Note: “Eau Claire eats” is an on-going opinion column where Spectator writers explore the intersections between food and the community.
Valentine’s Day can be tough for many people. If you are single, a procrastinator, indecisive, broke or all of the above, like me, it is not always easy to find fun things to do. Valentine’s Day is Friday, so some may be stressed about making plans. Luckily, there are a lot of options here in Eau Claire.
Campus: College students are notoriously broke — I can barely afford to feed myself. Why not take advantage of that meal plan that my student loans are paying for? I’d consider taking that special someone to the Hilltop Café. A great view, plenty of options and no money out of my pocket make it the perfect Valentine’s destination. If the goal is an exceptionally fancy meal, I would use those block meals or declining dollars to buy your date some sushi or a teriyaki bowl at the Davies Student Center.
Taco Bell: A Doritos Locos Taco or a Quesarito is one of my favorite ways to show somebody exactly how much they mean to me. I can’t think of a better $5 gift to give a loved one than a ridiculous amount of food, nacho cheese and a bad stomachache that’s somehow still worth it.
Chipotle: Occasionally we all like feeling a little classy. If I ever want to feel elegant, I put on my cleanest pair of sweatpants and enjoy the large portions and ambiance Chipotle has to offer. With its modern architecture, trendy indie music and free Tobasco, Chipotle is my pick to make any struggling college student feel suave. Maybe I’d even indulge on guac or queso to make an already special day even more special.
Order in: Many restaurants in Eau Claire deliver. Some deliver the food themselves, while others use delivery apps like Grubhub. If I wanted to skip out on the busy restaurants, long lines and putting socks on, I’d treat my date to some Domino’s pizza or utilize one of the many Toppers coupons I’ve received via mail.
Employee discounts: If you work at a restaurant — or have a friend that does — you might just be able to treat your valentine to some bonafide high-class dining. Know a kid from your math class who works at Red Lobster? Why not shoot them a text to see if they can help you pull off a swanky, romantic dinner with that special someone?
Buffets: When I think of romance, the first thing that comes to mind is all-you-can-eat. Spend a little extra to let your partner know you care, and then earn money back by eating enough to feed a family of four. With endless options like Old Country Buffet, China Buffet and Pizza Ranch, there are plenty of ways to simultaneously enjoy a romantic evening and gain seven pounds.
Home-cooked meal: Sometimes it’s the effort that counts. A great option for saving money and treating your partner is to cook them your favorite flavor of ramen, frozen pizza or scrambled eggs. Enjoy a meal in your own kitchen, then watch a movie on your family’s Netflix account for a lovely night without even spending gas money.
Johnson can be reached at [email protected].