We all know a Valentine Grinch or two — the folks who grumble about heart-shaped chocolate boxes and Hallmark holidays. “The sheer commercialism of it all!” they shout. “Who’s being manipulated by a stationery-confectionary-floral cabal? Yoo hoo! You, that’s who!”
Hey, we all could use a little extra affection these days. It’s been a grim, grey last few weeks. Sparkling wine, fragrant flowers and a night on the town? Yes, please.
In fact, here are a dozen fabulous new restaurants — 12 long-stemmed, date-night beauties that opened in the last year and are guaranteed to sweep your sweetheart off his or her respective feet, not just in February but for months to come.
5. ‘aina, San Francisco
The vibe: Jordan Keao’s modern Hawaiian eatery is all about spreading that loving aloha spirit, from the warm service and island-inspired craft cocktails to the sensational cuisine. Go for a morning stroll in the Dogpatch neighborhood so you’re there to score coveted, walk-in only brunch seats, or make a reservation (weeks in advance via Resy) for dinner, when Keao and his crew get crazy-refined with their treatment of pork (including housemade spam bao and Portuguese sausage, both using Stone Valley Farms). Ask for the intimate window table with the stools for some aloha nui loa: very much love.
The dish: For brunch, you’ll want the malasadas ($8), served warm, dusted with coconut sugar and filled with tart, creamy guava custard. Nibble on those while sipping on a low-proof Punch Bowl ($22) meant for four. Dinner lovebirds can’t deny the seductive textures and flavors of Keao’s of lomi lomi arctic char ($14): kiawe smoked paprika cured arctic char with green soubise, rouille and fried sunchokes.
The details: Open for brunch Wednesday-Sunday and dinner Tuesday-Saturday 900 22nd St., San Francisco; www.ainasf.com.