One of the worst ways to start a date is with “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” There’s something sexy about knowing the perfect spot for the kind of night you want the two of you to have. Here are 50 suggestions for great dinner and drinks spots for each getting-to-know-you stage of dating.
The First Date:
You want something quiet enough to hear them, but lively enough to get a good vibe. These places make the list for serving small plates that keep the date going if you’re into it, but won’t commit you to a full meal if you’re not. They’re fancy enough to make you look good but not so expensive that you’ll be shelling out for a date that might be a bust.
Red Door – Burbank
Speakeasies are perfect for first dates. You get to give fun directions and you start the date with a little novelty. The Red Door isn’t difficult to find— it’s through an unmarked red door behind the Paty’s parking lot— but the vibe and food inside are cozy, romantic, and low-key enough for a first date.
Blind Barber – Culver City
Another speakeasy, the Blind Barber’s entrance is through a functioning barber shop on Washington Blvd. Inside, you’ll find small tables with dim lighting, strong cocktails, and an impressive list of grilled cheese sandwiches.
Alcove – Los Feliz
The beauty of the Alcove is that it’s whatever you want it to be. Twee cocktails, espresso drinks, pastries, appetizers, or full meals, the Alcove manages its offerings like a gracious bungalow host. It gets crowded but never noisy while small tables draw you close.
Clifton’s – Downtown
The interactive twists and turns with heaps of conversational scenery of Clifton’s make it the perfect spot for a meandering first date. Where else can you pick up a tiki cocktail, a citrus martini, sweet potato fries and a Jell-O custard under the watchful eye of a taxidermy critter?
The Prince – Koreatown
A delightful fusion of midcentury Hollywood glamor with stiff drinks and Korean bar food makes The Prince an elegant first date spot that’s classy without being stuffy. It’s also a uniquely Los Angeles combination. You might recognize the interior from Mad Men, Thank You For Smoking, and New Girl, among several others. The sheer size of it keeps it from getting too crowded most nights and the circular booths make it easy to get closer.
L&E Oyster Bar – Silver Lake
If you’re ready to test what you’ve heard about the aphrodisiac qualities of oysters, the L&E Oyster Bar won’t do you wrong. The quiet, comfortable atmosphere and curated wine selection makes a classy date feel low-pressure and relaxed, especially if you’re at a small table in their sidewalk patio section. Bonus: the Silver Lake Reservoir is nearby if you’re inclined to take an after-dinner stroll.
MessHall Kitchen – Los Feliz
While you might not win points for creativity (everyone’s been to MessHall Kitchen), it’s hard to go wrong here. The sprawling Los Feliz gastropub manages to never be obnoxiously noisy, even on weekend nights, and they take reservations. (The line can get long, even on weeknights, so you’ll want to book a table in advance.) Where MessHall shines as a first date spot is that nothing about it screams trying too hard. You can keep it low-key with homestyle dishes and beer or class it up with oysters and artisanal cocktails.
Wilde Wine Bar – Hancock Park
A super classy spot for a first date, Wilde Wine Bar’s main draw is their impressive selection of more than 40 available wines by the glass combined with inventive sharing plates. Wilde might be the perfect spot for infusing romance into a daytime first date.
Bacaro LA – Pico Union
Although it’s chock-full of eclectic, inexpensive food spots, Pico Union isn’t exactly known for its romantic dining. Bacaro LA seeks to fill the void with affordable tapas, grilled pizzas, and a decent and affordable wine selection. It’s close to USC, so for best results, make a reservation and avoid Friday nights where noisy patrons can kill the mood.
The LA Classics:
What you might lack in funds, you can make up in vintage charm. These spots are perfect for a nice time out, but you won’t be dropping serious dough. The cozy retro charm adds instant “date night” vibes in a casual setting.
Barone’s Famous Italian – Valley Glen
Made famous by the date scene in 1982’s Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Barone’s Famous Italian still pulls through for a moderately priced evening of retro dining. Red leather tufted seats, wood ceiling beams, and a flagstone crest of arms create a distinctly LA atmosphere.
Dear John’s – Culver City
This is the real deal of LA supper clubs. Founded by Golden Age actor Johnny Harlow with help from Frank Sinatra, Dear John’s keeps a classic mid-century mood with great steaks, fine martinis, and a live pianist playing era-appropriate standards softly in the corner.
Dresden Room – Loz Feliz
The Dresden Room stirs up a similar vibe to Dear John’s, but on the east side. The menu and ambiance is similar, but Dresden has a slight advantage of the restaurant (or rather, supper club) portion is connected to a vibrant foyer bar area with a singer/pianist duo.
Ernie’s Taco House – North Hollywood
This charmer has been around since 1952, long before the re-branding of the NoHo Arts District. The sprawling Ernie’s Mexican restaurant is large enough to rarely be crowded, but always feel lively, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when a mariachi band serenades the lounge area. Strong margaritas, classic SoCal Mexican food, and a dim, red-tinged ambiance add a touch of romantic fun.
Musso & Frank – Hollywood
First opened in 1919, Musso & Frank is the quintessential old Hollywood steakhouse. It was so well known for making film deals that it’s the location of Hollywood’s very first payphone. Today, Musso & Frank serves midcentury standards and what’s often listed as the best martini you can get in LA.
The Smoke House – Burbank
A favorite of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, this Burbank institution has been in business since 1946. A classic mid-century steakhouse, the Smoke House serves steak and seafood classics, good martinis and Bloody Marys, and hosts live music several nights a week.
Miceli’s Italian- Hollywood/Burbank
Built in 1949 and made famous by teaching Lucille Ball how to toss a pizza, Miceli’s is LA’s oldest Italian restaurant. With a charmingly crafted psuedo-Italian interior complete with chianti bottles dangling from the ceiling, Miceli’s leans heavily into the kitsch factor, up to and including a singing waitstaff.
Tam O’Shanter – Atwater Village
Established in 1922, Tam O’Shanter’s tartan-covered mid-century Scottish flair is lovingly called “the Tam-O” by the locals it’s been feeding for more than 90 years. It’s long been a stalwart of Disney animators and executives; check out the sketches in the lobby signed by Walt himself. It’s known for its prime rib (it’s a Lawry institution) and its collection of whiskies and scotches.
The Galley – Santa Monica
The oldest surviving restaurant on the west side, the Galley was so popular with the cast and crew of 1934 Clark Gable classic film, “Mutiny on the Bounty” that after its release, several of its movie props came to adorn the restaurant. Today, the Galley serves a steak and seafood menu with cherry-topped cocktails and colorful nautical decor. The Galley is a little more casual than the others on this list; feel free to stop by in flip flips after a beachy stroll down Main Street.
The Morning After:
The ideal morning-after brunch date needs a very specific alchemy: you’re probably arriving bleary-eyed from the previous night, so it’s got to be casual enough to show up in whatever outfit you’ve cobbled together (shoutout to stilettos and a sweatshirt over a cocktail dress). It’s got to have date-appropriate food, and lastly, it’s gotta have a boozy brunch option. These things are not optional.
Barbrix – Silver Lake
A bottomless mimosa brunch, a casual vibe, a shaded outdoor area, and brunch menu that’s hearty, yet relatively healthy (they are masters at a breakfast spring greens side salad) make Barbrix a wonderful east side brunch spot. Bonus: it’s never horribly crowded and never particularly noisy. Even the occasional bridal party brunch keeps it low key.
Detour Bistro – Mar Vista
An open air patio, friendly staff, hearty mimosa pours, and well-made menu are all great reasons to recommend Detour Bistro. But maybe the best yet is that it consistently hits that sweet spot of a brunch crowd. You know, when you can walk in and grab whatever kind of table you want and the service is quick, but there are enough other tables to make the place feel alive.
The Churchill – Hollywood
With an especially generous bottomless brunch option (7-4?!), the Churchill is cozy and warm, with a fireplace out on the patio, perfect for taking advantage of warm winter mornings. Add a stellar short ribs, eggs and hash option, a hearty mimosa pour, and the Churchill becomes a perfect alternative from the couples brunching in the Farmer’s Market.
The Eclectic – North Hollywood
For $24, get a brunch entree and as many mimosas as you can muster on Saturdays and Sundays from 10-3. (If the OJ just gets in the way of your mimosa, the Eclectic offers just a bottomless champagne brunch, which is frankly applause-worthy on their part.) Since Bow & Truss closed (RIP!), the Eclectic has stepped up as NoHo’s best boozy brunch spots on the Lankershim strip.
Cole’s – Downtown
Cole’s could really fit into several categories here. It’s a great vintage date spot (Cole’s is a contender for the original French Dip, after all) with a lovely cocktail menu and tons of cinema cred (Mad Men and Good Girls Revolt are just a few on Cole’s long list). But it’s the Cole’s brunch menu with the winning combination of a dark bar, $11 bottomless mimosas, and $15 breakfast sandwich and bottomless mimosa special that really seals the deal for a certain kind of morning after date.
The Fancy Date Night:
Browse a list of LA’s best romantic date night restaurants and you’ll see an impressive roster that reads like a to-do list for millionaires. There’s no game in going to some big-spender hot-spot— the true mark of a great fancy date spot is one that maximizes romance and doesn’t eat up an entire paycheck in the process. While these definitely aren’t cheap, with some careful ordering you can manage dinner and drinks at the restaurants on this list for around $100. (I mean, really, really careful.)
Perch – Downtown
With live jazz, twinkling fairy lights, plants, and a breathtaking view of downtown LA, Perch tops any list of LA’s most romantic restaurants. Perch’s French cuisine, cocktail, and wine list are perfectly crafted for a memorable evening. Go when the weather is warm enough to sit outside and reserve a table on Perch’s 15th floor patio.
Faith & Flower – Downtown
An opulent backdrop of stone and silver with splashes of white gold and green create a Gatsbian ambiance at this downtown Metro Center place. With elegantly crafted cocktails and an adventurous menu that leans into shared plates, Faith and Flower packs a high impact punch for a dressy night.
Inn of the Seventh Ray – Topanga
One of LA’s most romantic spots, the Inn of the Seventh Ray has been a popular spot for weddings and engagements for over 30 years. It’s easy to see why— their outdoor dining space hits the perfect balance of whimsy and romance with lush gardens, waterfalls and soft canopied gazebos, all softly lit by hundreds of white string lights. The menu rests on locally sourced and foraged food with an excellent wine list.
Yamashiro – Hollywood
While Yamashiro doesn’t often top LA’s list for best sushi restaurants, it comes up consistently in LA’s most romantic. While the Japanese fusion is really good, Yamashiro shines in its breathtaking views of the city (best if you arrive at dusk) and its gorgeous estate. Built in 1914 as a replica of a pagoda in the Yamashiro Mountains of Kyoto, it’s one of Hollywood’s oldest buildings and a unforgettable dinner date.
Cliff’s Edge – Silver Lake
One of the east side’s best patios, Cliff’s Edge’s outdoor space is built around mature trees, letting a leafy canopy shade the tables. At night, string lights and beaded chandeliers add bohemian romance. Their New American menu with a nod to French fusion and an excellent cocktail list are pricey, but no unreasonable. Come on Thursdays to take advantage of $1 oysters.
Barton G – West Hollywood
A deeply satisfying sensory experience, Barton G’s space is a sprawling display of whimsy and dining fun, from a movie theater style popcorn shrimp machine to pink wig of cotton candy to a chocolate treasure box, complete with a shovel and sparkler. If you like your fine dining with a heavy dose of camp and a touch of immersive theater, Barton G’s the place for you.
Cicada Club – Downtown
Okay, this one breaks the “you might get out under $100” rule. For $20 at the door and a $64 prix fixe Italian dinner, the Cicada Club transports you to a swing dancing supper club of the 1920s with live jazz music. There’s a strict evening attire dress code and Cicada strongly encourages patrons to doll themselves up in vintage wear. (Check out Burbank’s Vintage Row to get started.)
The Couple Months In Date Night:
You want to keep the romance alive with regular date nights, but you need to reign in the spending a bit too. Ain’t love grand? These places are great for casual dates at reasonable costs, especially if you go at the right time.
The Red Lion – Silver Lake
This multi-storied German classic comes to life after 9pm on weekends, but any other time, you’ll find it to be a pleasantly relaxing, fun date spot. Each level of the Red Lion offers a different ambiance, with the upper patio level being the most lively on most nights. Split a sausage platter, a pretzel, and grab a few pints of beer. You’ll have a lovely time.
Fat Dog – Beverly Grove
With a great dog-friendly patio area (with plenty of heaters!), a casual vibe, great drinks and a well-crafted menu, Fat Dog is a perfect date night spot that keeps its chill, even on weekend nights. If you and yours are considering taking the plunge into canine ownership, a night at the Fat Dog might push you over the edge. You’ve been warned.
Phillipe’s – Downtown
Although it’s one of LA’s oldest restaurants, Phillipe’s belongs on this list because you need to know where you stand before taking a date to a spot that recently hiked the price of its coffee up to 45 cents a cup. There’s beer and wine here, but the real hero is the classic French Dip sandwich.
The Farmer’s Market at the Grove – Hollywood
With dozens of tasty retro eateries and a casual outdoor dining area, the Farmer’s Market at the Grove is the perfect antidote to “I dunno, what do you want to eat?” Walking around and figuring out what to get (the mix-and-max strategy is highly recommended!) is have the fun. Now is not to the time to forget dessert.
Meet In Paris – Culver City
A classy dining experience with a casual dress code and chill ambience, Meet in Paris brings the vibe of a French bistro to downtown Culver City. Their specials include Mon-Wed evening All You Can Eat Mussels and a prix fixe brunch. Wanna impress your date with escargot? Now’s your chance.
Gravlax – Mar Vista
Mar Vista’s new purveyor of Swedish cured delights, Gravlax’s rustic, comfortable atmosphere and warm red hues make it perfect for a casual, but romantic date spot. Sharable plates of smoked meats and fish, simple salads and a well selected beer and wine list are perfect for a cozy night out.
Jae Bu Do – East Hollywood
Korean BBQ spots in East Hollywood are a dime a dozen, but Jae Bo Do trades the usual red meats for grill-it-yourself seafoods. The menu is in special prix fixe tiers, starting at $50 for the smallest combination (definitely enough for two people). It’s a great spot for a double date with another seafood-loving couple; get the middle tier. Pay with cash or debit and you’ll save about 10%.
Edendale – Silver Lake
With an Art Deco interior and softly lit patio nestled among trees and creeping vines, Edendale captures a romantic mood in casual dining, set in a restored 1920s fire station. The New American menu is split nicely between speciality entrees, daily specials, and an array of small shareable plates and sides. Go during happy hour (5-10pm Sun-Wed and 5-11pm Thurs-Sat) for fabulous menu specials.
Mohawk Bend – Silver Lake
An impressive ambiance inside a restored former vaudeville theater, plenty of seating so there’s never a wait, and casual dining with wonderful vegetarian options, Mohawk Bend is a great contender for both solo and group dates. Try the vegan buffalo cauliflower. Paired with a craft cocktail, it’s absolutely divine.
Angel City Brewery – Downtown Arts District
Although it’s known best for its beer (obviously) and its angel wings mural outside (you’ve definitely run across this in an online dating profile at least once), Angel City Brewery is also a fabulous casual dining date night. What the brewery lacks in a kitchen it more than makes up for in its rotating selection of food trucks that park at the brewery nightly. Saturdays the food trucks come in shifts at 12pm, 6pm, and 9pm. They post their food truck schedule on their website here: http://angelcitybrewery.com/brewery/food-truck-schedule/
Meals by Genet – Fairfax
As it’s customary to share one large plate and eat with injera, a crepe-like flatbread, a lot of westerners find a certain intimacy to Ethiopian cuisine that’s deeply pleasant among close friends and romantic partners. Meals by Genet stands out among the row of eateries on Fairfax’s Little Ethiopia for its visually stunning plates, and warm ambiance. This is a great spot for vegetarians, vegans, and those who love them.
Tangaroa Fish Market and Raw Bar – Culver City
Delivering a wow-factor and the bold flavors of fresh seafood, Tangaroa’s a casual, but memorable dinner and drinks spot. It’s reasonably priced, (especially checked against similar spots in Marina del Rey and Santa Monica) but go for their happy hour to really make the most of your clams.
Le Petite Jardin Cafe & Flowers – Pico Robertson
A fascinating combo that somehow works so well, it’s surprising it’s everywhere, Petite Jardin is a restaurant/flower shop. French bistro dishes and fragrant wines served amidst flower coolers and lush greenery. It’s a perfectly sweet date night. Bonus points if you pick up some flowers to take back home.
The Shake Things Up Date:
You’ve been together awhile. It’s time for a dinner date that really gives you something to talk about.
The One Up – Sherman Oaks
Half gastropub, half old school arcade, The One Up is a delightfully fun mash-up on Ventura boulevard. While there is traditional seating, the menu is small, shareable plates, which makes sense because you’re here for the games. Mortal Kombat, the Simpsons, a couple iterations of Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Bubble Bobble, they’re all here in 8-bit glory.
The Venice Room – Monterey Park
Monterey Park is a bit of a drive, but if you’re looking for a uniquely quaint dining experience, the Venice Room is worth the trip. Order your drink and steak and you’ll get your cut of meat served raw. You’ll be cooking it yourself at the grills along the wall. Between the heavy bricks, the velvet flocked wallpaper, and wood panelling, the Venice Room’s the real deal of an untouched 1955 grill-your-own steakhouse.
Animal – Fairfax
A super trendy, minimalist space on the Fairfax District, Animal’s avant-garde menu uses rich, adventurous flavors of offal cuts (pig ears and head, marrow, tongue, veal brains, etc) for a memorable date for carnivores. It’s a little on the pricey side, but not terrible.
Idle Hour – North Hollywood
Yes, it’s housed inside a two-story wooden barrel with a big stucco bulldog in the back, but Idle Hour’s food and drinks are a little too good to just be a novelty restaurant. Built in 1941, Idle Hour has been a taproom, a flamenco bar, an apartment home for an elderly dancer, and the passion project of LA Magazine columnist dedicated to saving the barrel. After 30 years of closure, Idle Hour re-opened as a trendy gastropub in the Noho Arts District.
Coni’Seafood – Inglewood
Mariscos (literally the Spanish word for “seafood” or “shellfish”) is one of LA’s most superb culinary delights. Coni’Seafood rises to the top for an ambiance that’s mutedly classy and for their specialty of Sinaloan fish, snook. Go to Coni’Seafood for garlicky, spicy shrimp, spicy guac, smoked marlin, and ice cold beer. If you’ve done the sushi thing and want to shake up your seafood profile, Coni’Seafood is the place to dive in.
Pacific Dining Car
While the need for a fancy meal available 24 hours a day doesn’t happen often, when it does (and it will), you’ll be glad to have Pacific Dining Car in your back pocket. It started as a dining option in a railway car in 1921 and continues today, parked at its 7th and Westlake location since 1923. While it’s not a cheap spot by any means, it’s the perfect late night ending to a dressy occasion that spilled into the wee hours.
Hamburger Mary’s – West Hollywood
LA’s a burger mecca and everyone’s got their opinion on the best burger in town, but let’s be real: how many of them come with a side of drag show? Cheeky burgers and high camp offerings (Mary Tyler S’mores anyone?) with deceptively strong drinks are great, but it’s the crowd, staff, and weekly events that make Hamburger Mary’s a truly great date spot.
Is this the exhaustive list of great dinner and drink spots in LA? Definitely not. Add your favorites in the comments below.