the bar at cafe la vie at le meridien st. louis clayton photo courtesy of le meridien st. louis clayton

Build the perfect date itinerary in St. Louis

It’s February, spring is close and you’re ready to go out on the town. You check the calendar and realize that Valentine’s Day is on a Monday this year, which isn’t ideal. So you want to plan something fun for Valentine’s Day weekend, but the daily news is making you wonder whether your typical three-stop date is the best choice this year. What to do, what to do? 

Maybe you do want to go out. You’ve got to live your life. If you’re so inclined, we’ve put together some suggestions for wonderful dates with plenty of latitude for safety built in. Included are some great hotel/restaurant combos, a few day (and maybe overnight) trips and some ideas for thoughtful carryout. Oh, and brunch. Have fun!

casa don alfonso at the ritz-carlton st. louis // photo by meera nagarajan

A Beautiful Staycation
It’s nice to get out of town for a romantic weekend, but between case surges and safety guidelines, planning trips can feel like a high-stakes obstacle course. But staying home doesn’t have to be a drag. Spend a cushy weekend with somebody special (or yourself, because you deserve it) at a nice local hotel with a fun restaurant in the vicinity.

Naturally, the Ritz-Carlton is the crème-de-la-crème option. There, Casa Don Alfonso and its gorgeous dining room ensure a luxurious evening of enticing Italian cuisine and wonderful wine. Marriott offshoot Le Méridien has two local locations; at the Clayton iteration, you can drink and dine at the stylish Cafe La Vie, while downtown, you can enjoy steakhouse and comfort food spot Prime 55. If you want something more explicitly “St. Louis,” check in at the Loop’s Moonrise Hotel, where you can dine downstairs at Eclipse or, if you’re wanting some alone time in your room, grab some low-key takeout down the street from Turmeric or Corner 17. Before dinner, you can hit Blueberry Hill for some tasty snacks and a beer or a cocktail. Finally, The Inns at St. Albans is a bucolic option for the less urban-inclined. When it’s open, their Old Barn Inn Restaurant is a beloved spot for its old-school Missouri charm.

stuffed salmon from prime 55 // photo by izaiah johnson

Get Out of Town
OK, you’ve decided you’re going out to eat, but want to make a whole experience out of it. Choose somewhere that’s off the beaten path to add a bit of adventure to your day or night. Our favorite restaurant of 2021 was Root Food + Wine, a lovely farm-to-table spot out in Augusta that we’re happy to roll out to anytime we need a breath of fresh air.

If it’s a unique sip you crave and are up for a day trip, head out to Ava, Illinois, to check out Scratch Brewing Co., where you can try weird and wonderful beers unlike most offerings at your local bottle shop. Also across the river is Moussalli’s Prime, a homey Edwardsville option that takes fine dining very seriously; with dishes like Niman Ranch filet mignon, New Zealand venison, pan-seared duck breast and tons of classic sides and sauces, you’ll be glad you made the trek for your memorable evening.

trout from tempus //photo courtesy of tempus

Bring The Night In
We stan DiGiorno’s, but if you’re choosing to stay in for a romantic night, you can up the game a little bit. If you’re in the pizza lane, you must check out the new Pizza Champ spot in Maplewood. It’s carryout-only for now, and you can pair your ’za, salad and wings with wine or beer from neighborhood mainstays Chateau Maplewood and The Side Project Cellar. For other pizza moves – as well as mind-meltingly good pasta and killer small plates – order from O+O Pizza in Webster Groves. Make sure to tack on a great bottle of wine from their excellent list.

Another fabulous option is to order a smorgasbord of dishes from Chiang Mai, which focuses on northern regional Thai; grab a six-pack of cold beer (spicy Thai food and cold lager are a match made in heaven) or a nice bottle of wine next door at Civil Alchemy. Or maybe what you desire is simply a humongous Japanese feast with tempura, gyoza, fried rice and an epic smattering of sushi. If that’s your dream, locations of Oishi Sushi in Creve Coeur and Chesterfield will have you covered. In that case, it seems like a bottle of sake from your local Wine & Cheese Place would also be in the cards.

chargrilled bourbon street ribeye from prime 55 // photo by izaiah johnson

For the elegant feel of fine dining without the risk of actually being in a dining room, Tempus is a powerful choice; it’ll be open on Feb. 13 and 14 (the restaurant is usually closed on Sunday and Monday), offering its usual elevated fare with dishes specially designed and packaged to travel from the restaurant to the home table. If you’re wanting the evening to get a little feisty, order an assortment of tacos from Mission Taco Joint and a gallon of margarita. Or plan a dip journey by snagging a bunch of prepared dishes like mohammara, beet hummus and baba ghanoush from AO&Co. And don’t forget the pita!

the egg rick muffin from grace meat + three // photo by izaiah johnson

Brunch (Just In Case)
Listen, we’re all adults here: Sometimes a really fun date night ends with breakfast. If that’s the case, there are plenty of great carryout options that will have you smashing that order button, hitting the curbside line, and turning around to enjoy breakfast in bed. Though Songbird only opened last year, it immediately became an indispensable colossus in our brunch repertoire – in one fell swoop, you can score a masterful breakfast sandwich, a slice of incredible pound cake and a fresh coffee by Sump. What else could you need? If you want to go the more traditional breakfast route, hit up one of the two locations of Egg. Finally, if you went hard the previous night and a regular old breakfast isn’t going to cut it, head to Grace Meat + Three for a hefty Egg Rick Muffin, their famous fried bologna sandwich or some heirloom corn waffles with spiced syrup and whipped butter.

pepperoni pizza from pizza champ // photo by adam rothbarth

Ritz-Carlton St. Louis, 100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, 314.863.6300,; Casa Don Alfonso, 314.719.1496,

Le Méridien St. Louis - Clayton, 7730 Bonhomme Ave., Clayton, 314.863.0400,;
Cafe La Vie, 314.863.0400,

Le Méridien St. Louis - Downtown, 1019 Pine St., St. Louis, 314.436.2355,

Prime 55, 314.526.3900, Facebook: Prime 55 Downtown

Moonrise Hotel, 6177 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.721.1111,;
Eclipse Restaurant, 314.726.2222,

Turmeric, 6679 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.899.9995,

Corner 17, 6623 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.727.2402,

Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.727.4444,

The Inns at St. Albans, 3500 St. Albans Road, St. Albans, 636.458.0131,; Old Barn Inn Restaurant, 636.458.0131,

Root Food + Wine, 5525 Walnut St., Augusta, 636.544.1009,

Scratch Brewing Co., 264 Thompson Road, Ava, Illinois, 618.426.1415,

Moussalli’s Prime, 7415 Hwy. IL-143, Edwardsville, Illinois, 618.656.0281,

Pizza Champ, 2657 Lyle Ave., Maplewood,

The Side Project Cellar, 7373 Marietta Ave., Maplewood,

Chateau Maplewood, 7326 Manchester Ave., Maplewood, 314.899.0105,

O+O Pizza, 102 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314.721.5422,

Chiang Mai, 8158 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314.961.8889,

Civil Alchemy, 8154 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314.801.7577,

Oishi Sushi and Steakhouse, 100 Public Works Drive, Chesterfield, 636.530.1198,

Oishi Sushi, 721 N. New Ballas Road, Creve Coeur, 314.567.4478,

The Wine & Cheese Place, multiple locations,

Tempus, 4370 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.349.2878,

Mission Taco Joint, multiple locations,

AO&Co., 1641 Tower Grove Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.0991, Facebook: AO&Co.

Songbird, 4476 Chouteau Ave., St. Louis, 314.781.4344,

Egg, 3100 Locust St., St. Louis, 314.899.0036; 2200 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314.202.8244,

Grace Meat + Three, 4270 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.533.2700,