Where to Eat Out Tonight (But Not for Valentine’s Day)

It's just a Wednesday in February, people. You should eat like it.

Its Valentine’s Day. If you’re not in a relationship, I salute you and encourage you to ignore our culture’s heteronormative, endogamous, capitalism-driven “romance” messaging. Here’s hoping you get laid, pet a cute dog, go to bed early — whatever you need to live your best life.

If you are in a romantic relationship, even the most unsentimental and emotionally mature among you may feel the need to Do Something or Go Out with your significant other to honor the fact that Hallmark decided to use a drunken, naked ancient Roman festival to sell more overpriced colored paper a century ago.

If you’ve already made reservations at a trendy hotspot, please make a pledge to do better at not buying into this BS next year — and tip extremely well, since the waitstaff is experiencing all the amateur-hour customers of Restaurant Week rolled into one grueling night.

The rest of you still have the chance to do Valentine’s Day right — which is to say, treating it like any other midweek evening when you don’t feel like cooking.

Tonight, skip the trendy BYOs and white tablecloth spots — and the crowds, the awkward couples on early dates at the next table, and the too-high expectations.

Here’s what you should be eating this, or any other, regular old work night. And since you’re in a relationship, making one of our budget-friendly dinner choices will save a chunk of those fine dining dollars for your down payment or your dog’s therapy or whatever.

Tacos. Do I really need to give a reason? Do you really need one? Go out and order up some goddamn tacos. Fine, since it’s a “special occasion,” you can splurge and order guac and agua fresca, too. Or pick a few of the 30-odd places on our list to hit up and make it a “crawl,” if you must.

Pho. It’s still cold, and you and the person you’ve spent all of this god-awful winter indoors with need fortification against this intense flu season that only bone broth can provide. We’ve got all the best spots here.

Fried chicken. Go to Andy’s, Federal Donuts, or Redcrest (new!), or Love & Honey (awww!) and spend the calories you’d otherwise devote to béarnaise sauce and chocolate mouse on what you both really want: to pull crispy, crunchy animal flesh from the bones with your teeth.

Cheesesteaks. Go new school with Joe’s Steaks, or old-school at Dalessandro’s (or Pat’s, or Jim’s).  Be a good partner and tenderly offer your significant other a napkin so that they can wipe that delicious wiz off of their face mid-sandwich.

Dim sum. In my book, nothing says love like a tray of soup dumplings and a scallion pancake. Our list tells you which spots bring all the dishes around on a cart, if you want to feel slightly special on this totally normal, unremarkable weeknight.

Banh mi. Get a Vietnamese hoagie from one of our favorite spots and spend the money you saved on a bottle of something brown, high-proof, and upper-mid-shelf to drink along with your sandwiches. You’ll be glad you did.

Fast casual. You know what would be great tonight? A poke bowl and mochi at Poi Dog, a noodle bowl from Cheu, or pork belly buns at Baology. You don’t want to be that schmuck carrying a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag home on Valentine’s Day — but there’s nothing sexier than that hot-pink Dizengoff bag full of silky hummus and extra pita (of course).

Then go home, have sex, and fall asleep on the couch, not necessarily in that order.