Fast Casual Vegan Junk Food Is Now a Thing
Sleek, stylish neighborhood spot with live jazz Sundays
Here’s the game plan for a perfect date night in WeHo: Kick the night off at La Fête, a charming French cocktail bar with cushy lounge sofas and strong drinks. Afterward you’ll move into adjoining Norah, which -- with its lofty ceilings, moody lighting, white marble bar, and stark graphic art on the walls -- has a totally different but no less romantic feel. Got a day date on the books? Check out Sunday brunch from 11am to 2:30pm with live jazz and farmers market-driven deliciousness to start your morning off right.
Bright, airy greenhouse with easy-to-share plates
Openaire, which took over Roy Choi’s Commissary at the Line Hotel, thankfully kept the bones of its predecessor intact, while infusing some freshness to the space. The restaurant’s a collaboration with Josiah Citrin, so expect fine fare -- like creative cocktails and shareable dishes with an international bent -- served in a light-flooded, greenhouse-like structure. And if the night goes well -- hey, you’re already at a hotel...
Rooftop restaurant with 360-degree views and elevated coastal cuisine
Margot, the insanely attractive sister restaurant of Norah, recently opened its doors on the rooftop of Culver City’s Platform complex -- if you’ve ever visited the latter, you might guess the two are related. This space seamlessly blends the indoors and outdoors, with a massive patio serving up stunning city vistas and a sunlight-dappled interior that highlights decor-driven details. Soak in the aesthetic as you enjoy a raw bar and sip on regional wines.
Close-quarters Italian dining in a homey cottage
Barrique makes you feel as if you’ve been invited into someone’s home -- partly because it’s actually situated inside a converted rustic yellow cottage, partly because the staff is so hospitable and attentive. Make sure to grab a table on the upstairs heated patio, where you can enjoy homemade pastas, fresh antipasti, and something from the extensive wine list as you check out the view of the Venice Beach street below.
Elegant bungalow specializing in artful Japanese fare
A partnership between Chateau Marmont and restaurateur Reika Alexander, this elegant cottage set apart from the hotel’s main property feels like a secret gem. A combination of blonde wood ceilings and hand-painted gold wallpaper lends the spot a welcoming golden glow. Unless you’ve nabbed one of the private tatami dining rooms, chances are you and your date will be squeezed in next to another couple, but no one seems to mind the intimacy when they’re digging into Japanese food this refined and beautifully prepared.
European-style garden patio with Mediterranean-leaning fare
Bacari is mercifully set away from the bustle of busy 3rd Street, hidden behind a narrow stone arch passageway that opens into a secret garden-esque patio with lantern-festooned trees and cobblestone floors. Cold out? They’ve got blankets (and heat lamps) to keep things warm as you feed each other house-cured olives and bites of lamb-stuffed eggplant. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to some historic European city -- which, in the romance department, means you’ve got a winner.
Celeb mainstay beloved for its candlelit patio and A-list service
As Wolfgang Puck’s famous flagship restaurant, Spago attracts its fair share of tourists and see-and-be-seen Hollywood types. But despite all the hype surrounding this Beverly Hills institution (and the paparazzi who often camp outside to snap celebs leaving), it remains one of the most charming -- and relevant -- restaurants in the city. Score a coveted spot on its year-round brick patio, surrounded by twinkling trees and candle-filled fireplaces that emit a warm glow as you take your first bite into Spago’s famous spicy tuna tartare cone.
Iconic hotel restaurant with discreet, dine-under-the-stars spaces
The likes of Marilyn Monroe and Paul Newman have stayed at LA’s landmark Hotel Bel-Air, which is synonymous with old Hollywood glamour and known as a sanctuary for the stars. Its on-site Wolfgang Puck restaurant keeps things intimate with secluded alcoves and cabana tables set up to keep private conversations away from prying eyes. Oh, and did we mention the swans? The property’s famous Swan Lake is only steps away -- so if an alfresco picnic’s more your jam, order Wolfgang Puck-curated gourmet baskets to enjoy by the water.
Contemporary American dining just steps away from a world-class museum
Otium sits right next to The Broad, so here's a protip: make it a double-whammy date by hitting up the museum before dinner. The magnificent Bunker Hill space feels both modern (an open kitchen, high ceilings, oversize windows), but wood and copper accents lend warm, rustic overtones. Even better, most of the dishes -- chef Tim Hollingsworth’s creative take on current American eats -- are meant to be shared.
Stunning mid-century modern bistro with palate-pleasing American eats
Part of the historic Mayfair Hotel’s extensive revamp and helmed by Hell’s Kitchen winner Scott Commings, Eve American Bistro gives a clean, contemporary, upscale touch to the mid-century modern look with gold light fixtures and plush suede chairs. Its proximity to Staples Center makes it ideal for a pre-concert or game bite -- when you’d rather treat your date to crab, deviled eggs, and champagne than fried chicken and beer.
Industrial vibes serve up an unexpectedly romantic atmosphere
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t equate leafy patios and cobblestone walkways with romance -- and not everyone does -- whisk your date off to District. This farm-to-table spot is part of the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles, but thanks to an industrial vibe accented by red curtained walls, it feels nothing like a hotel restaurant and even boasts a separate entrance via downtown’s The Bloc shopping plaza. Start the night off with outstanding craft cocktails at the front bar, then continue with some serious comfort food in the dining area.
Upscale American cuisine in a stunning hotel with NYC vibes
One of LA’s latest imports from New York, The NoMad Hotel 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 blue prawn with sweet chili and mango.
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).
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.