How to set the mood and save your wallet this Valentine’s Day

Catherine Cardenas

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is in the air. Whether you decide to spend it with your significant other or your best friends, The Daily Texan has compiled a list of restaurants to set the mood and save your wallet. 

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Maggiano’s Little Italy provides the iconic date night experience at a location just a few miles away at The Domain. Without necessarily stretching the budget, Maggiano’s serves classic Italian meals family style. The interior of the restaurant is equipped with mood lighting, romantic candles and desserts that will make you believe in love. If you prefer a romantic dinner at home, Maggiano’s also offers carryout. To get the most bang for your buck, get the “Today and Tomorrow” pastas, where you can order a classic pasta ranging from $14–$17 and get a second portion to take home. 

Colleen’s Kitchen

If you’re looking to have a great Galentine’s with your favorite gal pals, brunch at Colleen’s Kitchen will do the trick. Located in the Mueller Market District, Colleen’s Kitchen is about a 10-minute car ride from campus. With a bright atmosphere and flowery aesthetic, Colleen’s Kitchen is a picturesque location to treat yourselves to a Southern-style meal. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, the average price for a plate is around $13–$15.

Lucky Robot

Lucky Robot has you covered if you’re in the mood for Japanese food this Valentine’s Day. Located in the heart of South Congress Avenue, Lucky Robot offers a colorful interior and intimate setting. Additionally, Lucky Robot focuses on “responsible seafood,” which means the restaurant obtain their seafood in a way that doesn’t harm the surrounding environment. This Japanese and Peruvian fusion restaurant is great for the environmentally conscious and romantics alike. 

Mandola’s Italian Kitchen 

Located around 10 minutes north of campus, Mandola’s Italian Kitchen boasts an authentic Italian food experience. The interior is intensely decorated with brick walls and colorful lights, making it feel like an Italian restaurant in the heart of New York City. The restaurant is also equipped with a small dessert market, with items ranging from pastries to gelato. It’s easier to be conscious of your wallet here, with the highest priced dinner plate rings up at $16. 

Odd Duck

On the more expensive side and offering some odd food combinations is Odd Duck. Located on South Lamar Boulevard, the main selling point of this quaint restaurant is that all of the ingredients used are from local Austin producers. The greenery that decorates the restaurant makes for a fresh, modern aesthetic, perfect for those looking for an Austin-esque date night. 

Picnic at Zilker

If you’re not in the mood to stay home but don’t want to yell over the crowd at a noisy restaurant, take a nice stroll through the city and finish with a picnic at Zilker Metropolitan Park while looking out at the Austin skyline. Weather permitting, it’s easy to make this space versatile. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date with your partner or a chill picnic with friends, Zilker is the perfect place to start.