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Your Guide to Dating in Cole Valley and the Haight

The best date spots in the neighborhood

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Nailing the perfect venue is an absolutely essential component to the success of a date. But here's the thing: What makes a great first date spot is definitely not the same as what makes a place the best to celebrate a special occasion or even a second date — so deciding where to take a plus-one doesn't always get the same answer. Every situation has different needs — neighborhood, vibes, price point — and it can be tricky to find the right bar or restaurant if you've never been there. So next time you're trying to pick a fitting location, just consult this guide. We've got you covered if it's Cole Valley and the Haight you're cornering.

In need of the best date spots in other neighborhoods? Check out this ultimate guide to dating in San Francisco.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

First date, drinks: Aub Zam Zam

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The bartenders at this notoriously ornery, Persian-themed dive bar have softened up a bit in the past few years, making this one of the more romantic dives in the neighborhood. You'll want to stick to ordering the basics, but if you can successfully navigate first date drinks here, where the prickly staff can be an obstacle to overcome together, then you definitely deserve a second date.

First date, coffee: Flywheel Coffee

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Grab a spot in the window, and gaze longingly at Golden Gate Park. If things are going well and you don't immediately want to run away, propose a stroll through the greenery.

Second date, moderate: The Alembic

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Snag a booth in the dining room and have an intimate conversation over a couple New BFFs (the cocktail, that is, made with double rye, Suze, and vermouth) and some jerk-spiced duck hearts. The drinks never fail to get things going, but be careful if you're on a budget — those small plates can run up a tab real quick.

Second date, expensive: Padrecito

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Padrecito's lively bar atmosphere and rustic, California-Mexican menu make for a more substantial dinner commitment. Start with cocktails at the colorful bar — perfect if your tastes skew more toward mezcal than whiskey — and then sit down to share a bunch of tacos and small plates.

Lock it down: Zazie

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Celebrate the fact that you and your new beau actually enjoy each other's company with a romantic patio brunch for two at this relaxed longtime neighborhood favorite. Besides, if you're going to wait that long for gingerbread pancakes and challah french toast, you might as well make it official.

LTR, moderate: Cha Cha Cha

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Congratulations on your long-term relationship! Cuban food always makes for a lively way to spice up date night. Drink way too many pitchers of sangria before you head home to make out, watch Netflix, and eat leftover fried plantains in bed.

LTR, expensive: Magnolia Gastropub

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It's surprisingly hard to find a truly expensive, let's-go-all-out dinner in the Haight, but you can still manage to ring up a sizable tab at Magnolia. Like any long-term relationship, there are things you love above Magnolia (good beer!) and some things that bug the crap out of you (it's so loud!), but you'll stick by it anyway.

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Breakup: Ice Cream Bar

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When it's time to cut ties, what better place to do it than at the cold granite bar of an art deco-themed soda jerk? Break the news over a couple boozy dessert drinks and if there are sore feelings at the end of it all, at least you'll still have ice cream.

First date, drinks: Aub Zam Zam

The bartenders at this notoriously ornery, Persian-themed dive bar have softened up a bit in the past few years, making this one of the more romantic dives in the neighborhood. You'll want to stick to ordering the basics, but if you can successfully navigate first date drinks here, where the prickly staff can be an obstacle to overcome together, then you definitely deserve a second date.

First date, coffee: Flywheel Coffee

Grab a spot in the window, and gaze longingly at Golden Gate Park. If things are going well and you don't immediately want to run away, propose a stroll through the greenery.

Second date, moderate: The Alembic

Snag a booth in the dining room and have an intimate conversation over a couple New BFFs (the cocktail, that is, made with double rye, Suze, and vermouth) and some jerk-spiced duck hearts. The drinks never fail to get things going, but be careful if you're on a budget — those small plates can run up a tab real quick.

Second date, expensive: Padrecito

Padrecito's lively bar atmosphere and rustic, California-Mexican menu make for a more substantial dinner commitment. Start with cocktails at the colorful bar — perfect if your tastes skew more toward mezcal than whiskey — and then sit down to share a bunch of tacos and small plates.

Lock it down: Zazie

Celebrate the fact that you and your new beau actually enjoy each other's company with a romantic patio brunch for two at this relaxed longtime neighborhood favorite. Besides, if you're going to wait that long for gingerbread pancakes and challah french toast, you might as well make it official.

LTR, moderate: Cha Cha Cha

Congratulations on your long-term relationship! Cuban food always makes for a lively way to spice up date night. Drink way too many pitchers of sangria before you head home to make out, watch Netflix, and eat leftover fried plantains in bed.

LTR, expensive: Magnolia Gastropub

Eater Archives

It's surprisingly hard to find a truly expensive, let's-go-all-out dinner in the Haight, but you can still manage to ring up a sizable tab at Magnolia. Like any long-term relationship, there are things you love above Magnolia (good beer!) and some things that bug the crap out of you (it's so loud!), but you'll stick by it anyway.

Eater Archives

Breakup: Ice Cream Bar

When it's time to cut ties, what better place to do it than at the cold granite bar of an art deco-themed soda jerk? Break the news over a couple boozy dessert drinks and if there are sore feelings at the end of it all, at least you'll still have ice cream.

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