February 12, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Valentine’s Day in Santa Fe

How to feast your way through Santa Fe on Valentine's Day...

By Lynn Cline

Gourmet Girl

Lynn Cline is a former food editor and the author of two books – Romantic Days and Nights in Santa Fe and Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1915-1950. She also loves to cook, when not dining out.

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Image: ChocolateSmith

Valentine's Day is nearingand the city is brimming with places to celebrate, from artisan chocolate shops to unique places to relax with a cocktail and some apps and romantic restaurants serving up celebratory dinners. Here are just a few of my picks...

Start your celebration at 315, where the basil-wrapped shrimp with apricot chutney and madras sauce will leave you swooning. Then try the maple-glazed duck breast with flannel hash, butternut squash, fingerling potatoes and beet Hash and roasted brussel sprouts, and be transported out of this world.

At La Boca, celebrate Valentine's Day with a half-price Happy Hour. I love the Tapas Trio with carrot-garbanzo hummus, roasted beet and walnut puree-topped goat cheese and artichoke and white bean puree, served with grilled house-made yogurt flatbread. If you stay for dinner, don't miss the delectable croquetas, jamón Serrano and Manchego cheese croquetas with membrillo cream sauce.

For an evening to delight the senses, drive up to Ten Thousand Waves for an outdoor hot tub soak followed by a romantic, rustic meal of small plates, including a cheese and sake plate, tonakatsu, or panko-breaded heritage pork loin cutlet with hot mustard, cabbage and miso katsu sauce, and nami burger, made with Lone Mountain wagyu beef, fresh wasabi and pink Himalayan salt.

Steak lovers should head to Steaksmith, a longtime favorite Santa Fe restaurant. Relax fireside in the lounge and share their famous spinach cheese balls and fried avocado, or take a seat in the dining room and savor award-winning steaks and seafood, followed by the decadent Chocolate Special Occasion Cake.

If it's Italian you crave Il Piatto's pumpkin ravioli with brown sage butter, pine nuts and goat milk pecorino is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and the Potato Parmesan Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and Marsala cream is also outstanding. If you love tiramisu, Il Piatto is stellar. The restaurant also offers a Late Night Happy Hour daily from 9 to 10:30 p.m.

Andiamo! also offers superb Italian cuisine. The crispy polenta with rosemary and gorgonzola sauce is a signature appetizer here, and the lasagne Bolognese is classic, made with love. For dessert, try their acclaimed profiteroles, puff pastry filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce.

Harry's Roadhouse is fun for creative, eclectic entrees, including the Ranchero Style Hangar Steak, with rajas, Oaxacan cheese enchiladas with mole Colorado, guacamole and cowboy beans.  Leave room for dessert, Roadhouse specialties like blackberry and cherry cobbler, lemon meringue pie, and peanut butter sandwiches.

For an elegant meal, try Bouche Bistro, and order the black mussels in white wine and red chile and beef short ribs, pot-au-feu style, horseradish creme. End your French experience with Nutella chocolate mousse.

For finger-licking good barbecue, head over to The Ranch House and feast on red chile, honey glazed baby back ribs and the brisket and pulled pork combo. For dessert, share the chocolate banana bread pudding.

If you're looking for a culinary adventure, book a table at Joseph's Culinary Pub, for some o the most eclectic and creative cuisine in the city. Share the local lamb & banana curry tagine with lemon coriander jasmine rice and Joseph's table NM steak au poivre, New Mexico grass-feed beef tenderloin with Madeira wine and porcini mushroom sauce and smashed potatoes.

If you just have a hankering for chocolate, head out and explore Santa Fe's famous Chocolate Trail, with stops for gourmet chocolate at The ChocolateSmith, Todos Santos, Senor Murphy, Kakawa. Find more info here.

For a more hands-on experience, sign up for the Luscious Lobster Cookery with Your Valentine class with chef Johnny Vee and learn to make smoked lobster salad,  lobster au gratin with truffled mashed potatoes, old-fashioned lobster rolls, lobster pot pies with sweet corn and vermouth and flourless chocolate torte with chocolate truffles! Yum! Friday, Feb. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Las Cosas Cooking School. For more info, click here.

Or enjoy a cooking class devoted to Fondue for Two, and create a savory cheese fondue and a sweet chocolate fondue with chef Tanya Story at the Santa Fe Culinary Academy. For details, click here.

If you're looking for a super affordable way to celebrate Valentine's Day, take your sweetheart to the FREE "Renaissance to Romance" celebration at the New Mexico Museum of Art this Friday, Valentine's Day, from 5 to 7 p.m. and enjoy Spanish flamenco guitar, tapas, chocolate and red pomegranate punch. And what could be more affordable than free?

There are endless ways to celebrate Valentine's Day in Santa Fe! Don't forget a homemade card and some roses, too!

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