The Best of Silicon Valley 2010
Love & Romance | Reader Picks
Best Romantic Restaurant
14550 Big Basin Way, Saratoga; 408.867.3332. What could possibly be more romantic than a shared pot of hot, melty, ooey- gooey foodstuffs? Saratoga's La Fondue serves up more than 50 edibles to dip and swirl, plus the option of traditional or exotic meats, including kangaroo, ostrich and python, and a variety of chocolate blends to end the night with a little boost of serotonin and phenyl-ethylamine, which stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. Ooh la la. The restaurant's themed rooms and decor add to the amorous atmosphere that provokes readers to continually vote La Fondue as the most romantic restaurant in the valley.
2. Plumed Horse
14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga; 408.867.4711
3. Wine Cellar
50 University Ave. #180, Los Gatos; 408.354.4808
408 Blossom Hill Road, San Jose; 408.226.5683. Victoria's Secret has not monopolized the female market on sexy little things. Sometimes one feels a hankering to try something ... a little different. That's where the local, privately owned Cupid's Corner comes in. They discreetly sell everything from nighties to instructional videos to toys for grown-ups. And unlike the mall, there is no way you'll run into your mother-in-law in the dressing room while trying on that hot pair of panties.
2. Pleasures From the Heart
1565 Winchester Blvd., Campbell; 408.871.1826
51 University Ave. #A, Los Gatos; 408.395.7749
Best Boutique Hotel - San Jose/Los Gatos
355 Santana Row, San Jose; 408.551.0010. Swanky doesn't even begin to describe Hotel Valencia. With sleek, almost futuristic fixtures and furnishings everywhere you turn, you might be tempted to book a room at Hotel Valencia for no other reason than to feel like old-fashioned royalty for a night or two. On their list of amenities: leather down-stuffed club chair. 300-thread-count linens. Faux mink designer throw. Why anyone in San Jose would need a faux mink designer throw is beyond us, but we're pretty certain the minute you check in, you'll never want to leave.
2. Hotel Los Gatos
210 E. Main St., Los Gatos; 408.335.1700
3. Four Points by Sheraton
211 S. First St., San Jose; 408.282.8800
Best Boutique Hotel - Palo Alto/Mtn. View
10050 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino; 408.253.8900. Did you know that the board game Clue originated in the U.K.? It's called Cluedo over there. The characters and weapons are the same, and the Cypress Hotel kind of looks like the mansion it might all go down in. Deep red upholstery, dark-stained furniture and slightly surreal art throughout, the Cypress Hotel exudes mystery and romance.
2. Garden Court Hotel
520 Cowper St., Palo Alto; 650.322.9000
3. Hotel Avante
860 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View; 650.940.1000
Best Luxury Hotel - San Jose/Los Gatos
170 S. Market St., San Jose; 408.998.1900. While most downtown denizens know the Fairmont as just about the only building with easily accessible public restrooms downtown, it's also a fully furnished hotel, with rooms you can stay in and stuff. If you deign to wander beyond the lobby (and with a cool sunken lounge and several dining options, it's tempting not to), you'll find dazzling accommodations. The cheapest rooms come with walk-in closets. When the most basic accommodations include a walk-in closet and are the size of a San Francisco apartment, you know it only gets better from there.
2. Hotel Valencia
355 Santana Row, San Jose; 408.551.0010
3. Hotel De Anza
233 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose; 408.286.1000
Best Luxury Hotel - Palo Alto/Mtn. View
2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto; 650.566.1200. The stretch of 101 that runs down the peninsula isn't known for its breathtaking scenery, but when you're staying at the Four Seasons in East Palo Alto, located just off the University Avenue exit, the boggy shores of the bay never looked so good. No matter where you are in the world, you can always count on the Four Seasons to serve up not only reliably good but reliably great service, food and amenities, and the Four Seasons at East Palo Alto delivers.
2. Westin Palo Alto
675 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; 650.321.4422
3. Stanford Terrace Inn
531 Stanford Ave., Palo Alto; 650.857.0333
Best Jewelry Store
Joe Escobar Diamonds
450 E. Hamilton Ave., Campbell; 408.341.0300. Tom Shane may be your friend in the diamond business, but Joe Escobar is your cool uncle who lets you drive his classic car. Uncle Joe sits back in his mammoth storefront and offers timeless, gorgeous pieces that look like they'll rake in a small fortune on Antiques Roadshow in 100-plus years, providing the satisfied brides that receive them aren't buried with them.
2. The Jewel Box Jewelers
1640 S. Bascom Ave. #F, Campbell; 408.377.9898; 17190 Monterey St. #101, Morgan Hill; 408.776.9444
3. Willow Glen Diamond Company
1302 Lincoln Ave., San Jose; 408.993.1313
Best Flower Shop
990 E. Hamilton Ave., Campbell, 408.371.7000; 3100 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose, 408.984.8900; 800 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara, 408.246.7272. Citti's supports local growers, they're family-owned and they've been around since 1962. They carry the right flowers for every occasion, have tons of experience arranging them, and are presently ranked in the top 100 of over 25,000 U.S. florists. In short: they know what they're doing and they have the flowers you need.
2. Bloomster's Floral Designs
5945 Almaden Expwy. #170, San Jose; 408.268.5518
14 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos; 408.395.5451
Best Local/Independent Stationery Store
378 Santana Row, San Jose; 408.213.1985. Sending your beloved a sweet email or a hot text is kinda romantic, but nothing at all like the real thing. Writing a genuine love letter can be both an artistic and erotic act, and the pleasure is amplified if you're using a good pen and writing on fine stationery. Maido, on Santana Row, is well-stocked with both. And envelopes that beg to be licked.
2. Out of the Envelope
326 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos; 408.395.0731
3. Village Stationers
310 S. California Ave., Palo Alto, 650.326.7970; 719 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650.321.6920
Best Limousine Service
2590 Lafayette St, Santa Clara; 408.988.4884. Those kids on My Super Sweet 16 knew how to make an entrance. Of course, everything else about their disgustingly charmed lives made you seethe with rage, but they did know how to arrive in style: in a monstrous limousine, often followed by a B-list rapper that Daddy hired for the evening. Le Grande Affaire can help you compensate, with a vast range of limos and cars to shuttle you around town in style. They even offer a pink 16-passenger Hummer that would make those girls sick with envy. Go ahead. You don't need a reason.
2. Cloud 9 Limousine
2233 Paragon Dr. #A, San Jose; 408.999.0999
3. El Paseo Limousine
651 Aldo Ave., Santa Clara; 408.727.0000