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Mala Sichuan probably won't be flooded with Valetnine's Day diners
Mala Sichuan probably won't be flooded with Valetnine's Day diners
Gary R Wise

12 Mostly Low Key Valentine's Ideas, Mapped

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Mala Sichuan probably won't be flooded with Valetnine's Day diners
| Gary R Wise

On Valentine's Day, it can be tempting to pick the prix fixe at a popular restaurant, but that decision is likely a path to regret. Prices get jacked up, servers feel harried, kitchens are slammed. Although cooking at home is a tempting option, for those who still want the sense of occasion that comes with dining out (or just don't want to do dishes on a supposedly romantic evening), here are a few, mostly low key options. What these restaurants lack in the sort of atmosphere that draws in Valentine's Day diners, they make up with good food, reasonable prices and a relaxed vibe that should make Thursday night more pleasant.

For people who want the full experience, this post nicely summarizes just about every restaurant that's issued a press release in the last three weeks. Skim and enjoy. Or take that 5:30 reservation at Tony's from the twelfth spot on the map. That's a guaranteed winner.

· Valentine's 2013: The Best Deals/Dinners in Houston [29-95]
· All Maps on Eater Houston [-EHOU-]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

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1511 Airline
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 426-4420
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This casual Tex-Mex spots serves some of Houston's most consistently excellent fajitas. The micheladas are also worth trying, but probably not conducive to post-meal smooching.

2. Paulie's Restaurant

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1834 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 807-7271
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Counter-service restaurants are a good refuge on Valentine's, and Paulie's well-executed menu of Italian-American classics is always a winner. On Thursday, the restaurant serves osso bucco as a special. Call ahead to reserve one; they always sell out.

3. Vinoteca Poscol

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1609 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 529-2798
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Yes, this place will be crowded, but it's usually crowded. They're used to it. The menu of reasonably priced sharable plates combined with the solid wine list won't leave anyone feeling ripped off.

4. BRC Gastropub

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519 Shepherd Dr.
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 861-2233
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If you're both beer nerds, BRC looks like the best option. For $65, there's a three-course beer pairing dinner featuring an ultra-rare keg of Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #2.

5. Mala Sichuan Bistro

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9348 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, TX 77036
(713) 995-1889
When white people flood the city's restaurants, smart people seek refuge in Chinatown. Sampling the menu of authentic Sichuan dishes is half the fun of going to Mala, so round up a group and enjoy.

6. Pho Binh By Night

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12148 Bellaire Blvd #101
Houston, TX 77072
(832) 351-2464
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A quiet dinner over a couple bowls of pho with a side of tasty, sexy bone marrow is a nice alternative to the Valentine's crowds. Taste the reason this place is typically the first stop for chefs who've been away from Houston for awhile.

7. Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

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500 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 520-8222
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Pizza may not be romantic, but when they're this good, maybe it should be. The restaurant seems rejuvenated since reopening after a fire, and the reasonably priced Italian wines help establish the proper mood.

8. The Brewery Incubator

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907 Franklin St. Suite 150
Houston, TX 77002
The UnValentine's Day party offers a selection of 10 different stations with beers and food to sample. Every 30 minutes, diners are forced to get up and move from one table to another. See the events's Facebook page for all the details. $45 per person

9. Eatsie Boys Cafe

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4100 Montrose
Houston, TX 77066
The brick and mortar outpost of the popular food truck is earning raves for dishes such as matzah ball pho and a roast beef sandwich called the "maestro." Also works as an after-dinner spot for ice cream and coffee.

10. Pizaro's Pizza

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14028 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
(281) 589-7277
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The city's best Neapolitan-style pizzeria probably doesn't have the atmosphere to draw Valentine's Day crowds, but, thanks to being BYOB, it could be the perfect spot for a quiet meal and a nice bottle of wine.

11. Aladdin's Mediterranean Cuisine

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912 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 942-2321
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It's reasonably priced, and the menu is vegetarian-friendly, which most prix-fixe menus are not. That makes it perfect for couples who are divided about eating meat. The lamb shank is always a good choice, and the kebabs are good, too.

12. Tony's

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3755 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77046
(713) 622-6778
Visit Website
If you absolutely must go to a fancy restaurant, might as well go with a place with an impeccable reputation for service that won't be overwhelmed by the crowds. As of Monday afternoon, they still had tables available at 5:30 and 9:45 for $95 per person. Tony's/Facebook

1. Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

1511 Airline, Houston, TX 77009
This casual Tex-Mex spots serves some of Houston's most consistently excellent fajitas. The micheladas are also worth trying, but probably not conducive to post-meal smooching.
1511 Airline
Houston, TX 77009

2. Paulie's Restaurant

1834 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Counter-service restaurants are a good refuge on Valentine's, and Paulie's well-executed menu of Italian-American classics is always a winner. On Thursday, the restaurant serves osso bucco as a special. Call ahead to reserve one; they always sell out.
1834 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098

3. Vinoteca Poscol

1609 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77006
Yes, this place will be crowded, but it's usually crowded. They're used to it. The menu of reasonably priced sharable plates combined with the solid wine list won't leave anyone feeling ripped off.
1609 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77006

4. BRC Gastropub

519 Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX 77007
If you're both beer nerds, BRC looks like the best option. For $65, there's a three-course beer pairing dinner featuring an ultra-rare keg of Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #2.
519 Shepherd Dr.
Houston, TX 77007

5. Mala Sichuan Bistro

9348 Bellaire Boulevard, Houston, TX 77036
When white people flood the city's restaurants, smart people seek refuge in Chinatown. Sampling the menu of authentic Sichuan dishes is half the fun of going to Mala, so round up a group and enjoy.
9348 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, TX 77036

6. Pho Binh By Night

12148 Bellaire Blvd #101, Houston, TX 77072
A quiet dinner over a couple bowls of pho with a side of tasty, sexy bone marrow is a nice alternative to the Valentine's crowds. Taste the reason this place is typically the first stop for chefs who've been away from Houston for awhile.
12148 Bellaire Blvd #101
Houston, TX 77072

7. Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

500 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
Pizza may not be romantic, but when they're this good, maybe it should be. The restaurant seems rejuvenated since reopening after a fire, and the reasonably priced Italian wines help establish the proper mood.
500 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

8. The Brewery Incubator

907 Franklin St. Suite 150, Houston, TX 77002
The UnValentine's Day party offers a selection of 10 different stations with beers and food to sample. Every 30 minutes, diners are forced to get up and move from one table to another. See the events's Facebook page for all the details. $45 per person
907 Franklin St. Suite 150
Houston, TX 77002

9. Eatsie Boys Cafe

4100 Montrose, Houston, TX 77066
The brick and mortar outpost of the popular food truck is earning raves for dishes such as matzah ball pho and a roast beef sandwich called the "maestro." Also works as an after-dinner spot for ice cream and coffee.
4100 Montrose
Houston, TX 77066

10. Pizaro's Pizza

14028 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77079
The city's best Neapolitan-style pizzeria probably doesn't have the atmosphere to draw Valentine's Day crowds, but, thanks to being BYOB, it could be the perfect spot for a quiet meal and a nice bottle of wine.
14028 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079

11. Aladdin's Mediterranean Cuisine

912 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
It's reasonably priced, and the menu is vegetarian-friendly, which most prix-fixe menus are not. That makes it perfect for couples who are divided about eating meat. The lamb shank is always a good choice, and the kebabs are good, too.
912 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

12. Tony's

3755 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77046
If you absolutely must go to a fancy restaurant, might as well go with a place with an impeccable reputation for service that won't be overwhelmed by the crowds. As of Monday afternoon, they still had tables available at 5:30 and 9:45 for $95 per person. Tony's/Facebook
3755 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77046

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