date spots - california // part one.

We have all heard the important of continuing to date your spouse and getting out of the regular weekly routines. But where to go?! Through my own dates and suggestions from friends, I have quite the list for you! 

This is only part one. Stay tuned for more!


San Francisco

Haight and Ashbury

This is the perfect area for a day date from the thrift shops to bars and restaurants, the Haight is a casual spot full of fun that can easily carry into the evening.

My two favorite spots are:

  1. Cha Cha Chas: "No one does Sangria like Cha Cha Cha. While the bar area is admittedly a little small, the food and drinks are so good it’s worth it to squeeze in. The cuisine is a Caribbean, Cuban and tapas style smorgasborg complete with Paellas and coconut flan. The flavorful Sangria comes by both the glass and the pitcher and is deceivingly strong. You can’t miss this location as the exterior walls of the restaurant are bright turquoise with ‘Cha’ painted all over it. The festive mood is also taken indoors, with brick walls covered in art, and flying baby angel statues hanging from the ceiling."
  2. Hobson's Choice: "During the eighteenth century, Rum became England's most popular spirit. As Rum was brought back from the new colonies, the British realized its inherent appeal and ability to be mixed into fantastic concoctions known as punch. By the end of the century, in almost every living room, inn or pub, a punch bowl appeared. Thus blossomed "Punch Houses." They were relaxing environments, plentiful of couches, colors and Victorian flair."

Another casual day date is to picnic at Dolores Park.

A perfect spot for endless free entertainment of people watching. Venture to the top and there is a great park for the kiddos, or kids at heart. Whether you bring food from home or shop the small stores surrounding the park, you are sure to have a lovely day! 

Need to move about, but not ready to head back home? Take a stroll along Valencia street for some fun shopping or take a small hike up to Castro street for some more restaurant and bar options. 

If you're looking for a slightly more romantic dinner date, my wife and I recently went to Aliment

"Located on the corner of Bush and Mason, we are a friendly neighborhood restaurant serving chef driven cuisine in a cozy atmosphere.  We source our ingredients locally, make everything in house, and change our menu with the seasons so our diners always have new interesting dishes to look forward to."

To be quite frank, I literally made the reservations purely for the caramelized fish oil brussel sprouts. They are our favorite version of the veggie and I just can't say no. Fortunately, the other food and beverage was equally as delicious. There are several options for seating ranging from a busy bar area to two more quiet options upstairs. 

A spot we have been meaning to hit up is Urban Put

"We have a dream: indoor miniature-golf in San Francisco. Throw in awesome food and drink, a great Mission location, and an unswerving commitment to fun and you’ve got a formula for something unique and wonderful. We are located at 1096 South Van Ness Avenue (at 22nd Street, in the Mission), and we’d love to see you here."

My wife and I love the opportunity to play and feel like kids. What a better way to mix child and adult play with mini golf and cocktails! 


Wine Country // Napa + Sonoma

Who doesn't love a date with a good view and refreshing bubbly? Nestled between Napa and Sonoma is Domain Carneros

"As anyone who has driven between Napa and Sonoma can tell you, the Domaine Carneros château is a stunning regional landmark. Join us for tableside service on the terrace or in the salon and savor the spirit of the Northern California wine country. Read more about the château or plan your visit."

If bubbly is not your preference, I love spending time on the Sonoma Plaza

There are an endless amount of options on the plaza between restaurants, shops, and tasting rooms. One of my personal favorites is to grab a bottle or two after some tasting, cheese from the Sonoma Cheese Factory and bread from the Basque for a picnic on the plaza. 

 


San Jose + more

My humble abode and the area I know the most about.  

Down town Campbell, technically not San Jose, but close enough to bunch it into the same category. 

Let's start with a great date restaurant from which we found our wedding bar tenders. Orchard City Kitchen.

"Orchard City Kitchen (OCK) is chef driven. It is a small plate restaurant geared towards a fast pace. Chef Jeffrey Stout provides ingredient-driven dishes in a comfortable environment with lots of positive energy."

At one point we frequented OCK so much that we were given permission to write out name on the wall! You can find "TeamBK" on the bottom right of the brick wall in the bar area. The regularly changing menu and fun staff keep their patrons coming back and wanting more! Brunch is my absolute favorite of their meals!

Campbell's Farmers Market

Is on Sundays, for a majority of the year, from 9:00am to 1:00pm. After brunch at OCK, walk down to the farmers market to shop a wide range of produce and crafts. Don't want to go home? Stick around for shopping, cocktails or another bite at any of the shops and restaurants in Downtown Campbell

Another adorable downtown strip is Los Gatos.

In Los Gatos you will find Oak and Rye, who catered our wedding. Make sure to take a group so you can get a bit of everything to try, including one of the best pizzas ever! Their crust is spectacular! Or at least so I have been told by my gluten eating friends. And don't forget to try a cocktail or two. They are beautifully crafted, equally in taste and appearance.

Cin Cin is a great happy hour spot. I suggest the potatas bravas! They a delicious spin off the popular Spanish tapa. Here you will also find our favorite bartender, Ian. He is currently the bar manager! Tell him that Kim and Bianca sent you!

Looking for a quick bite? Pizza my Heart is at the corner of Santa Cruz and Main. 

Or you can catch a movie at the recently remodeled theater!

On the opposite side of Campbell from Los Gatos, you will find Willow Glen.

The Table, Black Sheep Brasserie, 20twenty Cheese Bar, Braise, and Yuki Sushi are my favorite eateries and great date spots in the area. 

If the dessert at any of these places is not satisfactory, you can stop into one of the several sweet shops.

  1. Willow Glen Creamery for ice cream
  2. Or Icicles for a more modern ice cream experience. 
  3. But if you're craving a cupcake or cookie, go next door to the Table to Susie Cakes.

But this are not actually San Jose, just surrounding smaller towns. But what about San Jose itself?

Hukilau 

"Feel the warmth of the islands with our casual laid back atmosphere, Hawaiian music and flavors of the islands including Spam musubi, fresh poke, loco mocos and Mai Tais. Aloha served here!"

Whether you participate in karaoke or just enjoy the entertainment value, head over to Bamboo7 after a few guava lychee martinis.

Can't find a common cuisine? You don't have to! San Pedro Market Square has a wide variety of options and there is live music several weekends throughout the year. Find the schedule on the website. 

"The San Pedro Square Market is the Downtown San Jose meet-up place for foodies, music lovers, locally-made shop supporters, demanders of coffee perfection, history seekers, old-time barbershop hunters, social media followers, and wine and beer libation imbibers. The Market is the all-around best place to hang out with the open-air plaza and sidewalk cafe or inside one of three unique interior spaces."