Today is Valentine’s Day. If you have a date but no reservation in the books, congratulations, you’ve managed to wait your way out of a candlelit dinner anywhere remotely romantic. But there’s no need to panic. You can still have a perfectly lovely holiday with your beloved by ditching jam-packed date-night staples and opting for restaurants where you won’t have to wait for hours—or sacrifice flavor—to celebrate. Where can you walk in on Valentine’s night? These restaurants will welcome you and your procrastinating ways.
Chef Sheridan Su’s Eureka Casino eatery does Asian classics and American basics with equally fine execution and rarely a wait for a table. That means your date can get down on a cheesesteak or serious burger, while you relish Grandma’s Potstickers and rich shortrib rice, all for less than a single entrée would cost at many Strip restaurants. Besides, what other casino café offers roasted bone marrow as an appetizer? Eureka Casino, 595 E. Sahara Ave., 794-3464.
Chef Marc Sgrizzi has two Valley locations of his wood-fired, brick-oven pizzeria, where pies are hand-stretched and assembled before your eyes, then popped in the oven for just 90 seconds. The pizza that emerges sports chewy Neapolitan-style crust and just a hint of char. Select a specialty pie—I like the Chef Marc, with pesto, Gorgonzola, spinach, meatball and cherry tomatoes—or build your own using ingredients like pancetta, roasted onion and bufala mozzarella. And be sure to save room for dessert. Novecento serves oven-roasted marshmallows that evoke campfire without having to find any kindling. 9460 S. Eastern Ave., #130, 485-2900; 5705 Centennial Center Blvd., #170, 685-4900.
Viva Arepas/Art of Flavors
What Viva Arepas lacks in seductive ambiance it makes up for in wood-roasted chicken (seriously, get the chicken), tasty meat-filled arepas and a cornmeal cheese wonder called a cachapa. Wash it all down with mango or passion fruit juice and save room for dessert, because just next door is gelato shop Art of Flavors, where a former Strip pastry chef whips up incredible, original flavors on the daily. Sample to your heart’s content, then dig into a creamy scoop or one of the shop’s gelato paninis, which somehow work wonderfully despite common sense suggesting otherwise. Viva Arepas, 1616 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 366-9696. Art of Flavors, 1616 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 676-1027.
Rani’s World Foods
Sure, the café inside this Sahara Avenue market has a vaguely cafeteria feel, but the home-cooked Indian food—100 percent vegetarian—is made with such warmth and care you won’t mind after the first bite. Hearty samosas, breads and curries come with free chai, and super-low prices mean you’ll have plenty of cash left over for dessert or some Indian groceries to take home. 4505 W. Sahara Ave., 522-7744.