Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Dinner Dates

11 Feb

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 Restaurant – Washington at 9th

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.

Franklin Square Wine Bar – Broadway at 22nd

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.

Flora – Telegraph at 19th

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.


Pre-Valentine’s Day Parties

10 Feb

This week, there are a couple of pre-Valentine’s Day parties that would be great places to take your Valentine or to meet someone new.

On Thursday night, have a few drinks, meet politically engaged Oaklanders, and learn about marriage equality at Mix It Up East Bay. If you haven’t been to this monthly mixer, this is the month to check it. Reps from several Bay Area advocacy groups working on marriage equality will speak about the fight and tell you how you can get involved. Sean Sullivan, who ran for Oakland City Council, will be one of the speakers, representing Equality California.

Remember that Mix It Up has a new location, Shashamane on Broadway at 29th. The first Mix It Up of 2009 was held there, and the space worked perfectly. Drinks are nearly half the price of what they cost at Arsimona, Mix It Up’s previous location, and there aren’t TVs blaring in the background so you’ll actually be able to hear the speakers. You can find out all the details at the East Bay Young Dems’ new blog.

On Friday, take your Valentine to Cafe Van Kleef to celebrate Friday the 13th with Damon and the Heathens, who have a standing show there every Friday the 13th. Damon and the Heathens describe themselves as:

a six-piece punk soul band from Oakland, California. We combine the sounds of New Orleans brass bands with Detroit garage rock, blues, jazz, and funk to create a sound best described as horn-fueled Oakland grit. Known for a raucous live show and a tight sound, the only thing holding us back now is our bar tab.

I talked to Damon last night and he told me that their Friday the 13th shows were his favorites so expect high energy, incredible music, and the urge to get up and dance overtaking you.