These days, dining out can increasingly feel like a competitive solo sport. Restaurants now go out of their way to appease diners of all tastes and dietary restrictions. Sometimes you can feel like you and your partner are eating in two completely different places. (If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a bowl of tonkotsu ramen while your partner enjoys a slice of pizza or a grilled cheese sandwich, you know what I’m talking about.) This Valentine’s Day, why not take a step back and decide on a dish that you the two love together? From a massive tomahawk steak that could possibly feed a family of four to shared punch bowls and elegant seafood towers, these oversized dishes are perfect for two-person sharing. And after all, what could be more romantic than sharing?
Prime Rib Tomahawk
HEW Parlor & Chophouse
Weighing in at 32 ounces, this massive tomahawk ribeye could arguably feed up to three (or more) people, but for two it’s a very decadent treat. The steak is served with a sherry and Dijon mustard demi-glace and garnished with crispy fried truffled onion rings.
453 Edgewater Drive, Dunedin; toll free 1-844-569-9879; fenwayhotel.com
You can choose a bunch of tapas and spend the evening munching on a collection of shared plates, or you can head straight to the main attraction – one of the restaurant’s iconic paellas. Spanish restaurant South Tampa’s standard seafood version is a saffron-tinted dish bursting with squid, clams, shrimp, and prawns. Carnivores can opt for the paella de pollo, with chicken, artichoke hearts and portobello mushrooms, or the mixto paella, which combines the best of both worlds: squid, clams, shrimp, fish and chicken. Enjoy the paella and maybe fight off the socarrat – the deliciously crispy pieces of rice at the bottom of the pan. It’s like taking a trip to Barcelona, but without the jet lag.
930 S Howard Ave., Tampa; (813) 773-8626; bullagastrobar.com
Steaming shell tower
Whether you believe the old adage that oysters act as an aphrodisiac or not, they are nonetheless delicious and plentiful on this three-tier tower brimming with fresh seafood. The towers are customized to suit the restaurant’s whims, which means it’s up to you whether you want a stacked tower with only west and east coast bivalves or a cocktail combination of shrimp, king crab legs. Dutch Harbor and Maine chilled lobster.
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205 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 490-5288; ocean-prime.com
Lolita Wine Market
Get creative by designing your own charcuterie spread at this wine bar gem in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District. Choose a bottle of wine from today’s selection or ask one of the waiters to recommend one. Then, count your cheese, meat and accessory selections on the combo forms that double as menus. From silky ribbons of prosciutto and wild mushroom forest pâté, to creamy burrata, Delice de Bourgogne triple cream and Woodriver Creamery black truffle cheddar, the sky’s the limit. Jars filled with creative spreads include whipped honey lavender ricotta with kale pesto and tomatoes and the southern chili blend made with aged cheddar, peppadew, pickles and onions green. Is the date going well? Keep checking more of these boxes and order another bottle.
1618 18th S Street, Saint Petersburg; (727) 505-0503; lolitaswinemarket.com
Grilled whole fish
Eating with a view of the waterfront is quite romantic. Eating outdoors with a view of the seafront is undoubtedly even more so. Weather permitting, you can rock the two at this downtown St. Petersburg restaurant inside the Vinoy. Perhaps not the best choice for those who are fed up with all the chunks of fish (eyeballs and teeth, included), the restaurant’s star dish – a whole grilled fish – is a great opportunity to share the fresh catch of the day with your darling while overlooking the municipal marina. The dish is a lighter way to share a larger plate, topped with a handful of fresh herbs, citrus, and a grilled corn and black bean salsa.
501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 824-8007; paulslandingstpete.com
Baked Alaska (or any dessert, really)
Harry Waugh Dessert Room
Really, there’s no need to settle for just one dessert to share here, as just about every sweet thought after the fact seems big enough to be shared. From the stunning macadamia nut sundae dripping with hot fudge to the huge slice of carrot cake with spicy pecans and almonds that is King Midas restaurant’s signature to the soaring plays that accompany baked Alaska, there is something to satisfy your sweetheart’s sweet tooth. And if you and your partner are both sugar buffs, go ahead and indulge yourself – order an extra scoop (or two) of this macadamia nut ice cream on the side.
1208 S Howard Ave., Tampa; (813) 251-2421; bernssteakhouse.com
Maybe you’re looking for a bit of liquid courage, or maybe you just don’t want the night to end. Anyway, who tells you that your drinks can’t be shared either? The bowl of punch at this South Tampa underground bar-style cocktail bar changes nightly, depending on the bartender’s choice. There is also the cocktail to share Ciro Dreams Of… made from Tullamore Dew whiskey washed in brown butter, Dolin Genepy liqueur, peach syrup, matcha and peach bitter.
2109 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 251-0022; cirostampa.com