Every time Valentine’s Day rolls around, lists start to pop up with names like “Toronto’s Most Romantic Restaurants” and “Toronto’s Top Date Dining Spots.” They might as well call it “Top Toronto Restaurants Where You’ll Never Get a Reservation.” Landing a table on Valentine’s Day can be a tough proposition, so you might as well get creative. Or just let us do it for you. Here, a list of spots for every Valentine’s type.
DIY Date Night: Splendido/Loïc Gourmet
Even as Toronto’s dining scene has swung downscale, Splendido retains the white tablecloth spirit of fine dining (despite a renovation and update under new management!). That said, it’s not easy to get a reservation on the year’s most sought-after stately-eating night. If you’re lucky, you can win a private cooking lesson from chef Victor Barry, plus all the ingredients for a three-course meal (contest link above). If you don’t win, contact Riverdale’s fancy take-out Loïc Gourmet with three-day’s notice for another three-courser ($65 or $85) available for either pick-up or delivery. Dodge the gawking crowds and enjoy the comfort of your own dining room; plus, hey, you’ve already got her home. 722 Queen St. E., 416-850-8835
“Blind” Date: O NOIR
This dining-in-the-dark, heighten-your-other-senses style boîte is admittedly a bit of a gimmick, but on Valentine’s Day it’s a good one. Think about it: half of V Day-associated pressure involves looking good; O Noir eliminates that aspect entirely. Plus, if you’re ballsy enough to plan a blind date for the biggest date day of the year, you’ve got a built-in pun to populate conversation. Nothing like a pun to impress your date, right? Right? 620 Church St., 416-922-6647
No Reservations: Pizzeria Libretto
This may be an anti-logical suggestion, but if you’ve failed to land a reservation in advance of the big day then you’re going to have to have a Plan B. Hipster-baiting west side Neopolitan pie-slinger Pizzeria Libretto is famous for its no-reservation policy and the epic queues it tends to create, which means it’s likely going to be a loooooong line on Valentine’s Day. But that also means you’ll look like ultra-heroic if you get there before your date and wait it out. And if that doesn’t work, the new second location on the Danforth does take reservations. 221 Ossington Ave., 416-532-8000
For the Traditionalists: Kalendar [pictured]
OK, fine, we’ll throw you an obvious one: College Street’s Kalendar often appears near the top of “Toronto’s most romantic restaurants” lists, and it’s not hard to see why: dimly lit, intimate and full of attentive wait staff, it may as well have “date” written all over it. If you’re willing to go the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” route (an apt acronym on Valentine’s Day), you could do far worse. That said: Don’t presume to land a table easily. 546 College St., 416-923-4138
For the Non-Traditionalists: Bloody Valentine’s Day Massacre at SPiN
Dateless and bitter? Paired up and macabre? Or bitter anyway? SPiN ping pong club is hosting a “bloody” celebration, complete with free ping pong after 9 p.m., a photo booth and a prize for goriest costume. So if your idea of romantic is covering yourself in fake blood, or you’re just fed up with the superficial Hallmark holiday, or your official dinner was a bust and you’re back on the hunt with Cupid’s quill of quivers, this is the way to go. 461 King St. W., 416-599-7746
Image courtesy of qmnonic.