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Best restaurant seats in the South Sound

A few suggestions on where to take your sweetheart on Valentine's Day

KING SOLOMON'S REEF: The downtown joint is the best spot to cuddle. Photo credit: Winter Teems

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The Weekly Volcano strives to give you solid advice, a plethora of awesome entertainment suggestions and alerts to cool new opportunities. It's our life mission. Because we have dined at every restaurant in the South Sound, we know the best tables. Therefore, it's always a race at the Weekly Volcano World headquarters to snag the best seats for Valentine's Day dining. Yes, we celebrate the holiday. We also don red socks to dinner.

So, when an intern asked, "Where are the best seats in the South Sound to take your Valentine's date?" - we opted to take it public.

Here you go sweethearts. Give it a shot. It's all yours. We promise this year to dine at home. 'Cuz we're sweet like that. And we love you.

Best Corner Seat

Stanley and Seafort's

Step into Stanley and Seafort's lounge, head toward the giant window, then snag the far left corner table. Slide into the seat and absorb the fantastic view of the city of Tacoma, alive and electric in the foreground, and Commencement Bay, calm and commanding in the background. A breathtaking panoramic view as a conversation piece and an excellent dinner make this seat an A+. Bonus: the bar is always hopping. Valentine's specials include surf and turf dishes such as beef brisket and coconut prawns and filet mignon, lobster and Hibachi salmon. 115 E. 34th St., Tacoma, 253.473.7300

Best Seat to Eat on a Piano

El Gaucho

"One thing we pride ourselves in is our atmosphere," says James Capangpangan, El Gaucho Tacoma general manager. The downtown fine-dining restaurant - known for it's 1940s feel, grand staircase down to the dining room, romantic ambiance and giant steaks - also hosts the best piano lounge in the South Sound. When the Volcano dines at El Gaucho, we pull up a stool next to the piano and dine on the top of the see-through piano. You should too. Watch the magic of the keys moving as a pianist plays "Girl From Ipanema," while enjoying cut of filet Mignon. El Gaucho's Valentine's Day special ($65-$75) includes a three-course meal with wedge salad, seafood or steak entree and chocolate-dipped strawberries with champagne or chocolate gnocchi. 2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.1510

Best Seat to Get Cozy

King Solomon's Reef

While you won't need reservations or a tie to enjoy a delicious dinner at King Solomon's Reef, it is the perfect lounge to unwind with your sweetie, and maybe enjoy a little more than a hand squeeze. Dark, with diamond tuck seats, easy-to-saddle bar stools and the romantic light of the Frogger machine and vintage lamps, the Reef's lounge is one of the best seats in town. Whole groups of people are often seen cuddling in this hole-in-the-wall bar while Iron Maiden plays in the background. Valentine's Day special is a bottle of champagne nestled in an ice bucket for $12. 212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, 360.742.3199

Best Seat that is a Ski Chairlift

Harmon Brewery and Restaurant

Take your snow bunny out for a treat at the Harmon Brewery & Eatery's one-of-a-kind seat. An old chairlift slapped with stickers is where you'll snuggle in for delicious pub food and micro brews. More than 30 skis line the backside of the chairlift, making a unique and private setting at this downtown Tacoma brewpub. Valentine's Day dinner for two includes four courses: salad, dinner, dessert and a pitcher of beer ($49.95). 938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2739

SWING WINE BAR: Exceptional wine, kisses and a wonderful view. Photo credit: winter Teems

Best Seat to View Capitol Lake

Swing Wine Bar and Cafe

Located in a quaint house overlooking Capitol Lake, Swing Wine Bar stands apart in restaurants with a view. Sure, you can head down to one of Oly's many port restaurants with views of the Sound. The Weekly Volcano prefers to venture up Capitol Way for a slice of eye-candy no other restaurant offers, plus amazing wine, food, wine, spirits and wine. And for those who would prefer a seat suited for live music, Swing's wine cellar doubles as a cool and cozy venue. (Vince Brown plays Wednesday, Feb. 13.) Valentine's specials run Wednesday-Friday, with a few added entrees on the special night. Love Potion Oysters, Bleeding Heart Artichokes and a 16-ounce filet for two, are a few of the items designed especially with couples in mind. The cost will run $9-$30. 825 Columbia St. SW, Olympia, 360.357.9464

Best Seat to Watch a Chef Cook

Dirty Oscar's Annex, Primo Grill

Dirty Oscar's Annex offers a bar that wraps around the kitchen and additional seating near the open kitchen. "You can see every single moment and every single action," says Aaron Grissom, executive chef. "It's very interactive and fun." Feb. 12 and 13, the DOA kitchen will take a Valentine's twist and incorporate chocolate into its five-course dinner special ($80) that includes drink pairings. The Gusto line of Seattle's Forte gourmet chocolates will be the secret ingredient. "We will play around with the chocolate - with sweet and savory - and incorporate in subtle and unexpected ways," says Grissom.

Down the street from DOA, Primo Grill has been offering display kitchen seats since 1999. Grab a big ol' plate of its stellar paella or the special of the day, open a bottle of wine and watch the action in front of the fruitwood-fired oven and grill. The counter is so close you'll get a tan. DOA, 2309 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.0588; Primo Grill, 601 S. Pine St., Tacoma, 253.383.7000

Best Moveable Seat

Brix 25

Located in historic downtown Gig Harbor, Brix 25 is charming and lovely. With modular booths that can be moved around, partitioned for privacy or opened up for more room, any seat can be the best in the house. In the summer, you'll find the Weekly Volcano close to the back patio. "They (the brothers) are really fun," says Chef Thad Lyman, who prepared a Valentine's menu that features nine different specials and an á la carte menu. Warm broiled oysters, seared scallop and smoke sturgeon are just a few of the seafood samplings (other meat selections will be featured as well). The Valentine's menu will run the entire weekend and award-winning wine is always an appeal. Meals will run $8-$35. 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, 253.858.6626

Best Fireside Seat


Get to the Matador before the crowd for a seat at the circular fireside table. Perfect for a chilly February night, the fire adds heat to an already warm atmosphere created by exposed brick, distinct southern decór and handcrafted tables. The Tex-Mex food packs some heat with the popular carne asada or rib-eye ($18.95-$29.95) as a nice choice for a Valentine's meal. The margaritas are strong, but delicious. 721 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.7100

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