Valentine's Day options for the cash-conscious

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Jars of cookies top the counter of pies and baked goods at Area 57.

Looking for a restaurant off the beaten path this Valentine's Day that offers quality food at a reasonable price?

These Main Street options will impress your sweetie, go easy on your wallet, and make it a night to remember.

Omar's Cafe, in West Concord, offers a Valentine's buffet dinner for $18.95 per person. Find gourmet dishes including seafood bisque, chef-carved herb roasted New York strip loin, grilled fresh salmon, shrimp scampi, stuffed breast of chicken supreme, fettuccine alfredo, and their famous deserts. Hint. There will be chocolate.

Regulars have come to know the quality, homemade food Omar's offers every day, and their Sunday brunch attracts eaters from all over. "When people walk in the door they're astounded that it's West Concord," said co-owner Lori Feyen.

— Omar's Cafe, 147 Main St., West Concord. Friday, Feb. 14, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations: 507-527-1000


Drive north on Main Street, past the 1850s Larson log house to Wanamingo's Area 57for a charming night out in a cozy bistro style cafe transformed into a romantic hideaway.

"Because it's a small restaurant, it's very intimate," said co-owner Nicole Holmes about the cafe that's usually packed with locals. She added that people start asking about their Valentine's event right after Christmas.

Dinner starts with their signature strawberry salad on the three-course prix fixe menu and a choice between prime rib and parmesan crusted chicken for the main entree. To top off the evening: molten lava cake with hot fudge and ice cream. Guaranteed to melt in your mouth.

— Area 57 Coffee Cafe, 125 Main St., Wanamingo. On Feb. 14, there are two seatings: 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Cost is $19.95 per person. Reservations: 507-824-2969

If you're looking for more traditional fine dining, the Hubbell Housein Mantorville has been serving quality, steakhouse meals for 160 years and has a rustic, Victorian ambiance to match. Manager Dick Jensch described the Hubbell House "as one of the only old supper clubs left," and "with service like people used to get in restaurants that they don't always get anymore."

They're serving a full dinner menu with special Valentine's entrees on Friday and Saturday night like Hubbell prime rib, steak and lobster and broiled walleye pike, ranging in price from $20 to $30. The featured monthly wine comes from Dreaming Tree winery, co-owned by crooner (and heart throb?) Dave Matthews.

— Hubbell House, 502 N. Main St., Mantorville. Fri. and Sat., Feb. 14 and 15, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations: 507-635-2331.

When in doubt, nothing says I love you like a heart shaped pizza. Valentino's Pizza Pubwill sweeten the Valentine's deal with a two-liter of pop for $15.95. Feb. 14 only. 130 Elton Hills Drive, Rochester. Reservations not required. Information: 507-281-2100.


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