So maybe, just maybe, you’re thinking that “exceptionally romantic” and the Die Hard franchise aren’t very compatible. Wrong! This V-Day, forget the tacky stuffed animals and overpriced floral arrangements and embarrassingly large boxes of chocolates of V-Days past (well, maybe not the chocolates, bring those) and join me in smuggling cans of Sofia blanc de blancs into the Pioneer Place cinema and watching Bruce Willis run around being badass in a tattered, bloody t-shirt on the opening night of A Good Day to Die Hard*. Obviously, you’ll need sustenance before/after, and it IS V-Day and all, so here are my favorite romanticky restaurants, bars and creperies, perfect for cozying up and having deep discussions about the movie’s most moving and thought-provoking moments. (*Perhaps you think I am kidding about all this. Well I’m not.)
Nothing warms the heart and soul like a few hours inside this sunburst yellow creperie with a glass of hard pear cider and a Scrabble board—don’t miss the Le Trash Blanc, a bacon ‘n cheddar crepe + PBR.
Give a word association test to Portland diners and “date night” will immediately elicit “Paley’s” in 80-90 percent of respondents. (Okay, so that’s an unofficial estimate, but I’m pretty confident about it.) This is the spot to splash out on beef--the Wagyu tartare and New York strip steak are completely justified decadence.
If there was ever a reason to pull your best tie out of mothballs, this stately charmer is it. A beautiful wine list, gracious dining room, and solid seasonal menu make for a memorable night out. Go early to take advantage of $5 happy hour cocktails—weeknights 4:30-6:30pm.
As quirky-romantic destinations go, there’s nothing quite like a three-hour meal at this curious Belmont Thai hidey-hole run entirely by a husband-wife team who’ve still managed to stay together even after owning a restaurant together for years.
White leather booths, wine galore, twinkling views as far as the rain clouds will allow—get the girls together, don your favorite abbreviated hemline and those wicked heels that will have you hobbling home, and go all out. Please, please, PLEASE don’t pass on dessert—the ‘peanut butter & jelly’ is a life changer.
If this weren’t Portland, the small town city where you’re almost sure to run into someone you know within 1 minute/1 mile of leaving your home, this dark and sultry little hotel bar would be the perfect place to have an affair. And it’s really easy to get a room after one too many Springtime in Paris champagne cocktails. Not that I’m encouraging your sordid antics.
When the Pix Patisseries combined forces and morphed into a super patisserie on E. Burnside, they made room for a tiny tapas bar inside—aka Bar Vivant. A la Barthelona, belly up to the glass display, point at whatever looks good, and then drink yourself silly on sherry. (PS: Pix/Bar Vivant's new address is 2225 E. Burnside St.)
This longtime staple of the lower Burnside dining scene has launched a thousand first dates, with their old-fashioned décor, homey food, and well-crafted cocktails. Come fair weather, the side patio’s a grand place to hide out when escaping the office early.
This simple, homey, ultra-romantic downtown secret is just the place for a hot date, what with the authentic Roma-inspired menu and inexpensive Italian wines. The spaghetti con le polpette alone could jumpstart a love affair. Or, you know, end it, if you aren’t much for sharing. (In which case, we’re through.)
A Portland classic, you’ll get a beautiful meal and the wine to match at this cozy SE Division favorite. I love the roast chicken and savory fish stew, especially on a cold drizzly winter’s eve. Happy hour is one of the best around--it’s M-F from 5-6pm, so try to get there early so you can get a couple of rounds in.
This diminutive darling of Portland’s wine and food cognoscenti conjures visions of long nights whiled away in effortlessly sultry French watering holes. Pink wine lovers—owner/curator Amalie Roberts’ rosé list is incomparable. Per the eats menu, anything with smoked trout will make you very very happy.
Chandeliers, red and white checked gingham, pickled things in the windows, intimately teeny-weeny dining room--this Northeast Portland nook was made for romance. If sommelier Austin Bridges is around, have him choose your wine pairings, he never misses.
It doesn’t get much more Frenchy la la than this achingly cute Clinton Street bistro, with its drippy candles, puff pastry-crowned escargot, and attached patisserie. Passing on the warm mini-madeleines would be up there with your starter marriage in the Biggest Life Mistakes file.
Whether you sink into a sexy booth, take the upstairs perch for maximum peeping potential, or join the raucous crowd at the bar, this boisterous bistro is a guaranteed good time. The grilled hanger steak with potatoes & marrow butter is Gallic mood food all the way.
Dark sultry interiors, carafes of inhibition-loosening red wine, the inherent romance of authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza eaten with one’s fingers—you’ve got all the makings of a great date night here, so don’t mess it up. If you still haven’t made as much progress as you’d like when the Nutella calzone rolls around, take a dark alley back to the car/bus stop and let the aura of Oldtown danger drive your date into your arms.
They don’t come any cuter than this Belmont nook, which produces some of the most thoughtfully-constructed crepes in town—I lust after the lemon butter-drenched, cider poached apples-topped Normandie. And a lovelier brunch special never lived--$13 for a mimosa, almond teacake and proscuitto & egg crepe. PS: Sit at the bar, where you can watch the crew slowly caramelize skillets full of onions for the outstanding French onion soup.
Your sweet tooth will never forget this strange & delightful downtown hideaway's absolutely enormous pavlova smothered in creme anglaise, whipped cream, fresh peaches, raspberries & mint. Also, if you're a soup lover--order them all. They're that good.
Sharing its inner SE space with Fausse Piste winery, this rustic-chic wine bar entices with decadent eats like pheasant dumplings and wild boar ribs, and a 50+ glass pour list that emphasizes sustainable, natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Plus, its über-cozy, wine barrel-lined, brick-walled confines make for the consummate winter hidey-hole.
Portlanders don't lack for a wide variety of exceptional brunches, but the weekend morning fare at this charcuterie palace takes the cake. The pancake, to be exact. The feathery light house pancakes are nothing short of ethereal, and the dab of orange butter on top coupled with the absence of a grueling wait might have you seeing OP's brunch exclusively.
This corner catch is all romance, from the sexy cocktails to the cheese plate with fresh prunes to the signature poulet en cocotte. Definitely check out the happy hour specials—all day on Sunday & Monday.
Utterly charming and delicious in equal parts, this lovely little cafe topping SE Portland's Cellar Door Roasters feels like a secret you're tempted to keep to yourself but can't, because that would be selfish and you're above that. Reward yourself for such magnanimity with the peerless caramel pudding.