Taste of Tuscaloosa: Romance and Good Eats Await this Valentine’s Day Featured

Who doesn’t love a romantic dinner with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day? With food appealing to many of our senses, it’s no surprise that our meals can have an aphrodisiac effect. 

If you ask my coworkers, they’ll tell you that there’s something romantic about going out to a special restaurant on the Designated Day of Love.  If I’m being honest, though, the biggest appeal to me is not having to do the dishes after a delicious meal. 

Fortunately, Tuscaloosa has a wide variety of dining atmospheres to match the mood of you and your sweetheart. Here are a few of my favorite spots around town for setting the mood this Valentine’s Day:

301 Bistro, Bar, and Beer Garden

If your couple personality thrives on movies like The Great Gatsby and other period pieces, 301 Bistro’s mood of Art Deco and Art Nouveau reminiscent of the 1920’s might be your style. Once home to the historic L&N train station, 301 Bistro’s vintage offers up a vintage, romantic atmosphere perfect for Valentine’s Day – while providing a sense of refined casualness for you and your beau to get comfortable.  

House cocktails and a special Valentine’s Day menu await couples spending a dinner of love at 301 Bistro. The restaurant’s cuisine includes a “Tuscaloosa fusion” of Americana, German, and a little bit of Cajun flair.  

If you ask general manager Chris Lloyd what sets 301 Bistro apart from other eateries, he’s quick to rave on his staff.  

“My staff, from the front of house to the back of house, constantly impress me. There is an atmosphere of support and helpfulness that is extraordinarily rare in the hospitality industry,” said Lloyd. “Even the busiest night, with the staff I have on now, will go by without so much as a single hiccup, and I have my staff to thank for that.”  

301 Bistro, Bar, and Beer Garden will be taking reservations for Valentine’s Day, with limited space for walk-in seating.  


Are you and your sweetie in love with life on the water? Perhaps River is the place for you. Opened in June 2016, riverfront dining with an intimate atmosphere give River the romantic coziness you crave on Valentine’s Day. Chefs Cory Bolton and Evan Clark embrace the seasons, and patrons on Valentine’s Day can expect nothing less than a romantic menu driven by local produce. Outdoor fire pits are ready to be lit, as you and your love snuggle with your favorite glass of wine enjoying the sights and sounds of the river.  

Dining room manager Lauren Jones boasts over 16 years in the service industry and strives to provide an atmosphere like none other in Tuscaloosa.  

“We like guests to know that although we are perceived as upscale, we are casual, fun, and accept walk-ins. While we tend to have visits for special occasions, we love our regulars’ frequent stops to grab a bite and a drink, and hope others think of us other than special occasions also,” said Jones.  

If you’re the kind of couple that likes to defer your Valentine’s Day celebrations, River invites you to give their Sunday brunch a try to extend your holiday festivities. 

River will be taking limited reservations for Valentine’s Day, and will also accept walk-in patrons.  

Central Mesa

Feeling like some ethnic flair this Valentine’s Day? Central Mesa has you covered. If your foodie love language involves hand-made tortillas, braised meats, fresh peppers, and bold flavors with a side of awesome atmosphere, Central Mesa will give you the best Valentine’s Day ever.  

Exposed brick, sliding barn doors, and distressed lumber throughout the restaurant will make you think Chip and Joanna Gaines came to double date with you and your beau.  

Owner Craig Williams wants Valentine’s visitors to know they can expect the signature dishes that has made Central Mesa the popular kid on the street.  

“We won’t have a special menu for Valentine’s Day, but patrons will expect all their Central Mesa favorites. We're having a lot of fun pushing the boundaries of this kitchen.  You can have anything from Nashville style hot chicken, pimento cheese/Conecuh sausage empanadas, braised pork belly tacos, fresh guacamole, and more,” said Williams.   

A bonus to Central Mesa is the ample accommodations for groups, so whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with that special someone, or Singles Awareness Day with a group of your best friends, Central Mesa will no doubt deliver a spectacular night of dining.  

Central Mesa will not be taking reservations, so walk-in patrons are welcome and invited with open arms.  

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Sheena Gregg

Registered Dietitian/Assistant Director, Health Education and Nutrition Services at The University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheena-gregg-83612a9b

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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