Depending on the person you’re dating, a great date could mean anything from dropping your bank account balance at Melisse to watching a free show at the Satellite, which is why we’ve put together this list. Just find the personality type of the person you’re looking to impress, and boom: success.
Lucha VaVOOMAddress and Info
Yes, it’s over the top, cheesy, devoid of class, and just plain strange. And that’s what’s so great about it! The is-it-or-is-it-not-a-parody Lucha VaVOOM, which hits the Mayan in Downtown about once a quarter (including one right around V-Day), is a bizarre combination of lucha libre (Mexican wrestling), drag queen striptease, burlesque dancing, and comedy, with audience interaction encouraged -- in other words, if there’s a shy bone in her body, there’s a chance taking her here means yours won’t also be.
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Museum of Jurassic TechnologyAddress and Info
This nondescript Culver City “museum” is hidden behind an unassuming, windowless storefront, but is actually a massive collection of bizarro exhibits that make you think: is this a real museum, or a giant hoax? It takes some smarts to “get,” so if your date’s dopey... don’t.
The ArtlabAddress and Info
You want to do something different, but a Meetup feels like a weird place to bring a date. You can still tap your creative side on an artist’s budget by taking a class at Santa Monica’s Artlab in the iconic Camera Obscura building. Compose poetry, design a sweater, mix a perfume, or make a woodcut. If he’s, like, a dude who wears an ascot, he’ll be all in.
Wheel House CheeseAddress and Info
Even if your date spends all his time waxing poetic about palates and “hot new chefs!!,” there’s a good chance he can’t blind-taste the difference between a great pecorino and Parmesan (and what wine to pair with each), which is where these classes come in: the boutique shop will drop knowledge on everything from how the cheeses are made to whether you should also buy a chardonnay or a malbec.
Cheap and athletic
Santa Monica Bike Share (address and info)
While you’re waiting for rollerblades to make a comeback, bike the boardwalk with a rental from one of the zillions of Breeze Bike Share outposts located all over Santa Monica for a $6-an-hour fee. Then ride over to one of the Venice Beach bars and try not to get caught drinking and biking... because that will land you a fat ticket.
Dinner at The Gadarene SwineAddress and Info
If it has a heart, she’s not having it. Still... vegans need love too. So head over to Phillip Frankland Lee’s Gadarene Swine and dine on plant-based dishes that somehow passed muster for even Jonathan Gold and his 101 Best list. He is on this season of Top Chef, so it has that, too.
High tea at The LanghamAddress and Info
It may be precious, but high tea is also one of those special-occasion dining experiences that makes many women feel beautiful and classy. Show her that you can clean up well and take her to tea (with Champagne, of course) at The Langham. Then stay the night in the hotel and find out if she’s a lady in the streets... and a freak in the sheets.
Wally’s Beverly HillsAddress and Info
When picking up a bottle of wine to bring to a party, you F the supermarket and instead head straight for a specialty store. So why would you dine at a restaurant where you are presented with a generic wine list? Wally’s Beverly Hills is a WINE STORE WITH A RESTAURANT BUILT IN, which means it's got over 2,500 bottles of wine, and, if you bring the right person, she’ll want to try them all.
PetrossianAddress and Info
So, like, if your date’s, like, trying to impress like all her social media friends, like, she’ll get a ton of likes with photos of caviar. Especially five courses of it. And she can take a selfie with a to-go tin too!
Poolside cabana at The ViceroyAddress and Info
There’s something inherently sexy about dining in a poolside cabana: maybe it’s the sofas that are begging for you to kick off your shoes and make out, or it could be the super-boozy drinks that force you to walk very carefully around the perimeter of the pool. So, if it’s, like, TOTALLY ON, The Viceroy Santa Monica should be on your go-to list for pre-hookup dates. And then, you know, get a room, you guys.
Mastro’sAddress and Info
Like Melisse, Mastro's is one of those restaurants that screams, “I have money and I want to spend it!” You are pretty much guaranteed a great steak and a celebrity sighting. And the white-glove service and upstairs piano bar bring elegance that manages to buffer the overt showiness.
Taste on MelroseAddress and Info
If she’s like: “Yo, T-shirt and jeans only,” Taste is comfortable, high quality, and romantic without being in-your-face “I’m trying to impress you.” The truffle mac and cheese kind of says it all: elevated, homey, and so good.
Grand Central MarketAddress and Info
You have no idea what she likes to eat. Instead of attempting to guess, go to Grand Central Market and let her have her pick of an overwhelming number of options, from authentic pupusas to grilled fish to burgers. Plus, you can always do some mash-ups to instigate that maybe you’d like to do some mashing up later, if you catch our drift.
Obsessed with their hometown
Goldbely.com (address and info)
Your date is not originally from LA (who is?), and eating dishes from back home makes them feel less lost in this showbiz city. Take your date home by ordering Chicago pizza. No, not Chicago-style pizza. Actual Chicago pizza. Or maybe your date’s absolute favorite dish from home is cheesesteak from Philadelphia. Or Maine lobster rolls from Maine, or muffuletta from New Orleans, or cream pie from Boston. Goldbely sources the absolute best from around the country, then delivers it overnight to your door. Seriously thoughtful.
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Laurel House is a celebrity dating coach, dating coach at Three Day Rule Matchmaking, and author of Screwing the Rules: The No-Games Guide to Love. You can see her coaching celebrities on Famously Single on E! in May. Follow her on Twitter: @DatingLaurel.
1. Mayan Theater1038 S Hill St, Los Angeles
2. Museum of Jurassic Technology9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City
3. Art Lab1357 4th St, Santa Monica
4. Wheel House Cheese Shop12954 Washington Blvd, Culver City
5. The Gadarene Swine11266 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
6. The Lobby Lounge at The Langham Huntington Hotel1401 S Oak Knoll Ave, Pasadena
7. Wally's Beverly Hills447 N. Canon Drive, Los Angeles
8. Petrossian321 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood
9. Viceroy Santa Monica1819 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica
10. Mastro's Steakhouse246 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills
11. Taste on Melrose8454 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood
12. Grand Central Market317 S Broadway, Los Angeles
This landmark movie palace-turned-nightclub is known for its regular concerts and frequent hosting of Lucha Va Voom, a boisterous event that includes Mexican wrestling, a drag queen strip tease, comedy, and audience participation.
This wacky "museum" features off-the-wall exhibits like a diorama of trailer parks. Pro Tip: Don't miss the tea room upstairs.
Part salon, hair academy, and art gallery, this eclectic venue offers affordable classes in poetry, fashion design, perfume-making, and woodcutting.
With over one hundred cheeses from around a world and a variety of cured meat, wine and beer, this upscale shop has all your dinner party and/or lonely cheese-bingeing essentials. Wheel House classes include: Cheese 101 and Pairings.
Headed by Top Chef contestant Phillip Frankland Lee, this Studio City spot is a destination for vegan dining. Even if you don't adhere to a plant-based diet, the food is exciting (hand-torn pasta! fried olives! vegetables in a box!), and the menu, though it's always changing, features a family-style chef's tasting dinner that'll prove just how good vegetables can be.
In addition to boasting panoramic views of The Horseshoe Garden and San Marino, the Lobby Lounge also hosts a British-style afternoon tea. Savory sandwiches, fresh scones and pastries are also thrown in the mix.
This wine store and restaurant combo (French Provence cuisine infused with a California flair) is everything you've ever needed and more.
This classy cafe/shop's got a bright interior, patio, and a menu including dishes like rib eye w/ shallot confit, baby spinach & wild mushroom fricassee. If you are 1) a caviar fan and 2) willing to drop some coin, you’re definitely going to want to go lux with the “Caviar 301” class at this WeHo French favorite. On the third Thursday of every month, you can indulge in a tasting of the Petrossian’s most expensive caviars along with an epic, caviar-centric, seven-course dinner for $125/person. The deal even throws in a caviar martini, flute of Champagne or vodka, or glass of white wine to sweeten the deal.
The cabanas at the Viceroy Santa Monica are an absolute must for daytime lounging, but make sure to call ahead for a reservation. The garden is, unsurprisingly, a popular choice for business events and private parties. Once you snag a spot, lounge poolside with a draft beer and some Med-inspired flatbread.
Enjoy classic American grub -- and ridiculous steaks -- at this swanky BH joint.
This elegant yet casual restaurant serves contemporary American comfort food with farmer's market influence. Bottomless brunch is offered on weekends with two hours of mimosas and champagne for $16.
Open since 1917, Grand Central Market is hands-down the original food hall. The DTLA mainstay celebrates the eclectic cuisine of the city with a vendor roster that includes Belcampo Meat Co., Berlin Currywurst, Eggslut, Jose Chiquito, McConnell's Fine Ice Cream, The Oyster Gourmet, and so much more.