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Why wait until Valentine’s Day to treat your significant other to a romantic night out on the town? Doing it “just because” will make it even more meaningful in our books.

For a truly swoon-worthy evening, reserve a room at The Citizen Hotel (10th and J streets). All guest rooms will spoil you with luxury linens and sumptuous bathrobes, but if you spring for a one-bedroom suite, you get a big bonus: an extra-deep soaking tub with a view of the city. Talk about setting the mood.

Then book a couple’s massage at Mellow Me Out Downtown (555 Capitol Mall, inside the Bank of America building). The “Me Tarzan, You Jane” romance package lets you enjoy herbal foot soaks and 60- or 90-minute massages side by side. If you make the appointment for later afternoon, it’s likely that you’ll be the only patrons there. You’ll leave feeling like you’re floating on a cloud, but be sure to drink a lot of water before and after to avoid feeling sluggish later.

A table for two at Ella Dining Room & Bar (12th and K streets) will keep the spark alive, especially if you start with a made-from-scratch Real Gin and Tonic and a round of oysters on the half shell. We’re convinced that both are natural aphrodisiacs.

Skip dessert at Ella, and instead head over to Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates (18th and L streets), open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Fill a small box with beautiful bite-size chocolates to enjoy later. The fleur du sel caramel is a must.

When you get back to the hotel, pop into Grange restaurant for a night-cap—but don’t stay too long. That bath and box of chocolates await.  


Ready to kick off those Uggs and pull on some cowboy boots? Elk Grove is hollerin’ for your attention. Silva’s Sheldon Inn (9000 Grant Line Road) is the perfect place to start. This savory spot will have you licking your chops within seconds of scanning the menu. All entrées come with soup or salad; we say order the Portuguese bean soup, a house specialty that’s too good to pass up. The meat dishes are just as impossible to ignore—they are widely known for being packed with flavor and cooked to perfection.

If you prefer a more casual dining scene, go to Big Al’s BBQ (8976 Grant Line Road) for some tried-and-true charbroiled grub. Take in the Western paraphernalia—including branding irons and photos of Roy Rogers—while taking down a tri-tip or rack of ribs. Just a head’s-up: Big Al’s doesn’t serve alcohol—but you will find plenty of napkins.

When your sweet tooth starts calling, head to Bert’s Diner (8972 Grant Line Road). The dessert menu has all the classics: pies a la mode, hot fudge sundaes and banana splits, all made with local Gunther’s Ice Cream. If you’re a sucker

for old-school jukeboxes, make sure you bring a handful of quarters with you. Some tunes will help pump you up for your next destination: The Wrangler Bar (8945 Grant Line Road). On Friday and Saturday nights, live bands play everything from honky-tonk to classic rock. Also entertaining: The specialty cocktail menu, which features unique concoctions such as Spiva’s Special (Korbel and Coke) and the Road King (1/2 Bud Light and 1/2 Coors Light). Order one of those and you’ll have officially taken Elk Grove by the horns.



It’s true: We typically try to cut back on calories come January. So we’re chalking up this flavorful tour through midtown to a “try new things” goal. It begins with a cooking class at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op (Alhambra Boulevard and S Street). The Saturday afternoon courses, which typically run until about 5 p.m., give you a hands-on, taste-as-you-go cooking experience. You’ll leave with a new skill set and a handful of recipes for $50 or less. Access class schedules at sacfoodcoop.com.

Next, sip on something new with a wine-tasting session at Revolution Wines (2831 S St.). Again, you can get firsthand instruction from an expert, as the winery hosts barrel tastings with the winemaker until 6 p.m. on Saturdays. If you all can agree on a blend you like, order a bottle to share and consult the staff on cheese pairings. Tip: Have someone in the group volunteer to sign up for a wine membership and have everyone pitch in. Then you can then reconvene throughout the year to enjoy more.

Now that you’ve wined, it’s time to dine—so head to Tulí Bistro (21st and S streets). If your group is small enough, you might be able to sit at the bar, overlook the cooks line and pick up a couple of extra tricks. The menu can change daily to highlight the season’s best ingredients, but the creativity that goes into each dish is consistently memorable. Ask for extra sharing plates so everyone can enjoy a little bit of everything.

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