Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and though you could take the object of your affection to a super romantic restaurant and/or sit through a midnight screening of Fifty Shades Darker together, there are some less cliched options. Here we've rounded up some of our favorite eclectic date ideas in the city; leave yours in the comments.

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FEI LONG FOOD COURT: This Sunset Park mall food court isn't much to look at, but that's part of the charm—if you and your date can keep the romance alive while surrounded by glistening slabs of roasted meat, you're probably in this for the long haul. Make your way down the row of stalls to Peng Shun Spicy Pot and grab a by-the-pound wooded bowl for two—this $8.50/lb hot pot dish comes with lots of different ingredients the range of which include vegetables, seafood and intestines. Don't forget to hit up the market round back to pick up some delicacies for home, and cap off your evening with a tasty bubble tea.

Fei Long Food Court is located at 6301 8th Avenue between 63rd and 64th Streets in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, (718-680-0118).

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PAPA'S KITCHEN If you don't think you'll scare off your loved one with an off-key rendition of "Kokomo," head to this hole-in-the-wall Filipino joint for some adobo and table-side karaoke. On a recent visit, the owners passed a mic around while dish after delicious dish appeared from the makeshift kitchen, like a tasty beef kaldereta ($12) and a flavorful Pancit Bihon ($9). You're encouraged to sing just as much as you are to eat.

Papa's Kitchen is located at 65-40 Woodside Avenue between 65th Place and 66th Street in Woodside, Queens (347-724-9586,

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LALO: This lively Cali-Mexi joint sadly replaced beloved Chinatown dive Winnie's, but no need to hold a grudge. The multi-national menu, which throws together flavors stretching from the southern U.S. border all the way to the Middle East, allows for spontaneity and democracy, where vegans and omnivores can co-exist peacefully. Plates here are meant to be shared, and portion sizes for the carnitas helpfully range from "single," to "lovers" to "familia," plus you can pair your meal with a glass (or pitcher) of sangria for a little liquid lubricant.

Lalo is located at 104 Bayard Street between Baxter and Mulberry Streets in Chinatown (646-998-3408,


: If you really need to impress a date and are feeling flush, head to Tom Colicchio's swank eatery in the spectacular Beekman Hotel, which opened last year in a unique old office building built back in 1883. The restaurant specializes in modern interpretations on classic recipes, and on Valentine's Day they're offering seven of those as part of a special $135 prix-fixe menu. Dishes include venison "Wellington" with chestnuts, black trumpet mushrooms and huckleberries; lobster with chanterelles and tarragon; and muscovy duck with kumquat, fennel and endive.

Fowler & Wells is located at Temple Court Building and Annex, 5 Beekman Street between Theatre Alley and Nassau Street in the Financial District (212-658-1848 website

RED ROOSTER: Marcus Samuelsson's Harlem standby is famous for its southern American cuisine, and you'll find all the usual suspects on the menu. Favorites include fish wrapped in banana leaves, roasted sweet yams, plump dumplings, and shrimp & grits. Red Rooster is as much a nod to comfort food as it is a celebration of the neighborhood—its namesake was a Harlem staple that attracted writers and musicians, and the speakeasy below, Ginny’s Supper Club, has live music, if you'd like to cap your date off with some jazz.

Red Rooster is located at 310 Lenox Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets in Harlem (212-792-9001,

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DOMINICK'S: This unfussy Arthur Ave staple serves up the real deal when it comes to hearty red sauce dishes. Stuff your face with classic pastas like penne a la vodka, ziti, and seafood fra diavlo, or splurge on filling entrees like eggplant parm and veal marsala—you won't notice the garlic on each other's breath if you both consume a ton of it. A bonus here is that the tables are communal, so you can chat with other diners if your date goes poorly. Cash only.

Dominick's is located at 2335 Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of The Bronx (718-733-2807).

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CAFE RUE DIX: In the summer, this French-Senegalese spot in Crown Heights blossoms into an open-air corner bistro. But since the weather is more “north of France” than “Senegalese” at the moment, the enclosed space provides a warm shelter from the elements. "Spicy" is a recurring word on the menu here, but the meat selection is all sorts of flavorful: there's sweet duck confit, earthy mafe (spicy stewed beef in a peanut butter sauce) and the national dish of France, steak-frites. You can also try Senegal’s national dish, Thiebou Jen—stewed fish and vegetables over rice.

Cafe Rue Dix is located at 141 Bedford Avenue at Park Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (929-234-2443,

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WHITE CASTLE: For a slightly cheaper date, White Castle is bringing back their Valentine’s Day dinner for two this year. The full service menu is still available, so sliders, crinkle cut fries and something called "shrimp nibblers" can be delivered to you table side—note that a box of 20 chicken rings cost $4.99, in case a surprise engagement is in your future. You can even send a customized “castle card” before booking a reservation.

Check White Castle's website for locations.