[Ed. Note: Our usual columnist, Josh Glucoft, is out this week. Evie Danforth is subbing in.]
Another year, another Valentine’s Day on the Farm. Now that I’m a junior, I have a Valentine’s evening tradition established: a glass of wine with Juan, the guy who works at the CoHo, followed by an uncomfortable 20 minutes of wondering why I went to the Synergy Valentine’s party and if I look as weird naked as the average Synergy resident does. Last year, I made the mistake of tacking on dinner at a fancy restaurant with a bunch of girls; the place was filled with couples, and the waitress (seeing a table of kindred souls) explained as she poured us another round of Arnold Palmers that Valentine’s Day hadn’t seemed the same since her boyfriend of six years dumped her on her 27th birthday. But that doesn’t have to be you! This year, start your own Valentine’s tradition. Go to one of the many quirky, super fun restaurants near campus, places so un-romantic that the odds of seeing people making out over a plate of pan-seared foie gras are about 1 in 8000. A few good bets:
Chuck E. Cheese: Yes, really. Nothing says “single and ready to mingle” like going to Chuck E. Cheese on Valentine’s Day with a group of your closest friends. Skee-ball, arcade games and screaming toddlers? It’s enough to make you forget that it’s February 14. I can’t vouch for the quality of the pizza, but the official Chuck E. Cheese’s website does have a sub-section labeled “Product Recalls,” so at least they care about food safety. But be warned — due to liability issues, adult males cannot enter a Chuck E. Cheese’s alone, so be sure to go with friends! Located at 2541 El Camino Real in Redwood City, open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on the weekends.
Asia SF: If you’re willing to go further afield for Valentine’s dinner, this is the coolest place in San Francisco. Asia SF is an Asian fusion restaurant with really solid food (I love the banana beignets) and a great cocktail menu. But more than that, Asia SF is a once in a lifetime experience — during dinner, scantily dressed models on a central runway perform a sassy burlesque show complete with lots of awkward diner participation. The twist? The girls in the show are all “gender illusionists,” a particularly artful term the restaurant uses for transvestite — although you’d never know unless someone told you beforehand. It all makes for a provocative, wildly entertaining night. Note: this is not a recommended option for a first date with Bill O’Reilly. Located at 201 9th Street in San Francisco, open until 10 p.m. on Sundays, 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 2 a.m. on the weekends.
The Alpine Inn: Formerly known as Rossotti’s, this dive bar perched in the hills of Portola Valley is steeped in Stanford lore (although students don’t seem to come here as often anymore). The homey, wooden interior is decked out with old Stanford memorabilia, and the worn, wooden picnic tables are all carved up with initials, Greek letters and other relics from a Stanford gone by. When the sun is shining, the “beer garden” out back is idyllic. This is an ideal place to watch a football game with a mix of Portola Valley old-timers and Silicon Valley yuppies in spandex that have huffed and puffed their way to the bar on $1000-dollar road bikes. More importantly, the burgers here are actually amazing; they’re nothing fancy or complex, but the sparseness is what makes them so refreshing and good (that, and the buns are slathered in butter, which is awesome). Located at 3915 Alpine Road, Portola Valley and open until 10 p.m. every day but Sunday, when they close at 5:30 p.m.
Some other good bets: Buck’s in Woodside (Brunch, decorated with crazy memorabilia, the place where Silicon Valley VCs made many of the tech bubble’s most important investment decisions); Nola in Palo Alto (a fun homage to New Orleans with really good Cajun food).