DAYTON EATS: Step outside the box with these Valentine’s Day dining, entertaining ideas

Classic dinners, trivia games and beer paired with candy are options.

There are endless ways to say ‘I love you,’ but for me the greatest of them all is with food.

I love hard with my heart and mind, but I also love with my stomach with wild abandon. Eating a meal together and breaking bread with others is a beautiful gift that should not be taken for granted. Even better when it’s the person who most dominates your mind and holds your heart.

Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, sure, but to me it serves as a reminder to relish in the romance of food and adventure no matter what your relationship status may be.

A majority of respondents to a recent 2023 survey by, 75 percent, indicated they plan to celebrate with a meal at a restaurant this year although 42 percent said they won’t make dining plans until the week of Valentine’s Day, with 32 percent waiting until Valentine’s Day itself to plan their date. Just 22 percent of respondents said they will make Valentine’s Day dining plans several weeks in advance.

For those not planning ahead, here is a list of ideas to help savor the day doing something different that will help mark the occasion with flavor and flair.

A pair meets a pair

Eudora Brewing Company (3022 Wilmington Pike, Dayton; is partnering with The Paint Place to put on an “I Chews You” Valentine’s Day craft and beer pairing. This couples Valentine’s celebration is a creative way for BFF’s or soul mates to bond while creating a masterpiece together.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The evening features four courses of 5 oz. beers paired with four classic Valentine’s Day candies. Enjoy while painting adorable laser wood gumball and “I chews you” cutouts to paint. Cost is $85 for the Feb. 14 event that runs from 6-9 p.m. Visit to reserve your spot. When it comes to food Eudora has plenty to order that’s sharable — spinach and artichoke dip, cheese curds, pretzels and beer cheese, poutine, a hummus plate, cauliflower bites and chicken wings among others. Or even better, consider ordering two different types of street tacos (3 to an order for $9.20) and share. You can do the Gambas with tequila grilled shrimp, guacamole, mango puree, queso fresco and cilantro, carnitas with creme fraiche, diced red onions, queso fresco and cilantro or thunderbolt braised shredded beef with avocado aioli, pickled red onion, queso fresco and cilantro.

CozyMelts Paint Your Own Pottery ( in Beavercreek at the Mall at Fairfield Commons has a Valentine’s Day Spoon Rest for $18 per person that they will be making on Feb. 14 if you prefer to keep alcohol out of the mix with your crafts. With plenty of restaurants to enjoy nearby you have options galore to make the pairing you are looking for.

I knew it, I knew it!

Don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? Not sure what to do with your sweetie? Head to Yellow Cab ( in the Oregon District and celebrate by playing trivia.

Bonus: Tuesdays you can get pizza from the Pizza Bandit for half price or you can grab an early dinner at someplace a little more formal at one of the popular nearby Oregon District restaurants.



The event, which takes place from 6:30-8 p.m., is hosted by the Paw Patrol of Dayton will have adoptable animals on the patio if the weather is appropriate. And if you didn’t arrive all ready in love you may leave in love with a new four-legged friend.

Show fond-ness for your love

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, the Melting Pot in Centerville ( is ready to help you show your fondue-ness for the one you love. From Noon-9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12 and 2-9 p.m. Feb. 13 and 14 the restaurant will be serving up a four-course Valentine’s menu as the only option, because .... love.



Rose petals will be on the table, pictures will be taken and fondue will be had. There are several cheese fondue options to choose from, a salad course and the choice of “Cupid’s Combo” consisting of brasa chicken, garlic and wine filet, Irish whiskey salmon and ginger and turmeric shrimp or “Cupid’s Feast” consisting of herb-crusted pork tenderloin, filet mignon florentine, garlic and wine filet and brasa chicken. Add a lobster tail for $18.

Choose from a chocolate fondue, cookies ‘n cream marshmallow fondu, hazelnut milk chocolate fondue or strawberry mascarpone shortcake for the decadent finish. Cost is $99 per person with a 20 percent service fee applied to all checks. Tell whoever you are bringing to plan on arriving hungry.

Celebrate at the “Love Castle”

If a $200 meal with a 20 percent tip seems a little too rich, take the pendulum in the opposite direction. After a two-year hiatus, White Castle is bringing back it’s Valentine’s Day experience. On Feb. 14 from 4 to 9 p.m., the dining rooms at participating White Castle restaurants will be transformed into fine dining establishments with table side service and hostess seating.

Credit: White Castle

Credit: White Castle

Reservations are required and can be made at The closest participating White Castle’s are in Trotwood, Franklin and South Lebanon. Visit to see all of the participating locations across the state of Ohio. Cincinnati is blessed with a huge number that will be participating if you are willing and interested in a road trip. The love cube meal for two features eight cheese sliders, two sharable sides and two small soft drinks. There is also a brand-new, custom Coca-Cola Freestyle beverage, the Sprite Love Castle Potion that will be available only on Feb. 14. Wrap it up with a strawberry swirl cheesecake-on-a-stick.

Go with the most romantic cuisine

A recent 2023 survey conducted by found that nearly half (49 percent) of respondents selected Italian as the cuisine of choice for a Valentine’s Day meal over romantic rivals fondue (12 percent) and French (11 percent). Mexican food (44 percent) and sushi (34 percent) were deemed the least romantic cuisines.

While I don’t recommend reenacting a “Lady and the Tramp” spaghetti kiss at the restaurant (that’s what leftovers are for), I highly recommend Franco’s Ristorante Italiano (, Mamma DiSalvo’s Italian Ristorante ( or Figlio ( if you are looking to amp up the romance.

Stick with the classics

Head out for great seafood or steak in an old school, warm setting. Some of my favorite classic restaurant options include the Oakwood Club (, The Paragon Supper Club (, Jay’s Seafood ( or The Pine Club (

With great wine, cocktail and beer lists to toast with and fresh, flavorful preparations that features generous cuts of meat in handsome, rich settings, you can’t go wrong.

However you decide to enjoy your special meals this year, never forget to raise a glass and toast moderation in all things — except in love! And don’t forget to mark your calendar on Jan. 1, 2024, to make those reservations for Feb. 14 next year so you can get ahead of the game.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and food adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at?

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