If you’re looking for an interesting Valentine’s Day date idea but short on restaurant options, try one of these unique cooking or dining experiences available to book online.
If you’ve been frantically scrolling OpenTable or Resy to hatch a Valentine’s Day dinner plan to no avail, let us stop you right now. It’s probably (definitely) too late to get in anywhere good and even if you do, that jacked-up tasting menu is going to hit you right where it hurts. Ouch.
Psst, over here. We’ve got a secret weapon and we’re willing to share it if it gets you out of the dog house (at least for this year). There are countless incredible cooking and dining experiences hosted by local chefs and food experts, and one of them just may be the key to an exciting Valentine’s Day for once.
Airbnb and Eatwith are just a few of the online travel- and experience-booking platforms offering one-of-a-kind culinary classes, food tours, and special seated dinners. Best of all, many of them take place in people’s own homes, avant-garde spaces or out on the streets of the cities we live in and love to travel to. Unique, informational, and just the thing to break up the regular humdrum Valentine’s Day routine.
From Mexican chocolate 101 in Brooklyn to a Spanish feast in an LA loft or secret bar crawl through Austin, there are legitimately thousands of great cooking and dining experiences dotting the map from coast to coast. So no need to settle for Applebee’s or an egregiously overpriced “tasting menu” this year. Check out our favorite intimate food and drink experiences to book for Valentine’s Day this year.
Forget buying a boring box of chocolates for your special person. How about learning to make the darn stuff? At this hands-on workshop in trendy Bushwick (Brooklyn), you’ll be immersed in cacao beans from their raw form all the way through roasting the beans (can you smell that?) and processing into edible treats—all made by you, of course—like hot chocolate, chocolate truffles, and more to be taken home and devoured.See Now
I don’t think there’s a sexier cuisine on the planet than Spanish. All that saffron and silky Jamon is enough to get anyone in the mood for love, and having a few great tapas in your arsenal is key for hosting or simple weeknight snacks. Kill two birds during this experience when host Daniel teaches you both how to make Spain’s national dish, paella, along with a few other decadent tapas (small plates). Then you’ll all sit down to enjoy a meal together or drink wine on the roof overlooking the city at sunset.See Now
Related Reading: Paella Is So Much More Than a Dish—It’s a Community Builder
If you loved New York’s Sleep No More, chances are you’ll die (sorry) for this immersive and interactive murder mystery and dinner theater set on a train in London’s hip Shoreditch ‘hood. Nibble on a four-course meal courtesy of Louisa Ellis and tipple strong cocktails while the harrowing plot unfolds. You’ll definitely have to cuddle up for comfort during this somewhat stressful dinner affair. Now how romantic is that?See Now
Take your little dumplin’ to a hands-on dumpling-making class in the heart of Manhattan. Your host will begin with a history of dumplings in various regions of China and then it’s time to get down to business: making the perfect bite-sized pocket foods from scratch. You’ll learn to roll them like a pro (very important) and eat them beside a family recipe for spicy Szechuan sauce. See Now
If you love Japanese omakase or kaiseki tasting menus, you’ll dig this unforgettable evening of fresh Bay Area seafood prepared by award-winning seafood chef Geoff Reed. The multi-course meal happens within the walls of San Francisco’s only sake producer, Sequoia Sake. You’ll dine in a traditional Japanese manner—that means no shoes but lots of incredible and meticulously prepared seafood, much of which has been pulled from nearby waters. Sake pairings will be available for purchase.See Now
Once you get your hand in there and start working the dough, you’ll realize why people become obsessed with making pasta from scratch. It’s work, to be certain, but there is something so rewarding about taking a few basic ingredients like flour, eggs, and water and turning them into one of the world’s great foods in just a matter of minutes. But there are important tricks to be learned, and this class led by chef Phillipe (MasterChef finalist) will teach you to make two perfect pastas from scratch, accompanied by a delicious sauce.See Now
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Pasta Types
I live in New York and I still contend there is no greater city than New Orleans for just walking and eating. I love doing it without a plan, but if it’s your first time, this Airbnb walking food tour is the perfect way for you and your person to get your bearings (and a belly full of amazing New Orleans chow). Native New Orleanian Butch will take you to neighborhood haunts, hidden gems, and some of the more iconic spots, too, all while dousing you with a little local history and folklore.See Now
Start at Austin’s historic Driskill Hotel and then wind your way through the city, hitting some of its coolest and most historic bars, including an old brothel, a 19th-century fire station-turned-speakeasy, and a few bars so exclusive you’ll need a special code to get in. You know, the type of place you roll your eyes at but secretly totally want to go to? Don’t worry, they’ve got the code.See Now
Related Video: Pucker Up for a Kombucha Cocktail Inspired by Cupid
Header image courtesy of EatWith