By Kristine Hoang
By Ryan Ritchie
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Cleo Tobbi
By Dominique Boubion
There are restaurants designed to be overtly sexy, and there are those geared toward romance. Depending on who you are and whom you are with, one will suit you better than the other this Valentine’s Day (or any other day, when it’ll also be easier to get a table). Here are three lustful locales, followed by three that are best for what Pepe LePew called “ze woo-eeng.” It’s all about how loudly you want to announce to the world, “My dining companion and I will be having intercourse after the conclusion of this meal!”
25 Degrees. The Goodells’ “bordello meets burger bar” (their words, not mine) concept is not shy about its theming. It is, frankly, quite slutty. There are half-nude women on the drink menus, and the purple wallpaper may as well be from Frederick’s of Hollywood. All that’s missing are lecherous males clutching wads of singles, a smarmy DJ and a stripper pole. But this doesn’t stop its customers from indulging in the product it pimps: messy burgers that are hot and drippy. The sex factor might be a tease, but the beefy sandwiches are downright orgasmic. 412 Walnut Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-2525; www.25degreesrestaurant.com.
412 Walnut Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Region: Huntington Beach
Ice Bar. For Lois Lane, the Ice Bar might just rekindle fond memories of her Fortress of Solitude hookup with Superman. But for everyone else, the gimmick behind this Long Beach nightclub will either charm or blind. The lounge-y space is painted in retina-burning snowy white, then bathed by lights that rotate through color filters as if a jittery aurora borealis just made landfall. Everything ends up looking as washed-out as overexposed film. It can be unflattering to the complexion and discombobulating for the senses, especially when you can’t tell the salmon sashimi from the ahi. The rest of the food? If some of it will leave you cold, other dishes will keep you warm, literally. At least one dish is doused with alcohol and lit on fire to impress. Superman did not need such theatrics to get lucky—but you’re not Superman. 49 S. Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 495-8200; www.icelb.com.
AnQi. The sprawling complex by the Crustacean family of eateries is sexy in a surreptitious way. The place doesn’t have walls so much as it has see-through panels that hint of lacy lingerie. In the daytime, the restaurant sheds it like a burlesque act, revealing a hidden noodle bar that flashes its wares to unsuspecting Bloomingdale’s shoppers. During certain nights, a fashion runway is assembled in the middle of the main room so that pouty models can strut and twist in slinky costumes while you eat. Word is that there are hidden areas in this labyrinthine abode, with more being added as a second story is constructed. But there’s already a secret space that only the privileged and moneyed are allowed into: Like a peep show, it features an opaque window that turns clear at the flip of a switch. What do you see on the other side? A glimpse of the touted secret kitchen, where chefs prepare so-called “secret family recipes,” which I hear might soon include crab. South Coast Plaza, Bloomingdale’s, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-5679; www.anqirestaurant.com.
Basilic. The word “cozy” has always been used as a euphemism for “small and cramped,” but when I use it to describe Basilic, you should only infer that I mean good things. Yes, it’s tiny. You’ve probably been inside more spacious walk-in closets. But every table is a romantic one because they are all so, um, cozy. So much so that you can’t ever hope to get closer to your date than if you were sharing a sleeping bag. Eat the specialty, Swiss raclette, a fondue-like dish that will have you and your lovely companion slathering melted, oozy cheese on boiled potatoes and thinly sliced meats. Feeding each other will be easy, as will be smooching. 217 Marine Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 673-0570; www.basilicrestaurant.com.
Studio at the Montage. If you’re going to blow a large chunk of your paycheck just to impress a date on Valentine’s Day, Studio is expensive, but not overpriced. It has it all: a trained chef who prepares meals with pheasant and foie gras, and service that couldn’t be more obliging and obsequious if they fed you grapes and fanned you with peacock feathers. But then there’s the part that’s free: the mandatory but pleasant walk to reach the restaurant. It’s a stroll that takes you through the coast-hugging resort hotel’s grounds, admiring immaculately clipped lawns and breathing in the salty sea mist from an overlook at the cliff’s edge. 30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-6420; www.studiolagunabeach.com.
Brasserie Pascal. The distillation of all that is romantic about the City of Light, Brasserie Pascal just might be the most French of OC’s French restaurants. This is where you can impress Francophiles without having to endure the rudeness of actual French waiters. Chef Pascal Olhats’ food is old-school: escargots and steak frites—dishes not shy on tradition or butter. The ambiance will remind you of the Paris you’ve only seen in weepy movies with an accordion on the soundtrack. 327 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-2700; pascalnpb.com/brasserie.htm.
This article appeared in print as "Check, Please! Take your loved one to one of these sexy or romantic spots, and you’ll definitely be having each other for dessert."