One of the best things about being in a babysitting coop is that you don’t have to blow half your date night budget on a babysitter. We just wrapped up a round of date-night swaps that we traded with four other local families — giving us four date nights (one per month) with free babysitting! It doesn’t get much better than that. Here’s what we did on our civilized, kid-free nights out.
Date Night #1: Dinner with Margaritas at Comal, Berkeley
This upscale Mexican restaurant in Downtown Berkeley has yummy Margaritas. I recommend reserving a table in the main dining room. We didn’t have a reservation, but luckily snagged a table in the back section, which was kind of chilly and breezy on the rainy winter night that we went. The dining room also features refined acoustics so you can speak at a normal volume and still have a nice quite conversation.
Date Night #2: Dinner with martinis and wine at Corso, Berkeley
An elegant Italian restaurant in Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto,” Corso serves excellent martinis and features what I consider to be the best chicken dish in America (pictured). Unfortunately, the last time I had it it was slightly overcooked, but the time before that was exquisite! Baked in gobs of butter and served in its own tiny little pan this lovely little breast goes wonderfully with a glass of chianti classico.
Date Night #3: Dinner with martinis and wine at The Advocate, Berkeley
Sister restaurant to Comal, The Advocate is a cosmopolitan new option in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood. Not only is it a great date night spot, it also has a nice bar for fancy mom’s night out drinks. The kitchen churns out delicious dishes like the classic cheeseburger — one of the best in the Bay Area — and a seasonal flatbread like the “flowers, herbs, and honey” flatbread pictured above. Yes, I had this and yes, I felt like a fairy queen eating it.
Known for their “tea leaf salad,” Burma Superstar enjoys cult status as one of the best Burmese restaurants in the Bay Area (In addition to this restaurant in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, they’ve got locations in San Francisco and Alameda). But whenever we go, I can’t resist the sesame chicken and sautéed pea leafs. So good! Last weekend we also got the “sumosa salad,” which was yummy. I found that the “lychee cucumber mimosa,” which tasted strange at first, paired excellently with the salad’s savory flavors.
We still had an hour left after finishing up dinner at Burma Superstar, so we headed over to Temescal Alley — a really cute industrial chic area just off busy Telegraph Avenue. Most of the shops were closed, but a handful of families and other couples were lining up at Curbside Creamery. A single ice cream cookie sandwich split between the two of us hit the spot — and check out the picturesque brick patio where we sat in minty green chairs beneath a rose trellis. It’s one of my new favorite places. I think we’ll have to go back soon with the little one in tow.
Date Night #5: Oysters and Champagne at the Claremont Hotel, Berkeley
While this wasn’t technically a date night, it was still a fun night out with my husband, mother-in-law, and 6-year-old daughter (it was actually her birthday!). But the setting was beautiful with the Claremont Hotel’s newly renovated interiors and spectacular views, and I think it would make a marvelous place for a date.
Do you have a favorite date night spot in the city where you live? I’d love to know!
[All images except the last two courtesy of the respective restaurants]