The Heart Wants What it Wants | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Heart Wants What it Wants 

A Valentine's Day dining guide for the unconventional.

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ALEX SPRINGER
  • Alex Springer

With Valentine's Day upon us, it's time to consider the notion of "romantic" restaurants. I used to believe that places like upscale steakhouses, swanky Italian bistros and any place with the word niçoise on the menu had the amorous eatery market cornered. That's not to say that a visit to a place like this isn't going to score you points with whomever you're sharing your V-Day with—decades of social and cultural mores have made it so. That said, I've been in love for long enough to know that romance is something that you bring along with you, so it's more important to have fun. Several local restaurants offer a memorable—if not slightly unconventional—evening. If you're looking to mix things up, here are a few suggestions.

Ejo Korean BBQ
Places where you cook your own food are awesome for a date night, and Korean barbecue joints like Ejo are among the finest examples of this culinary subgenre. I like Ejo because it's casual without feeling cheap and the menu lends itself to exploration. The staff is great at making even first-timers feel comfortable with the ordering and cooking process, so there's little risk that you'll make idiots of yourselves. Ejo also lends itself to something a bit more sexy than fun—the tactile nature of cooking up slices of meat and eating them hot off the grill is enough to rev your engine if the chemistry is working. 633 E. 3300 South, 801-474-0047, ejokoreanbbq.com

Chabaar Beyond Thai
Heat. Spice. Fire. These words are synonymous with romance, but only the brave and headstrong take these terms literally during dinner. Eating spicy food on a date is one of the best ways to get to know a person, but it should only be attempted under the right circumstances—seeking out a spicy meal can easily backfire. For those interested in turning up the heat for dinner, I recommend Chabaar Beyond Thai. In addition to serving a solid menu of Thai staples, the staff at Chabaar makes you prove that you can handle their mid-tier heat level before venturing further. I can visualize a date here as a kind of friendly competition to see who can graduate to Chabaar's upper echelon first. 87 W. 7200 South, 801-566-5100

Sweet Rolled Tacos
Dessert and Valentine's Day will always be bosom buddies, and there's no reason not to take a detour from dark chocolate ganache or chocolate covered strawberries once in a while. Consider a visit to Sweet Rolled Tacos where rolled ice cream meets taco shells made from crispy waffles (pictured). The idea of a dessert taco is charming enough for something a bit more whimsical, but there's a surprising amount of thought behind this menu. Sure, you can get ice cream mainstays, like strawberry cheesecake and cookies and cream, but you can also get more unusual flavors like avocado and matcha. Regardless, rolled ice cream tacos are fun to eat with someone you can goof off with. 157 S. Rio Grande St., 801-702-8610, sweetrolledtacos.com

Garage on Beck
For those who really want to ditch convention this Valentine's Day, it doesn't get much more unconventional than Garage on Beck. It's a dive bar with a heart of gold, and it's packing a menu of gastropub rock stars that will ensure a satisfying meal. Fried chicken and fried funeral potatoes are a match made in heaven, and it's the kind of place that will pick up the slack if your date happens to be a bit of a drip because the food is stellar and the beer is plentiful. On the flip side, it's a great place for a couple of lifers who have hitched their wagons together long enough to want a good meal and some live music in lieu of roses and jewelry. 1199 Beck St., 801-521-3904, garageonbeck.com

Lucky’s Iron Door Roadhouse
One way or another, some lovebirds just can't find a babysitter when they want to go out to dinner. This can be a bit tricky to navigate, but a place like Lucky's Iron Door Roadhouse is an ideal spot for a dinner that happens to have a few tagalongs. Located in Jordan Landing mall, Lucky's is a kid-friendly offshoot of Lucky 13, one of downtown Salt Lake's finest bars and burger establishments, which means you get the same colossal burgers, sandwiches and salads in an environment where the little ones are welcome. 3754 W. Center View Way, West Jordan, 801-878-9439, luckysirondoor.com

The Pie
Finally, for those whose idea of romance is a comfy sofa, a warm blanket and binge-watching Fleabag, you really can't go wrong with pizza from The Pie. With several locations along the Wasatch Front, The Pie has become a hero to those of us who'd just rather not face the dinner reservations and high-pressure gift exchanges that Feb. 14 foists upon us. The ultimate Valentine's snub is to order the Holy Shiitake in all its roasted garlic glory, but there's also something vibrant about the Hawaii Pie-O that just feels right on a Valentine's Day spent indoors. Multiple locations, thepie.com

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