This is my strategy for the two February food-related holidays:
Superbowl Sunday - go out;
Valentine's Day - stay home.
Dining during the Superbowl
Superbowl Sunday may be the most celebrated holiday in America, perhaps more than Christmas. But unlike Christmas, restaurants do not close.
During the game, I usually go to Houston's on Kirby. I have a weakness for this restaurant chain. Something about their grill gives a wonderful flavor to steaks and pork chops. Plus, they usually have Turley, my favorite bottle of Zinfandel, but very hard to find.
The problem with Houston's is that it is very popular and does not take reservations. At normal dinner hours, even on weeknights, the wait can be one or two hours. The food just is not good enough to wait that long.
But on Superbowl Sunday, the tables at Houston's are nearly empty, and the grill is hot.
Staying home on Valentine's Day
If New Year's Eve is amateur night for drinking, Valentine's Day is amateur night for dining.
Restaurants book up more than a week in advance. Menus are shortened. Most fine restaurants only offer 3 or 4 options. Prices are high. Crowds are enormous.
Dining out on Valentine's Day is ugly. There is nothing romantic about it.
This Valentine's Day, I put on a Chet Baker cd, opened a 2002 Copain Hawks Butte Syrah (rated 96 points by Robert Parker), and cooked a roasted chicken stuffed with lemon, thyme, and rosemary on a bed of mint/peanut couscous. Desert was a trio of a chocolate tart, mousse, and pot de creme. The food cost? Under $30.
No restaurant in town had a deal so good. And no restaurants were as quiet and romantic.