THE HOT FIVE

A Valentine's Day dinner price tag doesn't have to rival a Hearts Desire purchase at Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

BIRCHWOOD CAFE

The Seward neighborhood's breakfast-lunch-dinner magnet is going all-out on the 15th with a seven-course, $75 food-and-wine blowout, but the night of the 14th is reserved for walk-ins in search of small plates ($8 to $12), sweets (a dessert sampler for two for $13) and wine. Donors to the cafe's nonperishable food drive receive a free cup of Peace Coffee.

3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com

COMMON ROOTS CAFE

It's first-come, first-served at this affable counter-service spot, which puts out an affordable list of dinner starters ($8 and under) and entrees ($12.50 or less). February's menu features chicken and apple-stuffed crepes, bison-wild rice meatloaf, wild mushroom risotto and more. In the sweets-for-your-sweetie department, don't miss the truffles.

2558 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-2360, commonrrootscafe.com

MCCORMICK & SCHMICK'S

Check this out: Steak and lobster, with soup or salad and a little chocolate something-something, for $29.95/person, and it's being offered not only on the Big Day, but now through Feb. 15.

800 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-338-3300 and 3203 Galleria, Edina, 952-9201142, mccormickandschmicks.com

MIDTOWN GLOBAL MARKET

So many options for $10-and-under face time with one's beloved: ceviche and tacos at La Sirena Gorda, rice and beans with ginger beer at West Indies Soul, a feast from the gigantic buffet at Holy Land Grocery & Deli, hearty stews at Safari Express, pork tamales at La Loma, margaritas at A La Salsa and lovely pastries at the Salty Tart. That's just for starters.

920 E. Lake St., Mpls., midtownglobalmarket.org

PIZZA NEA

Sure, it gets upstaged by its critics'-darling neighbor, Punch Neapolitan Pizza, but Mike Sherwood's comfy Neapolitan-style pizza joint has its own charms: a long list of both red sauce- and olive oil-based pies, abundant salads, affordable wines and friendly table-service staffers.

306 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-331-9298, pizzanea.com

RICK NELSON