Five fun events to ensure a special Valentine’s Day on a range of budgets

By Christine Ziemba

Ahh love. It makes you do crazy things—like vie for Valentine’s Day reservations at restaurants with pretty average prix fixe meals. (We spy plenty of beet salads, NY strip steaks, risotto and crème brûlées on those menus, right?) But luckily, we live in Southern California, where a plethora of date options abound, whether you have $1,000 or just $1 burning a hole in your pocket.

Here are five Valentine’s Day options for a range of budgets:

  1. Tea for Two. The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills just launched a new “Lunar New Year Tea Menu” that’s available during the month of February, including Valentine’s Day. From 2 to 5 p.m. daily in the hotel’s Lobby Lounge, indulge in Chinese-inspired dishes, including: Shrimp Egg Rolls, Duck Confit Lunar Dumplings, Dim Sum and Samosa, Baby Short Ribs, Steamed Buns, Chinese Egg Tarts, Cheesecake and Orange Almond Tofu, paired with TEALEAVES tea. The Lunar Tea is $85 per person, or $110 with a champagne pairing. Reservations recommended.
  2. A Johnnyswim Valentine’s Day. Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano Ramirez are Johnnyswim, a duo who began songwriting together in Nashville in 2005. They fell in love, got married and now call L.A. home. Johnnyswim plays the Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Their chemistry on stage is palpable, making them the perfect band to see live on Valentine’s Day. But don’t just take my word for it, watch this homemade music video of the duo busking in Paris. Tickets: $42-$57.
  3. Mahogany. There’s a free screening of Mahogany (1975) at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood on Valentine’s Day. Diana Ross stars as a Chicago shopgirl with big aspirations of breaking into the high fashion industry. The romantic drama follows her character as she chases her dreams and engages, sometimes unwillingly, in a “romantic quadrangle” with a fashion photographer, a political activist, and a rich benefactor. The screening is part of the Hammer’s Black Book series, which chronicles Black life in America through cinema, literature and other media. The Mahogany screening is followed by a discussion and Q&A with series curators, author and educator Tisa Bryant, and writer Ernest Hardy. Free.
  4. A Roman Holiday Valentine Party. Cinespia takes over the Los Angeles Theatre in Downtown L.A. on Valentine’s Day for a screening of Roman Holiday (1953). Directed by William Wyler, the film stars Audrey Hepburn as a runaway princess and Gregory Peck as a newspaper reporter looking for a juicy story. Together, they dodge the king’s guards while adventuring throughout the uber-romantic city of Rome. In addition to the screening, Cinespia’s party includes full (cash) bars, live music, DJs, a dance floor in the ballroom and a photo booth. Freixenet Cava will be on hand with complimentary bubbly for attendees. This party requires formal or cocktail attire (jacket and tie required for men). The event is ages 21+. Doors at 7 p.m., screening at 9 p.m. Tickets: $33.
  5. A [Literal] Golden Apple. If your date has a sweet tooth, and you have money to burn, then head to Hollywood for a truly rich and decadent dessert. The casual eatery Jane Q, located in the Kimpton Everly Hotel, offers a Golden Apple dessert for the not-so-low price of $700. Here’s the low-down: It’s a locally sourced jumbo apple that’s been cored and filled with a white chocolate ganache, salted caramel, and then enveloped in gold leaf. The Golden Apple is then served up in style: on a wood base in a glass cloche, with an heirloom silver Laguiole knife and fork set. To help digest the decadence, the apple is accompanied by a 1.5-ounce pour of Louis XIII cognac. Tip: It’s not on any menu and is available only upon request.Jumbo Apple dessert enveloped in gold leaf from Kimpton Everly Hotel

Christine N. Ziemba is a Los Angeles-based arts and culture writer who loves to tell people what to do (and where to go). Check out her events columns and other musings on, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.