Whether you’re planning a team dinner or you’ve been tasked with entertaining demanding clients, figuring out the best places to use your corporate card is an art. Before you can impress your boss and/or clients with your witty and carefully prepared anecdotes, you need to impress them with an expensive restaurant serving good food, and an atmosphere that lends itself to industry talk.
You’ve come to the right place. These are the LA restaurants that work for those high-end dinners where expense is of little concern, but aren’t so trendy or elaborate that you’ll hate yourself for giving them money. Now that the planning is done, you can focus on practicing your banter.
When it comes to modern, high-end Mexican food in LA, it’s Broken Spanish and everyone else. Located downtown just a few blocks from Staples, this is where you go when a snooty London client is in town and hinted he wants the best Mexican food in LA, but is terrified of anything that comes out of a moving truck. At Broken Spanish, they serve things like beet tostadas and lamb neck tamales and massive slabs of chicharron (fried pork belly). The space is certainly upscale, but not in the way that’s going to put you to sleep - it’s colorful and a bit eccentric and really fun. Also, their wine list is one of the best downtown.
Located in a new development on the outskirts of downtown’s Fashion District, Rossoblu isn’t exactly in the heart of things. But once you get there and walk inside the massive, industrial dining room and the charcuterie board hits the table, you’ll want to take up permanent residence. This Italian restaurant works for even the most terrifying CEOs because no matter what they order, they’re probably going love it. That said, the tagliatelle and the pork porterhouse are must-orders.
Your company’s legal team is staying at a hotel right off The Strip and the last thing you want to do is organize how to get everyone downtown during Friday rush hour in one piece. Keep it easy and go to Norah. Located right on Santa Monica Blvd in Weho, this large, modern restaurant’s location is as central as it gets. And the accessible (but not boring) American menu will make even the pickiest member of the team happy.
Never underestimate the impressing-power of excellent views. And they don’t get much better than 71Above’s. Located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Building downtown, 71Above definitely has that corporate/finance feel to it, but guess what - you’re with corporate/finance people. This isn’t going to be the most exciting meal you’ll ever eat, but the food is good and the choose-your-own pre-fixe menu setup will calm your fears of having to share plates of food with people who still haven’t looked you in the eyes.
The talk around the office for next week’s team dinner is steakhouse, but you aren’t in the mood for a nap on top of a run-of-the-mill ribeye in Beverly Hills. Go to Animal. This small, modern restaurant on Fairfax isn’t your traditional steakhouse, and that’s the point. You’re going to have spicy beef tendon chips, sirloin carpaccio, oxtail poutine, and a giant Turkey leg, all in a minimalist space. And you’re never going to want to go back to a boring steakhouse again.
The president of all worldwide operations is in town and there’s no time to f*ck around. You’re making a reservation at Providence because it’s still the fanciest (and most expensive) restaurant in the city. Will a meal for two top out at over $1,000 here? Easily. Does the tasting menu, the space, and the service back up that price? Yes. If you’re looking for the highest level of dining that’s also entirely enjoyable, Providence is your move.
Not every Italian restaurant is a pasta and pizza sweat den. Case in point - Chi Spacca. Part of the massive Mozza block at Melrose and Highland, Chi Spacca is a place where you will eat an extreme amount of meat, and spend a lot of money to do so. Yes, there’s a tomahawk pork chop for $90 and a 50oz porterhouse that’ll set you back a casual $220, but this is the place you ignore numbers and just throw down. The space is small, but not so intimate it’s uncomfortable.
Paley is one of those restaurants seemingly built solely for corporate card/industry dinners. And in the heart of Hollywood, that’s not a bad thing to be. Located in the Columbia Square complex on Sunset (next to Viacom and Neuehouse and Siren Studios), Paley is a bright, modern space with a menu full of things people will enjoy eating while they sign contracts. The cocktails are strong, there’s a Happy Hour every day from 2:30-7pm, and they do full restaurant buyouts as well.
If your boss at WME has asked you to book a dinner for some clients coming to town, what they mean is book a dinner at Craft. It’s in Century City, meaning its only clientele are agents and people talking to agents, but it’s not overwhelmingly pretentious or much of a place to see-and-be-seen. Also, the food is expensive and very good (especially the $110 steak that’s one of the best in LA). The tables are far enough apart from each other to allow for negotiations to happen (and they do, regularly) without anyone having to yell. Plus, service is super attentive - the wait staff just assume everyone is important, and treat them as such.
You work at a startup and need somewhere to host your investors while your company is fundraising. You want somewhere that gets across how cool your brand is, but you’re also on the Westside, so your choices are limited. Head to Cassia. This modern Vietnamese restaurant near Downtown Santa Monica serves creative shared plates (get the charcuterie fried rice) in a casual but elegant setting - think industrial decor with big booths, and a bar that’s pretty much always filled with young, trendy people.
With studio heads living on every corner, Brentwood seems like the kind of place that would have seven high-end steakhouses. But there’s just one (relatively new) place to eat giant pieces of meat, and it’s assimilated into the neighborhood very quickly. Baltaire is big and moodily-lit and you can easily pretend you’re in Midtown Manhattan, not a place where palm trees sub in for skyscrapers. This is the kind of place where the cheapest steak on the menu comes in just under $50, you can add on a lobster tail, and literally no one is using their own money for dinner.
A strip mall sushi joint probably doesn’t seem like the best place for a fancy work dinner, but Hamasaku is nothing like most strip mall sushi joints. For one, it’s filled with Westside-dwelling talent agency people, and for another, they have an actual interior design theme beyond putting chairs in a room. The Japanese food here is great and caters to all tastes - there’s a reasonably priced omakase, as well as everything from loaded-up sushi rolls and tempura to spicy tuna crispy rice and grilled things on sticks. Come here for a dinner that needs to be fun but, you know, work fun.
Spago might just be the OG corporate card restaurant. It’s fancy, it’s always full of visiting businesspeople, and the prices are so high that no sane human would come here unless someone else was paying. This is the place to go when you need to impress on someone just how important of a person you really are (even if you aren’t actually that important). The staff will definitely keep the charade going, and when you order the off-menu spicy tuna hand rolls you’ll lock in your reputation as the most powerful person on earth.
Your company’s tech bro co-founder has decided it’s time for a bonding dinner and he’s shot down every suggestion you’ve made as “too stuffy.” Even though you know he actually likes things that are pretty stuffy. Gwen will probably be his style. This Hollywood restaurant has a beautiful space that feels cool, but also has all the fine dining element he really wants. They do three-, five-, or 10-course tasting menus, will present you with a box of fancy knives to choose from, and explain in detail the food as they serve it. He’ll be all in.
You’ve sat through a million terrible work dinners where you have to nod while Helen brings up her kid’s archery championship for the fifth time. But when you’re actually excited about going to dinner with clients you actually like, Rustic Canyon is a great choice. This Santa Monica staple is loud without being unbearable, the service is good but not overbearing, and the food is just plain great. The wine list is also one of the best on the Westside, so it’s safe to bring that one person with the intimidating, climate-controlled home cellar.
Some nights you need to bring out the big guns, and on those nights, you drive down PCH to Mastro’s. Yes it’s a steakhouse, and yes it’s a chain, but somehow that doesn’t matter when you’re staring at the ocean and eating a steak that costs more than your monthly coffee budget. Mastro’s is all about the experience, and it more than delivers.