Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
This jazzy, new-ish Frogtown spot offers a stunning and colorful, plant-adorned patio that has laid-back, al fresco date night written all over it. Add to that top-notch cocktails from Aaron Melendrez (formerly of The Normandie Club, Walker Inn, etc.) like the rum-fueled Joven y Alocada served in a coconut (get two straws!), along with Sonoran-style mesquite-grilled meats from Chef Esdras Ochoa (of Mexicali Tacos), and you have yourself one happy date. Also, definitely get the papas con chorizo side dish: your date (and stomach) will thank you.
A sexy addition to the neighborhood, Kettle Black is your new favorite Italian spot for excellent handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and quality cocktails, all of which is likely to lead to some very close talking with your date. Pro tip: snag a seat at the chef’s counter where you two can watch the action up-close and feel the heat from the pizza oven’s roaring embers. Added bonus: you can also warm up to each other before dinner at Sawyer, the slick spot next door from the Kettle Black team, where you can sip drinks and share bites by the outdoor fireplace on their beautiful patio.
This legendary spot, known for turning out Big Name chefs, just received a shiny new renovation and has placed at the helm the talented and innovative Chef Miles Thompson (formerly of the highly praised-yet-shuttered Allumette). The revamp gives a fresh look at the museum-worthy (and date-impressing) artwork on the walls as well as the uber-romantic, tree-lined patio. The new, locally sourced menu sports shareable plates like ricotta gnudi with lamb sausage and bigger bites like duck confit, which you two can enjoy with choice cocktails from Meredith Hayman (previously of Bestia, Faith & Flower).
Here’s what date night might look like at this bustling, two-for-one WeHo hotspot: cocktails on the stylish L.P. rooftop patio with sunset views (and maybe one of those spicy chicken sandwiches). And then, before the crowds arrive, head downstairs to E.P. for deliciously mind-expanding eats with a Chinese/Fijian/Vietnamese flourish from Chef Louis Tikaram. Try to sit up at the chef’s counter for a bit of extra love from the kitchen. And definitely save room for dessert. Where your night goes from there is up to you two (but it should already look promising).
This perennial date destination maintains its alluring charm with one of the prettiest, foliage-covered patios in town, excellent seasonal bites, and stellar cocktail offerings. The menu may change with the seasons, but you can always count on Cliff’s Edge to impress, whether it’s a first date foray or a 50th anniversary.
A sultry, stylish, and dimly lit basement serves the perfect backdrop for spectacular Neapolitan pizzas and sumptuous house pastas perfect for you to “ohh” and “ahh” over together as you “ohh” and “ahh” over each other. Those smooth-sipping and potent cocktails and the restaurant’s extensive wine list will also likely help further the cause.
For those early dates when you’re keeping it casual to those going-steady-we-don’t-feel-like-dressing-up dates when you don’t need much fuss, Mohawk Bend is always a reliable option. The California-only menu offers an extensive lineup of great craft beer, wine, and cocktails for any palate, plus straightforward and tasty dishes for meat-eaters and vegetarian/gluten-free/vegan eaters alike. And the signature buffalo cauliflower seems to bring everyone closer together.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of our favorite French restaurants also happens to be prime date territory. The starry-eye-inducing, Javanese bishopwood tree on the back patio very likely holds magical powers and the house charcuterie, roasted duck for two, and exceptional cocktails together possess some sort of love potion. It’s all difficult to quantify, but trust us, it works. Besides, if all else fails, you can train Pokémon together there.
This gorgeous Downtown favorite continues to draw crowds of the romantically inclined. Fire up the evening with a dozen oysters and hits from their stand-out cocktail rundown, including the classic English Milk Punch -- an award-winning and labor intensive concoction made with rum, whiskey, cognac, absinthe, clove, nutmeg, coriander, bitters, pineapple, lemon, green tea, and milk that’s been curdled (trust us) and clarified. Seriously, order one for each of you. From there you’re in for some saucy dishes like handmade cavatelli with pork cheek sugo and spicy jerk chicken. You’re also perfectly poised to continue date night at nearby L.A. Live or, you know, someplace more intimate far from hundreds of screaming fans.
Even as more and more breweries dot the Downtown landscape, Angel City remains a solidly clutch date spot with a variety of all-in-one opportunities for getting to know each other. Why stop at sampling flights when you can also tour the brewery or attend a beer and cheese pairing nights to expand your beer knowledge together? Feel like grabbing a bite? Hit one of the food trucks parked in the courtyard. You can also scope out the work of local artisans on weekends or hit up karaoke, tacos & trivia, bingo, open mic or paint nights to keep each other entertained. Oh, and if either of you have a pup, the whole place is dog-friendly.
This adorably cozy Italian favorite is an excellent low-key date night option where you get plenty of charm and handmade pasta without blowing the budget. That’s thanks in part to the excellent BYOB policy (they also have some for sale in case you forget), so you can enjoy healthy pours of your favorite vintage. Try to grab a seat on the patio for maximum romance.
The iconic mountain palace recently came under new ownership and while the change-up has ruffled some feathers, the incredible views from the hilltop of the city below remain an irresistible date destination. Head up into the Hills those killer views and “Lucky 7” happy hour deals (Fri-Sun, 5-8pm) on sushi, light Cal-Asian bites and cocktails like the large, shareable Koi Bowls, including the Red Lotus -- with vodka, lychee, and fresh raspberries. Upcoming renovation plans include restored historic features, a new enclosed deck and a revamped Pagoda Bar and pool, as well as the return of the nighttime farmers market, so we’ll stay tuned for those.
This trusted East Valley joint boasts a pitch-perfect date-night patio complete with private candle-lit nooks if you’re looking for some privacy. You’ll find plenty of stand-out shareables like smoked trout rillettes and mussels to bigger bites like seasonal risottos and killer roasted chicken. And should you stop by for the live music on Monday nights (and you should), you can order up cocktails and bites from the late night menu like the K-town BBQ hanger steak with Vietnamese rice porridge and kimchi or the Honey Boo Boo Burger with applewood bacon, Fiscalini cheddar, and whipped honey butter.
All right, so Providence is far from a casual night out (unless you’re a total baller, in which case, kudos), but it remains a quintessential special occasion/anniversary winner. Chef Michael Cimarusti’s sustainable-seafood-centric menu offers a few tiers of prix-fixe options depending on how big you’re looking to go, and they’re all worth the splurge. You’ll both be glad you saved up for it.
Whether you’re dining inside the historic Craftsman bungalow, by the fireplace on the patio or getting close up at the bar sipping exceptional cocktails, this Pasadena institution brings the love. Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan serves up an excellent range of modern, globally inspired California fare like furikake-crusted wild albacore and 72-hour braised short ribs, while the talented team behind the bar busts out some deliciously creative concoctions.
This sparkling neighborhood outfit is a great low-key spot for grabbing cocktails and some small Italian bites for a night out. (They also just won accolades at the Tale of the Cocktail competition in New Orleans for the Montenegro a colazione, which involves Amaro Montenegro, orgeat, apricot jam, peach and coffee bitters, and frothy egg white). And should the date move along swimmingly, you’ll definitely want to order up one of their wood-fired pizzas and rustic Tuscan-inspired pastas.