The night is going great. You’ve picked an amazing place for dinner, the food is fantastic, the conversation is flowing, and you have so much in common (you both like hiking!). You’re practically soulmates, and you both want to keep the night going. But then a dark cloud settles over your table, and you realize you have no idea where to take this person next. Escape this dark cloud. The one-two punch, dinner-then-drinks date is your proven road to date night victory, whether it’s your third date or thirtieth. Here are some of our favorite SF date night itineraries.
Date Night 1:
Pearl is a strong contender for one of our favorite spots in the Richmond. The California-inspired Mediterranean menu is good for sharing and the wine list is reasonably priced and not overwhelmingly long. This corner spot also has high ceilings and a warm, friendly vibe that makes you feel like it’s been your local go-to for years, and is appropriately dim and cozy for date night.
A few blocks away from Pearl is Violet’s, a place with very good cocktails and a bar that stays open until 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. And while you may not be here for a full on meal, you should consider dessert, especially their perfectly sweet/tart key lime pie that is as alluring as you.
Date Night 2:
Bar Crudo is consistently overlooked as a date spot. We keep it in the rotation because the seafood is fresh and delicious, the location on Divisadero is good, and it’s not too hard to get a reservation or walk up and easily find a seat. The small, intimate raw bar also has a great Happy Hour (Monday-Saturday) with $2 oysters and $7 glasses of wine.
A lot of people’s introduction to Horsefeather is using it as a Nopa waiting room, but it holds its own and then some. The drinks here are great, the space is cool, and if you get hungry after dinner because the oysters from Bar Crudo aren’t holding you over like you thought they would, they have a great burger.
Date Night 3:
Unless you are someone who sets a calendar reminder to make reservations 30 days in advance, there will be a wait at Flour + Water. If it’s an early-in-the-game date, go a la carte in case you need to cut and run. If you’re further down the road, the tasting menu shows that you can commit to seeing something through (like a six-course meal).
This nautical-themed spot is just four blocks up from Flour + Water and also doubles as a restaurant with great shareable plates, burgers, and fish and chips. But you’re here for the excellent cocktails. So if you’re looking for a spot to drink and keep the conversation going in a space that looks like the cabin of a wooden ship - head here.
Date Night 4:
Sure, this is a dinner and drinks guide, but let this pairing be your “If you care more about the drink spots” option. Third Rail is a Dogpatch bar where you can easily drop in for a shot and a beer, or sip on cocktails and get to know your date a bit better. The other draw here is the homemade beef jerky (they also have a vegetarian option), which they serve by the ounce.
Right around the corner is this nautical-themed dive bar in the Dogpatch. Sit at the bar and make good conversation over punny cocktails like Mezcal Aloe Mode. You can also watch sports on one of the TVs or challenge each other to a game of pool in the back. Either way, the drinks will be great, the vibes will be right, and you and your date will leave smooth sailing into another date.
Date Night 5:
Monsieur Benjamin has fancy French food down to a science and is one of the best places you can go in Hayes Valley for a big date. Plus, the big corner space has floor-to-ceiling windows giving it a nice feel that says “Where are we going after?”
There are plenty of nearby wine bars in the area to head to after a meal at Monsieur Benjamin. But we think you should mix it up and head to Brass Tacks. This bar has a bunch of seats in the back so you can sit and keep talking over a few more rounds of drinks. You might even suggest going from here to a place like Smuggler’s Cove if you want to keep the night going even longer.
Date Night 6:
One reason you’re probably at the Marina bistro: the incredible Americana Burger, which is stacked with double-smash patties, homemade aioli, cheese, onions, and pickles. But the other reason to head here is it’s a great date night spot with cocktails, a nice ambiance, and plenty of seating inside or out on their covered parklet.
Just down the street is the local gastropub The Tipsy Pig. There’s somehow always a table open on the patio out back and the menu has plenty of cocktail, beer, and wine options. Really, you can’t go wrong here.
Date Night 7:
Cotogna is a great date spot. It’s perfect for first dates or fifteenth dates or five-year anniversaries. The best seats in the house are at the back bar overlooking the kitchen, and you don’t even need a reservation for them. Important: the wine list is good and not too offensively priced.
This place has been making incredible cocktails since 1998, which is only one reason to plan a date here. The other is that the speakeasy/gastropub situated off a quiet alley in North Beach sets the bar high for all other cocktail spots in the city. It’s also cozy, dimly-lit, and minimalist - there are seats at the bar and along the wall and not much else, so you can focus on your date or moving past the small talk stage.
Date Night 8:
Excellent wood-fired pies with crispy, chewy crusts are the star at this casual neighborhood spot. Here, you have a bunch of different pizzas to choose from, like one topped with a mix of five different mushrooms, and another with purple potatoes, pesto, and pancetta. Add in some wine and cocktails and you have yourself the perfect, low-key date night.
If you want to keep the cocktail thing going, right next door is Sunset Cantina. The Mexican restaurant makes really great drinks and has a friendly ambiance that always makes us want to stay awhile. Order a margarita and post up at the bar or on their cozy patio out back.