Valentine’s Day is a built-in way to spice up your relationship. But if your pairing needs an added spark, certain food and drinks could do the work for you.
Aphrodisiacs are commonly thought to increase sexual desire or libido. While there is limited convincing evidence to support claims that these chemicals will improve your relationship, this Valentine’s Day you can put them to the test at restaurants around D.C. and see for yourself.
Oysters: Johnny’s Half Shell
The original Casanova, an 18th century Italian author and love expert, claimed to have religiously eaten oysters for breakfast, resulting in abundant energy and sexual desire. While his theory may have been a bit far-fetched, modern scientists uncovered a link between the consumption of amino acids found in oysters and increased testosterone.
Johnny’s Half Shell, an oyster bar and seafood restaurant in Adams Morgan, offers a polished atmosphere perfect for Valentine’s Day dinner. The oysters are fresh and buttery with hints of saltiness, and each slurp provides the perfect amount of brine without being overwhelming.
With any four-person booking, you can reserve private seating at its oyster bar and enjoy complimentary champagne alongside a dozen complimentary oysters. For those hesitant to indulge in raw shellfish, Johnny’s Half Shell also serves fried oysters ($10) accompanied by pickled vegetables and house-made tartar sauce.
1819 Columbia Road NW.
Chocolate: The Chocolate House
While a box of chocolates is one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts, it might actually have an unsung benefit.
Chocolates are one of the most well-known aphrodisiacs. While the Aztecs may have been the first to claim a connection between chocolate and sexual desire, modern scientists have found that tryptophan, a chemical in chocolate, is possibly linked to sex drive.
Lucky for you and your date, The Chocolate House sells more than 300 different forms and flavors of artisanal chocolate in bars, truffles and drinks.
This Dupont Circle storefront carries sustainably-sourced chocolate from cities like Boston all the way to countries like Spain and Switzerland. Customers can build their own truffle boxes for as little as $5.50 or all the way up to $49, so you can get an artisanal gift on any budget.
The amount of tryptophan in a bar of chocolate or a couple truffles is not likely to influence your sexual desire. But good chocolate is always a welcome treat, especially if it comes from someone special.
1904 18th St. NW.
Avocados: Cork Wine Bar & Market
Avocados are branded as an aphrodisiac because of their aesthetic, unlike other foods in the category. The fruit often grows in pairs on trees, which some say resemble male reproductive organs. But the real benefit of avocado comes from its high level of vitamin B9, which energizes the body, and vitamin B6, which can boost testosterone production.
Cork Wine Bar & Market in Logan Circle is known for its wine, but the reason you’ll want to go this Valentine’s Day is for the restaurant’s avocado toast. The bar serves an elevated version of avocado toast ($14) atop grilled rustic white bread that adds a smoky depth to the dish before it is garnished with pistachios, pistachio oil and flaky sea salt.
Avocado toast is usually topped with something acidic like lemon to cut its fattiness, but the pistachio oil provided the perfect touch of bitterness and the salt rounded out the dish and brought out its nutty flavor.
While avocados may only have a symbolic association with sexual desire, both avocados and pistachios have health benefits like helping lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improving overall health and benefiting sexual health and performance.
1805 14th St. NW.
Coffee: Corridor Coffee
It is no surprise that coffee, the world’s most popular stimulant, falls into the category of aphrodisiac foods. Although the popular drink does not have a direct tie to libido, caffeine’s energizing properties often have a positive effect on one’s romantic and sexual capabilities by boosting mood and increasing stamina.
To kick off Valentine’s Day with a caffeine boost while testing out a classic aphrodisiac, head to Corridor Coffee in Georgetown. Opt for one of Corridor Coffee’s signature lattes ($4) or a variety of specialty drinks like its lavender mocha ($5). The signature latte’s rich notes make a fine pick-me-up for a February morning, while the heart-shaped latte art adds a romantic touch to the aphrodisiac.
The shop’s interior is cozy and comfortable while still maintaining a sleek and modern appearance with exposed brick and wood-paneled walls. Alongside the shop’s own coffee blends, customers can pick up specialty skincare and gourmet chocolate inside the store to bring back home for a romantic night in.
1665 Wisconsin Ave. NW.