Best restaurants for breaking up
February 8th, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Don’t worry if you haven’t booked your romantic Valentine’s Day dinner reservation yet. There are a gazillion restaurants doing lovely things for V-Day candlelit corner tables, red drinks galore, primal meat cuts for two, endless amounts of sexy foods.
If, however, you’re at the other end of spectrum, if you’re looking for a good place to say some variation of, “It’s not you, it’s me,” then the following list might come in handy. And remember, there’s always someone better out there.

Best places for a break-up

Greenhouse Tavern - Cleveland, Ohio
Chef and owner Jonathon Sawyer tells the story of one date gone wrong at his terrific New American restaurant, Greenhouse. “This guy came in on a blind date; he’d clearly never met the girl before. When their entrées came, he started choking on his steak frites. He was at table 21. There was a doctor at table 28, who came over and gave him the Heimlich, so he threw up. The girl was out of there.
“The guy came back a couple of weeks later on another blind date. It went much better. So I like to think that while we might have been the catalyst for the first breakup, we helped spark a love connection a few weeks later.
“The guy sat at table eight the second time. I’m not sure if he ordered the steak again.”

Barley Swine - Austin, Texas
Manager Jason James has seen couples fight at this outstanding gastropub; they tend to be awkward because of the communal seating, he says. On one memorable breakup, the man said something to annoy his date, she ran out and he followed. Unfortunately, they left a large open tab: The kitchen had already fired their dishes and they’d opened a $120 bottle of wine. James ran after the guy: “We were all three just running down the road,” he said.

When James finally caught up, the guy handed James his wallet and went after the girl. The dishwasher got to eat the food. 
On the flip side, James also shared a story of a sweet proposal: The guy got everyone’s attention (keep in mind this is a narrow, 42-seat, communal table restaurant with an open kitchen) and proposed to his girlfriend. And everyone cheered and clapped. “Basically, it was like a rom-com,” says James.

Sunny Spot - Los Angeles
Chef Roy Choi’s genius Jamaican restaurant is a popular cuddling spot, particularly in the cozy Rum Den. Which means that breakups tend to occur, too. If you’re looking for the best spot in the house to have that kind of private conversation, check out the Birdcage booth, where you’ll also have access to the feel-better drinks at the Rum Den’s dedicated bar.

Swift’s Attic - Austin, Texas
The benefits of breaking up at this groovy small plates spot: The attic space has mood lighting that can hide tears; the swanky bathrooms are a good place for a quick pep talk with a sympathetic friend or customer; the place has four spirits on ice tap so they come out fast and chilled; the bar is open late so you could potentially meet someone new before Valentine’s night is over.

Firehouse Tavern - New York City
It’s not unusual for guys to bring girls to this Upper West Side stalwart to break up. (Coincidentally or not, a popular starter here is Sexy Fries.)

Owner Jeremy Wladis thinks that’s because the sports bar vibe makes guys feel protected. He says he can spot the breakups coming: “The men get loud over the games on TV, as if to prove that the lady is better off without them; she usually winds up bored and leaves.”

The Cannibal - New York City
Last year, the super-fun meat-and-beer-centric Cannibal threw a Black Hearts party on Valentine’s Day. Basic Instinct and My Bloody Valentine played on the TV; beef heart tartare and bitter chocolate tart were served at the long counter.

This year under chef Preston Clark, Valentine’s is a feel-good/feel-better holiday. “It’s a good recovery place if you have a broken heart,” says GM Cory Lane. “If you’re going through a breakup, nothing makes you feel better than some good beer and a good steak. Plus, it’s developed into something of a singles scene.”

More from Food & Wine:

Millionaire Matchmaker’s Favorite Date Restaurants

World’s Most Romantic Cities

Best Top Chef Restaurants

Best Steak in the U.S.

Valentine’s Day Recipes

Tales from the Trenches

  • Of romantic meals, fibbers and fish knives - Our most romantic meal of all time
  • Dining and dating: The food of love - Cooking up a lasting love
  • Scattered, smothered, covered, cuddled, kissed - Would you take your date to Waffle House? How about White Castle?
  • Rules for eating on a first date - Eat what you dig, skip what you don't.
  • In defense of the restaurant dress code - Step up your game, dude!
  • Party of one at a table for two - Ouch! The dreaded stand-up! How to handle?
  • Ever get dumped at a restaurant? - Our readers live to tell the tale.
  • Ack! It's alligator arms! - Who ought to grab the check?
  • Could you date someone who was rude to the waiter? - Is being a jerk to the server ground for immediate dumping?
  • How about atrocious table manners? - Dealbreaker or dealable-with?
  • And turns out, they're a cruddy tipper, too. - Would you go on a second date?
  • Where will you eat V-Day dinner? - Home or out? Group, duo or rolling solo>
  • Salami and a serenade - Tell me you'll love meat for a million years
  • A delicious proposal - Valentine's Day restaurant dinner proposal – tacky or tantalizing?
  • © 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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    Filed under: Bite • Content Partner • Dating • Food and Wine • Holidays • Restaurants • Valentine's Day • Valentine's Day

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    soundoff (31 Responses)
    1. Maria Manzo

      An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you ought to write more about this issue, it may not be a taboo matter but typically people don't speak about these issues. To the next! Best wishes.

      June 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
    2. Jolyn Anglen

      I really like your writing style, superb info, thank you for posting :D.


      January 21, 2014 at 12:50 am |
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      April 24, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    4. Fred Evil

      Goodnes, this was the best way you could come up with to advertise these places with a fake article?!

      February 12, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    5. GiGi Eats Celebrities

      The best place to break up with someone... Taco Bell... Sitting across from each other – and texting, "I think we should break up"

      February 11, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    6. Clown

      My last break up was by phone, why go public with it.

      February 11, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Kat


        February 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
        • BeesKnees

          Classy is breaking up by text! Thanks modern technology and a d-bag dude!!

          February 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    7. ncgh

      When my ex and myself decided to divorce, we got together and worked out the financials over dinner at an outdoor cafe. We had already emotionally committed to moving on, this was where we decided the details.

      February 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    8. Linda Luttrell

      I used to think the person doing the breakig up wanted to do so in a public place to keep the other person from making a big scene. These days, I have to wonder if they are not simply sadistic: adding public humiliation. Either way, it is cowardly and tacky.

      February 11, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    9. ab

      break up story: I was brought to some restaurant (NYC) and the guy broke up with me. The food was lousy and I was crying,the wait staff was trying to figure out what to do. A couple of years later, living outside the city, I was with another guy, wandering around NYC and trying to figure out where to eat. There are a couple of restaurants all around each other and I said, "Here. This one." and we entered. Sat down. Ordered and then he starts into the break up. I'm casually listening but more intently looking around. "I've had this conversation before in this restaurant. The food isn't that good here.". He was not amused (and I suspect, a little tiffed I wasn't more upset).

      February 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    10. Jim

      Why would anyone choose a public place to break up? That's just asking for embarrassment.

      February 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
      • TWSWIC

        Instead of embara$$ment, didn't you mean "entertainment," right?

        February 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • Shawn

        They do it in hopes they wont make a scene.

        February 11, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    11. Gina


      February 8, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    12. Todd

      Breaking up in a restaurant doesn't sound like a great idea. Either you have an awkward finishing-up-the-meal process ahead of you after the deed is done, or the dumped person is going to bail and leave you with the check. Either way, no bueno.

      If you're ending a casual/short term relationship: bar. That way you can leave at any point, and the dumpee gets to drink away their sorrow.
      If you're ending a serious/long term relationship: home. You want to have privacy for a conversation like that.

      February 8, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    13. TallinOK

      Order the expensive entree, eat well, and then bug out on the check.

      February 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

      Whatever happened to email with a confirmation text? They should come up with a break up song! "Happy, happy breakup , lucky , lucky you no more dealing with me I have someone else to ..."

      February 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
      • annajrc

        I like the confirmation part. At least you are sure they got the message.

        February 8, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    15. krisromaniuk

      I'd never pick a restaurant to break up. You have to commit to too much of an order. I'd prefer a bar where you get it done in one drink and then get out - or drink up your emotions after the deed's done.

      February 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    16. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      You could take the NGF route and force them out to live in a van down by the river.

      February 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • Truth™@JDizz

        At least you don't look like Farley...

        February 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    17. Truth™

      Well, allright, since we are going there...



      Chrissie is without any doubt the secksiest vegann who ever str@pped on a stratocaster. Love you Babe!

      February 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • StratLady

        ... except here she's playing a Telecaster.

        February 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    18. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      I prefer the McDonald's Playplace. No one will beat you in front of children.

      February 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
      • annajrc

        That's true. Parenting guarantees resilience to any sort of tantrum.

        February 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    19. whenstrangerskiss

      A tip when eating out while breaking up: DON'T get left overs! Break-up left overs the next day are not fun.

      February 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Oooof! That sounds like it comes from experience. I'm so sorry!

        February 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • annajrc

        On the other hand, nothing undertaken the next day after a breakup would be fun. At least you would be set for lunch.

        February 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
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