Romance can happen almost anywhere in the Bay Area. But we find it’s much easier to have an intimate moment when the setting is just right, offering that elusive combination of beauty and closeness. These are some of our favorite places around the Bay Area for getting something started:
Slipping into the dimly lit lounge at 1300 on Fillmore is a little like stepping back in time. The wall of sepia-toned photographs softly illuminated from behind sets the 1940s tone. Ensconced in one of the leather armchairs, you can imagine being in the classic jazz era, when big names such as Billie, Louis and Ella filled the local music halls. Start with a classic sidecar or French 75 (Beefeater gin, lemon juice and champagne), then delve into chef David Lawrence’s menu with Southern-accented dishes,such as matchstick fried okra, barbecued shrimp and grits, or pork chops in wild mushroom gravy with a port wine reduction. Stop by the supper club on Fridays after 8:30 p.m., when live music makes it easier to time travel.
Don’t let the name put you off; there’s no smoking or anything too sordid afoot here.The new incarnation of Hotel Palomar’s Fifth Floor is solely about indulging in tasteful vices such as the cross-cultural small-plates menu and all manner of spirits. Nibble on crispy Asian chicken wings, a mixed lettuce salad with feta or lamb belly on handmade bao while sipping on one of the precise artisanal cocktails such as the Great White Buffalo (Ketel One vodka, Niepoort white port, nectarine bitters, grapefruit juice and salt). The place to be is the patio, filled with communal tables, fire pits, loungey couches and room for mingling.
It’s easy to get lured into this spot in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, thanks to the scent of espresso or the freshly made frites. But the real attraction here is the patio in back, which is like a slice of French garden life right in the city, with its meandering pathway, mature trees and flowering bushes. Find a seat at one of the iron café tables and order a fromage plate, lemon roasted chicken with ratatouille and a bottle of white burgundy from Arelquin Wine Merchant next door and relive your own magical scene from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie.
A luxury hotel always makes for an evocative destination, and this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star treasure delivers on that promise. Nearly every corner of the 260-room SoMa hotel could serve as a backdrop for a flirty moment: Sip cocktails in the intimate lobby bar in front of the gas fireplace; enjoy Japanese-influenced cuisine at the sexy, low-lit Ame; take a dip in the indoor heated infinity pool that looks out at Yerba Buena Gardens; or book an indulgent couples massage at the Four-Star Remède Spa San Francisco. However, what will really put you in the mood for love is retreating to your room and having your butler prepare a soak from the hotel’s signature bath menu that comes with chocolate, Krug champagne and rose petals.
The word “Sonoma” sounds amorous. But did you know it means “Valley of the Moon?”Luckily, the place proves magnetic when the sun is out as well. We set out for a drive to this 335-acre paradise whenever the mood hits. As the California outpost of one of the largest sparkling wine producers in the world (Freixenet in Catalonia, Spain), Gloria Ferrer should know a few things about romance. The most expansive views are on the upper terrace of the Spanish-style winery. Order a glass of the Blanc de Noirs or the refreshing Va de Vi, and gaze onto the vineyards, golden hills and blue skies for miles and miles.