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The Best Date Spots in Cow Hollow and the Marina

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 Cow Hollow and the Marina 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: The Interval at Long Now

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There is a lot at this intense cocktail bar to distract if needed: artifacts to look at, historical explanations to read, a 34-drink-long list to choose from. No matter which beverage you choose, the drinks are good, the vibes are relaxed, and there's some food to snack on.

First date, coffee: La Boulangerie de San Francisco

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San Franciscans all know and love this La Boulange reboot, with the same great sandwiches, salads, pastries, coffee, and tea. There are tons of tables to choose from and friendly vibes abound, though there will be a lot of people in workout clothes around you.

Second date, moderate: Belga

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Belga has the lively atmosphere of a Belgian brasserie (the big front bar helps) in a breezy, California-style space. There's an impressive beer list and a menu of Belgian classics (think sausages, mussels, fries) if wanted. When it's nice out, try to sit near the front open windows open so you can people watch as needed.

Second date, expensive: A16

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Easily the classiest restaurant in the neighborhood, A16's pizzas are the star here. Order your meal around the pies, and then fill it out with the stellar appetizers, salads, and pastas. Definitely get wine — and lots of it — and request a bar at the chef's counter so you can watch the action.

Where to lock it down: Greens

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In a neighborhood without a ton of special occasion spots, the vegetarian Greens is your best bet. And it's a good one, with solid food and a seriously killer view of the Bay. Make sure you get a window seat to alternate views of the Golden Gate and your brand-new SO's eyes.

LTR, moderate: Off the Grid: Fort Mason or Presidio

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Food trucks, live music, and drinks are the perfect way to spice up date night in a casual, very SF way. On Friday nights, OTG Fort Mason is a twinkling wonderland of quirky menus and music you can dance to, while Thursdays at the Presidio are super chill with fire pits and blankets. You can't go wrong with either.

LTR, expensive: Mina Test Kitchen

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The concept changes at Mina Test Kitchen every three months, but you always know it's going to be good. So far there's been Mediterranean, Italian, Indian, and barbecue prix fixe food in three-month tenures. The decor is not exactly pretty, but the Mina-quality food, knowledgeable service, and interesting (in a good way) experience make up for it.

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Breakup spot: Horseshoe Tavern

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No frills, no bullshit, no credit cards is the name of Horseshoe Tavern's game. Get in, do your business, and get out, then head to The Tipsy Pig down the street for some meat market action with your newly single status.

First date, drinks: The Interval at Long Now

There is a lot at this intense cocktail bar to distract if needed: artifacts to look at, historical explanations to read, a 34-drink-long list to choose from. No matter which beverage you choose, the drinks are good, the vibes are relaxed, and there's some food to snack on.

First date, coffee: La Boulangerie de San Francisco

San Franciscans all know and love this La Boulange reboot, with the same great sandwiches, salads, pastries, coffee, and tea. There are tons of tables to choose from and friendly vibes abound, though there will be a lot of people in workout clothes around you.

Second date, moderate: Belga

Belga has the lively atmosphere of a Belgian brasserie (the big front bar helps) in a breezy, California-style space. There's an impressive beer list and a menu of Belgian classics (think sausages, mussels, fries) if wanted. When it's nice out, try to sit near the front open windows open so you can people watch as needed.

Second date, expensive: A16

Easily the classiest restaurant in the neighborhood, A16's pizzas are the star here. Order your meal around the pies, and then fill it out with the stellar appetizers, salads, and pastas. Definitely get wine — and lots of it — and request a bar at the chef's counter so you can watch the action.

Where to lock it down: Greens

In a neighborhood without a ton of special occasion spots, the vegetarian Greens is your best bet. And it's a good one, with solid food and a seriously killer view of the Bay. Make sure you get a window seat to alternate views of the Golden Gate and your brand-new SO's eyes.

LTR, moderate: Off the Grid: Fort Mason or Presidio

Food trucks, live music, and drinks are the perfect way to spice up date night in a casual, very SF way. On Friday nights, OTG Fort Mason is a twinkling wonderland of quirky menus and music you can dance to, while Thursdays at the Presidio are super chill with fire pits and blankets. You can't go wrong with either.

LTR, expensive: Mina Test Kitchen

Eater Archives

The concept changes at Mina Test Kitchen every three months, but you always know it's going to be good. So far there's been Mediterranean, Italian, Indian, and barbecue prix fixe food in three-month tenures. The decor is not exactly pretty, but the Mina-quality food, knowledgeable service, and interesting (in a good way) experience make up for it.

Eater Archives

Breakup spot: Horseshoe Tavern

No frills, no bullshit, no credit cards is the name of Horseshoe Tavern's game. Get in, do your business, and get out, then head to The Tipsy Pig down the street for some meat market action with your newly single status.

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