Like beauty in the eye of the beholder, a night (or day) of romance is totally subjective. When it comes to dining out, do what you both will love, whether it’s splurging for the corner table in a lavish dining room, sharing bites in a fun hidden patio or grabbing weekend brunch for two at your favorite spot. But no matter how you slice it, the food should always play as important a part as the ambiance (bad food can easily make a bad date). Here are 16 LA restaurants for memorable romantic meals all across the city.
Downtown: Faith & Flower
There's something really sexy about this hot spot. Maybe it's the chandeliers, the funky art, the big velvet booths or fantastic wine list and cocktails: the ambiance is truly there in spades. But the modern American fare is not an afterthought, from the ceviche and oysters from the raw bar to the bacon-wrapped tenderloin, grilled rib-eye with bone-marrow bordelaise and wonderful and whimsical desserts. Get the absinthe table service at the end for a nightcap.
705 W. Ninth St.; 213-239-0642
Atwater Village: Canelé
This long-standing bistro is a wonderful casual-cool spot for romantic brunches or dinners. Share some brandade, duck confit or whole roasted branzino at night, or the puffy French toast during bustling weekend brunches. You won’t be the only couple sipping wine in the cozy corner tables.
3219 Glendale Blvd.; 323-666-7133
Silver Lake: Cliff’s Edge
You wouldn't know about the leafy garden patio by driving by this Silver Lake restaurant, or even when you walk into the main room and bar. But once you make it through the back door, the entire space is towered over by trees and lush landscaping on a hill. It’s a magical spot, for both brunch and dinner. And with a new chef in place, it's reinventing itself once again.
3626 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323-666-6116
Finding a restaurant like this little Basque-inspired spot, especially tucked into a quiet corner amidst the Old Town hustle and bustle, automatically garners extra points for discovering a hidden gem for a romantic interlude. Sharing plates of salt-cod fritters, chicken croquettes with honey, crispy prawns with garlic cream and housemade squid-ink pasta with mussels and piquillo peppers feels like a journey to Spain and back again.
119 W. Green St.; 626-396-3090
Studio City: Firefly
The Valley has definitely seen an uptick in interesting dining over the last few years, with an influx of trendy neighborhood spots and gastropubs popping up and down Ventura Boulevard. But Firefly is the place to go when you want a more subdued evening, where the patio, with its fireplace and intimate cabana tables, ooze cozy romance, and a bar hits a high note of buzziness on weekend nights. The menu makes for a great night of things like crispy olives with whipped crème fraîche; hamachi crudo with passion fruit and tangerine; and oxtail cavatelli.
11720 Ventura Blvd.; 818-762-1833
The strip mall near Hollywood’s Franklin Village belies the French charmer tucked into the corner. Here you’ll get crazy reasonably priced three-course menus for around $35 and a great selection of biodynamic and natural wines. The room is small and intimate, colorful and warm. It’s a true neighborhood gem.
6221 Franklin Ave.; 323-871-2026
West Hollywood: Eveleigh
You’d never believe you were on the Sunset Strip once you walk into this pastoral country retreat. OK, until you go to the back and see the sweeping views of Los Angeles from the top of West Hollywood. The front room near the bar has a roaring fireplace, making it a great place to sit and sip one of the seasonal cocktails.
8752 Sunset Blvd.; 424-239-1630
Beverly Grove: Terrine
This Mid-City French brasserie takes the cake for romantic seating on its back patio. There, an old tree shades over candlelit tables and red banquettes sit beneath twinkle lights strewn overhead. Kris Morningstar knows how to bring the decadence with dishes like truffle agnolotti, cheesy French onion soup and a foie-topped burger. Excellent wines and cocktails round out any evening (or day — brunch is a hit).
8265 Beverly Blvd.; 323-746-5130
You'll hear the words "coastal European" thrown around a lot at Eric Greenspan's Maré restaurant. The courtyard-only spot is hidden behind Melrose Umbrella Co., and to enter you have to walk through the kitchen of Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek because there are a lot of coasts around Europe, but the idea is that the hidden patio restaurant is Mediterranean in spirit. Once you're eating pickled kumquats and pistachios, crunchy crudités with romesco, and mussels swimming in tomato-fennel broth, with a glass of rosé in hand, surrounded by fruit trees, twinkle lights and flickering candles, it all makes sense. There's a new retractable roof for the winter too.
7461 Melrose Ave.; 323-592-3226
West Third Street: A.O.C.
It’s no secret that Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's California-centric restaurant one of the most beautiful patios in town. During the day, when it’s a bit quieter, or at brunch, the leafy trees and herb-lined space makes it feel like you’re miles away, even with all the bustling Third Street traffic on the other side of the walls. The roaring fireplace outside, and the smaller one inside, creates a warm and welcoming vibe too.
8700 W. Third St.; 310-859-9859
Bel Air: Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
Just getting to the Hotel Bel-Air feels special, so it's no surprise that its marquee restaurant from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck feels like an exclusive hideaway. Whether it's for an elegant dinner or sunny weekend brunch, the modern American cuisine will impress just about anyone, and the cozy alcoves and piano bar add all the ambiance you need.
701 Stone Canyon Rd.; 310-909-1644
Beverly Hills: Viviane
The newly spruced-up dining room at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills is a beautiful space with great service and elevated, creative cuisine from chef Michael Hung. The menu features updated takes on old-school classics like lobster Thermidor and duck à l’orange, which really fit the new Kelly Wearstler–designed space — everything pops with flavor and color, whether for brunch in a poolside cabana or for dinner and drinks in the intimate dining room.
9400 W. Olympic Blvd.; 310-407-7791
More and more people are discovering the wonderful, one-of-a-kind experience of dining at N/Naka, which is now topping the Zagat Survey for Best Food. Put your trust in chef Niki Nakayama for her 13-course kaiseki menu, which promises sashimi, a steamed and a grilled dish, as well as a meat course. The vegetarian tasting reinterprets the kaiseki with vegetarian ingredients, many of which are plucked from the restaurant’s own garden. The room is Zen minimalist with a touch of femininity, a comfortable-chic vibe for subtle yet extravagant meals.
3455 Overland Ave.; 310-836-6252
Santa Monica: The Little Door
Whether it’s at the original on West Third Street or the new outpost across from the Brentwood Country Mart, a walk through the little door instantly transports you to a Mediterranean oasis with bubbling fountains, flickering candles and fireplaces. The bar at the Santa Monica location is particularly comfy with its faux-fur chair wraps and fireplace.
246 26th St.; 310-310-8064
Venice: Tasting Kitchen
As with most restaurants along Abbot Kinney, this is a local’s favorite, and often super busy in the dining room and bar. The secret is getting a seat upstairs, which is a bit quieter and a lot more cozy with books on the walls and big windows letting in the sun (and sunset). The menu is as seasonal and straightforward as ever, with well-chosen cheeses and charcuterie, handmade pastas, a few meats (rabbit, flat iron steak) and seafood entrees, and excellent cocktails.
1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310-392-6644
Manhattan Beach: The Arthur J
Out of all of David LeFevre’s restaurants, this is the “just right” one for a nice intimate dinner for two. Fishing With Dynamite is teensy and always packed, albeit a great spot to share a shellfish tower; and MB Post is constantly buzzing with filled communal tables, big fries and fun share plates. The midcentury-modern beachy-chic room here fits a night filled with a couple of salads, wood-grilled steaks, excellent side dishes and a martini or two.
903 Manhattan Ave.; 310-878-9620