By Melody Burson
Trust me on this one. DO NOT go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. It’s one of the most popular days to dine out regardless of pandemic capacity limits. Reservations will be scarce. Even restaurants that normally offer great in-house or to-go service will struggle come Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be chaotic and crowded. Instead, stay in and make your sweetie’s favorite meal (even if it’s not yours) and then watch an old movie in your comfy clothes.
But trust me on this one too. DO go out for a romantic dinner, but not on Valentine’s Day. And please make it memorable. Splurge. Indulge. Savor and enjoy.
Here are my personal favorite romantic restaurants in the South Puget Sound. It’s not a comprehensive list and your favorite may be missing. Some restaurants are temporarily closed, while others are still only serving to-go meals. It’s always wise to check a restaurant’s social media page or to call before heading out. Bon appetite!
Brix 25 – Millville – $$$
3315 Harborview Drive
Located in its new, elegant space overlooking the harbor, Brix 25° features unique, handcrafted cocktails, an extensive west coast wine list, and innovative Pacific Northwest dishes. Validated parking available in the lot at Arabella’s Landing.
Gertie and the Giant Octopus- Uptown – $$
4747 Pt Fosdick Drive NW, next door to the Galaxy Theater
Galloping Gertie was the bridge across the Tacoma Narrows that collapsed in 1940 and legend has it the wreckage became the home of a giant octopus – Enteroctopus dofleini – that can get as big as 20 feet across. They serve seasonal European cuisine and wine in a cozy and comfortable setting. Any octopus on their menu is significantly smaller than the one that lives by the bridge, and it’s mighty delicious. This is a great place to try octopus if you’ve never had it before or were disappointed by other restaurants’ treatment.
Morso Wine Bistro – North Harbor – $$
9014 Peacock Hill Avenue, corner of Peacock and Harborview, upper level
This delightful restaurant changed hands in 2010 and the new owners are kept old favorites and added some welcomed improvements. The bistro has added a specialty market and wine shop to complement their seasonal menu. And it has one of the most picturesque waterfront views of the harbor and is a wonderful summertime spot to sip wine and have an appetizer or two on their deck.
On my Gig Harbor restaurant bucket list to try
Animarum -4107 Harborview Drive
Asado Cucina Argentina – Sixth Avenue District – $$$
2810 Sixth Avenue
There’s a lot of sizzle and smoke at Asado, the Latin steakhouse in the Sixth Avenue restaurant district. Premium cuts of meat are grilled in an open kitchen. Rustic yet sophisticated, it’s a dining experience not to be missed. Plus, their Diablo Martini will knock your socks off: habanero infused vodka, passion fruit, pineapple, and grenadine.
El Gaucho – Downtown – $$$$
2119 Pacific Avenue
This is THE steakhouse to go to in Tacoma. One word review: Swanky. OK, two word review: Delicious. It’s fine dining at its best.
Indochine Asian Dining Lounge – Downtown – $$
1924 Pacific Avenue
Indochine has one of the most beautiful dining spaces in all of Pierce County. Their Thai and other Asian dishes are just as divine. It’s a feast for all your senses.
Lobster Shop – Waterfront – $$$
4015 Ruston Way
This is one of our favorite places for Happy Hour on a sunny day, sitting on their deck that spans over the waters of Commencement Bay, with stunning views of Mount Rainier to the south. A whale or two might even swim by to check out what you’re having. The Lobster Shop specializes in seafood and they have a very popular Sunday brunch.
Over the Moon Café – Theater District – $$
708 Opera Alley
This small, intimate cafe is always at or near the top of lists naming Tacoma’s most romantic restaurants. Dishes highlight French and Italian cuisine, coupled with interesting and affordable wines. Patrons leave love notes and message to other diner in the little boxes on the tables. It’s a rich, luxe atmosphere in a tucked-away spot south of the Pantages Theater.
Primo Grill – Sixth Avenue District – $$
2701 Sixth Avenue
Primo Grill knows the best of local ingredients and turns them into some memorable Mediterranean meals. You can sit at the table or bar, but the best seats in the house can watch the chefs do their magic in the open kitchen.
Stanley & Seafort’s – McKinley District – $$$
115 East 34th Street
This Tacoma landmark overlooks downtown and Commencement Bay on a hill just south of I-5. You have probably seen its distinctive red neon sign when driving by the Tacoma Dome. It’s a little old-fashioned menu-wise, but you really can’t go wrong with a glass of wine, and nice appetizer, and that unique view on a clear night or sunny afternoon.
On my Tacoma restaurant bucket list to try:
Le Sel Bistro – 229 St. Helens Avenue
The Table – 2715 Sixth Avenue
Marzano Italian Restaurant – 516 Garfield Street South
Wooden City – 714 Pacific Avenue