Even the most romantic night of the year can seem less than sweet when trying to juggle early bedtimes, wee babes and the ever-so-hard-to-find babysitter. So this year, play it smart and plan a daytime date. You’ll get that wined-and-dined experience and still be home before bedtime. Read on for our favorite Portland restaurants offering earlier Valentine’s meals perfect for parents.
photo: Andina by eyeliam via flickr
A centerpiece of the Pearl District since its founding in 2003, Andina is a celebration of traditional Peruvian ingredients, sourced by organic farmers in both Oregon and Chincha, Peru. But when you add in brilliant modern techniques and beautifully creative presentations, you’ll discover some of the best Novo-Andean cuisine in the country. Make a reservation in the elegant dining room to enjoy specialties that include a mushroom quinoa risotto, Peruvian-style paella and lomo saltado, the wok-fried beef dish beloved throughout Peru. Just be sure to save room for canutos de quinoa—the quinoa-studded cannolis filled with passionfruit mousse.
On a holiday known (and often resented) for the omnipresent prix-fixe menu, why not go big and enjoy the mother of all prix-fixe meals? If you’re two of the lucky diners who secure seats at Beast for Valentine’s Day brunch, you’ll enjoy a four-course, market-determined menu prepared by James Beard Award winner Naomi Pomeroy. Thanks to its optional wine pairings and communal tables that encourage conversation, the ambience at Beast is always fun and celebratory. So just take a seat, sip your wine and wait to be surprised by each and every wondrous course.
Since opening Paley’s Place in 1995, Vitaly Paley has been known to some as the dean of Portland chefs. And in 2012, he opened Imperial, a downtown outpost of his Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine—and Willamette Week’s 2015 restaurant of the year. The Imperial dining room is cozy, dim and comforting, while the menu is constantly changing. But for the perfect holiday splurge, try the impossibly crispy buttermilk fried chicken, served with sinful homemade biscuits and barrel-aged hot sauce. One bite and you’ll fall in love all over again.
photo: Lauretta Jean’s via Yelp
In search of a charming, no-fuss pie bakery with some of the most delicious sweets in all of Portland? Stop by the southeast location of Lauretta Jean’s to spend a quiet afternoon with your sweetheart, sipping coffee, people-watching from the window seats and splitting a specialty slice of pie. If you have a hard time choosing between the blackberry-raspberry streusel, the chocolate cream, the heirloom apple and the salted honey, do yourselves a favor and try a slice of each.
3402 SE Division St.
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Price range: Pastries and entrées $3-$11
Reservations: Not accepted
In a city where Sunday brunch is practically a religion, it seems only appropriate that the staff at Muscadine aims to act as “food missionaries,” celebrating Southern history and heritage through lovingly crafted food. Led by chef Laura Rhoman, they do it brilliantly, serving delectable fried chicken and catfish, homemade biscuits and beignets and Southern staples such as red eye ham. So what makes this northeast eatery so perfect for Valentine’s Day? It’s the casual-yet-intimate ambience, like a timeless country café right in the middle of the city.
1465 NE Prescott St.
Hours: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Price range: Entrées $6-$14
Reservations: Not accepted
photo: Wendy via flickr
For some people, the language of love is best communicated with red roses and chocolate; for others, nothing says “I love you” like handcrafted charcuterie. Thanks to its elegant décor, fascinating open kitchen and intensely flavorful meats, every meal at Olympia Provisions feels like a special occasion. But if you and your partner treat yourselves to the Spanish charcuterie board—an unforgettable combination of chorizos, ham and a piquillo pepper salad—you’ll be talking about this Valentine’s Day brunch for months to come.
Are you entertaining a serious sweet tooth this Valentine’s Day? Grab a table at Papa Haydn, a Portland mainstay that has been operated by Heidi and Jeff Van Dyke for nearly four decades. Inspired by the famous coffee shops and cafés of Vienna, Papa Haydn is known for its charming atmosphere, towering layer cakes, silky mousse tortes and other indulgent desserts. Chocolate lovers will even find a cremeux for two, a rich flourless chocolate torte topped with toasted meringue.
5829 SE Milwaukie Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (brunch until 3 p.m.)
Price range: Desserts $5-$12
Reservations: Call for availability
Do you have any daytime plans for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!
— Maura O’Brien