S.F’s Best Restaurants for a First Date

19 Jan

It’s a new year and that means it’s time to update your dating profile. Valentine’s Day is around the corner and you need to find your special date/mate. And if you are lucky enough to find someone to go out with, you’ll have to decide where to take them ― like one of these 10 local first-date options.

Best Late Night Date


Are you trying to go out with someone who’s booked solid? We suggest Absinthe for a late-night date. Sit in the front room and indulge in cocktails and dessert. On a recent trip we had the Earl Grey pavlova with Meyer lemon curd and mint ice cream. Such mounds of goodness and strong cocktails might just be a prelude to seeing your date’s lovely lady lumps.

Best Wine Bar Date

Hotel Biron

Your date might give you a bit of a strange look or a text you a ??? when you suggest a place that has “hotel” in the name for the setting of your first outing. Relax: This adorable wine bar and art gallery is not an actual hotel, and your date will be instantly charmed to enter this back-alley establishment. The wine list is vast, the mood is romantic, and suddenly the idea of a hotel doesn’t sound so bad. After all, you’ll already have a reputation as the person who knows how to find and navigate the ever-so-pleasurable secret spot.

Best Bar with Hotel Option

Burritt Room

For dates who seem to be looking for just a drink, a good time, and are possibly DTF, we recommend hotel bars for first meetings. The Burritt Room serves strong and interesting cocktails, is a bit hidden, and if the mood arises a room in the Crescent Hotel is just an elevator ride away .

This Sufganiyot Sundae made with Humphry Slocombe Manischewitz sorbet and a Dynamo doughnut filled with Meyer-lemon jelly was a one-time Hanukkah collaboration, but you get the idea.

Sweetest Date Spot(s)

Dynamo Donut and Humphry Slocombe

Do you want to cream the hole but your future date will only offer you a midday date on a weekend? No problem. We know how to sweeten up an early afternoon date. Meet at Dynamo and order your doughnuts to go, then walk with your date to Humphry Slocombe for a scoop. You will have just shown your date two of San Francisco’s sweetest treats, proving yourself a genius matchmaker. We recommend pairing Dynamo’s maple glazed bacon apple doughnut with Humphry Slocombe’s Secret Breakfast and creating your own version of an ice cream sandwich.

Best Coffee and Tea Date
Stable Cafe
Coffee dates are not so glamorous; they’re definitely the most interview-like of all dates. However, if you insist on only dropping a few bucks for a cup of Joe, we suggest Stable Café. You enter through the largest doors imaginable ― the place was an actual stable in the 1800s and kept the mayor’s horses, before becoming an auto shop. Drop that fact and your date won’t mind that you’re only dropping for drip. If you’re really feeling your date, spring for the lavender sea salt shortbread. You won’t regret it.

Best Sushi Date


We love sushi, but there’s nothing more cringe-worthy then when someone mentions sushi for a first date. It screams “douche,” and you have to pray that your date is not a fan of cream cheese in their sushi. Umi is a sushi place that can please anyone: delicious and superfresh sashimi, some standard Americanized rolls, and delicious pork katsu donburi. The space is quiet, the food is good, and there are some paintings of naked ladies for setting the mood.

Best Romantic Italian Date


Our most romantic memory is from childhood, with the spaghetti moment from Lady and the Tramp: two pairs of lips brought together via a strand of spaghetti. Hot! Italians do romance like no others, and a giant of bowl of pasta always warms the heart. Poesia (Italian for “poetry”) is nestled in the heart of the Castro. You walk upstairs as if you were visiting someone’s home. That’s how it feels inside: authentic Italian accents, homemade pasta, and old black and white movies projected on the wall.

Best Hands-On Date

R&G Lounge

Breaking bread is one way to get to know each other, but we prefer breaking crab. The salt and pepper crab at R&G Lounge is unbelievably addicting, plus you can watch your date use her hands and lick her fingers. Warning: The garlic comes on strong, so you may not want to go in for a kiss after it’s all over. Although, who cares? You just got to make out with a succulent Dungeness.

Best Separate but Equally Pleasurable Date

Shabu House

Shabu-shabu can be incredibly boring (it’s the watery, flavorless broth). That is so not the case at Shabu House. Order yours with spicy miso broth, and shabu-shabu becomes a pot worth dipping your meat into. Make sure you and your date get separate pots, since you definitely don’t want to get all into your date’s meat on the first night.

Best Big Beefy Date


The Tenderloin may not seem like a good place for romance, although in this neighborhood with a cut-of-meat-name you can get your meat served up in seven courses for a mere $16 each. Your date will think you’re edgy for choosing this part of town, you get to drop minimal bucks, and the little Vietnamese restaurant will charm the pants off anyone. Pagolac is minimally decorated, which means more attention for you. You also get to see how your date handles raw beef, as well as grilling, rolling, and dipping ― a culinary journey that ends with a beef porridge that should warm both of your hearts.

Original published on sfweekly.com – Original Post

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