First Dates and Couples in Hibernation

A Few Spots to Take that Special Someone

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY: ASHELY BERMUDEZ

Love is in the air, and whether you find yourself in the prelude of a great romance or deep in hibernation with your boyfriend or girlfriend, we have two restaurants perfect for both.

While Valentine’s Day can be a fun time to go out on a date, it comes with its down sides. Many restaurants are booked with reservations and present a fixed menu, which comes with a hefty price. This year, consider taking your crush or partner on a romantic date before or after Valentine’s Day.

We’ve all experienced the pressures of first dates. There are so many thoughts and worries going on in each person’s mind. The worry of choosing the right restaurant with the right ambiance. What if the place is too loud and you find yourself in the, “Oh, crap. I can’t hear what she’s saying! OK, just nod your head and smile” situation. Or worse, it’s too quiet, and you find yourself in the, “I don’t know what to talk about; the silence is too much pressure! I’ll just take a sip of water, buy me some time… OK, my gulp was way too loud” situation. Ambiance matters.

Equally important is the food. First dates are great for going out to dinner… and then eating again as soon as you get home. Most women on a first date will order something light and eat about half. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve poured myself a big bowl of cereal after a date! It may sound crazy, but there are reasons behind this madness. As always, you want to present your best self to the person you are out with so you don’t want to get yourself in a, “This pesto sauce is delicious… Oh no, do I have green bits stuck in my teeth? He just said something funny. OK, casually cover your mouth and laugh” situation. Or worse, “I just ate cheese and garlic. He definitely can’t lean in for a kiss with this breath… OK, order a mojito.” situation. No bueno! Food matters.

Put your anxiety to rest because there is a restaurant that covers ambiance and food seamlessly. Located just a few blocks from CSULB is a hidden gem — Tantalum Restaurant. With views of the marina and live music in the evening, this is the perfect place to impress your date. The menu offers a variety of light dishes with portions that leave you feeling guilt-free.

The Spicy Tuna Tartar appetizer is fresh and full of texture. It is topped with avocado, which makes for a soft, creamy bite, paired with toasted sesame crackers to add a nice crunch.

Yes, chicken is usually the cheapest dish on the menu, but the Plum Hoisin Chicken is worth ordering. Let’s say it’s the most bang for your buck. The chicken is served tender and juicy, and the sauce is great for a little extra moisture on the rice.

While the Mahi Mahi looks tempting, the garlic marks the ex over it. Instead, go for the Scottish Salmon which is garnished with mint to freshen your palate.

Scottish Salmon 

Scottish Salmon 

The portions allow for you to have space for dessert without feeling too full. The Fried Banana Bread Pudding is served warm with ice-cream slowly melting over the top. This is definitely a dessert to be shared.

And who can forget drinks! If you want to stick with a classic cocktail, the Old Fashion is stiff and a must. A sweeter cocktail, the Tahitian Moon, is made with a raspberry vodka and a splash of pomegranate nectar, garnished with a flower petal.

 Tahitian Moon

 Tahitian Moon

Tantalum is a great choice for first dates, but if you’re in a relationship and ready to chow down until your jeans need unbuttoning, The Attic is the place to go.

The honeymoon phase is over and now you can really be yourself. “Give me all the carbs!” Oh, and let’s try not to burn holes in our wallets. Romantic gestures may be spread far and wide, but the honesty and intimacy of knowing your partner is priceless. There’s no worrying about how much to eat; the conversation is more like, “don’t take the last bite!”

The Attic is a cozy restaurant located off Broadway in Long Beach. People flock here for one reason — Mac & Cheetos, creamy macaroni and cheese topped with spicy hot cheetos. Seriously crying tears of joy. Don’t buy me flowers, buy me Mac & Cheetos. Now this is romance. You’ll be clanking the bowl with your spoon, desperately trying to get every last bit of cheese.

Mac & Cheetos

Mac & Cheetos

If you decide you want to order food instead of two more rounds of Mac & Cheetos, the Bourbon Glazed Steak is succulent and served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Awesome kissing breath after this dish.

The Market Risotto is a hearty vegetable medley. This is a good choice if you’re looking for something comforting. This is when you’ll want to unbutton your pants — let the belly breathe.

To end the night, consider ordering another round of Mac & Cheetos… er, I mean dessert! Dessert. The Strawberry Shortcake is sweet but not too sweet and incredibly moist. The combination of the whipped topping, with sweet bread and sliced strawberries, makes for a delightful bite.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Again, let’s talk drinks. February chill calls for a warming coffee cocktail. It is served cold but warms your body with every sip. However, if you’re one to embrace the chilly weather, the muddled mojito is a refreshing option served on crushed ice.

Muddled Mojito

Muddled Mojito

Between new minty kisses or familiar cheesy smooches, Long Beach offers a great variety restaurants for you to find exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, get out and experience our city’s unique cuisine.