Love in San Benito

Dining and gift ideas for two

San Benito County restaurants and gifts for Valentine's Day
IN THE AIR Life is short. Live a little this Valentine’s Day with San Benito magazine picks for dining and thoughtful gifts.

The weather may have dropped to extreme temperatures this month, but that doesn’t mean things won’t heat up for Valentine’s Day. So why not make the most of the holiday and take your sweetie out for a night on the town? Many fine local restaurants, wineries and wine bars are welcoming lovebirds on Thursday, Feb. 14, as well as its adjacent weekends for those who can’t break away midweek.

On Valentine’s Day, Jardine’s de San Juan, at 115 Third St. in San Juan Bautista, will be serving its version of a surf and turf dinner—the Mar y Tierra special, which is carne asada steak served with bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed shrimp, with rice and beans. An ice cream dessert will be served with the dish.

Manager Gabe Ramirez suggests guests show early in the evening to be seated.

“On Valentine’s Day and night, we tend to be pretty busy,” Ramirez says. “It is first come, first served in order to get as many people in and out as possible.”

Another popular San Juan Bautista restaurant, Doña Esther’s Mexican Restaurant at 25 Franklin St., is also offering a dinner special on Valentine’s Day. The four-course meal for two, at $42.99, will include appetizers, soup or salad, a choice of three entrées, and dessert. The entire meal will be served with a bottle of wine, sparkling wine, or a pitcher of their house margarita. Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling 831.623.2518.

Some popular venues are requiring reservations on the occasion due to limited seating. San Juan Oaks Golf Club at 3825 Union Road in Hollister, for instance, will be serving a three-course surf and turf dinner complete with complimentary champagne and a chef-crafted dessert on Valentine’s Day. Tickets are $65. The event is from 6-9pm. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktail hour will begin at 6pm, followed by dinner at 7pm. Entertainment will be provided by the Moondance Band. Reservations can be made by calling 831.636.6127.

Léal Vineyards, at 300 Maranatha Drive, will be hosting a dinner show on Saturday, Feb. 9. Guests can enjoy a three-course dinner by live+love+léal culinary team, a night of laughter by comedian Dennis Gaxiola, and dancing and music by Soul Kiss. The event is from 6-10pm. Tickets are $65 per person and can be purchased at

Eden Rift Vineyards, located at 10034 Cienega Road in Hollister, is presenting Tacos and Tastings on Sunday, Feb. 17. The event takes place from noon-3 pm at the Dickinson House and Lawn. Live music and wine-by-the-glass specials will be on site. There is a $15 charge per person for food. Reservations can be made by emailing [email protected] Visit for more info.

The downtown Hollister tasting room, Aroma Wine Cellars at 650 San Benito St., is also providing dinner and entertainment on Valentine’s Day. Owner David Adammo says the recent addition of Mansmith’s BBQ to its regular dining menu has helped create the Valentine’s Day menu. From 6:30pm-10pm, guests will dine on a five-course meal featuring Mansmiths BBQ and be entertained by two comedians—an opening act and a headliner. Tickets can be purchased at

Aroma Cellars is also providing entertainment of a different sort on the adjacent weekends to Valentine’s Day. San Benito Stage Company will be performing “Sylvia” at the tasting room Feb. 8-23. Shows are Fridays through Sundays; dinner shows begin at 8pm and matinee shows begin at 2pm. Food and drinks are available through Aroma Wine Cellars. Tickets for the show are $20, and can be purchased at

Paine’s Restaurant, at 421 East St. in Hollister, is also providing theatrical entertainment on the weekends adjacent to Valentine’s Day. Guests can catch Inspire Performing Arts Academy’s Teen Dinner Theater Murder Mystery, “An Inconvenient Corpse,” at Paine’s on Feb. 8,9, 15 and 16. Producer Tristan Clayson says the dinner features a chicken dish, with dessert served during intermission. Water and tea will be available, and the bar will be open for adults who want drink alternatives.

“This show is really popular,” says Clayson. “We’ve opened up ticket sales, and the first show is sold out already.” For dinner shows, dinner will be served 6:30 pm; the show begins at 7 pm. For the Feb. 9 and 16 matinees, lunch is served at 1:30; the show begins at 2 pm. Adults 13 and over are $35; children are $20. For more information or tickets, call 831.635.0553 or visit

Need Gift Ideas?

For chocolate lovers, gourmet boxed chocolates, truffles or chocolate-covered treats like apricots, nuts and chewy caramels or salted caramels can be found at DeBrito Chocolate Factory at 160 Briggs Road in Hollister. The Valentine’s heart box is a heart-shaped 1 lb. box filled with a choice of buttery almond toffee, chocolate-covered apricots or a combination of the two, specially made for the occasion. The store’s famous caramel apples are also available, including a special Valentine’s one.

San Benito Bene at 615 San Benito St. always has premium chocolates, fun balsamics and delicious dessert sauces sauces for gift-giving. Linen sprays, lavender wraps and spa pillows will also be appreciated by your Valentine.

Johnnie’s Girl at 535 San Benito Street also has a great selection of dōTERRA essential oils, handmade soap and spa items to spoil your sweetie. Hand-made jewelry, embroidered hand towels, teacup bird feeders, planted succulents and Valentine-themed wine glasses and mugs also create great gifts. The store makes customized gift baskets year-round.

Expressions Floral at 850 San Benito St. in Hollister has special Valentine flowers and baskets: The Because I Love You flower arrangement and the Sweetheart gift basket (including chocolates and a stuffed animal) are just some of the arrangements you can send your Valentine. Flowers can be purchased at The store delivers to Hollister and nearby areas.

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