When you want to impress your date with the perfect balance of romance and charm, head to Manchego in Santa Monica. The charging bull at the entrance will let you know you’re in the right place, so step on into this tapas haven for a night of Spanish-influenced seduction. The small dining room has a rustic charm, with its warm colors and wrought iron chandelier, balanced with the modern feel of the blue corner bar and relaxing downtempo tunes. If you’re double dating with friends, the raised community table is ideal, especially since the restaurant offers happy hour prices all night long on weekdays when you’re there. But if it’s just the two of you, get there early to snag a table – this spot gets packed quickly with well-dressed locals – or head to the dimly lit back patio for an even cozier time.
As the sunlight fades, the candlelight from your table sets the stage. Order something fun to drink like the house made sangria, or let your server recommend one of their unique Spanish wines. Make a game plan for your meal, finding the right harmony of meats, cheeses, and greens. You can’t go wrong with any of the delicious dishes here, so order a few to share. The people in Spain were very smart – keeping salty foods in front of you makes you thirsty – a great way to keep the drinks and conversation flowing. Talk about your day as you relish sweet and savory bites of jamon-wrapped dates. Make each other laugh as you nibble on empanadas filled with juicy lamb. Discover each other’s dreams as you dig into a salad. The watermelon salad, with watercress, mint, and feta, is a ridiculously tasty mix. No matter which small plates you choose, dinner at Manchego with your sweetheart is always the right combination.