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Love Bites

For a Valentine’s meal a deux, we’re craving romance, romance, romance—by which we mean stunning views, jewel box décor, or that je ne sais quois factor that makes a restaurant truly special. So forget chocolates and flowers (well, maybe not entirely), and make reservations! Where? Read on.


Cafe Chloe readies its reds for Valentine's Day.

1. Can’t wait to get the party started? Neither can we! Happily, on Feb. 12, JRDN at Tower 23 gets your motor revving with a pairing of bubbles and shellfish. Experts from Domain Chandon curate a selection of sparklers, paired with icy oysters and cheese nibbles from the fromage fanatics at Venissimo. The sleek Pacific Beach resto’s patio has our favorite ocean view, but a seat in the intimate wine room may be the perfect perch to kick off a lovefest. $25 per person. 723 Felspar St., 858.270.2323

2. Looking to spice things up? Chef Stephanie O’Mary-Berwald is your girl. For Valentine’s, the Pacifica Del Mar chef pairs North County’s most draw-dropping beachfront view with delish starters like the signature crispy calamari with tongue-tingling Vietnamese sauce. More? Picture tiger prawn puttanesca, or the mustard catfish with chile marinade. Hot! Luckily, frosted martinis and tropical cocktails (we like the coconut-melon margarita) are a cooling counterpart. Prices vary per dish. 1555 Camino Del Mar, 858.792.0476

3. The iconic US Grant Hotel is the proud home of the uberromantic Grant Grill and its food and drink dream team, chef Chris Kurth and mixologist Jeff Josenhans. On the day of love, candlelight flickers against the dark wood walls as guests sink into plush banquettes and dine on five delectable courses, with dishes like lobster and fried oysters with citrus curd; or saffron-braised artichokes; or cumin-scented lamb. Cap the night with the Grill’s signature “Cake & Milk” dulce de leche, then head to the sparkling bar for one of Josenhan’s elegant libations. It’s an evening that’s one in a million, just like your sweetheart. $110 per person. 326 Broadway, 619.744.2077

4. Can we agree that Valentine’s is all about endurance, stamina and going-the-distance (in the dining room… of course)? Good. Because then nothing says I love you like a seven-course dinner. Exquisite Addison at the Grand Del Mar is always a feast for the senses, but on the 14th, the Relais & Chateaux property pulls out all the stops. Think Kumamoto oysters with caviar; coddled farm eggs with black truffles; honey-roasted duck with apricots; and a café mocha tarte for dessert, just to name a few of the delicacies top toque William Bradley will be dishing out for love birds. Flex that love muscle! From $205 per person. 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, 858.314.1900

5. “We at Café Chloe go a little crazy on Valentine’s Day,” claims owner Alison McGrath. Ah, crazy, stupid love. Or l’amour, as its known at our favorite Left-Bank-by-way-of-the-East-Village boite, where warbling Edith Piaff is in the air and pitch-perfect bistro dishes like puff-pastry-swaddled escargots; seabass with nettle veloute; and smoked duck breast is on the menu. A poem arrives at the table with each of the evening’s four courses. “Oscar Wilde this year,” says McGrath of the bulk of her to-be-read-aloud selections. “I must be feeling dandy.” J’adore! $72 per person. 721 9th Ave., 858.270.2323