Best Dish to Fall in Love With
Chef Chu’s, 1067 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos; 650.948.2696. Chef Chu’s Lovers’ Prawns is divided into two types, one with a light wine sauce and the other braised in chile paste, garlic, ginger and tomato sauce. Either one will do the trick—the prawns are succulent—but the hot version is, well, hotter.
Best Secret Garden
Dinah’s Garden Hotel
4261 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650.493.2844. Tucked behind a cool entryway garden along busy motel row in Palo Alto is a charming piece of well-preserved hospitality-industry history. Dinah’s Garden Hotel, built in the late 1950s, is set on eight nicely landscaped creekside acres. The guest rooms look out on koi ponds and Buddha statues. It has the feel of a hidden oasis. The property’s restaurant is a Trader Vic’s, so guests can include a Mai-Tai or two in the evening’s festivities—just like Mom and Dad did.
Most Romantic Restaurant
21747 Bertram Road, San Jose; 408.997.3458. Easy pick, despite beautifully situated restaurants all over Santa Clara County—none, though, more romantic than this very proper French restaurant in a historic building: the first two story hotel ever built in California, apparently. A powerful splurge factor (a six-course tasting menu available in the cozy $70$130 range) demonstrates to your date that money means nothing without someone to spend it on. Out-of-towners and people new to the area can’t believe their eyes when taking in the gorgeous surroundings, not much changed since the Gold Rush.
Most Romantic Ride
The so-called “Skyline Drive” sports some 50 miles of two-lane stretch with the kind of sights generally seen only in luxury car commercials; 3,000 feet at its highest point, this lazy park-lined road is the perfect place for a very significant drive. It is very hard to look into someone’s eyes when sweet-talking them. By contrast, manly understated endearments muttered out of the side of the mouth, one hand on the wheel, the other hand squeezing the hand of the beloved—that’s the James Bond way. (And if the date goes south, you can go south too, even faster, on nearby I-280.)
Most Romantic Movie Watching Spot
345 S. First St., San Jose; 408.277.3900. A commoner’s palace, accessible for the price of popcorn at most other theaters. Home of the San Jose Symphony and Opera, this 1927 palace is occasionally open for movie viewing; it’s a stunning location from neon-covered marquee blade to vast auditorium. The size of the screen (and scope of the classic cinema on view) makes for the kind of evening that doesn’t get forgotten soon.
Best Restaurant for Romantic Sunset Watching
Mount Hamilton Grandview Restaurant
15005 Mount Hamilton Road, San Jose; 408.251.8909. They’ve been serving visitors for 120 years or so on or around this spot; originally a hotel and watering spot for visitors to the Lick Observatory; today, this family-owned restaurant with a full bar and entrees in the $15-$20 range serves up an incomparable view of the Santa Clara valley, the daily spectacle of a hydrocarbon rich sunset fading into the illumination of a vast, jeweled, glowing grid.
Best Place to Challenge Mark Zuckerberg to a Duel
Taqueria La Bamba, Mountain View
2058 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View; 650.965.2755. We learn from his Facebook locations posting (as well as Jose Antonio Vargas’ great article in The New Yorker) that Zuckerberg visits this Mexican eatery sometimes. What better location to deliver the glove-slap: “Sir, a Facebook posting has insulted my honor. I demand satisfaction.” When you do, please recall that Zuckerberg was the captain of his fencing team at Exeter, and you’ll likely end up with a Z carved on your forehead. Of course, you could just let him eat in peace.