If you’re dating someone who knows food, there’s no better way to impress than picking the perfect date spot.
Somewhere that not only offers amazing cuisine, but an ambience to match.
That said, we’ve amassed a culinary rundown that’s sure to please on both the decor and the deliciousness, giving you tons of options for where to suggest next time your beau or betty asks you, “So where should we eat tonight?”
Just remember, we may find you the perfect location, but it’s up to you to do the rest.
List numbered for reference, in no particular order.
Note: We highly recommend reservations as the wait times can be lengthy and it’s date night after all.
1. Broken Spanish
L.A. native Ray Garcia’s menu is an extension of his pocho (Mexican-American) identity, steeped in traditional Mexican cuisine with a dash of California’s elevated style and a pinch of seasonal and local ingredients. He draws inspiration from the multitude of flavors he grew up with and leaves practically no body part untouched ( i.e. pig tail, pig snout, and lamb’s head plates ). Kick things off by diving right into a plate of whipped carnitas fat followed by chicharrones (expect the unexpected) or an oxtail quesadilla with house made tortillas. It’s casual but not the most intimate setting but with food like this the fun is in the journey your taste buds take and who isn’t going to bond over the shared experience of eating lamb’s head?
2. Geoffrey’s Malibu
You can’t go wrong with an ocean view and Malibu is always a good choice for a laid back yet upscale dining experience. Geoffrey’s is a popular brunch spot so we recommend a dinner outing for a more low key affair so you can enjoy the soothing sounds of the crashing waves (remember to dress warmly though). With such close proximity to the ocean the seafood is a must so kick off your culinary adventure with the ahi tuna tartar (the baked brie with pear chutney is also scrumptious) followed by sautéed day boat sea scallops and their surf ‘n’ turf with filet and lobster. Cap the night by sharing their crème brûlée made that much sweeter by a layer of dark chocolate mousse.
It rated number eight in Food + Wine’s Most Instagrammed Restaurants in America thanks to the breathtaking view of the DTLA skyline. Situated on the 15th floor with the bar on the 16th the ambiance is warm and inviting with fire pits, two outdoor fireplaces and a wrap around patio overlooking an amazing DTLA view. The live jazz music and lounge couches set the mood and the wine whets your appetite- they offer more than 25 wines by the glass. Their cuisine is French inspired with the dinner menu featuring baked brie (enough said), French onion soup, and boeuf bordelaise made with braised short rib and roast garlic potato puree. They also offer familiar dishes with a gourmet twist like truffle poutine with bocconcini (mozzarella balls) with truffle gravy and bacon, steak frites with truffle cheese fries and bacon mac & cheese. Ultimately, Perch is the kind of place for an unforgettable evening that’s a feast for your eyes as well as your stomach.
4. Angelini Osteria
When it comes to date night you really can’t go wrong with Italian food and Angelini’s somehow manages to be an elite eatery while still providing a cozy space that belies its upscale status. What is there to say about the food except it’s one of the most authentic Italian eats you can find outside “the Boot.” Famed chefs Wolfgang Puck and Giada de Laurentiis sing its praises calling the branzino and lasagna verde two of the best meals they’ve ever eaten, respectively. The restaurant offers a chef’s table for an extra special date night experience so go ahead and order that spaghetti all carbonara and uni pasta because this is home style Italian at its best.
After a decade and a number of accolades (including a James Beard award and two Michelin stars) this seafood-centric eatery has established itself as one of the finest gourmet restaurants in Los Angeles. Co-owner and Chef Michael Cimarusti developed the Dock to Dish program (think farm-to-table but aquatic) so that local fisherman sell whatever is in season directly to chefs. This sustainable seafood approach dictates the ever-changing menu with items ranging from Santa Barbra uni to wild John Dory and Maine lobster. Like any good seafood restaurant it can be pricey, we suggest the market tasting menu for lunch and the Chefs Tasting Menu (12 courses) for an extra special evening.
6. Bäco Mercat
The restaurant is named after Chef Josef Centeno’s signature flatbread sandwich that come stuffed with ingredients only an experienced and creative chef could come up with. Tasting something that’s new and delicious is always a treat for a foodie so any of the baco options are a good choice but we recommend the original made with pork and beef carnitas and the beef tongue schnitzel with harissa. The coca is an ode to Catalan cuisine and is basically a pizza but the marriage of flavors are the kinds of bold combinations you’ll only find here (try the Sweet Piggy or Carne Picada). There isn’t always room for dessert but do yourself a favor and order the caramel upside cake and/or the banana cream pie and thank us later. The high ceiling, Edison lights, and simple furnishings make for a casual setting but the food is anything but.
The exterior is covered in vines so it’s easy to miss but right when you walk in it’s evident why this restaurant is considered a romantic spot with its cabanas, library lounge and patio decked with a fireplace. Sitting on the sofa surrounded by books encourages stimulating conversation enhanced by indulging in a few glasses of wine and a shared dessert. For the full dinner experience we recommend the fried olives, pei mussels and the NY steak.
8. Osteria Mozza
Chef Nancy Silverton is a James Beard award winner, a baker, and the brainchild behind the mozzarella bar that’s become the star attraction at this Italian eatery. The dishes are decadence personified: ricotta and egg raviolo with browned butter, bavete (cacio e pepe), grilled beef tagliata, and porcini-rubbed rib eye are all delicious but any dish you order is sure to satisfy. You can sit at the Mozzarella bar -order anything off the menu because it’s heavenly- and watch the magic happen in the kitchen or dine at the Amaro Bar which offers a prix fix meal. The complementary and equally well made cheeses and breads hit all the right spots so saving room for the main dish may be a challenge but it’s worth it.
9. Little Sister
It’s Southeast Asia by way of L.A. courtesy of chef Tin Vuong who has gained popularity thanks to his salt and pepper lobster. The Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho) and shaky shaky beef are a foodie must-have. Make sure to grab a seat at the bar to witness what Vuong does best, cook. The space is small (seats 50) with artwork on the walls and dim lighting that makes the space feel even cozier.
Three words: Kimchi Fried Rice. But that’s not all, there’s escargot en croute, croque madame… do I have your attention now? What this place lacks in intimacy (communal tables dominate) it makes up for in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The building itself is grand and historic (it was once Charlie Chaplin’s office) with large glass windows and stone walls that require admiration and attention. Chef Walter Manzke, former head chef at Church & State, focuses on French cuisine with seasonal ingredients making for elevated flavors of familiar dishes (steak tartare, roast chicken on a spit). We recommend three separate dates to fully enjoy a meal from each menu to gain a greater appreciation for Chef Manzke’s creations.
[RELATED: The 15 Best Bakeries in Los Angeles]
11. Carlitos Gardel
Gardel is synonymous with the Argentine tango and, by extension, the cultural golden age of Buenos Aires and part of that which remains great is its cuisine. The Bozoghlian family from Buenos Aires offer up authentic Argentine meals and top notch wines because the foundation of a great Argentine meal is beef and wine. For date night we recommend you share a parrillada that comes with grilled skirt steak, short ribs, sweetbreads, black sausage, and chorizo served in a small grill with coals underneath. Get the garlic fries on the side and the empanadas are a must as is the postre Gardel made with peaches, caramel, and meringue. There’s nothing trendy in the menu instead it relies on basic Argentine flavors (the chimichurri sauce is only second to the beef) and provides a warm ambiance with the constant but not intrusive sounds of tango music in the background.
It’s a hot ticket in town and sure to impress on date night (reservations are a must) even though the exterior is an unassuming warehouse and the interior is industrial, the food is loud and does all the talking. Chef Menashe’s menu is rustic Italian with standouts including roasted marrow bone, ricotta dumplings with pork sausage (cavatelli alla norcina), and cacao pasta parcel with oxtail (agnolotti alla vaccinara.) We recommend ending the night on a sweet note with pastry Chef Genevieve Gergi’s “coffee and donuts”- spiced chestnut zeppole (donut holes) with coffee ice cream. Like any good Italian restaurant, you feel right at home despite the crowd because the atmosphere is so lively.
13. Vinoteque on Melrose
Like a warm blanket the romantic ambiance and gorgeous design immediately envelopes you. The courtyard is decorated with string lights and vines that create an intimate feel. The space is set outdoors for the most part with inviting lounge and cabana areas. Add even more romance to your night by bringing a lock and key. Inspired by the love locks tradition of Ponte Milvio in Rome the entryway is lined with lover’s locks. The tapas/small plates include chicken and biscuits, lamb meatballs, goat cheese napoleon, and pork belly. The wine selection includes about 350 bottles and they can work with you to develop a flight that’s to your liking with the help of sommelier Ryan Hess.
Sushi in L.A. is like pizza in N.Y. it’s sure to be good and fresh and this place is the epitome of good sushi for most Angelenos. The high quality of the fish makes even the most basic sushi well worth the price when it practically melts in your mouth. Chef Nozawa trained in Tokyo and serves only traditional sushi (no California rolls here) and warm rice that’s not tightly packed so it might require some chopsticks acrobatics but that’s all part of the fun. They offer the “Trust Me” and “Trust Me Lite” options but for date night we suggest “Trust Me” as it’s sufficient food to fill you up and it includes their famous blue crab hand roll. The interior is modern with orb lights and wooden furniture making for laid back vibe with an upscale meal.
The look of Lucques is itself a thing of beauty with vines and low hanging lights in the patio while the interior with its brick walls feels like a cozy cabin made for family gatherings. Chef Suzanne Goin’s braised short ribs are the stuff of legend so don’t be fooled by the unassuming dish because it’s rich and tender as a result of a four hour braise with red wine and veal stock. If the buzzing sounds of conversations isn’t an issue for date night, their Sunday supper is a prix fix menu that always delivers.
It recently opened (taking over Oliverio) after getting a makeover by designer Kelly Wearstler with Chef Michael Hung, formerly of Faith and Flower, at the helm. The menu is French and stripped down so that it’s more about elevated flavors and less about frilly fare. The ricotta ravioli with brown butter, mushrooms, and squash and the persimmon and pomegranate salad with arugula, honey-thyme vinaigrette, and sunflower seeds are luscious but the ingredients are familiar. Since it’s a poolside restaurant within the Avalon hotel it’s laid back for Beverly Hills standards (put on some finer duds but keep it relaxed) so it’s a great way to bask in the sunshine and treat yourselves.
This is the (almond) crème de la crème of vegan/vegetarian cooking thanks to Chef Tal Ronnen. The restaurant shies away from the term “vegan” opting for “plant-based” instead and the food itself is less overtly vegan and more about expertly combining vegetables and grains to make a whole and fulfilling meal. Whereas some vegetarian/vegan spots might leave you hungry for more, Chef Ronnen makes it a point to deliver a full meal versus a collection of side dishes with creative concoctions like artichoke “oysters” (made with mushrooms), calamari and “crab” cakes both made with heart of palm. Obviously this is an ideal date spot for those who live the herbivore lifestyle but even meat-eaters will find something to love among the delicious pastas (try the tortellini) and comforting classics like the Bolognese lasagna. The place itself is cozy and beautifully lit with orb-light chandeliers and white-cloth tables with an 11-seat bar and wall lined with wine bottles. This is all coming from the man who catered Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi’s wedding so you know he’s doing something right.
Where are your go-to date spot eateries? Let us know in the comments below!