Hot Date with a $100 Bill (Palo Alto or SF)
My dad handed me a Franlkin and told me I had to spend it all in one place on a meal with my girlfriend. I would prefer a place around Palo Alto, but we have a car to get to the coast or the city.
Aziza and Incanto both look like good choices for the city. I don't know what's good in the valley in this price range, though. As a student in Palo Alto I have mainly been eating cheap chow for college hounds.
With or without wine/drinks? In and around Palo Alto, I'd recommend Lavanda, St. Michael's Alley, La Bodeguita del Medio, Tamarine, the Village Pub (Woodside). On the coast, Mezza Luna in Half Moon Bay.
546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
459 Prospect Way, Princeton, CA 94038
La Bodeguita Del Medio
463 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
St Michael's Alley
806 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
185 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062
If you've never been to a Brazilian rodizio, Pampas in Palo Alto might be fun.
For a set price waiters circulate with skewers of spit-roasted meat grill. Also included, the side bar has seasonal vegetables, composed salads, cheeses, and charcuterie alongside Brazilian dishes. For dinner at $44, it would be cutting it close, but think of the gas and parking money you would be saving by not traveling to SF.
If you do go to SF, then if you can get there early for happy hour, the cocktails are $5 and there are some reduced price dishes.
Aziza is fun too. Have fun. How nice of your dad.
If you want someplace a bit more romantic, yet close by, with excellent Cal/French food, try Bistro Basia on California Ave. in Palo Alto. Bistro Elan on the same street is also very good Cal/French, but way noisier.
448 S California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306
201 South California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA
I'd recommend Nola's in Palo Alto. Fun environment with a New Orleans vibe. Inside you'll be seated upstairs in with a semi-open roof. Great for warm nights. They offer both seafood and have a pretty tasty skirt steak.
Nola's Restaurant & Bar
535 Ramona Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Not Nola's! It's not foodie at all, and certainly not romantic.
If you do feel like driving up to the city, Incanto and La Ciccia are good choices, that $100 will take you pretty far and you can find street parking in Noe Valley (sometimes frustrating, but possible). I'd also recommend Range in the mission for great food and a fun young atmosphere (sharing the soufflé is the perfect romantic ending), make sure to get a reservation on opentable.
While the food and wine list at Lavanda might be good, I think the atmosphere is a little older Palo Alto than some of the other choices, and St. Michael's Alley probably won't feel special enough. Another option is Zibibbo, which may not be super exciting food-wise, but they have a pleasant garden and an oyster bar which might be a fun way to start the meal. Have fun!