What nauseates you more: true, unconditional love, or stuffing your face with triple your daily caloric intake? If you answered with the former, you’re in luck. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday, Houston is effectively going to shut down. It’ll be hard enough for the city’s betrothed to find a place to eat, but what about the city’s singles? If you’re looking for a place to go out with your friends, drink, fly solo, drink or drink at, here’s a list of 14 places in Houston you have a fighting chance of getting into.
1. Taco Bell
I know, I know. Fast food seems like a really easy place to just tack on this list for obvious reasons. But so few realize the true beauty of The Bell. For starters, their food is cheap and compact enough to sneak into any venue you and your posse of sexy singles might be going to next: a movie theater, a bar, an engagement party for your nauseatingly-engaged friends. If you get caught, so what? You spent $3 on twenty four tacos. And Taco Bell isn’t exactly known as a pillar of refined dining – I’m betting you and your crew could get away with sneaking some tequila in there and taking a shot everytime you see one of the world’s most unromantic couples grabbing a bite to eat.
2. Star Pizza
2111 Norfolk Street, Houston, TX
Contrary to popular belief, pizza isn’t commonly thought of as a sexy meal. I’m not going to try to pretend to understand it, but that’s neither here nor there. So if you and your BFF want to grab a meal that defies the day’s expectations, why not grab a slice of Houston’s best ‘za? Star Pizza isn’t appealing from the streetview, so you’ll be protected from most couples who are going for something with a little more glitz. But, my God, do they make a good pie. Prices are affordable, with personal pizza clocking in at around seven bucks (I recommend the gorgonzola and pesto, because pesto). If you’re looking for some lighter fare, just get a slice of your own for $3, look around you and wonder why more couples won’t just let themselves enjoy the little things for a night.
3. Stay in!
Don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your couch? A) I encourage you and I to hang out more often. But B) No fear! There’s so much you could get done in sweatpants tonight. Download Trivia Crack and send game requests exclusively to people you know are on a date. Binge-watch Emma Watson’s address to the UN and pat yourself on the back for being a strong, empowered woman. Eat cheese. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you should join our campaign to get the Chris Soules of The Bachelor to attend one of our corny viewing parties! I know this night isn’t supposed to be about love, but we can all agree that that’s not what’s happening on his show.
4. Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine
912 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77006
What this place lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in literally anything else you could judge a restaurant by. Is it a buffet? You bet your bottom dollar it is, and their portions would be considered generous by a competitive eater trying to court another competitive eater by proving how much he can eat. Basically, you get a shit ton of Greek food that’s authentic yet accessible enough for the casual diner. They give you free pita bread, too, so there’s really no reason to ever leave this place once you get there. Also, did I mention that it’s BYOB? And you thought you’d be drinking alone tonight.
5. Seabrook Waffle Company
1402 5th Street, Seabrook, TX 77586
Inherently, this place is pretty romantic. It’s got an adorable patio deck with blue and yellow wire tables and chairs, all enclosed by towering oak. The shop also doubles as an art gallery: the walls are lined with paintings (for sale!) by local artists, and most paintings explore some nautical/Gulf Coast theme. But by the grace of some misstep in nature, it’s never been too hard for me to find a place to sit at Seabrook Waffle Company. All of their waffles are made fresh to-order, and you can get them topped with your choice of fruit preserves, whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate spreads, cream cheese and even healthier options. The White Sails waffle comes with a strawberry-jalapeno preserve, which is of their own concoction. Need I say more?
6. Sushi Tora
920 Studemont Street, Houston, TX 77007
This is one of my favorite places to get sushi in Houston. It’s a hole in the wall, but not in the sense that it’s an authentic, slightly-run down charmer that’ll sweep you away with their personable servers. It’s just in a strip center, and it never fails to be under crowded when I eat there. If you do happen to find a crowd there, it might be worth it to wait – the two times that I haven’t been seated immediately, the manager has given the table free sake “for the trouble.” So, yeah. Worse comes to worst, make sure your phone is charged, wait for as long as it takes and order their New York roll. It pairs wonderfully with free alcohol.
7. La Fendee Grill
1402 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77006
It’s not that La Fendee is unromantic. But a cheap Mediterranean hookah bar doesn’t strike most as the city’s most romantic rendezvous. Your best bet is coming here after 11 p.m. when the crowd’s thinned out. You’ll have full domain over the café’s outdoor patio and restaurant, so camp out and make sure you’ve got room for some delicious, surprisingly fresh Greek food. Most of the entrees are $10 or less, and their beef schwarma is tender and juicy without being greasy. Their cheap eats will leave you with enough cash to splurge on a hookah for you and your buds. The peach is a little too sweet for my taste, but Fendee’s blue mist is really refreshing. The hookah’s cheap, with options ranging from $13 to $17.
8. Top Golf Katy
1030 Memorial Brook Boulevard, Houston, TX 77084
This one might seem counterintuitive – Top Golf is an incredibly popular place, with another location to sprout up in Clear Lake later this year. But it’s mostly popular for groups, and on a night reserved for the monogamous, most groups of pals might be chugging wine at home to Bridesmaids. Don’t conform! Take the best parts of V-Day and live ‘em out to the fullest: a night out with good drinks, fatty food and a light cardio workout that has no way of getting you pregnant. It’s basically like a Valentine’s Day without the stress.
9. All of the sports bars. All of them.
It’s my sincere prayer that Houston’s sports bars will be empty on a night dedicated to romance and spontaneity. Having said that, we both know there will be some couples whose idea of a romantic night is stuffing their faces with wings hotter than their relationship will ever be. (Was that too shady? I stand by it.) Regardless, seating at these places is almost guaranteed to be available on Valentine’s Day, and I can’t think of a better place to split a whopping pile of boneless BBQ wings with your friends than a sports bar. Women are almost always the minority there 99 percent of the year. This year, make sports bars a place crawling single ladies who aren’t ready to mingle.
10. Millers Café
2403 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, TX 77058
I grew up right around the corner from this hole in the wall, and I can’t recall ever seeing anybody on a date at Millers in the past 15 years. And it’s for good reason. You don’t want a boyfriend to distract yourself from Millers flat-pressed burger patties or the sky-high pile of fresh onions you’d be better off eating with a knife and fork. A few recommendations from a seasoned vet of Millers: ask for extra cheese (assuming you like the taste of cheese…), steer clear of the grilled chicken sandwich and substitute your French fries for onion rings. They’re huge, and they’re served with the piping hot batter still firming up on the ring. Resist the urge to stuff your face with them – you’ll save yourself from some low-grade tongue burns and a week-long lisp.
Camp out here with a flask and follow our lead.
11. Gaslamp Midtown (drink everytime a girl announces that she thinks the chandeliers are “so hipster”)
12. The Breakfast Klub (drink everytime somebody struggles to make a waffle-chicken sandwich with their meal)
13. Chik-Fil-A (drink every time somebody announces they’re eating there for political reasons)
14. Luby’s (drink everytime you see somebody younger than 65 walk through the door)