8 Dimly Lit Restaurants For A Sexy Little Night Out
Where not being able to read the menu without a flashlight is part of the appeal.
Dark restaurants can be annoying. You can’t see the servers or the menu, and you just seared the retinas of everyone within a five-foot radius because you turned on your iPhone flashlight. On the right night though, low lights are exactly what you want. Maybe you’ve got a sexy date or you’re simply feeling yourself in a hot new outfit, either way, a dimly lit dining room goes a long way to setting the right mood. And these restaurants pull it off better than anywhere else.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
This old-school Italian spot in Culver City is one of those restaurants where you might instinctively mutter “OK, just give me a sec” every time you walk through the door. It’s simply that dark inside. Once your eyes adjust though, a retro, moody dining room reveals itself. There are black leather banquettes along the walls, mid-century art hanging everything, and crimson red table clothes. It’s the perfect place to sip a well-made martini and snack on garlic bread, caesar, and chicken parm—all of which happen to be our favorite dishes on the menu.
photo credit: Cafe Stella
This tiny French bistro, which opened back in 1998, is a Silver Lake classic and one of the most objectively romantic restaurants in the neighborhood. When we say “romantic” though, we don’t mean it in a snoozy-one-glass-of-red-and-home-by-9pm kind of way. Cafe Stella is dark, sexy, and a bit mysterious—the kind of place where you might bump into the most interesting person in the world and casually date them for a few months. Also, the food is good. Whether you’re on a date, catching up with a friend, or are a lone wolf at the bar sipping a martini, go for gooey French onion soup and the generously portioned steak frites.
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photo credit: Jakob Layman
Jones has long been a Hollywood standby of ours, simply because every time we walk in, we immediately feel like a legendary sex-symbol rockstar. Intimate red leather booths line the dining room, old Hollywood headshots hang on the wall, and the big wrap-around bar is standing room only by 7:15 pm every night. Whether you’re here on a hot date, drinking martinis with a friend, or just rolled in with a big group for late-night pizza, expect good food, strong drinks, and an exceedingly hot crowd who are ready to mingle.
The original Employees Only kicked off NYC's cocktail speakeasy craze when it opened almost two decades ago, so it was no surprise that when they landed in West Hollywood in 2018, it was one of the hardest tables to snag in town. Fast forward to today though, and EO has evolved into something unexpected—an actual neighborhood spot. Sure, the Italian-ish menu is just OK, and a drink here will set you back at least $16, but the retro, low-lit space feels like having dinner in a luxury airport lounge from the 1970s. In other words, it’s the perfect setting for getting dressed up, feeling hot, and drinking interesting, delicious cocktails—without having to wait in line.
The Nice Guy
The Nice Guy opened in 2014 and remains one of the few LA clubstaurants that can rightfully claim to be as popular now as it was back then. The pitch-dark, bungalow-like space on La Cienega is constantly filled with well-dressed 25-year-olds whose parents are definitely covering rent plus the occasional celebrity who's there to promote a product line. It’s a place where people come to see and be seen, though not literally since it's hard to make out people's faces across the room when the lights are this low. The good news is you won't leave here hungry—the Italian-leaning menu is surprisingly quite solid.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
We’ve been to Mírate several times now and we’re still not sure we’ve seen all of it. That’s partially due to the fact that this modern Mexican spot in Los Feliz is objectively massive, but also because it can get quite dark there. Whether you’re seated in the open-air courtyard, the second-floor patio, the bar area, the other bar area, or any of the main dining rooms (we told you it’s big), expect candle-lit tables, serious mood lighting, and tons foliage that gives the feel of a remote romantic jungle.
Delilah is an upscale restaurant/lounge in West Hollywood that has maintained an impressive air of exclusivity, despite the fact that it’s pretty easy to get a table. The crowd on any given night is a mix of agents, contract Wilhelmina models, and skeezy guys at the bar with one too many buttons undone—which thankfully you won't really see because it's so dark. All that aside, the food here is pleasant, including what might be the best chicken tenders in the city. This place is basically an extremely low-lit Lawry’s with sex appeal.
photo credit: Gjelina / Facebook
This tiny, under-the-radar Venice spot is a true hidden gem of the Westside. Just kidding, it’s Gjelina, one of the most chronically gridlocked restaurants in the city and a place that, if you haven’t heard of it by now, you’re an alien in a host body and we hope you’re enjoying your time on Earth. With that out of the way, this dark, candle-lit spot on Abbot Kinney is still one of the most exciting—and sexy—dinner spots around. The crowd can get a little touristy, but this vegetable-focused place is still a neighborhood fixture, meaning most nights, you’ll still find a chill, low-key vibe inside. Be sure to get several pizzas.