The homey interior of Thai on Main Street. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The homey interior of Thai on Main Street. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Hidden Gems: 4 spots for Valentine’s Day dinner without the wait

No reservations yet for your date? Try these lesser-known romantic locales

Have you made a reservation for your Valentine’s Day plans yet?

If not, you may well be out of luck with most of the romantic hotspots around Snohomish County. We’re only a couple of weeks out from the holiday — which, yes, I acknowledge is mostly marketing and tired stereotypes. But who doesn’t like an excuse to treat their sweetie to some steak?

So it’s time to get planning.

You just might have a shot at the date night of your dreams with one of these picks from SnoCo’s lesser-known dining destinations. Outside of the cutthroat reservations game in Everett, Edmonds or heaven forbid Seattle, you’re likely to find shorter wait times and a more casual atmosphere, leaving you and your date free to enjoy each other’s company instead of waiting hours for a table.

Most of the picks in our list don’t even need reservations. For those that do, we can’t guarantee how many spots will still be available by the time you read this — so get going and make the romance happen!

The Pines, Lake Stevens

Our readers know that LJ’s Bistro and Bar in Lake Stevens is a prime choice for an intimate atmosphere and mind-blowing food and cocktails. But if you’re looking for similarly excellent fare in a slightly more relaxed environment that doesn’t take reservations, LJ’s “little sister” The Pines makes a fabulous choice.

The menu at The Pines features elevated pub fare from the same visionaries over at LJ’s, like filet mignon served with rutabaga mashed potatoes ($38) and a rotating house pot pie filled with tender meat and seasonal veggies ($19). If you and your valentine want to keep things casual, the house smash burger ($19) with Dubliner cheddar is a can’t-miss choice (as long as your date doesn’t mind your breath smelling faintly of caramelized onions). Round it off with a slab of triple chocolate torte ($10) or one of the evocative house cocktails, like the Pine Drop: gin and lime with spruce simple syrup and a splash of green Chartreuse for a bracing finish.

The Pines, 805 Frontage Road, Lake Stevens. Open Valentine’s Day from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Kitchen closes at 8:45. Reservations not accepted.

Thai on Main Street, Monroe

Tucked into a narrow storefront in downtown Monroe, Thai on Main Street is an ideal choice for the lovebirds who don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. It’s a homey, charming space lined in warm wood and posters from exotic Southeast Asian locales, perfect for an evening getaway for the couple with wanderlust.

Khao poon katee at Thai on Main Street in Monroe. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Khao poon katee at Thai on Main Street in Monroe. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The restaurant serves plenty of Asian fusion and Thai classics, from noodles to tom kha, a creamy coconut milk soup ($16.50). But for such an auspicious occasion as Valentine’s Day, may I recommend you go for the specials? The Lao menu at Thai on Main is Monroe’s best-kept secret, and if you haven’t yet sampled such funky, aromatic dishes as ping gai (grilled chicken with a savory tomato dipping sauce, $19) or seen lot (Lao fried beef jerky, $19), what better time than now to walk on the wild side? Who knows, the delicious Lao sticky brown jasmine rice might just present you with the ideal Lady and the Tramp-style situation when you both reach for a handful at the same time. It’s worth a shot.

Thai on Main Street, 115 W Main St., Monroe. Open Valentine’s Day from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Reservations accepted but not required. Call 360-794-8101.

Jasmin Asian Bistro, Stanwood

This cozy spot in a historic granary is bound to have a little something for everyone. You’ll find traditional Thai takeout dishes like curries and pad thai alongside sushi, banh mi and poke bowls, all done with fresh ingredients at extremely reasonable prices. A solid menu of house cocktails, hewing closely to a tropical, fruity theme, sweeten the deal.

But the real selling point here for those seeking a romantic evening will be the unmatched vibes at Jasmin Asian Bistro. With its quiet Stanwood location, the candlelit dining room is likely to be more relaxed than your average V-Day hotspot, allowing you to make a love nest out of a corner booth and truly spend some quality time with your valentine. If you’re not a Stanwood local, the scenic drive is just a bonus.

Jasmin Asian Bistro, 8715 271st St. NW, Stanwood. Open Valentine’s Day 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations accepted but not required. Call 360-629-2044.

North Fork Kitchen, Index

This is the only restaurant on our list doing the traditional Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu with reservations required. But if you act fast, you’re likely to score a spot in North Fork Kitchen’s historic dining room on the first floor of Index’s Bush House Inn for Feb. 14. It’s the ultimate out-of-the-way dinner destination, and since North Fork just opened this summer, you’ll be able to tell your friends you found this amazing little new place.

A Coq Au Rhum dish with roasted chicken, lavender rice and pineapple-rum sauce at the Bush House Inn in Index. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

A Coq Au Rhum dish with roasted chicken, lavender rice and pineapple-rum sauce at the Bush House Inn in Index. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

For $125 per person, North Fork head chef Fabian Arana is teaming up with the inn’s pastry chef and head bartender to craft a six-course dining experience. You’ll get four locally inspired appetizers, one of two decadent entrees and a dessert, plus wine pairings. Like all the restaurant’s offerings, the one-night-only menu takes inspiration from what’s in season and what shines most brightly with simple adornment. When you call to make your reservation, be sure to mention any dietary restrictions in your party — the menu is entirely flexible to accommodate vegans, vegetarians and those avoiding gluten, Arana said.

And since you’re making the drive out to Index anyway, why not linger in the Bush House Inn’s adorable bar for a while after your meal? Maybe you could even book a stay in the inn to delay your return to the real world, and enjoy some house-made pastries and coffee in the morning. I certainly won’t discourage you.

North Fork Kitchen at the Bush House Inn, 308 Fifth St., Index. The Valentine’s Day event requires reservations, with seatings available from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 14. Call 509-780-6272 to reserve your spot.

Riley Haun: 425-339-3192; riley.haun@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @RHaunID.

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