For Valentine’s Day, you could make a reservation for a set dinner with wine pairings. You could drop $100 a head for that special meal. Or you could just as well go out minus the fuss and try something new with a loved one (or whomever).
For a night to remember in a Korean pub, a gas station bistro and at more spots serving both traditional and modern, regional and international fare, head to one of these lovable — heck, for lovers — local destinations.
New to Lone Tree, this restaurant has already gained a following for its compact menu of seasonal Indian dishes from former New York-based chef Charles Mani. Go for pretty-plated crispy cauliflower, butter chicken, coconut curry and a 24-hour dal makhani. Mani makes his dishes on the lighter side, but still layered with spice and flavor. 9234 Park Meadows Drive, 720-536-8150, urbanvillagerestaurant.com
For a Southern dinner of pig ear sandwiches, smothered neckbones, soul food egg rolls and more, head to storied CoraFaye’s newer Aurora location. You can also build a perfect plate of fried catfish or chicken, plus collard greens, candied yams and more comfort sides. Wash it all down with real Kool-Aid. 16251 E. Colfax Ave., 303-333-5551, corafayescafe.com
This Morrison Road charmer comes from the same owners of another Denver favorite, Tarascos New Latino Cuisine, and both serve specialties from Mexico’s Michoacán region. Inside Kahlo’s, you’ll spot images all over of its namesake artist. Try the huaraches, birria, a multitude of vegetarian options like enchiladas and fresh juices to drink. 3735 Morrison Road, 303-936-0758, kahlosrestaurant.com
Go for crispy Korean fried chicken, hot pot like the ham, sausage and beef “Army Soup,” and Korea’s favorite spirit, soju, to wash it all down. At this shopping center pub in Aurora, traditional Korean food and drink are served in a lively setting for those celebrating Valentine’s well into the night. 2779 S. Parker Road, 303-745-3477, funnyplus.wixsite.com
Chef An Nguyen has a local cooking legacy to continue: Her parents were 30-plus-year owners of the Denver institution New Saigon. But at Nguyen’s new Savory Vietnam, diners can enjoy a sit-down dinner of pho, fire pots and more Vietnamese comforts from the next generation. Try the mushroom and mixed seafood Do Bien Thap Tam Cay Tam served in a clay pot. 2200 W. Alameda Ave., 303-975-2399, savoryvietnam.com
African Grill & Bar
Now with a location in Lakewood in addition to the original in Green Valley Ranch, this 16-year-old West African staple serves up primarily Ghanian plates — rices, stews, even fried chicken — in addition to foods from around the region and continent. Try owners Sylvester and Theodora Osei-Fordwuo’s jollof rice with meat and fried plantains or the pounded yam or cassava fufu served with stew. 18601 Green Valley Ranch Blvd., Denver, and 955 S. Kipling Parkway, Lakewood, 303-375-7835, africangrillco.com
Garibaldi Mexican Bistro
If you’ve come to the Conoco station, you’re at the right place. Oaxacan and Aztec dishes specifically are the house specialty. Try the nopal relleno — a cactus leaf stuffed with queso fresco and fried in egg whites — and the pambazo, a bolillo roll dipped in guajillo pepper sauce and lightly fried, filled with potatoes, chorizo, lettuce and more. 3298 S. Broadway, 303-781-0812, facebook.com/Garibaldimexicanbistro
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