away from the city in a dimly lit upstairs space. Above the old Stuffy’s sub shop there’s Edo’s Squid, a low-key Italian restaurant right next to the heart of the Monroe Park campus. They have pasta cooked perfectly every time and luxurious white table cloths to set the mood. The prices are fair and the portions are perfectly formed to satisfy the stomach without discomfort so that no food is wasted. It is a great destination for a first date and will guarantee smiles for italian food lovers.
Pros: Wide range of seafood, vegetarian options, good presentations
Cons: Pricy, very dark lighting, and high noise level
Kuba Kuba is the place to take your date away from the city for a day and into a beautiful street cafe in Havana. The moment you walk into Kuba Kuba, the aromas of spices and plantains diffuse through the air to satisfy your senses. What is even more fantastic is that their decor is just as wonderful as their food. Kuba Kuba is the place to try something new. The entrees are definitely worth the price of $5-$20. With a filling meal, dessert and coffee is an absolute must to put the cherry on top of the cake.
Pros: Colorful cuisine and great presentation, the cafe con leche is to die for, beautiful decor, casual atmosphere, excellent service
Cons: Long wait for food sometimes, noise level can be loud, food preparation varies
The cozy corner cafe is The Belvidere at Broad located exactly where the name suggests. The Belvidere at Broad serves up some impressive contemporary American cuisine with the touch of southern soul. A bit underrated, Belvidere at Broad seats only a limited number of customers and can fill up fast on the weekends, but it is the food that counts. With fair prices ranging from $10-$20, there is a vast variety of both vegan and meat lover options. The service is exceptional and inviting as well as the wine and beverage list. Instead of a dark restaurant, the restaurant is lit by the city lights of Broad giving off an exquisite street view. The cafe serves up homey comfort food with a fine dining twist. It is a comfort for the soul as well as the heart which is why is a great place to bring someone to fall in love with.
Pros: The innovative menu, atmosphere, service, street view, beverage menu
Cons: Loud noise level, small space, long wait
Tarrant’s Cafe is an old downtown favorite with historic value for the city of Richmond and is the second best place to take someone on a date. Tarrant’s is an old drug store turned into an American restaurant with the decor still leaving evidence of its past. The aromas in the restaurant tease your taste buds with a tingle of deliciousness leaving you to ponder what exactly is being cooked in the kitchen. Tarrant’s is a great place because there is a wide range of dishes of all different prices which will not leave you broke by the end of the night. I recommend any of the seafood dishes as entrees paired with their famous risotto – it is mouth watering! It is also a very humble space that is far from intimidating, which is a plus for a fine dining restaurant.
Pros: Risotto with shitake mushrooms is exceptional, exciting menu, unique atmosphere, full bar, friendly service, pretty presentation
Cons: Small space, long wait
To top off this countdown at number one, the best place to take a Valentine’s Day date is hands down Strawberry Street Cafe, located in the heart of the Fan district. The cafe is decorated with a bright red awning with a large open window display. Strawberry Street is known to be inviting, simple and chic, and it’s home to artisan shops and restaurants. Currently, the cafe is beautifully decorated with Valentine’s Day themed hearts, inviting the public to join them from their holiday special. It is a fantastic place to invite a vegetarian date since the restaurant offers a wide range of salads including their all you can eat soup and salad bar. The atmosphere is cozily intimate and it’s far enough from campus to be secluded from noise. Strawberry Street Cafe is the best place to take a special someone because it has an intimate atmosphere, low prices, exceptional food and amicable servers.
Pros: Romantic atmosphere, low noise, wine selection, friendly servers, cute decorations, salad selection, well executed menu
Cons: Far from campus