Love is in the air. Whether you only go out on one big date a year or get the urge to splurge on your honey a few times every quarter, it’s always nice to go somewhere with a romantic ambience and amazing food. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to impress your significant other – or future lover – as Cupid’s bow prepares to strike for Valentine’s Day.
El Alma del Tango
With a beautiful outdoor courtyard and its close proximity to the Arlington Theatre (it’s right across the street), Cafe Buenos Aires is perfect for a “dinner and a show” date.
From tapas (appetizers) to seafood to rib-eye steaks, the restaurant’s diverse but traditional Argentinean menu makes it easy for anyone to find a delicious dish, Manager Mart’n Lertora Nowacke said.
To please those diners looking to make this year’s Valentine’s Day memorable, Nowacke said the restaurant will be serving several specialty meals and hosting live entertainment on Feb. 14.
“We’re going to have a special menu,” he said. “We’ll have lobster and filet mignon. We’re also going to have a tango band.”
In addition to Valentine’s Day, Nowacke said reservations are definitely recommended for dining on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights – when the eatery regularly features a live band.
But on any day of the week you decide to visit Cafe Buenos Aires, the atmosphere of the restaurant will put you in a romantic mood. Fortunately, the ambiance of the cafe’s interior makes it the perfect place to get to know that special someone – without the tension of most formal restaurants.
“You can come in here and forget about all [of your worries and problems] and just relax,” Nowacke said.
So whether you’re looking to spice up your love life or just eat a great meal, this South American delight is the perfect place to satisfy all your needs. Cafe Buenos Aires opens for dinner from 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 5 p.m. on weekends.
I Loved You Before I Met You
Tucked away on Victoria Street is Epiphany, a restaurant that has recently been gathering fame because of its appearance on an episode of “Top Chef.”
Open for dinner until 10:30 p.m. seven days a week, Epiphany combines French-influenced California cuisine with top quality, locally grown ingredients for a spectacular finish unique to the Santa Barbara.
“I like to give our diners the experience they couldn’t do for themselves at home,” Head Chef Ron True said.
True said one of the best qualities of the restaurant is the high caliber of all its dishes.
“We do almost everything in house,” he said. “Everything we make we put the integrity [of the restaurant] into it.”
Epiphany has a very intimate feel. Though the small eatery has only a limited number of seats, the multitude of private booths in the dining area makes it easy to feel as if you and your date are the only couple there.
“If intimacy is what you’re looking for, we have you covered,” True said.
Aside from the wide varieties of dishes on the menu, the restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list and an impressive collection of its own cocktails, True said. The chef even had a few drink suggestions for indecisive first-time visitors.
“The ‘supreme pear’ is made with fresh pear juice infused with sake, shaken with Absolut pear and vanilla syrup to make a very refreshing and unique cocktail,” he said.
The restaurant opens for dinner at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends, and holds a regular happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. But make sure your dinner plans are more than just an epiphany – True said that reservations are strongly suggested.
Find Enchantment Here
Pascucci is well known by locals for its pastas and Italian dishes, but the downtown restaurant is also the perfect place for a more low-key date. The warm interior and dark wood bar add to the romantic and personal atmosphere of the eatery.
“[Pascucci has] a great ambiance – the dŽcor is very romantic,” manager Betty Lopez said. “The fireplace adds to the warmth of it all.”
In addition, everything about the restaurant is local – from the food, to the customers, to the artwork, Lopez said.
“It’s high quality food bought from local growers … for a low price,” she said.
The restaurant is also a perfect for choice for students, as it offers high quality food for relatively low prices. However, despite its economical menu, the eatery itself is a very sophisticated place to take a date.
“[Pascucci] is in the heart of downtown,” Lopez said. “There are lots of things [nearby] to do before and after.”
The eatery also features live entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays.
“On weekends we have a Latin band play,” Lopez said. “Toward the end of the night everyone – [all of the guests and servers] – gets involved.
Open from 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Pascucci is the perfect place to re-enact your favorite scene from “Lady and the Tramp” while the night weaves its magic spell on any lovely bella notte.
Blue Without You
Less than a block from State on East Cota Street is the Blue Agave restaurant, a very intimate restaurant with an unmistakable exterior marked by bright blue doors.
The restaurant’s extremely intimate feel is reflected by the widespread popularity of its tall booths and cozy couches, which staffers report are one of the most frequent requests from the Agave’s regular customers.
“The couples really like the booths,” co-owner Gabi Crosbie said. “[They’re] velvet, very comfy and cozy – very secluded.”
Along with a nice place for deep conversation, Blue Agave is always playing ambient music, creating an inviting atmosphere for anyone looking eat with a group of friends – or to meet that special someone.
“People really come here to socialize and talk. … people really use it to get out and meet [other] people,” Crosbie said.
The eatery’s atmosphere is not its only bragging point – Blue Agave’s impressive menu has something to satisfy any craving, from duck salad to Thai chicken to steak au poivre.
“Come [in here] and see what really calls you,” Crosbie said. “We are popular for our tortilla soup but … just come and explore.”
The restaurant’s delicacies are comprised of high quality, fresh ingredients.
“It’s mostly organic, very tasty food,” she said. “It’s eclectic, it’s easy for everyone to find something they enjoy.”
Whatever you decide to eat and drink – the Agave has an extensive selection of high-quality cocktails – make sure to snag a snuggly booth or hang out by the fireplace to ensure a cozy evening at these restaurants.
The restaurant begins mixing drinks at 4:30 p.m. and starts serving dinner after 5:30 every day.
For the perfect Valentine’s Day – or anytime you want to show your affections – be sure your plans for a romantic evening include these restaurants. Love may be all that you need, but a candlelit dinner for two is always a sure way to ensure everlasting love.