Barbara Taylor — Dos Gringos $$ Media
Don’t be alarmed by the name! This isn’t your aunt Susie’s mediocre taco tuesdays. Dos Gringos, located in Media, PA, could almost be mistaken for the real deal. It a cute, quaint little restaurant that fosters intimate experiences. So make sure you like the people you’re eating with. As soon as you walk in you’re pleasantly greeted with delicious smells and rich and intriguing works of art as well as some uber friendly and very attentive waiters and waitresses. The menu, although a bit on the small side, was filled with tasty options for herbivores and carnivores alike. It also features a $35 per person, 3-course Valentine’s Day special. Seeing as my date and I both ordered the chicken enchiladas, I can only really affirm that that dish was awesome. However, everything else, from the Surf and Turf Fajitas to the empanadas, was very tempting. And the fun doesn’t stop there! It’s BYOB, with an option of spicing up your alc with their famous margarita mix. So if you’re trying to plan really early for next year’s V Day or just want to escape campus food, try it out.
Tiye Pulley — House $$ Media
If there’s a meal that Kat and I as a couple most identify with, it would most definitely be brunch. We are brunch people; we like to wake up late, have time to get ready, and spend a solid amount of time enjoying the best of both worlds, breakfast and lunch. I knew that on Valentine’s Day, a fancy dinner would be nice, but cliché — brunch would be a more personalized meal for us. Kat can’t eat very greasy foods, so I was looking for a healthier alternative to the nostalgic diner foods of, say, Nifty Fifties. I decided to ask my sister, always a fountain of wisdom, about good restaurants nearby. She recommended House, a nice little brunch spot in Media with high quality and affordable food (cheaper paninis than the co-op). It sounded perfect for me and Kat to go for Valentine’s Day. It was also where my sister (Desta Pulley ’17) and her boyfriend (Gautam Mohan ’15) went on their first date. All signs pointed towards House.
And House was excellent. Unfortunately they don’t take brunch reservations and it was pretty packed, but we only had to wait 15 minutes before being seated. The food was bomb, though. I got the “Southwestern” panini, Kat got the farm fresh egg special, and the two of us split a delicious raspberry-infused chocolate mousse. The staff was very friendly and accommodating, and helped create an atmosphere that made House the perfect Valentine’s Day date. We’ll be going back there soon.
Natasha Chak — Hobbs $$ Swarthmore
February 14th 2016 recorded a staggering low of negative 12 degrees Celsius (yes Celsius because Hong Kong kids still don’t understand the foreign concept of Fahrenheit). No Swattie can possibly muster enough effort to put on 5 layers of clothes and take the SEPTA into Philly for a restaurant date. Instead, my Haverford boyfriend, who probably had more effort to spare, and I did the smart thing. We put on 5 layers of clothes and stumbled into the greatest thing that Swarthmore has to offer like two penguins. Good ol’ Hobbs Café. I ordered my regular bacon and avocado bagel with a chai latte. My (arguably) better half ordered the Nachos for two and his favorite tomato soup. Any real Swattie would know that the bagels at Hobbs never disappoint so I don’t need to elaborate on how great it was. But the chai latte is always the drink that makes life a bit better. Imagine Kohlberg chai latte, but better. The nachos, though expensive, were extremely satisfying. Think Paces nachos, but fancier. Perhaps the most surprising order was the tomato soup. It was an instant couple pleaser and as my boyfriend put it, “perfect comfort food on a snow day.” Hobbs is maybe the favorite place Swatties like to go to for weekend brunches or weekday grinds, and as our Valentine’s experience shows, customer satisfaction is guaranteed. By the way, we were also lazy because we were watching Deadpool at Marple 10 after lunch. But regardless, Hobbs is still bae, and if you do have a bae, it’s Valentine’s Day every day, so in our defense, Hobbs was simply perfect.
Priya Dieterich — Monsu $$$ Philly
For our first (official) Valentine’s Day together, my lady and I returned to the scene of our first (official) date: Monsu, a small Italian restaurant, decorated with Sicilian flags, right by the Italian Market in Philly. Packed as it is with as many tables as it can fit, Monsu makes the New Yorker in me (who is often confused by the spacious layout of non-NYC dining establishments) feel at home. When we got settled with our BYOB-ed wine, neither me nor my girlfriend remembered exactly what we’d eaten the last time we were there — only that it was delicious — so we strategically planned our orders so that, between the two of us, we’d get as wide a sampling of their prix-fixe V-day menu as possible. Though Monsu is a bit on the pricier side, you absolutely get your money’s worth: a three-course meal, plus dessert, every plate a totally delightful combination of flavors that made me think about that moment in Ratatouille when Remy eats cheese and a strawberry at the same time. From the beet and burrata salad down to the chocolate torte with whipped cream and blueberries, everything that hit the table was wonderful. As someone whose natural eating style is to graze all day, and who struggles to tackle a big meal, the pacing and portions were ideal. I got through every dish (on the third, the waiter jokingly expressed his surprise that I made it through — “You were off to a slow start, I wouldn’t have bet on you”), and felt just shy of stuffed by the end. I even had a little room left over for the Insomnia Cookies we scarfed down later that night.
Margaret Hughes — So Crepe $ Philly
Thanks to my selectively anti-capitalist mother, I object to Valentine’s Day on principle, but I never say no to a date with Jay, who is all about this discredited 3rd century Roman saint’s special day. So on the evening of the 14th, Jay and I embarked on a romantic and yummy So Date at So Crepe, a fairly casual BYOB creperie on South Street (or So. Uth Street?). The menu is relatively small, and consists exclusively of crepes, with only a few vegetarian options among the savory crepes — great for me, since deciding what to order is usually a challenge.
One savory crepe is pretty much a meal in itself, and costs around $8. The “So Brie” crepe, with greens, toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and melted cheese perfectly complemented my toasty warm, sunny, melty Valentine’s Day heart. For dessert, the wintery delicious “So Marron” crepe with chestnut paste delightfully accentuated the fact that I have a chest in which there is a heart. And the Nutella-and whipped cream-bedecked “So Peanut Butter,” with its chocolate drizzle, highlighted my refusal to rain on Jay’s Val’s Day parade. We both have a crush on So Crepe, and we’re definitely going back there on another date. I’m So Rry I didn’t have a second stomach to try the So Chevre and the So Chocolate while we were there.
Elaine Zhou — Bistro St. Tropez
A friend of mine entered into the Valentine’s day dinner raffle despite being single, because, as she puts it, she never wins anything anyway. After she won, she realized she had no desire to be single in a hyper romantic environment, so she gave the dinner to me!
The journey to the restaurant itself was harrowing. Google maps led us into a dark, dead-end alley lined with green military jeeps and covered in ominous tarps. When we finally found the right building, the only indication that we were in the right place was a taped up piece of paper with the name Bistro St. Tropez. We entered a vastly empty lobby with a bored looking man at a desk. After a few minutes of navigating what seemed to be an abandoned building, we were convinced we’d be the only ones at this dying restaurant. The whole area was uncomfortably silent and the experience reminded me of the twilight zone and reminded my boyfriend of bioshock infinite. Once we actually found the restaurant, there were plenty of other other patrons and our fears dissipated.
The meal itself was pleasant if unremarkable. It definitely wasn’t as good as the $68 per person price tag implied. On the way out, we noticed that one of the rooms held all of the hip, young people (we were seated with the well-dressed, older folk). A particular outfit that stood out was on a young woman who was wearing what looked like a bra with a shoulder component and nothing else. The range of clothing at the restaurant was very dramatic, and this piece of clothing certainly defined one end of the spectrum. Overall, the entire experience was definitely worth it.