by Skyla Patton
Sabai – If you’re looking for a comfortable evening out with your partner, Sabai’s relaxed environment and delicious Thai food (with a twist of Pacific Northwest charm) is the place for you. The restaurant is decorated to match a modern atmosphere and is even dimly-lit to match the mood of a Valentine’s Day dinner — if the weather’s nice, they even offer a lovely outdoor patio accompanied by a bubbling water fountain. Start off the meal with “pockets of love” as an appetizer, and finish it off by splitting a bowl of red curry for the holiday.
The Vintage – For those who tend to stray more towards the “hipster” side of things, you can’t go wrong with dinner at The Vintage, local restaurant and dessert bar. Located conveniently in downtown Eugene, your date will be set in a cozy, homestyle environment; the building was actually built in 1873 and owners chose to maintain the style! Be sure to try one of their specialty fondue dips or beverages (Tuesday’s special is $5 cocktails)! The Vintage never takes reservations so be sure to stop in early, but if you’re itching for a romantic dinner, they’re offering a six-course meal and wine pairing on Monday, Feb. 13th as well.
Beppe & Giannis – If you don’t feel like straying too far from your dorm for a candlelit dinner with your boo, local Italian favorite Beppe & Giannis is calling your name. A convenient five minute trek from the University of Oregon campus, the authentic Italian experience will provide a relaxing, romantic evening for all lovebirds who adore being surrounded by garlic bread (who doesn’t?). They don’t take reservations for parties of less than eight, but if you get stuck in the line, there’s a bar that offers drinks and some samplings of antipasti while you wait. Their menu offers a wide range of pastas, salads and roasted meats — the online menu even features pop-ups that translate the Italian words for the less-versed, too!
Marche – If you’re a couple who’s gung-ho about supporting local businesses and enjoy dining in the classic modern environment, Marche offers a tranquil evening inside Eugene’s own 5th Street Market with beautifully-plated, French inspired food. All of their menu items feature locally grown, organic, and chemical-free ingredients (including the animal products). This place is a hit for vegetarians, too, with plenty of meat-free options. Call ahead of time to reserve a table for you and your loved one, enjoy the soup of the day or a fancy Artisan cheese plate, then finish up the evening with a room right upstairs at the Inn at The 5th.
Ambrosia – Looking for a chic, elegant vibe for your evening without driving to a bigger city to look for it? Ambrosia Restaurant & Bar is the happenin’ place to be! The romantic atmosphere of wood stoves and wine bottles stacked to the ceilings is accompanied by handmade Italian cuisine and a full bar to satisfy any picky couple. Located in Eugene’s historic downtown district, Ambrosia is just a few steps away from shops and attractions, along with several hotels to conclude your Valentine’s Day evening. Pick from bona fide italian seafood pastas, or a pizza crafted in a wood-fired oven — fueled by Oregon grown hardwood itself!
Cornucopia – For the couples looking for a more upbeat, exciting evening this February, stop by one of Cornucopia’s locations for a juicy burger and a nice, cold glass of beer! Located on 5th and 17th, both locations offer an invigorating Eugene experience with their friendly atmosphere and daily specials. On Tuesday, your evening out is accompanied by local singer, Jesse Meade who will serenade you through the night with his acoustic guitar and wide array of song choices. Go to town with your date on one of their famous burgers, voted last year “Best in Eugene,” and wash it down with one of the many on-tap brews or specialty cocktails.
Cafe Soriah – Look no further for the best Mediterranean dining experience offered in Eugene! Their menu, boasting authentic Pacific Northwest ingredients, transports your taste buds from Cairo with curried beef kebab, all the way to Athens with an aromatic baked brie and pear-apple chutney. Located on 13th Avenue, they’re just a short drive or walk from most locations in Eugene and their cozy authentic environment will make it easy for you and your date to really get into the Valentine’s Day groove. Take a peek at their online blog, featured on their website, for further insight into what goes into their dishes and the chef behind them!
The Beer Stein – For the couples looking for a more comfortable “bar food” environment, don your fanciest pair of relaxed blue jeans and t-shirt and head downtown to the Bier Stein! The friendly atmosphere of the pub makes for a fun date for beginner couples who aren’t quite ready for the roses and rings, or even you married folks who are sick of the bells and whistles. Their menu features huge sandwiches stuffed to the brim, mouth watering appetizers, and a tap list so large it’ll make you forget about Valentine’s Day altogether. If you’re a mac-n-cheese fan, this is the restaurant for you!
Excelsior Inn Ristorante – For the full-package romance excursion, take a trip back in time to Italy at the Excelsior Inn Ristorante. This old-timey bistro isn’t messing around with their authentic italian food and to-die-for surroundings, both inside the formal dining room and, weather allowing, the lush outdoor courtyard. The specialized Valentine’s Day menu offers a shrimp zuppa, fresh oysters, and a wide selection of wines to choose from. To top it all off, rent a room with your sweetheart in the Excelsior Inn and treat yourself to a bubble bath. This is a popular location for holidays here in Eugene, so be sure to call and make a reservation in advance!
Grilled Cheese Experience – If you feel like celebrating Valentine’s Day while also giving back to the community, fear not, there is a plate of gooey melted cheese to save the day! Food for Lane County is hosting their 3rd Annual Grilled Cheese Experience, and yes, it is just as cool as it sounds. From February 1st to the 15th, local businesses will be donating $2.00 from every grilled cheese sandwich sold to the food bank. If grilled cheese and charity isn’t cool enough for you on it’s own, there’s prizes, too! Upload your cheesy sandwich with the hashtag “#CheeseLuv17”, and each entry will submit you in a drawing to win prizes! Check out the participating locations here.