San Francisco oozes romance. Here, you can wine and dine with your lover in style, on the cheap, or go all out. For a Valentine’s Day night to remember, take your prince or princess charming to one of these romantic restaurants.
For a splurge, you can’t beat Chez Spencer. Soft lighting, candles, exposed wooden beams, and minimalist artwork set the French bistro’s scene. You can order a la carte or experiment with the daring tasting menu, with or without the wine pairing. The wine list is exhaustive and the impeccable service is on hand to help you wade through it. Indulge in sautéed skate cheeks in a caper emulsion, foie gras, veal sweetbreads, or any of the wood-roasted entrees. Any meal that finishes off with warm chocolate pudding cake pretty much guarantees a kiss. This is the place to take your favorite person in the world.
Want to lay on the charm? Look no further than L’Ardoise Bistro near DuBoce Triangle. It’s a cozy space perfect for gazing starry-eyed across the table at your number one. The wait staff is attentive without being overbearing and the cuisine is divine. French accents permeate every dish from the escargots to the tiger prawn ravioli (which garners rave reviews) to the delicious duck confit. The quaint neighborhood is perfect for holding hands on a post-romantic meal stroll.
Closer to downtown, Ryoko’s reveals a different kind of romance – the hip, secret, stimulating, only-locals-know kind of erotic. The subterranean Japanese restaurant is pumping on weekends but weeknights are mellower. Swathed in blue, intimate tables are scattered in dark nooks and crannies, and though the energy is high, the volume is muted so you can easily focus on just you and your sexy date. Sushi cuts are generous, and rolls can be extremely innovative (up to you whether to try the spicy jalapeno and peanut butter roll). They also offer a host of other Japanese specialties, many of which are vegetarian-friendly. It’s quite a steal when you combine the food, 007 ambiance, and playful servers. If you’re having an intense secret affair, this is your place.
Bar Bambino – the name itself elicits passion. Say it…Bar Bambino! You can’t help throwing your hand in the air like a bona fide Italian. The interior is sophisticated with unfussy, clean lines, and a lovely back patio beckons. Ordering the house-made pasta is a must, and the pairings, like the goat cheese, mascarpone, and semolina dumplings with kale and walnuts, are adventurous. Celebrate love with your courtesan here, over and over again.
Wish to take your sweetheart on a special distant getaway, but short on funds? Channel that international trip with an unpretentious dinner at La Mediterranee on Fillmore. A cute, tiny, and relaxed place with mosaic-adorned tables for two and random Middle Eastern décor, the food is fresh, tasty, and inexpensive. Try the salmon kebab, the delicious moussaka, or one of the combination plates. Run by an Armenian family, the staff all pitches in to ensure your table is well taken care of. Definitely go on a weeknight (luckily, Valentine’s Day is) because there’s a line out the door on weekends. Pretend that money is no object as you throw your heads back in laughter whilst playing footsie under the table.
Your honey will be impressed no matter where you romance him or her this Valentine’s Day. If you’re so inclined, cap off your exquisite dinner with a nightcap at Top of the Mark or a stroll along the Embarcadero beneath the twinkling lights of the Bay Bridge. San Francisco is a romantic, fairy tale city, and the absolute perfect place to fall in love.
Feature image courtesy of Ben Sheriff Photography/Flickr