V-Day is just around the corner. Check this list of romantic destinations that don't enforce wallet-defeating, overpriced prix fixe menus and instead offer a la carte freeeeeedooooom
Bess Bistro (500 West 6th Street; Downtown; 512.477.2377) Sandy Bullock's brick-lined West 6th hotspot will try to sell you on the prix, but sidestep their offer and pick from their eclectic menu of everything from shepherd's pie to Creole shrimp, who, just like you, got caught up in The Net during adolescence. Visit Bess on The Net
East Side Cafe (2113 Manor Road; Central East; 512.476.5858) The idyllic backyard garden-to-table destination's menu will be bolstered by some V-Day specials, but they're still offering high-qual wines at sometimes "lower-than-retail" prices and plating favorites like Rosemary Skewered Pork Tenderloin -- a ghastly thing to do to Rosemary, but hey, Lenny Kravitz said her day would come. They'll soon be slaughtering their own meats! Visit EastSideCafeAustin.com
Eddie V's (301 E 5th St; Downtown; 512.472.1860) Eddie keeps it classy via candle lighting, tuxedoed waiters, 150+ vinos, shellfish towers, and 28-day dry-aged prime USDA beef, all hopefully impressive enough that you're not waiting for her to call you back 28 days later. Make your reservations now at EddieV.com
Quattro Gatti (908 Congress Ave; Downtown; 512.476.3131) The pizzano newcomer's
forgiving romantic lighting and wood-burning pizza oven will melt her heart, and, if this girl's the one, the walk-in wine cellar will offer you a glimpse of your future married vacations: walking around looking at things and also pointing at things.
See our write-up of QG right here
Parkside (301 East 6th; Downtown; 512.474.9898) The Bon Appetit-feted, cozily booth'd oyster spot has also just unleashed a new, seriously epicurean actual-dessert menu to complement "desserts in a bottle" like Omega "Midnight Serenade" Petit Verdot, but not Omega Man "Midnight Serenade", because no one wants to hear Charlton Heston singing to...nobody. Park your side at Parkside-Austin.com
Blue Dahlia (1115 E 11th St; Central East; 512.542.9542) The Medi-tinged, highly organic French bistro's website features a b&w back-shot of a mostly naked female, so you know the atmosphere's "sexy"; also, the global wine list is very reasonable, and their top-notch espresso bar will help you look alive as you await the little death.
Expose yourself to good food at BlueDahliaBistro.com
Romeo's (1500 Barton Springs Rd; South Austin; 512.476.1090 ) The Barton Springs mainstay's red walls, white Christmas lights, and heart-themed decor make it a no-brainer, but they won't be taking reservations, so you and your Juliet might have to wait -- but at least Baz Luhrmann won't be there to ruin your dinner with a gunfight. Screw you, Baz Luhrmann. Where art thou Romeo's