So here we are. Valentine’s day. Again. A day-turned-night of expectation foisted upon us by the heart-shaped dreams of hallmark and american greetings. Florists circle the date with red lipstick and kiss their calendars, which get a little smeary because they are salivating so much over the profits to be had. Restaurant servers cringe at having to work, but make a concession of their sanity in exchange for a steady stream of tips from two-tops.
The ancient pagan roots of this observance would be enough to outrage our collective inner feminist or animal rights activist – but since every single Lupercalia scheduled for the past 1,518 years has been canceled, you can look up the details (goat sacrifice, fertility rites, etc.) elsewhere. It’s probably for the best, but now we have to figure out what to do on February 14 instead.
Even if Valentine’s Day isn’t your thing, date night is worth your while. Take it from Jerry Pierce, Senior Vice President of CRS Oklahoma, a retail services company specializing in point-of-sale software and video surveillance systems. Pierce and his wife VeLisa, a pseudo pilot trainer for the Federal Aviation Administration, have been married for 5½ years. “With such a busy schedule and the days flying by with other demands,” says Jerry, “it’s important to spend some quality time together.” VeLisa recounts a romantic dinner at the Skirvin Hilton followed by a viewing of “Mamma Mia!” at the Civic Center as among their more memorable Valentine’s Day dates.
This will be the first Valentine’s Day in Oklahoma City for McKenzie Graham and her boyfriend, Nate. Graham, Development Coordinator for the local chapter of JDRF (a type-1 diabetes research organization), envisions a night of new experiences in their adopted home city. “We’re thinking dinner in Bricktown at a place neither of us has been to,” she says, “then finishing the night with a carriage ride through downtown.”
Valentine’s Day is the ultimate date night, making it perfect for those new or “special occasion” experiences. But you can make every date night special here in the metro. We’ve explored the city for ideas and come up with six dining destinations, six potential things to do and six things to see. Why six? According to numerology.com, 6 is the most harmonious single-digit number. Mix and match from these choices for a harmonious date with your significant other on Valentine’s Day – or any other date night.
6 Dining Destinations
► Benvenuti’s Ristorante
105 W. Main St., Norman
405.310.5271 | benvenutisristorante.com
In one of animated film’s most memorable evenings, the happy-go-lucky Tramp takes his uptown girl Lady out for a romantic Italian dinner. Benvenuti’s doesn’t serve mongrels or cocker spaniels, but it does dish up some of the best Italian cuisine in central Oklahoma. And if you don’t want to play the odds that your last slurp of spaghetti will end in a sweet kiss, try the grilled rack of lamb instead.
► Red PrimeSteak
504 N. Broadway Ave., OKC
405.232.2626 | redprimesteak.com
It’s classic and contemporary at Red Prime, where you can get any great cut of beef you want, order it cooked with one of seven signature crusts and slather it with your choice of spectacular sauces. You can even top that slab of steak with foie gras for a stunningly savory experience. Pro tip: The Pecan Ice Cream Ball is amazing.
2262 W. Main St., Norman
405.928.5600 | eatatlocal.com
The name says a lot, but not quite all. Local is very much that, using seasonal foods and ingredients acquired from nearby sources. For the gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian diner, this is your spot, but Local has something for everyone. Bring an appetite for something new to the winner of the Open Table 2014 “Diners’ Choice” Award.
805 N. Hudson Ave., OKC
405.778.6800 | ludivineokc.com
Another entrant in the “farm-to-fork” category, Ludivine sets itself apart by offering fairly unusual fare on a menu subject to change daily. Due to the unpredictable availability of some products and ingredients, the staff respectfully declines substitutions. Date night should be drama-free anyway. Let yourself go and trust the professionals here. And seriously, do you really think you have a better preparation for rabbit rillette?
► Rococo Restaurant & Fine Wine
What could be more romantic than a whirlwind trip to Manhattan with your sweetie? If a jaunt to the Empire State is out of reach, you can at least get your East Coast seafood fix at Rococo. Littleneck clams, Prince Edward Island mussels and other saltwater savories from around the world make either location a go-to seafood stop in the city. There’s even an escargot appetizer; just skip the classically terrible joke about the wealthy snail who bought a fast car with the caveat that it had to have a large “S” painted on each side. No one wants to eat dessert alone.
Devon Tower, 333 W. Sheridan Ave., OKC
405.702.7262 | vastokc.com
If you can’t get to New York, Paris is probably out of the question. No worries – you can still take your relationship to new heights at Oklahoma’s version of the Eiffel Tower. Scale the tallest building in the state, and the unmatched view of the sprawling city below may give you something to look at that might even rival your lover’s eyes. VAST’s menu features elevated (heh) American contemporary cuisine from executive chef Patrick Williams and director of operations Kurt Fleischfresser. Wherever you choose to fix your gaze, dining at this kind of altitude always makes an occasion special.
6 Things to Do
► Rocktown Climbing Gym
200 S.E. 4th St., OKC
405.319.1400 | rocktowngym.com
If you’re in the mood to get out of your comfort zone, this is a great place to start. One of the more imaginative examples of urban re-use around, Rocktown offers climbing lessons for novices and challenging obstacles for the experienced climber, up routes that vary from 35 to 100+ feet. It’s a fun way to feel like you’ve overcome obstacles together, but it’s better not to rush in; go to the Rocktown website to check out requirements and rates and complete an online waiver before your visit.
► The Sanctuary
530 S. Broadway Ave., OKC
405.237.2803 | thesanctuaryokc.com
The seasonal scare factory morphs into a Tunnel of Love for Valentine’s Day thrill-seekers. There’s nothing like a stroll through four stories of creepiness to make you want to stick close to your cutie-pie. Chills and thrills await. Check online for dates, times and tickets.
► Blazers Ice Centre
8000 S. I-35 Service Rd., OKC
405.631.3307 | blazers-icecentre.com
► Arctic Edge Ice Arena
14613 N. Kelly Ave., Edmond
405.748.5454 | arctic-edge.com
Couple skate! North or south, you can get your glide on. Public skating and private lessons are available at both locations; check online for details before you go. If you’d rather watch somebody else do it, Blazers Ice Centre hosts a Valentine’s Day collegiate hockey match between the OU and UCO squads at 2:30 p.m.
► Poetry Stand at the Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave., OKC
405.272.3040 | skirvinhilton.com/artist-in-residence
The Skirvin’s Artist-in-Residence program currently hosts poet, freelance writer and bookmaker Kerri Shadid. During her stay, Shadid is creating spontaneous, customized verse for guests and visitors. The fruits of her literary labor will be collected in a compilation for the Skirvin – so your visit could become immortalized in unrehearsed verse. Visit the Skirvin’s website for more information on this fun and unique project.
► Wine & Palette
201 N.W. 10th St. #120, OKC
405.227.0230 | wineandpalette.com
Bored? Creative? Why don’t you get drunk and … paint? Wine & Palette provides expert instruction in the fine arts while you and your beloved imbibe. Admission includes canvas, paint, aprons and instruction, with beverages for sale on site – the resulting masterpiece is your own. Register for classes online and get those creative juices flowing!
► Oklahoma Premier Carriage Company
405.361.5499 | okcarriage.com
For a fairy-tale adventure in the heart of the city, take a spin around Bricktown in a horse-drawn Cinderella-themed carriage. Pickup locations are on Mickey Mantle Boulevard, right across the street from The Mick’s steakhouse. Weather permitting, it’s an enchanting way to view the bustle of the entertainment district; just sit back and enjoy the ride.
6 Things to See
► Bella Forte Glass Studio and Italian Jim’s Restaurant
13 S. Broadway, Edmond
405.285.8800 | bellaforteglass.com
Italian food and art collide here – well, not literally, as that would be messy – in a one-of-a-kind experience. Sit down to nosh on Neapolitan specialties, then watch master glass blowers fashion fine art for your liking. Commemorate your date with a delicate piece of hand-blown art created just for you.
► [Artspace] at Untitled Gallery
1 N.E. 3rd St., OKC
405.815.9995 | artspaceatuntitled.org
Get up close and personal with art and artists at “A Taste of Art.” Food and beverage pairings are selected to complement the topic, which often focuses on travel to far-flung corners of the globe. If you want to get your hands dirty, sign up for a printmaking workshop – if you visit the gallery this month, you can explore a huge selection of results from the 2014 Monothon printing exhibition. Visit the website to view and register for upcoming classes and events.
► Performing Arts Series at OKC Community College
7777 S. May Ave., OKC
405.682.7576 | occc.edu/pas/
Get “In the Mood” with one of the premier swing bands touring today, as OCCC’s Performing Arts Series welcomes the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra on Tuesday, February 10. You can snag tickets online, and if you prefer to make a phone call, please note that “Pennsylvania 6-5000” is no longer in service. Use the number above instead.
► Love and Orchids at Myriad Botanical Gardens
301 W. Reno Ave., OKC
405.445.7080 | myriadgardens.org
What’s Valentine’s Day without flowers? Less colorful, to be sure. Luckily, Myriad Botanical Gardens thought ahead for you. On February 14, go to the Gardens from 6-8 p.m. for “Love and Orchids,” the premiere night of the new “Jewel Orchids: Treasures of the Rainforest” exhibit. Sip champagne and soak up the strains of live jazz music while admiring over 1,000 alluring orchids adorning the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. Call Emily Drover at 405.563.8980 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to save a spot.
► “Romeo and Juliet” at the OKC Civic Center
201 N. Walker Ave., OKC
405.843.9898 | okcballet.com
Old meets new when the OKC Ballet stages its rendition of “Romeo and Juliet.” The adaptation of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan-era classic is performed with the world premiere of the OKC troupe’s choreography during a three-day run from February 13-15. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic accompanies for a multi-sensory spectacle. Matinee performances are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
► Murder Mystery Dinner Theater at the Sooner Theatre Studio
110 E. Main St., Norman
405.321.9600 | soonertheatre.com
The Sooner Theatre offers one-stop shopping for date night from February 12-14, combining dinner with a comedic murder-mystery musical. This year’s offering, titled “Hospital Homicide,” promises to deliver laughs to the lovebirds in attendance. “It is not highbrow theater,” laughs Nancy Coggins, Public Relations and Development Director. “It’s a really inappropriate, non-politically-correct event.” The show is also the theatre’s biggest annual fundraiser, so expect the actors to troll tables for tips between acts. Rock and roll classics from the 1970s and ’80s comprise the score, and the audience is enlisted to solve the mystery and identify the guilty party. Viewers looking for an edge can get it here – Coggins shares that the actors can be “bribed” for information. Good luck, detectives!