It's date night for you and your partner, and you’re looking to go beyond your usual takeout options and favorite neighborhood joints. On nights when you want to spice things up, these restaurants have an extra interesting element to them to add a little excitement to your evening. Make going out feel like an event at places with friendly service and fun vibes — at price points that allow you to make date night a regular occurrence. These 16 restaurants check off all the date-night necessities, so turn up, for whatever mood you feel like.Read More
The Best Moderately-Priced Date Night Restaurants in the Bay Area
Where to go when it's date night
While Mourad may be the sleeker (and more expensive) option of chef Mourad Lahlou’s restaurants, Aziza continues to be a local favorite. The whole branzino may push the budget a bit, but it’s a splurge that one could make an argument for, and unique plates such as the blackened avocado or eggplant might make this a more-regular date night spot in the future.
Seventeen years in, Bar Crudo is still the perfect seafood spot. Reserve a table downstairs, where there's more light and you have viewing access to the open kitchen. For a super casual date, happy hour is always a popular draw, too, when there are discounted food and drink.
Anchor Oyster Bar
Everyone knows that oysters are aphrodisiacs, so give your significant other a not-so-subtle hint over dozens and dozens of them. The nautical, small space gets packed, too, so you'll be forced to crowd closer in the process.
If you’re looking for more of a cozy, comforting food spot — that leans toward more vegetarian options — Otra is the place to go. There are a number of vegetarian tacos if that’s what’s preferred, with tortillas made in-house, plus bites and dips to snack on while you wait for your main dishes.
Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center
Food trucks, live music, and drinks are still a great way to spice up date night in a casual, very SF way. OTG Fort Mason is back after a pause during the pandemic, and still worth visiting if only for the reason that you can both get (very) different dishes before meeting up to share.
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While Copas is an all-day restaurant, that doesn’t mean the Market Street spot doesn’t know how to turn things up a notch for date night. The Mexican- and Spanish-inflected menu includes heavier dishes like the arroz con pollo, but there are also small plates worthy of attention such as the pulpo, Spanish octopus, or Hokkaido sea scallops. There are a number of cocktails to try, or take one of the “California Copas” for a spin, which features fresh ingredients such as cucumber, with sparkling wine or other spirits.
Beit Rima is an excellent spot for a date night centered around comfort food, which is perfect for when you’d rather feel cozy than scene-y. You’ll definitely want to get the mezze sampler, and the kabobs (if you’re meat-inclined), but otherwise most of the dishes should be a hit, no matter what you order. There’s also a location in Cole Valley, though it’s equally as cozy and perhaps a bit more quiet.
Good Good Culture Club
If you’re looking more for a fun, vibey environment for your date night, rather than a candlelit, too-dark-to-see-anything spot, Good Good Culture Club is the way to go. The brightly colored space evokes more of a vacation feel and spreads those good good feelings into dinner. If you’re a fan of stuffed wings, go for the ones here, or the Lao sausage. Don’t miss out on dessert either, which features takes on Asian classics, such as Filipino halo halo (or, as it’s called at the restaurant, the Halo Ha-Lao).
Foreign Cinema is a classic date night for a reason, but let's set the Foreign Cinema scene: a flickering hearth, twinkling lights, a classic movie projected on the wall, solid drinks, delicious Mediterranean-leaning food, and attentive service. You can't manufacture romance like this, so inject some into your LTR, and head here for dinner.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Chome is a small, hole-in-the-wall izakaya serving innovative, small dishes perfect for sharing. Explore the skewers, if they’re available, and if you’re a sushi/wagyu fan, the “Big Mac” is a must-try; otherwise, there are a number of items to keep both parties happy. There can be a wait at peak times, but the intimate space — and the owners’ fun sense of humor — makes it a unique spot that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
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Trestle continues to be a relative bargain in the date night world, so it’s worth continuing to rave about its $39 prix fixe. And while the menu options change, the dishes are relatively solid and the space is cozy for an intimate date whether you’re two dates in or just looking to switch things up for your hundredth night out.
Ferry Building Marketplace
When's the last time you wandered through the Ferry Building? The vendors have only gotten even better, and the best time to go is on Saturday mornings to fully enjoy the farmers market. Prep yourself with patience for the inevitable crowds, but if you go with the right expectations, the outing can turn into a fun, all-day way to rediscover what you love so much about this city.
Okay, sure, you’ve likely been to Souvla for a quick weeknight dinner, but hear us out on this one: this new Souvla space is different. There are, of course, the menu standards if you feel like reaching for something familiar, but it’s worth branching out to new options such as the feta-brined chicken, alongside any of the Greek wines on the expanded drinks menu.
While the food menu isn’t quite as extensive as other places on this list, it’s a nice, lighter option for those who want to linger during their date. Order some oysters to start, add on a salad or the beet-cured halibut, and share a bottle of rose in this beautiful new Oakland spot that will feel like a pleasant retreat from the East Bay (or your apartment).
Darkened corners, bamboo mats, and Japanese whiskies make Ippuku a mini-adventure in downtown Berkeley. Spin through the yakitori menu of grilled chicken knees, or order the secret chicken tartare for an extra intrepid evening.
Jo's Modern Thai
Don’t call Jo’s Modern Thai restaurant “Thai fusion” — it’s so much more. Chef Intu-On Kornnawong prefers to describe the menu as “Thai-Californian cuisine,” meaning Thai food with seasonal ingredients from California. Order the drunken noodles, which come with brisket from Smokin Woods BBQ, or the pad Thai, which comes with lobster for a fancified touch. There’s also a decent wine and beer list, as well as some specially-made cocktails like Spill the Tea, an alcohol-infused version of Thai tea.