Willi’s Wine Bar
4404 Old Redwood Highway (near River Road)
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Off old Redwood Highway in Santa Rosa is a classic roadhouse that will take your new honey’s breath away. Willi’s Wine Bar boasts a menu featuring 30 international small plates, which change by the season, and may include gourmet dishes like Moroccan lamb chops, filet mignon sliders, crab tacos, Fuji apples and mint and truffled French fries. All food is paired with a wide variety of wines, which are available in 2-ounce tasters, as well as by the glass or bottle. A date here says you’re casual, yet sophisticated, and is perfect if you’re looking for a low pressure environment.
El Paseo House of Chops
17 Throckmorton St. (near East Blithedale)
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Turn this unique restaurant’s past into the starting point of your and your date’s future relationship. El Paseo House of Chops is not your run-of-the-mill diner in Mill Valley. This restaurant, with all its charm and history, is reminiscent of a fairy tale destination and has operated continuously since 1948. Taken over two years ago by celebrity chef Tyler Florence and rocker Sammy Hagar, El Paseo is beautiful and bursting with a rich, telling of its history of days gone by. The two owners have personally planned and directed the complete restoration of the interior and exterior of this magnificent space, bringing this local institution back to its former glory.
Nappa Valley Wine Train
1275 McKinstry St.
Napa, CA 94559
If you’re not sure whether to do a traditional date or an adventurous getaway, why not do a mix of both? The Napa Valley Wine Train combines the convention of getting to know one another over dinner and the excitement of trying something new together. Mix in the romance of wine and sunsets and you have all the makings of a perfect first date. The dinner train has two packages to choose from. While both provide three hour rides in a romantic, antique train, the Vista Dome package chugs you along in a 1953 rail car with domed ceilings and includes a multi-course menu and complimentary sparkling wine from one of California’s own vineyards. The gourmet package takes you through sweeping views of the valley in a 1915 Pullman Car and includes a freshly prepared meal by Chef Kelly Macdonald. Or go for one of the many winery tours, complete with tastings and a gourmet meal.
River Run Casino’s Quail Run Buffet
3250 Highway 128
Geyserville, CA 95441
First dates mean taking a chance on love, so why not throw a little gambling into the evening? River Rock Casino is a quick 20 minute trip from Santa Rosa and happens to have a restaurant with amazing panoramic views of the Alexander Valley and surrounding wineries. Hit up a few tables or try your luck at the slots and then settle in for dinner at the Quail Run Buffet for a full course meal with a view. Not sure what your date likes to eat? Not a problem—the buffet has everything from Asian to Italian to Mexican fare.
Related: Best Buffets In North Bay
37 Caledonia St.
Sausalito, CA 94965
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the romantic city of Sausalito lies Osteria Divino. This Caledonia Street venue is just a few blocks from the harbor and serves up delicious Florentine fare made with local and organic ingredients. Dishes like shrimp risotti and galetto roasted game hen are only highlighted by the amazing live music Divino hosts. You and your date will be serenaded by live piano, jazz and blues while you get to know one another in this classy yet timeless restaurant.
Related: Take A Bite Out Of San Jose
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Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.