At the Table

Date Night Recipes from Southern Chefs

By: The Local Palate

There’s nothing quite like showing love through food, and while a date night out feels glitzy, we love the intimacy of date night at home. You could make your special someone their favorite food, or pull out a recipe that you’d normally reserve for a special occasion. Will you plan multiple courses and finish with a decadent dessert for two? Or, will you keep it simple by lighting a few candles and sharing a large, creamy bowl of pasta?

An idealized Valentine’s dinner doesn’t have to be just for romantic partners. Gather those closest to you, family or friends, or treat yourself to a night of ambience and flavor. Our date night menu suggests at-home cocktails to start your date, an epicurean dinner, and indulgent sweets to bring a restaurant-worthy experience to your candlelit table—no awkward small talk required.

Date Night Cocktails

French 75

Anything sparkling feels celebratory. The classic French 75 requires minimal ingredients (and you can use cheap bubbles, too!) but feels like maximum sophistication.

Winter Spritz

Winter Spritz

The sparkling theme continues with festive spritzes. Plus, the low proof cocktails means you can sip it on a weeknight without fear of a rough morning. Spiced orange ginger ale brings hints of winter spice to this date night drink.

Love at First Bite

deviled crab dip with toasted bread

Deviled Crab Dip

This creamy, hot dip oozes decadence. And, while spinach-and-artichoke or buffalo-chicken dip feel party-worthy, the succulent crab meat gives this recipe a level of date-night elegance.

Oysters with Apple Mignonette

Forget the oyster bar—oysters at home are easy to prepare and even more fun to share. Dress them up for date night with a homemade apple mignonette and whipped celery root. You can prep the toppings in advance and wait until your date arrives to shuck the oysters together—extra hands will make quick work of the process.

Sharable Mains

Special Occasion Shrimp Risotto

We know that risotto requires incessant stirring, but your date is worth the intentionality. Bursts of trumpet mushrooms and fresh shrimp give this dish high-end vibes, despite taking less than an hour to prepare.

Screenshot at  PM

Clam and Pancetta Pasta

If you want to shower your significant other, your family, or yourself with some love, pasta with clams gets the job done. The clam liquor coats the noodles in a rich, umami-packed sauce. Go the extra mile by creating handmade pasta (this recipe breaks it down for you), for an impressive bowl through and through.

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and brown butter sauce

Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms and Brown Butter Sauce

Wow your date with tender, little rolls of gnocchi that you shaped by hand. Letting this butter-based sauce brown a little brings out sweet caramel notes in this earthy and succulent dish.

Sweet Endings to Date Night

Chocolate bread pudding

Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding

It wouldn’t feel like a date if you skipped dessert. A deep, dark chocolate bread pudding finishes the meal with intense decadence. Topping it with a whiskey-spiked cream makes this date night dessert extra indulgent.

Salted Caramel Pots de Crème

Individual servings for these pots de crème mean you don’t have to share. It definitely needs no additions, but, because it’s date night, feel free to finish it with a thick drizzle of salted caramel sauce.

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When you want to, ahem, set the mood, what do you reach for? Candles, rose petals, moody jazz music? We prefer to employ aphrodisiac foods that turn up the heat.

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Houston-based pizzeria Vinny’s shares four tricks to enhance your next weekend pizza night, plus movie pairings for each slice suggested by owner Vincent Huynh.

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Winter Cocktails Keeping Us Warm

From dark spirits and steamy drinks to sparkling cocktails and pretty punchbowls, these winter cocktails make us feel warm and fuzzy all season long.

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