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Patch Picks: Five Romantic Restaurants for Valentine's Day

Every week we pick five of our favorite local places, based on a weekly theme.

This week we introduce Patch Picks: Every week Patch hunts down five of our local favorites based on the theme of the week. 

This week is Valentine’s Day. For the occasion we have sussed out a list of five restaurants in El Cerrito and neighboring communities.

Many people favor a romantic locale for this occasion, and we have included a few traditional choices. We have also included some non-traditional spots for those wanting something a little different.

  • Chef Osamu Watanabe took over in El Cerrito when Yusan himself died about 2008. Inside, you will find romantic Japanese-style kneeling tables located by the front picture window. Share a wide selection of sushi and other dishes, from intricate bento boxes to the chef’s choice of raw fish for the day over rice. Green tea and sake pair well with the Japanese cuisine. If you do not like to kneel, counter and table spaces also are available. Location: 11866 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, 510-524-9336
  • The newer El Cerrito restaurant offers a large, quiet and open space near the Cerrito Theatre, with extensive decorations—from straw-hut touches to a water buffalo statue. Menu options include a vermicelli noodle bowl customized with your choice of meat and egg roll, or raw meats you cook for yourself in a hot pot on the table and wrap, along with vegetables and noodles, in seemingly endless rice paper rolls. Entree portions are ample. One Nông Thôn waiter recommends pairing any course with your favorite beer on the menu. Location: 10086 San Pablo Ave. (corner of Central Avenue), El Cerrito, 510-647-8030
  • For a quiet place beside the bay that feels like another world, the BoilerHouse in Point Richmond has a rich history and uses local, sustainable foods in their entrees. While the restaurant is located in a former Ford plant built in 1931, the feeling is spacious and regal. The menu ranges from fish and chips—with a variety of add-ons—to American fare like prime rib and Cobb salad. A wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is available. Location: 1414 Harbour Way South, Marina District, Richmond, 510-215-6000
  • is near the San Pablo Avenue entrance to El Cerrito Plaza. The restaurant is spacious, with white linens on the tables. The large kitchen can be viewed from the dining area. The menu emphasizes pasta dishes such as such as chicken rigatoni, paired with the chef’s recommended Merlot, and entrees like grilled halibut and center-cut lamb spiedini. A $3.99 drink special on “passion punch” is being offered for Valentine’s Day. Location: 8000 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito, 510-524-9336
  • Bua Luang Thai in Albany is a favorite with regulars and offers a specials that include basil salmon and Ped Kra Praw (a duck entrée). Even better: catch a movie at the Albany Twin before or after your meal. Location: 1166 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-527-8288
Al Miller February 14, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Five Romantic Restaurants! What a great idea, especially for Valentine's Day. However, I think you missed the best candidate, The Post Meridian on the Colusa Circle across from the Circus Pub. It is relatively small, the service is great and it is one of the quietest restaurants I have been in. They bill themselves as featuring a "California French cuisine in which organic, local and sustainable ingredients are the first choice in our kitchen." It is a little more expensive that the restaurants listed in your feature, but it is also a much more "special" place for your "special" date. One more thing - although it is an interesting and historical location, the night we were at the BoilerHouse, it was more like a raucous sports bar with poor service than a "romantic restaurant."
Charles Burress (Editor) February 14, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Al, indeed Post Meridian is a great suggestion. In fact, we had it on our original list but then discovered that it's closed today, Valentine's Day. And sorry to hear about your experience at the BoilerHouse. It sounds like we'll have to reconsider next time.

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