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“We may never know exactly which foods will get someone in the mood and which ones won’t,” says Ryan Fichter, executive chef at Rialto, a new Italian restaurant in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood. “But there are some foods that many people believe are more prone to helping someone get in the mood. Never hurts to start by trying those dishes and increasing your chances for a great evening.”

The Valentine’s Day dinner at Rialto folds in some of the more popular foods thought to have aphrodisiac qualities, including seafood (especially shrimp, thought to supply energy), alcohol (well-known disinhibitor and social lubricant), chocolate (to improve blood flow and, well, do you need to ask?), caffeine (for energy) and spices (to boost circulation). The $65 five-course meal includes three set and two multiple-option courses and two glasses of prosecco.


Vega Tapas Café in Metairie, LA, combined foods with suggestive reputations, names or appearance into a six-course journey of seduction. In the lineup:

• First Glances: Seafood Martini with Lump Crab, Salmon, Tuna, Gulf Shrimp & Mussels with Mangoes and Tobiko

• Fantasies: Maine Lobster Bisque and a “Knuckle Sandwich” or Chilled Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers

• Foreplay: Charlotte of Brioche, Caramelized Pears and Walnuts with Foie Gras Butter

• (inter) Course: Passionfruit Sorbet with Cava Glaze

• Climax: Louisana Red Snapper with Beet Tartare and Baby Leek Risotto over Blood Orange-Vanilla Butter, 8-ounce Petit Filet or Stuffed Louisiana Quail

• Afterglow: Chocolate Fondue

A bit more subtle approach comes from Chef Derek Simcik of Atwood Café in Chicago. His “My Heart Skipped a Beat” tasting menu will present four courses, all shaped like a heart. The tasting menu will sell for $55.