Since Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I thought I’d share some of my favorite date spots in downtown Oakland. I know I’m missing at least a few great places so please share your favorite retaurants to take a date to in the comments.
B is my favorite restaurant to eat dinner at in downtown Oakland, whether on a date or with friends. The food is excellent, the atmosphere is laid back, and they do a good job catering to vegetarians and meat eaters. I’ve had excellent wine there, and they know how to make strong cocktails. Lots of the food is small plates so you can share several dishes with your dining companion. The decor is also gorgeous – huge windows facing 9th and Washington, perfect lighting, detailed tiling, and a fireplace. And when you’re done with dinner, take a stroll around Old Oakland.
I’ve yet to bring a date to the Franklin Square Wine Bar, but it seems like it could be very romantic. Order some food to munch on and peruse their wine menu. Any of the wines can be ordered by the half glass, which means you can explore and don’t have to worry about committing to a full glass of a whine you’re not crazy about. I haven’t eaten much of the food there, but what I’ve had has been tasty and my foodie friends enjoy the food there as well. If you’re looking for something casual, sit at the bar, but if you’d like some privacy, snag one of the tables. One of the best parts about Franklin Square is that they’re open on Mondays, when just about every nice restaurant is closed in the DTO.
I’m sure Flora’s booked up for Valentine’s Day, and that’s for a good reason. Honestly, I’m not so hot on their food. It’s not bad, and once in a while you’ll find some incredible food there. It’s just not consistent enough to encourage me to wait for a long time for a table and I’m terrible about making reservations ahead of time. Also, they have very few options for vegetarians, which annoys me. But the food is not the reason to go to Flora. The reason to go there is because it’s absolutely stunning. The building it’s in used to be a medical marijuana dispensary and my boss always talked about how she wanted to buy the building and turn it into a bar or club because of the incredible architecture. And now that the Fox is all lit up across the street, there’s even more to look at and appreciate. If you don’t want to take your chances with the food, just sit at the bar and enjoy a cocktail. You’ll feel fabulous and have a great time. (Oh, and if you want to read more about the food, read V Smoothe’s infamous review of Flora from 2007, when they first opened.)
As for me, I’ll be taking my Valentine out just outside of downtown to Sidebar on Grand. It opened last week and I’ve yet to go there, but I suspect it will be excellent. It’s run by the same people who ran Zax, which used to be my favorite Berkeley restaurant. They were most well known for their goat cheese souffle, and their soups were always delicious (and vegetarian). Expect a review here next week.