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Romantic Dining: A Bar For Two

People are always asking me for restaurant suggestions, and more often than not, it’s for a romantic occasion. Funny thing is, I rarely recommend what I consider date-worthy myself. Instead, my mind goes to something a bit more traditional: a white tablecloth, a candle, a quiet, back table for two—something a little Lady and the Tramp (you know, the spaghetti kiss and all).

But if you really want to know what I find romantic? The bar.

For so many reasons: The nature of bar dining is more casual, so by default it’s also more intimate. You’re not held to the formalities of “fine dining,” plus, you get to sit in close proximity and hold hands under the counter (or above, if you’re European). You can speak civilly into each other’s ears, rather than yell across the table, which is nice because, let’s admit it—the best restaurants in SF are quite frequently deafening. You can also lean on his (or her) shoulder while you’re waiting for your food to arrive and when it does, you can share your dinner without awkwardly sending plates back and forth. (I’m a proponent of sharing whenever possible, which for some reason is kind of a girl thing, so, when you find a guy that will do this with you, I suggest you keep him around.) I also feel taller at a bar, which I suppose makes for confidence-exuding and we all know there’s nothing sexier than exuding confidence.


Sharing at Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur.

My latest bar romance was last Sunday afternoon at Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur (owned and run by the excellent SF-based chef Bruce Hill), where we shared one of the best margheritas I’ve had in a while, a field’s worth of wild arugula (half of which I put on my pizza) and a great selection of charcuterie, along with some red wine. In SF? Some of my favorites are SPQR (there, I recommend sitting at the lower bar by the open kitchen—your confidence might not be as high, but the cooking action is pretty great), Bar Jules, Pizzeria Delfina, Laiola, Jardinière, Piperade and of course, A16, where I’m pretty sure you could pull of the Lady and the Tramp stunt with their maccaronara.