Valentine’s Day is a heart-driven holiday. We give and get heart-shaped candies with messages, chocolate bonbons in heart-shaped boxes, heart-shaped valentines, heart-shaped pendants, and intertwined hearts on rings.
When the time comes for Valentine’s Day dinner, our dilemma is how to keep the heart symbolism going. Why not take a literal approach to a sentimental holiday? (Unless, of course, your date is a vegetarian.) In an update from our list from 2015, here are five places where you can eat hearts in honor of St. Valentine.
Cold Pig’s Heart at Wiangxianglou — Though the listing cold pig’s heart evokes the cartoonish idea of a sad barnyard animal incapable of affection, here it refers to a very agreeable Hunan dish of thin-sliced porcine circulatory muscle dressed with chopped garlic, cilantro, and pickled bird chilies. The texture is only faintly rubbery and doesn’t really tasting at all like offal. 135-25A 40th Rd., Flushing, 718-321-7388
Lamb Heart Kebabs at Cheburechnaya — The Uzbeks sure know how to grill kebabs, and this kosher Rego Park classic does some of the best in town. The paradoxically tender and chewy swatches of red lamb heart are interspersed along the metal skewer with little tidbits of lamb fat in between to facilitate constant basting in the purgatory of a lump charcoal flame. A wad of thin-sliced onions heaped on top provides perfect counterpoint. 9209 63rd Dr., Queens, 718-897-9080
Pincho de Ceuta at La Vara — Said to be in the style of Gibraltar, these delicate chicken heart brochettes are the perfect size morsels for snacking and the organs pop like overstretched rubber bands in your mouth. Under the direction of wife and husband chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero, this Cobble Hill venue specializes in Muslim and Jewish influence in Spanish food and the setting is a particularly good date spot. 268 Clinton St, Brooklyn, 718-422-0065
Beef Heart Anticuchos at Oh! Calamares — Perhaps the most famous use of anatomic hearts in the world is in anticuchos, the beef heart street kebabs sold in Lima and various other places in Andean South America. Served with hominy and potatoes, they can be found all over Harrison and Kearny at Peruvian restaurants where they’re the most popular apps, marinated to induce tenderness. 102 Kearny Ave, Kearny, NJ, 201-998-4111
Here’s one for the vegetarians:
Heart of Palm Salad at Via Brasil — If you don’t eat meat (or maybe just don’t eat offal), hearts of palm make a nice substitute. This vegetable loved by Brazilians that comes from the core and buds of palm trees (specifically, the acai of berry fame) is pleasantly firm, with a unique flavor. It is most often used on pizzas or in salads, as in the dish shown here. 34 W 46th St, 212-997-1158