Date night |

Date night

Really and truly, in a perfect world, your entire vacation should be one big date night, right? A big, fat, 24/7 holiday. Unfortunately you forgot and brought the kids. And your cellphone. And you told your office where they could reach you.

Time to shut it all down, my friends, and carve out a little alone time for you and your significant other. The following are some tried and true romance boosters guaranteed to light your fire — or at least get things cooking.

Big Water Grille • Incline Village

Even if you were George and Amal Clooney dining at Big Water Grille, and the paparazzi were saying “give us a loving look,” you would not glance at each other — you’d be staring out the window at the view of Lake Tahoe.

At some point, however, you are going to have to look at your menu and you decide the wild mushroom tart appetizer followed by the sea scallops for your main course will go nicely with the view. Back to the full view until dessert. And for dessert: the key lime cheesecake makes a nice prop for, yes, the view.

Try the excellent wine list and specialty beers as well.

Soule Domain • Kings Beach/Crystal Bay

The Soule brothers have been putting “r” in romance (like “rrrrrr”) for more than 30 years at this charming log cabin. In fact, they have been voted “Best Place to Take a Date” by the Sierra Nevada Media group readers for 15 years in a row.

I was holding out for Paris until I went here. These people have definitely earned their Zagat rating with a menu infused with flavors from around the world. Because I was still sulking about Paris, I went with the duck breast pan roasted and sliced with oranges, raspberries and glazed with Grand Marnier.

My date went with the filet mignon topped with shiitake mushrooms and a six pepper sauce. I have never found him more attractive. The prices here are very reasonable, which adds to the charm of this already lovely experience.

Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats • Downtown Truckee

As the name would imply, this place really gets you in, well, the Moody’s. The lighting is warm, soft perfection, and the dining area hosts generous, cushy booths nestled in an old-world atmosphere.

Here, the blast from the past ends, as chef Will Burns’ menu is cutting edge with a wide selection of creative appetizers just begging you to feed them to your loved-one across the table.

The pork belly is out of this world, brined and then cooked three times to get this amazing texture and then flavored buffalo style. For dinner, I would usually recommend, again, ordering different items to promote sharing, but the Fried Chicken Roulade coated with home-made, sweetened Spaetzle takes chicken and waffles to a whole new level.

A fight may ensue if you don’t both order it. Patio fire pits, live music and an ample hot toddies menu seal the deal.

Manzanita Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe • adjacent to Northstar California

Just when you thought it was impossible for this restaurant to get any more romantic, they go and introduce the Chef’s Tasting Counter, a more casual approach to the Chef’s Table.

It seems to me, this was specifically designed with couples looking for a little R&R&R — that last “R” being “romance.” Guests are seated with a view looking directly into their fabulous exposition kitchen where Chef Chris Watkins and his team are whipping up smaller-portioned dishes or “tapas” for your compete “tasting menu.”

It’s so fun and so tension free. Just sit down; they bring you champagne if you so desire, give you the menu, smile and chat with you during dinner while you and your date hold hands under the counter.

Good thing they have lovely rooms upstairs.

Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique Restaurant • Tahoe City

Since 1978, Wolfdale’s has been synonymous with a first date and it’s aimed to impress. Yes, you think you’re past that, but we beg to differ.

Start your date night with a cocktail from the martini menu and move on to oysters on the half shell. Relax into the moment and leave the bad day on the bunny slopes with the kids (you told them it would be cold without their gloves!) behind.

For more than three decades, this gem of a restaurant has been wowing with fresh East-meets-West cuisines, simply prepared in perfect balance. Not unlike their stunning art work and Lake Tahoe setting, their amazing Tamarind Seafood Stew … and your soul mate seated there, looking so datable in the soft light.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at

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