To me, there is a science in picking the perfect restaurant for a first date. Being on a first date is nerve wrecking enough, so choose a place that’ll calm your nerves, is conducive to great conversation, and provides a comfortable setting to lessen the stress. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a place that enhances the date because it has the potential to set the stage for a wonderful meal and thought-provoking conversation (hopefully!). The experience of the place will help craft the unconscious narratives that we don’t even realize can influence the rhythm, flow, and mood of the date like:
Is the service going to be slow?
Are there going to be too many menu options and I take forever to choose?
Will we sit too close to people next to us (then they’ll know we’re on a first date-great)
How are the drink options because I know I’m going to need one!
Will my date be impressed by my place selection – Gosh I hope so?
And the list goes on!
We don’t want that for you.
So, what are the best places to have an amazing first date in Claremont? Here are a few suggestions that will certainly lend the mood to a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.
The Quarter. This is the first place that always comes to mind for a romantic date because it’s an absolute gem of a restaurant. It’s authentic creole cuisine with a touch of French and has the ambiance of New Orleans charm. It’s in the heart of the Claremont Village and I suggest making reservations and sitting by the window that looks over 2nd street. The food is out of this world, bursting with flavor. The craw fish biscuit and shrimp & grits are solid home-runs for appetizers to share and some winning entrees are The Quarter catfish, shrimp yvonne, and craw fish etouffee. For dessert, cap it off with a glass of tawny port or bread pudding (yummmm!). If you’re lucky enough you’ll get Jimmy to serve you but really, all the employees are very hospitable and attentive. This place just has a warm, welcoming vibe and the décor is charming and romantic- exactly what you need on your date.
Viva Madrid. Where do I start with Viva Madrid….It’s THE BEST Spanish tapas restaurant ever. Period. I know my fellow Claremonters would agree with me. The décor is quite unique and charming. From top to bottom there is authentic Spanish décor and the ceiling is painted to look like a sky with a huge chandelier in the center. It’s dimly lit but has such lively energy! You almost don’t want to leave. They even have a balcony INSIDE that makes you immediately imagine a guy playing a beautiful, melodic Spanish guitar and suddenly you’re transported to Spain *ahhhh*. This place gets packed and since you can’t make reservations, I highly recommend coming early on a weekend to secure a spot. You’ll want to be sure to try their signature sangria and/or handcrafted cocktails. You can even order a Spanish Coffee where Austin will pour cinnamon on it and light it on fire. Now you have dinner and a show! How’s that for impressing your date? Order the Paella of course (meat, seafood, or vegetarian) and for actual tapas the bacon wrapped dates are a must but also try the garlic shrimp, spanish cheeses, oxtail soup, empanadas, potatas bravas, and chicken croquettes. Their crème brule is a perfect cherry on top to wrap up the evening.
Bardot. Bardot is a bustling French-American restaurant in the heart of the Claremont Village and an excellent option for a date spot. Bardot has one of the liveliest bar tops in town and for dinner service this restaurant just comes alive. It has a huge space to eat outside with beautiful ambient lighting and fire pits to enjoy the cool evening nights of southern California. There are plenty of menu options here from gourmet burgers and hearty entrees to filling appetizers and loaded salads. My favorite appetizers are the goat cheese lollipops, clam chowder, ceviche, and tuna tartar. Their entrees are also perfect if your date likes to “share”. My gosh I didn’t even mention the cocktails! They really have their craft cocktails down to a science. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get Dave to mix one up for ya and it’ll change your life expectancy (now I’m laying it on thick). I am also impressed with their wine selection. Their service is one of the best in the village and I can assure you that you will be taken care of at Bardot and your date will be impressed.
Packing House Wines. This place is near and dear to my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken myself here on a date. This is the place to be to have outstanding wines and venture out of your normal selections. They are consistently rotating their wines and also have wine tasting every weekend. Their wine staff is incredibly knowledgeable and will be more than happy to recommend wines for your palate. It’s also a wine shop and the owner, Sal, is a Sommelier and is always gracious enough to send you off with the right wine selection for you. Their American-style cuisine is superb and succulent. You can choose small plates like the bacon wrapped dates, charcuterie, or gourmet mac and cheese or bigger selections like the seasonal risotto, gnocchi, a gourmet burger, or steak dinner. Of course, finish your meal with a nice glass of port or bubbly. It gets lively so if you plan on going during the weekend, call and make reservations ahead of time. It has a warm, cozy feeling but is also a very classy place to take someone on a date.
Union on Yale. Oh the times I’ve had at Union on Yale…. What a hip place to be! If you want a retro and modern vibe with indoor and outdoor seating options, make Union on Yale your go-to place. The vibe is hip and funky and boy oh boy their bar top is happenin’ on a Friday night. Their menus look like vinyl records which I find unique and fun and they always have my jams playing in the background (80's new wave or electro chill). They have incredibly talented mixologists and ANY cocktail you get will not disappoint. You’ll get another one- I promise. Their wine selection is pretty good as well. If possible, make reservations ahead of time. Oh, and pro-tip, ask to sit outside especially at night. The outdoor ambiance feels very comfortable and relaxed with stringed lights with plants and trees throughout. Their service is excellent and their American-style cuisine menu options are just the right amount. I recommend sharing their wood fired pizza or their signature fried chicken. Their small plates are perfect if you’d like to eat a modest meal like brussels sprouts, frites, crispy calamari, and charcuterie.
If you is calling for an after dinner drink, read Grab an After-Dinner Drink at These Places in Claremont.
There are other many impressive restaurant options in Claremont for date night but I really just wanted to narrow it down the best options for you. Less is more, right? I’d love to hear your own recommendations in the comments below and let’s have a fun conversation about it. Thanks for reading- Au revior! P.S. Hope your date goes off without a hitch 😉.
Photography Credits: All photos were taken by the author of this blog.