by Erin Chambers - 9246 Reviews - 161 List
Whether you're looking to impress the socks off your crush--or just minimize the awkward moments between the two of you--you've come to the right place for first-date planning in San Diego. From hidden wine bars stocked with liquid courage, to the most cozy booths for getting close, to random, wacky, get-to-know-you activities, we've got your guide to the best San Diego first dates.
Updated: August 31, 2009
Insert card, push button, taste wine: Vending machine-style wine tasting is the new trend (Thanks to Italy, for another fab vino innovation) in wine bars, and Splash Wine Lounge is the first place to offer it in San Diego. It allows you to taste 1 oz. servings of dozens of wines before deciding on the bottle your want to purchase. Impress your date with info on the fancy vending machines (made in Italy, temperature-controlled) and have fun trying different sips and comparing. They also have great flatbread pizzas for snacking. On a budget? Go on a Tuesday night, when tasting is two-for one.
Looking for something super low key for your first night out with someone new? Does the idea of schlepping it to a downtown hot spot or North Park hipster haven make you cringe? Then Normal Heights' friendly, unassuming Triple Crown Pub is the perfect choice. Bartenders are friendly, the prices are good, and the vibe is neighborhood-y and so-San Diego. And, with pool, ping pong, shuffleboard and darts, there's plenty to "do" with your date in between beers and, hopefully, good coversation.
The quaint stretch of Adams Avenue in Kensington is the perfect place for a casual first date uptown. Dinner at modern, eco-friendly Burger Lounge (all beef is "happy" and grass-fed from Kansas) won't break the bank (most menu items are $10 or less), and there's plenty of before and after options nearby. Try a midnight movie at the Ken Theater right across the street (they show classics like Beetlejuice and Star Wars) or a cappuccino from Kensington Cafe one block to the east on Adams.
It's La Jolla's newer go-to date spot, with an updated lounge area, a cool patio perfect for people watching and that illusive population of young people who like to hang, and can afford to hang, in the village. The slow-food menu full of local standouts, including beer and house-infused liquors, will impress any level of foodie, and the wine list is fun and interesting with lots of by-the-glass selections at reasonable prices. It's also just a short stroll from La Jolla Cove--one of the best sunset-viewing spots in the city.
Looking for dinner with a little something extra? Try Third Corner in OB, a great California bistro that's inside one of the better wine shops in the city. You and your date can wander the wine shop, talk with the very helpful staff who can always steer you to a great bottle in your price range, and then take a seat for dinner at one of the handful of tables that are right inside the wine shop in between all the crates and bottles. The wine is all retail-priced, and there's a $5-8 corkage fee.