table set with wine and red decorations for amateur hour at restaurant for valentine's day

Eating Out On Valentine’s Day is for Amateurs

Many couples think that Valentine’s Day is the perfect night to go out and enjoy a romantic dinner at a chic and trendy restaurant. After all, it’s the most romantic night of the year, so why not prove your love by doling out the cash to pay for an exquisite feast? Couples will often make reservations at a fancy restaurant expecting to have a romantic dinner with all the bells and whistles: candlelight, violin player, wine, roses, and good food.

The reality though, is much different.

Any restaurant insider will tell you that this is the absolute worst night of the year for eating out. According to the National Restaurant Association, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular day of the year for eating out aside from Mother’s Day. As a matter of fact, restaurant workers call it a night of amateurs, or amateur hour. It’s a night when people who don’t normally go out to eat, go out to eat.

5 Reasons You Should Avoid Eating Out On Valentine’s Day

crowded restaurant on valentine's day amateur hour
Expect crowded restaurants as Valentine’s Day is the second busiest night of the year for dining out.
  1. The restaurants will be crowded. This is one of the busiest nights of the year for dining out and as such, restaurants will squeeze tables together to accommodate as many patrons as legally possible. If you think you’ll have a quiet romantic dinner, think again. You won’t hear yourself or your partner think above the din of the forks and knives clattering on plates and other diners’ conversations. And worse, you may be seated next to the kitchen, or gasp! the bathroom!
  2. There will usually be a prix-fixe menu. To avoid complicated menu planning, most restaurants offer a prix-fixe, or fixed price, menu with limited selections. Because of this, you won’t really get a taste of what the restaurant has to offer.
  3. The food may not be the best. You’re not really getting a sampling of the restaurant’s best meals because the restaurants plan for volume, not quality. And on top of that, the food may be prepared ahead of time and not totally fresh. Another thing is that the kitchen is cranking out meals and more food mistakes are bound to happen.
  4. Food may be overpriced. Prix-fixe menus tend to be overpriced. Restaurants know that patrons will be willing to pay high prices to impress their honey, so expect to pay more than the usual fare for a wine pairing or decadent dessert.
  5. Service will be slow. Restaurant insiders call Valentine’s Day dining “amateur hour“. They dread the occasion and can’t wait for the night to be over. The wait staff will probably be super stressed and super stretched and will not give you the best service. They’re not intentionally trying to be rude but they may come across as such because they are short-staffed, over-loaded and are doing their best to cycle you out so that more tables can free up and waiting patrons can be seated.

Enjoy a Romantic Valentine’s Dinner at Home

couple in their kitchen preparing a romantic dinner together instead of going out on Valentine's Day

There’s nothing more romantic than a home-cooked meal. Cook dinner together, open that bottle of wine, turn on some Barry White (yes, trust me), dim the lights, and have yourself the best romantic evening in the comfort of your own home.

And remember, no one says that you can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 13th (wait, that’s Galentine’s Day!) or even on the 15th. You’ll get better service, pay less, and certainly avoid the crowds.

Erin Love Thomas is the founder and managing editor of This Side of Happy. As a relationship blogger, Erin helps readers find, nurture, and sustain healthy relationships. Erin's desire is that everyone finds the love and happiness they seek.