Food & Drink

The 12 Best New Date Spots in LA

Jeff Miller Published On 03/09/2015 Published On 03/09/2015
Dylan & Jeni

You've had a few months to hit our best-ever date spots in LA, meaning right about now you're probably looking to swipe right on something new. Well, swipe away, swiper: here are the 12 best new date spots in LA.
 

Odys & Penelope

Mid-Wilshire
Wanna impress your date with seats at this brand-new, super-hot churrascaria from the couple behind Sycamore Kitchen, but don't have the, you know, foresight or gumption to make a reservation? The best seats in the house are actually walk-in only -- a countertop right in front of the grill where they make, among other things, an absolutely massive, absolutely outstanding short rib, giving you a conversation starter AND an impressive dish. Win.

Redbird

Redbird

Downtown
Uh, Neal Fraser's new, crazy-delicious, high-end restaurant shares a wall with a beautiful former church that's often still used for weddings. This is kind of a no-brainer. Just make sure they're not expecting a proposal. #Awkward!

aestus

aestus

Santa Monica
There's a moment in every relationship when you're like, "yeah, I guess this is kind of serious, and also, I'm going to have the grass-fed iron steak, and she'll have the scallops, and we're actually going to share both." It might as well be in a dark-lit, intimate-feeling fancy restaurant by the beach, right?

Neon Retro Arcade

Neon Retro Arcade

Pasadena
If your date's as rad as you are, they'll appreciate this awesomeness as much as you: for $10 per hour, you get unlimited play on this new-but-old-school-leaning arcade, which has classics like Altered Beast and The Simpsons game (!!!). And if they're not as rad as you, they can just bounce, and leave you to win The Simpsons on your own. Whatever.

Dylan & Jeni

Now Boarding

West Hollywood
This sexy bar's got a retro-airline feel and a lot of dark corners -- making it a perfect first-date spot, because it enables you to make "so, are you just gonna take off, or what?" jokes without feeling desperate. Kind of.
 

Spaghettini & The Dave Koz Lounge

Beverly Hills
Okay, the whole concept of this restaurant sounds uber-cheesy: go to Beverly Hills, eat some pasta, and relax with some smooooooth jazz, since they have a nightly show. But here's the thing: the food is surprisingly killer, and the shows have far more range than you'd think, with Sinatra tributes and actually-good jazz performers, meaning you don't have to change venues for a dinner-and-a-show, full-on night out.

Julian Latif

Pok Pok Phat Thai/Ramen Champ

Chinatown
These super-casual Asian spots are both in the same plaza, which means you can achieve multiple things on a date here: it's cheap enough that you can offer to pay (and figure out pretty quickly whether this is a "date" or just "hanging out"); you can hit two spots in a row, which always means things are moving in a good direction; and, worse comes to worse, you get a bang-bang at two of the hottest new restaurants in town. Even if there's no, uh, bang-bang after.

Shanghai Rose

Shanghai Rose

Sherman Oaks
Trying to get a read on how adventurous your new amore is? You can do way worse than Shanghai Rose, which has a slew of San Gabriel-style dim sum options, but doesn't have chicken feet.

Jesus Banuelo

Terrine

Mid-Wilshire
The tree-lined patio at this Beverly Blvd French resto is a stunner, as is the food -- the chef used to be at Ray's at LACMA, but here he's busting out a nuts charcuterie plate and boudin blanc w/ roasted apples, as well as a brunch with a totally great gravlax tartine that's served not only Saturday and Sunday, but Friday also -- meaning that an awkward "Hey should we get brunch?", if you had a wild Thursday, no longer means having to figure out a place that actually serves a legit brunch on Friday morning.

Augustine

Augustine

Sherman Oaks
Your date in Los Feliz is always like, "come over here and meet me at Bar Covell," and you're in the Valley and are always like, "why won't those dudes just open something by me?" Well, they did -- it's just as good, and now sometimes you can both stay at your place. Sometimes.

Cascabel

Cascabel

North Hollywood
Does anything make a date go more smoothly than a couple of margaritas and a plate of bacon-guacamole and chips?

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Jeff Miller is taking himself to Ramen Champ tonight. For sure. He's at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @ThrillistLA on Twitter if you want proof.

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1. Odys & Penelope 127 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

Odys and Penelope, from the married couple behind Hatfield's, is a casual grill named after the protagonists of The Odyssey. The move here: dry-rubbed smoked short ribs and grilled Snake River Wagyu tri-tip.

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2. Redbird 114 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

Located in a refurbished church, Neal Fraser's Downtown LA restaurant is the ultimate high-end date spot. Redbird's food is next-level creative, like the signature Rabbitchetta dish, aka rabbit wrapped in porchetta. Aside from the gorgeous open-air dining room, there's also a beautiful outdoor patio for those SoCal nights.

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3. aestus 507 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

This upscale SaMo spot is part of a culinary renaissance by the beach; in this case, it's doling out grass-fed beef with sunchokes, kale, and lemon, plus grilled octopus salad with fennel, radish, and clementine.

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4. Neon Retro Arcade 28 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

For $10 per hour, you get unlimited play on this new-but-old-school-leaning arcade, which has classics like Altered Beast and The Simpsons game (!!!).

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5. Now Boarding 7746 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046 (West Hollywood)

This reservations-recommended, live-jazz-and-cocktails-and-oh-man-it-looks-kinda-like-an-airport-lounge bar's bringing back the good ol' days with drinks from a former Roger Room guy, decor featuring 60s-era photos, and a massive retro air map.

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6. Spaghettini & The Dave Koz Lounge 184 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

"Self", you may have once said to yourself, "what if there were a place I could get, like, really great Italian food and then hear some incredible jazz??" Ok, you've never said that to yourself. But that place exists. And that alone is pretty cool.

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7. Pok Pok LA 727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

Anyone who's eaten at Pok Pok in Portland or New York knows how lucky we are that Andy Ricker's insanely popular Thai restaurant made its way to LA. The bi-level Chinatown spot is spacious and casual, and includes a bar and outdoor seating plus plenty of festive tablecloths. The family-style menu is an eclectic display of Ricker's Northern Thai expertise, and you can expect plenty of fried meat dishes and spicy salads. Be sure to order the signature fish sauce wings -- they're based on a recipe from a Pok Pok Portland employee's home in Vietnam.

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8. Ramen Champ 727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

The Eggslut guy opened up this ramen restaurant in the same center as Chego! in Chinatown. If you're not excited by that, you 1) are dead, 2) have never been to Eggslut, or 3) don't like ramen. In any of those cases, we are very, very sorry for you.

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9. Shanghai Rose 12229 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91604 (East Valley)

Shanghai Rose is one of the only East Valley spots for dim sum, 7 days a week, with cart service on weekends. Bam.

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10. Terrine 8265 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

Nostalgic French fare is given the expansive brasserie and a fairytale garden it deserves in Terrine, with chef Kris Morningstar masterminding elegant chicken confit salad, garlic-butter bathed escargots and a steak frites with smoked bone marrow that can be paired with an impressive French wine list. The namesake terrine, made with foie gras and served with apricot compote, proves worthy of the honor. Yet, a visit is utterly incomplete without sampling the charcuterie boards: with truffled chicken liver, terrine de campaign, liverwurst, andouille sausage and smoked beef deckle arranged with pickled morsels on a sturdy wooden disc. Dreamy and casual, the dining room is filled with bistro chairs, distressed brick and umber-hued leather banquettes with ornate mirrors propped behind them. The best part awaits behind an archway in the back, revealing an outdoor lounge with a giant illuminated tree as the centerpiece. The spot is more than an ideal perch for star-gazing, a well-balanced classic cocktail by Ryan Wainwright making you question your balance.

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11. Augustine Wine Bar 13456 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91423

The Valley's wine bar game is TOTALLY upped with this marble-bar-topped vino paradise. The spot has 75 by-the-glass options (including selections from the 1800s!!!) and food like charcuterie and braised octopus.

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12. Cascabel 10717 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, CA 91602 (Hollywood)

Hit up Cascabel for margaritas and smoked bacon guacamole. Oh yeah, and fried chicken, lobster, and duck confit tacos aren't a bad idea either.

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