Ah Valentine’s Day. The romance, the Tesco flowers, the discount chocolates on the 15th that follow like a walk of shame the morning after... We're just gonna put it out there, Valentine’s Day is a really substandard day to go out with a loved one. Literally every other existing couple will be out, clogging up public spaces with over the top displays of affection and couple selfies on the Ha’Penny Bridge.
If you insist on going out on the 14th, here are some places that aren’t the quintessential date spots - more places to go to avoid every other gag-inducing couple in Dublin, whether you're with your significant other, sparking the flames of a bromance or substituting the traditional day with Galentine's. Or just do yourselves a favour and go out on the 15th.
Fish Shop on Benburb Street
Sit at the bar in Fish Shop for a more romanticized version of fish and chips with a side of very delicious wine. The bar seats in Benburb Street mean that it won’t be as easy to stare into your loved one’s eyes all night, and let you focus on the person who really deserves your attention, the one pouring you wine.
If you want to avoid the masses and are actually planning a V-date earlier in the day, go here (it's lunch only). And if you haven’t been before, prepare to scold yourself for not coming any sooner. Eating at this corner café off Kevin Street feels like you’re in on a secret and the food is top notch. It’s BYOB, cash only and won't bleed your bank account dry. Sharing one of two tables is the norm, so it's guaranteed that goopy hand holding will be kept to a minimum.
The dim sum spot on Aungier Street is way too cool for public displays of affection, and for €20 a head you get the full dim sum tasting menu, so perfect if you want to take someone out but don't want to forgo eating for the rest of the month. The fluffy bao buns are reason to go alone.
Okay, the hipster arcade bar in Smithfield might be cramped with couples hogging the two-player Mario Kart, but this is a good place for a platonic friend date where you won't have to worry about how bad you are at Tetris. You can also avail of their Cheapskate deal, which includes a main, a side, a drink and 10 tokens for €20.95, without the fear of being judged.
The Cupcake Bloke
If you’re not up for a big night out (no shame) or single, fill the void of a relationship with half a dozen Valentine's themed cupcakes from The Cupcake Bloke ... or else give them to a loved one, we guess. Their cupcake aptly named ‘My Last Rolo’ really hits the feels, and their bouquet-like rose and champagne cupcakes are infinitely better than any other non-edible flower alternative.
The Seafood Cafe
Temple Bar might be a quarantine zone for touristic Valentine’s affection, but the Seafood Cafe can offer some respite from the overly hyped date night. Also, if getting lobster isn’t a usual option for you and your other half, why not splash out now, under the peer pressure of ‘the most romantic night of the year’.
The new pasta bar in Stoneybatter serving Italian ingredients and house-made pasta is perfect for that hit of carbs and cheese without the paralysing portion sizes, unless you order a lot of courses - no judgment here.
Go for some tacos and if the date isn’t going as planned...stay for the margaritas. Whether you’re going with a significant other, on a bro date or with a gang of the girlos, you could do a lot worse than planning it around the margs and tacos in 777.
A good place to be reunited with cheese and wine, especially if you’ve been on Dry January. If you’re not someone who’s wine savvy, the cheese and natural wine fanatics at Loose Canon are very obliging at helping you around the menu, and it's a great place if you want to go ‘out’ but not ‘out out’.
The Oyster Bar and Urchin Bar at the Cliff Townhouse will be serving their “Share the Love” seafood platter with crab claws, oysters, mussels and lobster, plus two glasses of bubbles, for €59 for the whole month of February, with €5 from each one going to Focus Ireland. Perfect if you want to celebrate the greeting card holiday but avoid the masses by going out on any day other than the 14th.