With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, finding that perfect spot for dinner is essential. Fortunately, Sacramento is filled with a wide range of fancy and romantic restaurants, typically located in historic Old Sac or the trendy and buzzing midtown district. With many offering historic decor or ideal patio dining, Sacramento’s dining scene oozes romance. However, if you are looking to step things up a notch, consider finding a restaurant that is not only romantic, but offers spectacular views of the Sacramento skyline or waterfront.
If you’re looking for a romantic dinner locale that also features stunning views, check out one of these five Sacramento area restaurants.
Scott’s Seafood on the River
Breakfast Hours: Mon to Fri — 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Lunch Hours: Mon to Sun — 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Mon to Sun — 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Weekend Brunch: Sat and Sun — 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
With three locations in the greater Sacramento area, Scott’s Seafood is a favorite among local residents. It is continually rated as one of the top seafood restaurants in the city and the newest location, which opened in early 2008, also offers stunning views. Scott’s on the River is located in the Pocket area of Sacramento, right on the Sacramento River.
Not a seafood fan? Scott’s offers steaks, vegetarian options and even a gluten-free menu. Over 40 wines are available by the glass, and Scott’s on the River has a large selection of single malt Scotch and a full bar.
Pearl on the River
Lunch Hours: Mon to Fri — 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Mon to Sat — 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Bar Lounge: Mon to Fri — 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Pearl on the River sits on one of the most scenic spots on the Sacramento River. It is casual, yet offers an array of fine dining options. The theme is Northern California cuisine featuring the best ingredients from locally sourced farms. With that in mind, be prepared for the menu change almost daily to ensure only the freshest products are being used. The wine selection is impressive and offers a wonderful selection of primarily California produced wines at very reasonable prices.
Like Scott’s Seafood, Pearl on the River is another beloved spot for seafood in Sacramento. The menu also includes gourmet pasta, short ribs and even a duck confit. Pearl on the River has been voted one of the top three restaurants in Sacramento, best outdoor dining and best seafood by Sacramento Magazine.
Rio City Cafe
Hours: Mon to Thurs — 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri to Sat — 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sun — 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Situated on the river in the historic Old Sacramento neighborhood, Rio City Cafe offers casual dining with stunning views of Sacramento landmarks like the Tower Bridge and Ziggurat (pyramid) building. Keeping with its historic location, Rio City Cafe is a bit rustic, but offers a range of menu items from casual eats to more fine dining dishes. The cuisine is more classic California, with global culinary influences and a particular emphasis on southwest.
Rio City Cafe offers a well-rounded wine list featuring a number of wines produced locally in California. For those wanting mixed drinks, there is a full bar featuring a number of interesting signature cocktails.
Tower Bridge Bistro
Lunch Hours: Daily — 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Sun to Thurs — 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri to Sat — 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Just down the road from Rio City Cafe is the Embassy Suites Hotel, which houses another culinary gem offering some of the best views in Sacramento. The name pretty much gives it away, but the Tower Bridge Bistro is situated on the edge of the Sacramento River. It offers patio dining for the warmer months and floor to ceiling windows to enjoy the views during the wintertime. Inside, the bistro is more casual, but the cuisine is upscale California. Executive Chef Clay Purcell is a Northern California native and has spent his career helping to define California cuisine. His experience ranges from the vibrant hotels of San Francisco to the desert landscape of Palm Springs.
Tower Bridge Bistro’s menu changes seasonally and the wine list is predominantly California producers, many available by the glass. Personal favorites include Far Niente, Joseph Phelps, Cakebread and Carvalho.
Lunch Hours: Mon to Sat — 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun — 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Sun to Thurs — 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri to Sat — 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Pilothouse restaurant is literally on the Sacramento River — it’s inside an actual riverboat. The Delta King was once a working paddle wheel boat, making journeys between Sacramento and San Francisco from 1927 to 1940. After the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were constructed, there was no longer a need for a riverboat. However, World War II broke out and the boat found a new purpose as troop transport in San Francisco Bay. Once the war was over, the Delta King became a derelict, even sinking for 18 months. Then in 1984, it was brought to Sacramento and underwent a $9 million renovation, restoring the historic riverboat to its former glory. Today it houses a hotel, two restaurants, two theaters, a wine school and wedding/banquet facilities.
The Pilothouse menu is varied and offers a nice mix of seafood and other entrees. The Lamb Osso Buco is divine while the Seafood Cioppino is another local favorite. Many items on the menu are gluten free and the Pilothouse even has gluten-free beer and desserts. Speaking of dessert, be sure to try the Heavenly Flourless Chocolate Cake with a glass of Bogle Petite Syrah dessert wine.
Erin De Santiago is a freelance travel and food/wine writer and photographer from Sacramento, California. She is a regional membership coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) and writes for a number of publications in addition to publishing her own blogs. She has traveled to over 40 countries on five continents in search of the best food and wine around the globe. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.