OK — we’ll admit it. The San Gabriel Valley doesn’t exactly have the hottest dating scene in Los Angeles. It’s mostly suburbia, there aren’t much nightlife options and Angelenos don’t really make the trek over unless it’s for good Chinese food or a happy hour deal at some swanky Pasadena watering hole. But rest assured, if you’re in the 626 and looking for a way to charm your date, we’ve got the perfect roundup for you.
Factory Tea Bar
323 S Mission Drive,
San Gabriel, CA 9177
Start the day off at the hottest boba lounge in town. Factory Tea Bar is where all the neighborhood kids are. The drinks are solid but the desserts are better. If you’re looking for a suggestion, the massive brick toast is a community favorite. Play a round of Monopoly deal as you snuggle up on their plush couches or better yet, pick up their communal guitar and strum up a ballad as you serenade your date.
121 E Valley Boulevard,
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Grab an early dinner at Jazz Cat, a swanky hot pot restaurant in San Gabriel. It’s the Chinese version of fondue, minus the heavy price tag. Each person gets their own individual pot and platter, so no worries if you guys don’t have the same flavor preferences or worse yet, if one of you guys is a germaphobe. The black and red décor screams romance and beef lovers can opt for their “T-Rex” option, which just means more red meat.
443 N. Vineland Avenue
City of Industry, CA 91746
Drive down to the City of Industry for a good, old-fashioned drive-in movie. The great thing about Vineland is that it’s open seven days a week, general admission is only nine bucks and they show the latest releases. Load up the car with some blankets, snacks and enjoy watching a flick under the stars with FM Dolby Stereo sound.
Echo Mountain Night Hike
E Loma Alta Drive at Lake Ave
Altadena, CA 91001
If you’re feeling particularly bold, drive up to Altadena and hike up to Echo Mountain at night. Bring a headlamp or a flashlight because you’re going to need it for this two to three-hour hike. The trailhead is on Lake and Loma Alta and it’s 2.5 miles up with relatively steep inclines. It’s a tough climb for beginners, but the panoramic view of the San Gabriel Valley is absolutely breathtaking and well worth the sweat.
24 W Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801
Grab a drink at Rabbit Hole, a chic and delightful Alhambra-based watering hole with an “Alice In Wonderland” theme. Happy hour is every day from 8 to 10 p.m. and they have fancy cocktails made to order. We’re a big fan of the Sub-Zero, a fruity drink with a vodka base but if you’re feeling a bit daring, we suggest the Don Juan Pepper, a tequila drink with St. Germaine, lavender, Szechuan pepper and nitrogen.
500 N Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 100
Monterey Park, CA 91754
If the date has gone so well and you don’t want to say goodbye yet, drop by one of the San Gabriel Valley’s late night Hong Kong diners for some grub. Tasty Garden in Monterey Park closes their doors at 4 a.m., so take your time with the food. We recommend the filet mignon cubes and the walnut shrimp over a helping of fried rice. But if you’re just trying to satisfy your late night sugar cravings, the Hong Kong waffle is a sure way to end the night on a sweet note.
Clarissa Wei writes about Chinese food in Los Angeles. Check out her work at www.clarissawei.com.