Friday, February 14

The Last-Minute Valentine's Day Guide: Jacksonville

Valentine's Day Jax
So, you're supposed to book something romantic in Jacksonville, but you put it off until the last minute. Worse, you hate calling restaurants. Sure, you could seek out some national chain restaurant that doesn't take reservations and tell her everything else was booked. Or you could try to be a little more creative (though she probably won't appreciate that anyway). Here's what I did.

First, I tried searching for events in Jacksonville, but Eventbrite and other sites had dumb events. That was a few days before V-Day, but I was disappointed and stopped my search. There isn't really a good, go-to, local events page in Jacksonville, so I figured I'd try again on February 13th. But I got busy, so early on Valentine's Day, I was still without a reservation or plan. 

I'd been told the Lemon Bar was good, and it probably would have been fine if the weather was nice, as my wife can finish work early enough to get a table with a beach view...not sure if you can actually see the ocean. But 60s and rainy isn't good for all that, so it was back to the drawing board. 

I used Tripadvisor to find the top Jacksonville restaurants in her favorite Italian category. All that allowed online booking were booked, and I got the idea that I wasn't the only guy doing this. But this wasn't my first rodeo, so I expanded the search to fancy restaurants. Again, no dice. 

So I expanded my original Valentine's Day in Jacksonville search. Again, Eventbrite and its subpar listings. A local momblog claimed to have the ultimate guide, but she fell short on the couples section of her article. Then I found the dinner theater, which I figured to be one of those family shows that are kind of annoying but wholesome and predictable. So, safe. But even the safe option of some Elvis in 1969 was sold out. Well, there were single seats available, but what's more depressing than sitting alone with strangers on Valentine's Day, unless you're a serial killer or swinger on the prowl, I suppose. 

Since neither my wife or myself are either of those, it was time to move on. I found a website that had some kind of Valentine's Day specials listed for local restaurants, and one of the places that Tripadvisor had deemed full-up actually had an opening. But that was one of those bougie places that probably required a suit and tie, and I wasn't yet THAT desperate. Except there was only ONE other restaurant on the list with available reservations. And only two time slots. So I booked that bad boy. 

$65 a person for some kind of three course meal and dessert. It will make the wife happy. Escape Restaurant and Bar. I'll write a review of the experience and link to it. But if you're a restaurant that normally has empty seats in Jacksonville on Valentine's Day, let me know. I can add your contact information here so that other guys who wait until the last minute can connect with restaurants that have last-minute availability, whether there's a special menu or not. 

Obviously, it's better to have a plan early. Maybe even hoard the reservations like it's gasoline during a hurricane, and then cancel based on weather or traffic or how much you want to spend. Anyhow, I wish you the best the V-Day, and I hope that if you waited too long to book the reservation that your special lady is still impressed with you dragging her to Olive Garden at 4:30 to beat the rush.

And if you plan on a wine, beer, or hard liquor tasting, be sure to get a Lyft or Uber. 

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