NEAR WEST SIDE — Ditch the traditional white tablecloth and red roses for a less-cliché night out on the Near West Side this Valentine's Day.
Got better ideas? Follow us on Twitter and tell us about your #hotdateinthehood or add a comment if we missed your event and you want to spread the good word.
For the couple that geeks out together: Stop by Taylor Street's First Aid Comics, 1142 W. Taylor St., and collectively drool over Batman and Dr. Who. Then, hit up the Ladydrawers Comics exhibition opening night at Pilsen's Uri-Eichen Gallery, 2101 S. Halsted St. The show features Chicago artists Sarah Jaffe and Anne Elizabeth Moore, among others and V-day treats and music will also be provided (oh, and it's free).
For the lady who loves coffee almost as much as her significant other: Cozy up with a latté and look at art together at Pilsen's La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Then surprise her with a bag of Organ Beat Blend, Passionhouse Coffee's limited release Valentine's Day blend with notes of champagne, blood orange, cashew and cocoa.
For the married couple with kids: Take the kids to a Valentine's Day Social at Cone Ice Cream, 1047 W. Madison St., in the West Loop. For $10, the kids enjoy games, crafts and sundaes and adults get complimentary coffee and tea. Then, pick up the sitter, put the kiddos to bed and head over to Nightwood, 2119 S. Halsted St., where Friday specials include Maine lobster stew ($16), veal shortrib ravioli ($18) and a flourless chocolate cake with hazelnut mousse ($10).
For the adventurous, still-in-the-honeymoon-stage couple: Live on the wild side with a lunch of grilled hearts, oysters and chestnut chocolate cake at West Loop's Publican, 837 W. Fulton Market. Then, put on your nautical gear and score a free glass of punch at Punch House's Love Boat Dance Party, 6 p.m. – 2 a.m., no cover, 1227 W. 18th St.
For pals who just want an excuse to eat: Forget romance. Little Italy is all about food and you can enjoy that with a good bud. Take a lunch break together at Scafuri Bakery, 1337 W. Taylor St., and chow on some of their famous pizza bread and a mini heart-shaped red velvet cake. Then, loosen the old belt and head to Ciao Amore, 1134 W. 18th St., for a night of Italian food and live jazz from 7-10 p.m.