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."


does this ring make me look engaged?

One part I love most about being a bridal makeup artist is listening to my client share their engagement story and gush about their ring. A common thread between all brides is the symbolism of their ring. It is not just a piece of jewelry, but a representation of the love and commitment they're making to another person. 


bianca + kim

Some of you may already know that I was the one to propose to my wife. Despite my love for planning, proposing was not my best execution. How do you surprise someone you tell everything to and often use one another's phones? I tried getting someone there to take photos. No go. I tried making reservations for dinner post proposal. Fail- we waited 90 minutes to be seated. But this is life, right? The perfectly imperfect. And what truly matters, especially looking back, is that I am now married to my favorite person. 

Sometime in early 2014, Bianca and I made a trip to Joe Escobar to see what rings we each liked. By chance, Bianca chose a ring for me, and I hers. Later that year in December of 2014, I made a visit to R&J Jewelry. A shop owned by one of Bianca's cousins. I love giving my business to friends and family when I can. Everyone was so helpful, especially when I decided to make a custom ring for Bianca. I quickly chose my own ring and spent several weeks working on Bianca's from choosing the diamond to the design and metal. Her dream ring was a compression style, but due to the price and possibility of the stone falling out, we quickly tossed that idea out the window. 

As soon as I got an email that the rings would be ready, I put my plans into action. Another little tidbit about me: I love giving gifts so much that I really can't keep them for long. I just love seeing someone's reaction to a gift that I picked just for them. That being said, I had to propose right away. I picked up the rings right from work. Told Bianca I was taking her out. We cleaned up, got our nails done, and then I took her to "our bridge". I had her close her eyes while I wrote "marry me?" on the bridge. When she opened her eyes we both giggled like little girls. We had talked about marriage for so long, but the fact of it being reality made us giddy with excitement! Three year of wear our rings and we still stare at them regularly. 


nina + eric

"Eric and I had been dating 2 years when he proposed, and living together one of those years. We had talked about marriage over the last year prior and he asked me what my ideal proposal would be. I told him that I wouldn't care how or when, as long as it came from his heart and it was something he wanted. He said that he would propose in the year 2016. Well, New Years was approaching and I had almost completely forgotten about his promise. I love New Years Eve. Eric planned this whole event: got us a huge suite at the Hilton in Downtown San Jose, tickets for Haberdasher (the old Single Barrel) a small underground bar also is DTSJ. This tiny little bar was my favorite but only had like 8 tables, and tickets were gifted out on a raffle. And all of our friends were going to come hang out with us and spend New Years with us. So, I knew the entire plan. Eric even paid for me to get a blow out and my nails done- now I know why. So, we are in the hotel room with all of our friends just talking and hanging out, its about 9:45pm/10:00pm and because I am the bossy pants I am, I was suggesting that we all get down to Haberdasher and enjoy our free appies. No one would get up! So I tried to herd them harder and now everyone is silent and staring  behind me- I turn around and there Eric was on one knee with the ring of my dreams. No idea what he said, he can't remember either, but I said yes!  We got to ring in the new year as an engaged couple and every day since then has been just as magical. 

I love how unique the ring is. Eric spent a long time looking for the ring. He was originally going to have it hand made. I have never been into diamonds much. I had told him that I want something that no one has, but please don't break the bank. Our life is not built around money, so the ring shouldn't portray that either. So he found something that represented me and our love, something that no one else shares except us. The band was then handcrafted by one of my moms closest friends, which is very personal to me."


shannon + andy

"We got engaged after being together for 10 years. Our first date was Brokeback Mountain and, NO Andy had no idea what the movie was about. His friends had told him it was 'an artsy film that would impress a girl.'  After that movie, he was certain I would never see him again. But I stuck with him for the long haul, and it became the running joke in the family. Andy ended up proposing to me at the end of seeing Fifty Shades of Grey in theaters on Valentine's Day. He said he had to top our first date some how! He used all my favorite lines from our favorite movies and ended it with 'I'm with you till the end of the line' which was our wedding theme. 

I love my rings because they are custom. I get very Gollum like when I don't have them on! I had jokingly sent Andy multiple links to rings I liked over the ten years. I didn't know that he had saved every single one. So when he was finally ready, he printed them all off and took them to Dynasty Jewelers in Oakridge Mall. They had done all our previous jewelry for us! They made me a custom engagement ring that was everything I dreamed of. It's incredibly detailed and very princess like. Andy's ring is also custom. He lost his dad the first month we started dating. So I had a copy made of his dad's ring in white gold."

photo by Royce Dove of Blurred Line Photography

photo by Royce Dove of Blurred Line Photography


angie + marquisa

"Marquisa and I had only been dating for a month when she asked me to go shopping for diamond earrings as a present to herself for her birthday. While at the jewelry store, one of Marquisa’s friends (who was getting married in a few months) called and asked if we could scope out rose gold wedding bands for her while we were there. Never one to turn down looking at shiny things, I quickly agreed and started perusing the store’s offerings. Looking at wedding bands naturally led me to looking at engagement rings, which led me to trying on engagement rings (while Marquisa unknowingly was shopping for her earrings). Once she had picked out her earrings and realized what I was up to, we had a quick sidebar about if we were serious about looking at rings. We had briefly broached the subject of marriage, but given that it was so early on in the relationship, both of us were a bit trepidatious. We decided that looking couldn’t hurt, so we immediately drove to the mall to check out a different jewelry store. Once there, we actually found rings that we both liked and put them on hold. This bought us a few weeks to decide how we wanted to move forward and to talk about what we saw for our future together. It also gave us time to do online research about rings, diamonds, styles, etc. We visited a third store, Jared, about a week later and ended up both buying our rings on the spot. It was a huge leap forward in our relationship, but one that we both felt ready for and comfortable taking with one another. 

Fast-forward 2 months later... 

We got engaged on June 24, 2016, which was quick by some standards, but it just felt right. I surprised Marquisa on the weekend of SF Pride with a secretly decorated hotel room that overlooked the city. The hotel was even in on the surprise and provided us with free champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries. After a private proposal full of laughter and tears (Marquisa said yes!), I had one more surprise waiting for her the next morning--a fancy brunch in Saratoga with a bunch of friends. Then, we both wore custom-made tshirts that said "Just Engaged!" to the SF Pride Parade where we were congratulated by drag queens and parade-goers alike. It was a perfect weekend and a perfect start to building our new life together."

engagement ring