This Mojito Hot Toddy Is the Destroyer of Colds
Upscale American cuisine in a stunning hotel with NYC vibes
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding LA’s latest import from New York, The NoMad Hotel, and for good reason: it completely lives up to the hype. Upstairs at the Mezzanine restaurant, diners get a bird’s-eye view of the stunning design of this historic building, which once housed the Bank of Italy -- think ornate, gold-kissed ceilings, and a restroom hidden inside the downstairs bank vault. The dishes here ooze with just as much opulence, like its roasted chicken for two that comes stuffed with black truffles, foie gras, and brioche. Despite being so bougie, Mezzanine doesn’t feel too stuffy or pretentious.
Beach vibes served with a side of celebrity chef sushi
Breathtaking ocean view? Check. Fancy sushi? Check. Food made by a celebrity chef? Check. Nobu Matsuhisa’s eponymous restaurant still hits all the right notes when it comes to giving your date that extra "wow" factor. It’s a splurge, for sure, but you’ll momentarily forget about the price tag after you get lost in Nobu’s famous miso-marinated black cod while you watch the sunset over the waves.
Charming French bistro with a broad wine selection
Walking up to Oriel feels a bit like you just got transported to a film noir set. Located under the Gold Line bridge, this neon light-covered restaurant provides a pop of color in an otherwise dark and moody area at night. Since it occupies a tiny space and is lit by candlelight, it’s the perfect recipe for having those intimate conversations with your date. Wine reigns supreme here, so feel free to ask your bartender or server for suggestions to pair with the restaurant’s French dishes like croque-monsieur and escargot in garlic butter.
Tried-and-true neighborhood spot with sexy cabanas and fireplaces
From the intimacy of the Moroccan-influenced cabanas and the refined grand veranda, to the intellectually stimulating library lounge and lively pulse of the old-school bar, this Studio City seductress knows how to please any romance-seeker’s needs. Start the evening in the bar, move onto dinner in a cabana or veranda, then indulge in a nightcap seated with thighs touching on the sofa in the library.
Modern American dining under the stars in a historic rectory
Redbird is so stunning -- both visually and culinarily -- that it will elevate anyone’s dating game. This Downtown gem offers a unique dining experience you won’t get anywhere else, because it’s situated inside a historic former rectory. Lovebirds can dine under the stars in its covered courtyard (complete with a retractable roof); it’s a prime place to woo architecture buffs and people who simply love good and innovative food.
Iconic, lush hideaway that helped start the California cuisine movement
Consider the iconic Michael’s restaurant a "choose your own dating adventure." Either sidle up to your partner in the moody and sleek interior that's full of plush couches, or grab a table on the candlelit patio that's bamboo-lined and surrounded by foliage. This hideaway’s not all about the looks, either: the seasonal menu is equally seductive, with innovative twists on California cuisine like charred octopus paired with a Sichuan peppercorn marshmallow, which is just as crazy as it sounds.
Worth-it splurge for breathtaking city skyline views
71Above is the special occasion restaurant for popping the question or celebrating an anniversary or birthday. It may be a splurge, but it’s worth it for the panoramic views of the skyline, beaches, and mountains. This upscale destination, elevated by Chef Vartan Abgaryan’s global touches on American dishes, is situated 950-feet high in the US Bank Tower. Score extra points by timing your dinner just right with a reservation at sunset.
Moody Tokyo vibes with elegant Kappo cuisine
While Shibumi may be known for its Japanese Kappo fare (a cuisine that’s hard to find in LA), it also deserves attention for being one seriously sexy restaurant. Step inside this Downtown eatery and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a moody Tokyo restaurant. It’s intimate, dimly lit, and unassuming -- a perfect recipe for steaming things up.
Refined twists on comfort food in the coziest part of a posh hotel
Hotel restaurants can be a romantic cliché thanks to the easy accessibility to a bed, but Tres by José Andrés (at the SLS on La Cienega) is an unexpected departure from the generic hotel dining atmosphere. Sink into a fluffy sofa and dine off of an oversized coffee table in your own cozy living room, complete with a fireplace and a bookshelf filled with art, history, style, pet (?), and travel books. The only reminder you're not ACTUALLY in your own cozy living room? The server interrupting with plates full of elevated California comfort food.
Classic fine dining experience with Michelin-star accolades
If romance for you means Michelin-star-caliber food, truffles, and a 10-course tasting menu, your best LA bet is Mélisse. It’s one of the few refreshingly refined restaurants in town where a suit (and even a tie!) is appropriate. If you’re at Mélisse, you may as well go all out and indulge with one of the wine-paired tasting menus. Sure, it’s slightly snobby (and very expensive), but that’s part of the fun.
Enchanting escape into the woods with organic, farm-to-table dishes
Iconic, expected, maybe even boringly romantic? Fine. Nonetheless, you've got to give the owners credit for running one of LA's OG romantic date-night destinations. You can't discount the fact that not even time has been able to diminish its twinkly allure -- every table hugs a natural, cascading creek bed, while the gazebo table looks out over the rest of the crowd (request it in advance).
Mexico City-style ceviche and cocktails in a twinkling garden patio
Tintorera is a lush jungle getaway on a stretch of Sunset Boulevard’s concrete strip malls, with an outdoor patio surrounded by large, leafy greenery and warm, strung-up lights that sets the mood for an intimate experience. The team hails from Mexico City, bringing along with them their next-level raw and grilled seafood dishes (like a stand-out red snapper aguachile and roasted sea bass), and innovative craft cocktails with ingredients like horchata and avocado.
Veteran Italian restaurant perfect for milestone celebrations
Thanks to this old-school spot's twinkly patio lights, roses, candles, and “you’re the most important person here” service, it's no wonder you’ll likely be party to a marriage proposal, birthday, or 50th wedding anniversary celebration on any given evening.
Cozy Eastside staple with rustic cuisine and an iconic patio
Patio + twinkly lights + fire pits + a canopy of trees + not to mention the addictive craft cocktails + perfectly shareable, tastebud-awakening foods = the quintessential romantic spot on the Eastside. If you haven’t been on a date here, it’s time to emerge from your cave.
Upscale hotspot for vegans who love Mediterranean cuisine
Not every romantic candlelit dinner is over steak. Vegans get major love over at Crossroads Kitchen, whose culinary team magically transforms plant-based ingredients into elevated Mediterranean dishes. Take, for instance, the restaurant’s vegan fettuccine carbonara, which is topped with a “yolk” that’s made out of yellow tomato bearnaise and uncannily looks like the real thing. This spot gets extra points for being dimly lit and having a lively ambiance perfect for chatty conversations.
Rooftop French bistro with panoramic downtown views and live music
A favorite for matchmakers sending clients on first dates, the drop-dead rooftop restaurant Perch has almost become predictably romantic. Still, you can’t deny that a fire pit overlooking the DTLA skyline is alluring -- and tack on a live jazz band, there’s no denying the pull.