Looking for a romantic spot for a night out? You don’t have to travel far to find a place to cozy up with your significant other. These East Bay spots will help keep the flame burning, whether you’re in search a quick cocktail before that rom-com or a dinner that makes you want to linger a little longer.
Dream A Little Dream
Mais Oui! There is a little bit of France tucked away off Moraga Road. Pretend you and your sweetheart are spending an evening in Paris at Rêve Bistro. Start with the gougères, little cheesy puffs that will make you feel like you just stepped into a spot in the St. Germain-des- Près then share a French onion soup that will warm you all the way to the tips of your toes. Order a bottle of Crément or Champagne to accompany your meal and toast your time together, be it your first date or a quarter century. Still hungry? Move on to the moules frites (mussels with fries) or coq au vin (wine braised chicken) before dipping your spoons into the mousse au chocolat or crème brûlée.
Toast Your Tootsies Together
On a cold winter night, there’s no better place to belly up to the bar than Postino in Lafayette. Let the warm air from the heaters at your feet chase away the chill while you sip a glass of prosecco or split a half bottle of Brunello di Montalcino. With the snug ambiance of an Italian nonna’s farmhouse and a menu full of pastas and antipasti, Postino will transport you and your date straight to the hill towns of Tuscany. On summer evenings, reserve a spot in the garden beneath a bank of climbing roses and dream up a trip for two to Montalcino.
If your tastes run to southern Italy, slip into Locanda Positano’s charming slice of the Amalfi Coast right on Brown Avenue. Take a seat inside the sea inspired dining room or on the heated patio and kick off the night with an Aperol Spritz. Order up a plate of frito misto and revel in the flavors of Positano while you wait for your hand thrown pizza or Mamma Carmela’s lasagna. Still hungry? Finish your meal with an espresso and serving of tiramisú or panna cotta.
Mi Casa es Su Casa
For a date with a heavy dose of nostalgia, leave your car with the valet and take a table at Casa Orinda, the area’s oldest restaurant. The low beamed ceiling, fire burning in the hearth and showstopping floral arrangements make for an intimate atmosphere. Ask your waiter for the prime rib, served old school style, with a baked potato, veggies and creamy horseradish and settle in for a comfortable evening with your Manhattan or G&T.
The Way To A Man's Heart
If the one you love is a food lover, nothing can compare to a four course meal in the storied dining room at Berkeley’s iconic Chez Panisse. Show him you care by booking a table a month in advance for that big birthday or anniversary. Can’t plan that far ahead? Try Oakland’s Oliveto. This nose to tail restaurant above Rockridge’s Market Hall serves refined dishes like Ossetra caviar with horseradish buttermilk panna cotta and chestnut rigatoni with black truffles in a white tablecloth setting.
Bountiful For Both
A romantic night out means something different to everyone. For some, it’s caviar and champagne, for others barbeque and beer. If you and your date can’t agree, step into the inviting dining room at Bounty Hunter where you can have your pint and she can have her flute. With its moody lighting, craft cocktails and walls lined with bottles of bourbon, sparkling and rye, Bounty Hunter might even make you forget you’re in the suburbs.
Toast your differences over a plate of ribs or seared ahi then buy a bottle to sneak into the latest love story at the Century Theater just around the corner.
Make A Night Of It
For special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, make reservations at the Lafayette Park Hotel for their prix fixe dinner. The Lafayette Park’s elegant restaurant’s dim lighting and leather booths make it an ideal spot for a quiet dinner. Forgot to book? Pop into the bar and cross your fingers for a table by the fireplace or, if it’s a warm evening, pull up a seat by the firepit outside and share a couple of appetizers under the stars. Got coverage for the kids? Make the moment last by checking into on European style rooms upstairs for an overnight stay. After a late brunch the next day, step out for his and hers foot reflexology at Lamorinda Healthy Happy Massage.
If you prefer a meal with a view, dine at Limewood in Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel, then retire to one of the resort’s freshly remodeled suites. In the morning, stroll down to Fournée Bakery for some of the best croissants on this side of the pond. After half an hour browsing the neighborhood’s charming shops, spend the day at the spa on the hotel’s lower level followed by a lunch rendezvous by the pool.
Into The Woods
Let her know you’re up for an adventure by making a reservation at Bull Valley Roadhouse. Founded by a couple of Slanted Door alum and one of the owners of the Burlington Hotel, situated next door, this atmospheric restaurant in a semi-abandoned Victorian town serves pre-prohibition cocktails and comfort food to die for. Depending upon your taste for kitsch, you may or may not want to visit the taxidermied polar bear at the Warehouse Café across the street or spend the night in one of the quirky rooms at the Burlington. Be sure to warn your companion about the dark and winding drive out to the town of Port Costa or she could begin to wonder if you’ve lost your way.
Love Is In The Air
Surprise your spouse with a gondola ride on Oakland’s Lake Merritt. After a lazy twilight cruise in a real Venetian vessel, walk up the dock to the Lake Chalet where the two of you can dig into platter of local oysters and a mound of truffle fries. At your table by the window, sip your Sauv Blanc and watch the lights come on across the lake.
For a bit of amour alfresco, plan a picnic for your partner in Berkeley’s Rose Garden or Tilden Park’s Botanic garden. Both close at dusk, so make it an afternoon event then take a drive up Grizzly Peak to one of the vista points and watch the sun set over the City.
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