Whether you’re a recent transplant or a longtime Angeleno, you are probably aware of the fact that dating in Los Angeles can really suck. But with a city this vast, diverse and always in flux, there’s no excuse for taking somebody out for a bad time. Whether you’ve been together for years or just swiped right, here are a few options for making that next date one to remember.
Little Beast, Eagle Rock
Good for: The Cozy, Romantic Date
Snuggled in a bungalow in Eagle Rock is a cozy-yet-upscale neighborhood restaurant, Little Beast. Inside, it looks like you’re in someone’s romantically lit, intimately arranged home. Chef de cuisine Jose Alvarez uses fresh, seasonal ingredients so the menu changes often, but the brussels sprouts and burger are both among the best in the city. Finish it off with some luscious bread pudding if you’re not too busy canoodling in the shadows.
Good for: The Sharing Dinner Date
Share a Peanut Butter Baked Alaska for dessert
There’s no better place to split a meal than TART. Start by trying to make it through a Half Bowl of Rum Punch and sample some of their incredibly addictive Smoked Trout Dip with Ritz and Crystal hot sauce. Then, after you each have one Deviled Ham & Egg, you’ll be torn on whether you want to cut that third one in half or just order another three; whatever you decide, you both win. See, isn’t sharing fun?
Playa Provisions, Playa Del Rey
Good for: The Beach Date
Just steps from the surprisingly sleepy Playa Vista Beach, Playa Provisions serves up delicious cocktails like the Popsecco (Prosecco with a homemade popsicle in it) and tasty dishes. Provisions is upscale, but their brunch also features a "Redneck Benedict"—a biscuit with a poached egg, ham and bacon gravy served with a Miller High Life tall boy in a paper bag—so don't worry if you two are looking a little shabby from the ride down to the restaurant along the adjacent Ballona Creek Bike Path (recommended!).
Tony’s on the Pier, Redondo Beach
Good for: The Kitschy Date
Redondo Pier is a bit of a chimera—one part aging pier attractions (America’s only custom-fit toe ring shop!) and one part newer, polished restaurants and bars. Once you’re done winning your date a talking Dennis Miller doll from the arcade (actual prize), head on over to the upstairs bar at Tony’s, where you can munch on some seafood and take in a 360-degree view of the ocean while you sip on Mai Tais. Oh, and those Tony’s glasses you’re drinking out of? You get to keep those as your first date souvenir.
Bouchon, Beverly Hills
Good for: The Fancy Finger-Lickin' Date
If you’re looking to communicate to your date, “I like the simpler things in life…but I also have sooo much money,” kill those two birds with one stone by taking them to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. On Monday nights, the restaurant serves the justifiably famed fried chicken from Keller’s Napa restaurant Ad Hoc. The perfectly-seasoned-without-being-greasy exterior may make this one of the best plates of fried bird you’ve ever had. Plus, you get to watch rich people try to look dignified while eating with their hands, which is always a great time.
Good for: The Gamer Date
Are Player 1 and 2 looking for a night out IRL? Grab a roll of quarters and head down to EightyTwo—a craft cocktail bar/arcade. First, order a Princess Peach from the bar and take on some rabid ghosts together in Gauntlet or kick each other’s butts Street Fighter–style. Then get your flipper fingers ready for the other half of the arcade, where you can find out who the real pinball wizard is in this relationship. BONUS ROUND: For those in need of a post-game power-up, Würstkuche has some gourmet sausages and great beer right around the corner.
Good for: The Date with a View
Yamashiro may not be the best sushi in town, but as a date spot, the environs are impossible to beat. Built in 1914 as a replica of a Japanese mountain palace, it sits quietly perched above Hollywood & Highland (home to the Oscars) looking out over the city. The Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice and sizzling Wagyu beef served on a Himalayan Salt Plate are the dining highlights, but with serene gardens inside and out and a view worth the menu prices all by itself, the food probably won’t be the thing you remember.
Delicious Pizza, West Adams
Good for: The Casual, Cool Date
No date can resist the allure of a meatball pie.
Even if the name Delicious Vinyl doesn’t mean anything to you, the pies at this West Adams pizza joint opened by DV founder Mike Ross and his brother Rick are worth a stop. The Rosses, responsible for early hip-hop hits like "Bust a Move" and "Wild Thing," enlisted the help of father-son team Fred and Travis Sutherland to create top-notch slices with a crisp, thin crust that would satisfy even East Coast pizza snobs. Toss in some reasonably priced craft beers or Funky Cold Sangria (get it?) and a live DJ spinning hip-hop classics, and you and your date may be doing your own version of the wild thing before you know it.
Factory Kitchen, Arts District (Downtown)
Good for: The Amazing Pasta Date
Once upon a time, this large brick building housed a fish factory, but now Factory Kitchen’s exposed kitchen makes it feel like you’re in a factory that just churns out incredible Italian food. From cocktails to desserts, everything here is tasty, but the Mandilli di Seta (a.k.a. the Handkerchief Pasta), a single large square of pasta covered in Ligurian almond basil pesto, is a must-order.
Break Room 86, Koreatown
Good for: The Secret Bar Date
There is no better bonding experience on a first date than discovering a secret together. Break Room 86 not only has a “secret” entrance through a vending machine out back of The Line Hotel, but inside there are even more secret doors leading to private (though pricy) karaoke rooms. Throw back a few glasses of Ecto-Cooler (house-made wine) and jam the night away to some hot ’80s remixes or try out your Pac-Man skills in the tiny arcade in the back. If you get peckish, you can choose from one of two Roy Choi restaurants inside the hotel, Commissary and POT.