A Day for You and Yours

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Valentine's Day is just misunderstood. Everybody loves to hate the holiday, but while the occasion is certainly over-hyped and commercialized, the idea of spending time with a special boy or girl is beautiful. As is the case with many holidays, the world has lost track of what this day is really all about. Plain and simple: Valentine's Day is about you and that person you want to spend it with. That's it.

So now that we've got that straight, let's go over a few things. First of all, take a deep breath and relax. Let's say that the girl you're dating will only be happy with an eight-course meal at a five-star restaurant. That is all well and good, unless you are dying to take her to the new fish taco stand you just discovered. Needless to say, this Valentine's Day probably won't work out, but neither will your relationship, so don't sweat it.

If you and your special somebody are on the same page, enjoying a day together shouldn't be too difficult. There's most definitely a five-star-restaurant boy for that five-star-restaurant girl, and a fish-taco-stand girl for that fish-taco-stand boy. Even if you just want to stay in, there's certainly another homebody who would stay in with you. We're thinking of spending this Valentine's making chocolate-covered strawberries and enjoying them together.

The following two eateries could not be more different, but we have shared incredible meals at both. We hope to open some eyes to the endless possibilities that Valentine's Day offers. Relax. Get excited. Ask somebody to be your Valentine.

SMOKEHOUSE

Last year, a poorly scheduled volleyball match left us pondering our dinner options at 10:30. Obviously, the evening was not going to unfold glamorously, unveiling a candlelit dinner or a picnic at sunset.

We headed down Telegraph Avenue about a mile to Smokehouse, one of the few places we knew might still be open. If you are driving away from campus, the burger joint will be on your left. You can't miss it-the characteristic ambiance is unmistakable. A big neon sign marks the restaurant's street corner, throwing its soft glow on a few wooden tables and benches.

These are covered by a wooden overhang, complete with Plexiglas windows, that extends outward from the kitchen area. All of the above are heavily graffitied, of course.

Walk up to the small counter that opens into the equally small kitchen area and place your order. The hamburgers are fantastic-simple, flavorful and covered in sauce. There is nothing like the feeling of meaty hamburger juice dripping down one's arm, especially late at night with a Valentine. The french fries are large and deliciously golden brown (sometimes, when we go to Smokehouse, we get two orders). And last but certainly not least, don't forget to buy your date a milkshake. Oh, and one more thing: Sit on the same bench, not on the opposite side of the table. Don't blow it.

CORSO

Corso is located near the corner of Shattuck and Delaware, just west of campus, and is not in the least bit similar to Smokehouse. Except, well they both make great food.

Corso's exterior is clean and minimalist without pretension. Emblazoned above the trattoria's large glass windows is one "C" within a black circle. Simple, yet welcoming. Inside, small tables line the walls and windows, all with a clear view of the street as well as the kitchen. The cooking space is left open, fully visible to all who enter the restaurant. Pots and pans hang above the chefs, who move from stoves to tables to ovens for all to see.

The menu can seem a bit daunting since it is mostly in Italian, divided into the primi, secundi, contorni and so on. But guys, don't get discouraged. The service is impeccable. You definitely won't sense a hint of snobbery if you mispronounce something, so just go for it. Better yet, if you're still nervous, stop by early in the day. The menu for the evening will be in a box by the door. Grab one, swing by your date's apartment and take a quick glance over it.

You can get excited about the dinner and get a sense of what you want your meal to look like. No matter what, it will be fantastic. The pizza with octopus and guanciale (a close relative of bacon) is beautiful and perfect for two. Don't forget about dessert; order two scoops of gelato, which are presented in glass goblets, and the night will end well, we promise.

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Sit on the same bench as Maria and Graham at [email protected]



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