Valentine's Day is the one day a year (aside from anniversaries) that nearly every couple, no matter what stage of the relationship they're in, feels pressured to ball out.
But have no fear, my friends. Dating in the East Bay is made easy by the unlimited dining options. One day you're flirting over pizza at Tomatina, the next day falling in love sharing sushi at Sasa. Not only are local East Bay restaurants diverse in cuisine, but the prices range as well so you are guaranteed to find somewhere to fit your budget and impress that special someone.
Maria Maria isn't typically considered a cheap restaurant, but this year Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday which means...TACO TUESDAY. Stop by between 4-6 pm and get $1 tacos when you order a drink.
#SpoonTip: The pomegranate margaritas are on point.
A causal beer garden in Berkeley, Jupiter is a low key spot to enjoy the company of your special someone while sharing yummy pizza and good brews under the twinkling lights of the patio.
13. Va de Vi
Va de Vi's menu is designed for sharing a few small plates, complemented by one (or more, who's counting?) of their wine flights.
Think of A16 as a step up from Jupiter. Located both in San Francisco and Rockridge, it's the perfect spot to have cheese dangle from your mouth as we try to seduce whoever is sitting across the table from you.
Tomatina holds a special place in my heart because my boyfriend and I had our first date and our first Valentine's Day together here. Trust me, it's a go-to date night restaurant. You can never go wrong with the fusilli gorgonzola or one of their piadines (think salad on top of a flatbread).
East Ocean has dim sum for dayssss. The only reason why it's higher up on the list price-wise is because it's easy to keep ordering more and more dishes, losing track of prices. No regrets, though.
9. Blue Gingko
Blue Gingko was one of the first restaurants I went to when I moved to the Bay, and it is still one of my favorites. Sushi is one of the best foods to eat when out on a date because you're encouraged to share, and the small, intimate setting of Blue Gingko only elevates the experience.
Like at Va de Vi, patrons are encouraged to share the delicious Spanish tapas, although there are a few entrees to choose from. Just like you and your special someone, Telèferic's tapas and sangria make the perfect pair.
Sasa is essentially a step up from Blue Gingko, as the two are owned by the same people. If this picture of the beautiful sushi isn't enticing enough, it's one of Steph and Ayesha Curry's favorite restaurants, which is as close to being blessed by God as you can get.
One of my favorite memories growing up is eating octopus salad on Christmas Eve at my grandparents' house, so anywhere that cooks up a good octopus salad, and makes it look like a piece of art, is a winner in my book. Your date won't be the only one serving up good looks.
Literally directly upstairs from Telèferic is this aptly named gem. Share some oysters and wine, both aphrodisiacs I might add, with your bae while taking in the lights of downtown Walnut Creek.
4. REVE Bistro
A hidden gem of Lafayette, REVE serves up deliciously reimagined French classics. Paris is the city of love, so treat your loved one to a fitting dinner.
Massimo Ristorante's version of heaven on a plate is their grilled hanger stake with bordelaise sauce, gorgonzola butter, parmesan fries. Gorgonzola butter. Steak. Parmesan fries. Your date might get jealous because you'll surely fall in love with your food.
This image documents the first time I ever ate duck. It was truly a spiritual experience, and my life has not been the same since. My boyfriend and I have celebrated our past two anniversaries here, and if I could ball out every date night this is where I would go. Every time.
You know a restaurant is next level when they have a prix-fixe four course dinner. If you and your sweet thang want to shell out, Haven is one of the best places in Oakland to do it. Even their cocktails are extra—the Overnight Mail is made with aged rum, honey, lime, champagne, bee pollen. Yes, honey and bee pollen. And champagne.
It should go without saying, though, that you do not have to pull out all of the stops to have a lovely Valentine's Day. Sometimes a low key night at home is just what you need, as long as you have the right company. Last year I made delicious lemon butter scallops, and it quickly became one of my favorite (and surprisingly easiest) dinners to make.