Love will always find a way, but in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s certainly taken a strange path. From first date Zoom calls to assigning your spouse a new name and backstory for a week simply to keep things interesting, maintaining romance in quarantine is challenging, to say the least. But if you’re comfortable dining on patios right now, your options open up a bit. Some of LA’s most romantic restaurants are offering outdoor dining for the very first time, assuring you great food, fantastic views, and just the right energy to get this relationship going.
Located on the grounds of Yamashiro in Hollywood, Kensho is a tiny Japanese wine bar with one of our favorite patios in town. Views include the Hollywood Sign, the sun setting over the surrounding hills, and your date making a mental note that you know how to plan a romantic night. The menu is filled with snacks like mushroom inari, a perilla bowl, and charcuterie plates, but keep an eye on their calendar, as different pop-ups happen throughout the week (Thursday and Friday yakitori night is a must). Make sure you get involved with their excellent natural wine and sake as well.
There is no shortage of great new patios around town right now, but you aren’t going to find many that compare to the one at Hatchet Hall. The excellent Southern restaurant in Culver City has taken over their adjoining parking lot and turned it into a massive al fresco dreamscape. String lights, plenty of foliage, and an intricate tile design on the ground - eating on poured asphalt has never felt so majestic.
This modern, New England-style seafood restaurant in West Hollywood has always had a nice patio, but now it has a really nice patio. Taking advantage of a front parking lot usually reserved for valet, Connie & Ted’s new outdoor space includes tons of astroturf, string lights, and umbrellas at every table. The setting kind of feels like you’re in a park, and that’s ideal when there’s crab cake and lobster on the table.
Whether it’s a first date or a ten-years-of-marriage-let’s-get-out-of-the-house date, a wine bar is always a good bet to get the romance going. Melody is no exception. The Virgil Village spot is located inside a converted bungalow and has a good selection of rotating natural wines, plus a side patio that really feels like you’re in someone’s backyard. But perhaps our favorite part about Melody are the nightly kitchen pop-ups , which range from Mexican-inspired Jewish staples to one of our favorite new taco spots in town. Keep an eye on their weekly calendar for the latest.
Opening only in September, Ospi is an excellent Italian restaurant in Venice that comes from the same people behind one of our other favorite Italian restaurants on the Westside - Jame Enoteca. Expect a wide-ranging menu full of antipasti, pizza, pasta, and big plates of meat (the lamb neck and pine nut cannelloni is a standout), plus a prime corner location with plenty of good people-watching. If you’re the kind of person who likes to flex their new restaurant knowledge on date night, put Ospi at the top of your list.
Crossroads is one of the most popular and well-established vegetarian restaurants in LA, but one that had never offered an outdoor dining space - until now. Going down Sweetzer Ave, Crossroads’ new sidewalk patio is adorned with white tablecloths and potted plants, with old movies being projected on the wall. It’s a decidedly upscale atmosphere, but also feels miles away from the hustle of Melrose just around the corner.
We don’t need to remind anyone that Republique is one of LA’s great date spots - this iconic French restaurant has been that way since they opened their doors in 2013. What we do want to point out is their fantastic new side patio. The massive, walled-off space has abundant canopies, string lights, and plenty of room in between tables to assure a relatively anxiety-free date (we aren’t to blame if you discover you’ve hooked up with their ex).
At the end of the day, close proximity to the ocean always wins out on date night. And while plenty of restaurants along the coast provide just that, they often don’t have the food to match. Dudley Market has both. Located a block off the Venice Boardwalk, Dudley Market is a neighborhood seafood restaurant with excellent food, a great wine selection, and low-key front patio where you can both see, hear, and taste the ocean.
Castaway is one of Burbank’s most iconic restaurants, but if you haven’t been in a while, it’s time for a revisit. Both the space and menu have received upgrades over the last few years, taking it from a place you go to sip wine with a date and look out over The Valley, to a place you go to sip wine with a date, look out over at The Valley, and also eat good food. Concentrate on anything from “The Butcher’s Cut” section of the menu.
While we certainly don’t recommend it for new relationships, a destination date-night dinner is a great way to change things and explore a new place together. If that’s something you’re in the market for, head to Little Dom’s Seafood. Located in Carpinteria, a tiny beach town 70 miles up the 101, LDS is the second location of the Los Feliz standby Little Dom’s, and while many of the iconic dishes (the meatballs, rice balls) made the trip, it’s the new raw bar that you should primarily focus on. Oysters, uni, and a laid-back small town atmosphere - you won’t find many escapism combinations better than that.
Even in a year like this, Downtown’s rooftop game continues to expand with the latest addition being Pilot on top of The Hoxton. It’s no secret that many hotel restaurants start to look (and taste) the same after a while, but Pilot stands out for their expansive skyline views, excellent house cocktails, and a solid Mediterranean menu that features everything from black truffle mafaldi to Spanish paella for two.
Bar Restaurant in Silver Lake was one of our favorite new restaurants of 2019, with a menu that’s as inventive (hello, moules frites with curly fries) as it is insanely delicious. In 2020, they’re keeping the weirdness alive with a giant new patio, a new name (it’s now called “Bar Restaurant Valet Parking”), and a menu featuring plenty of new dishes like charred eggplant with heirloom tomatoes and caramelized yogurt, and soft shell crab with Szechuan au poivre. Don’t quote us on this, but strange dates make for the best dates.
Tallula’s has gone through several iterations since opening in Santa Monica a few years ago, but the current one is definitely our favorite. The colorful cantina now has a menu featuring dishes with Mexican influences, as well as a great new outdoor space in their parking lot. We love the tandoori chicken fajitas and masala ground beef, but whatever you end up eating, making sure you leave enough time to stroll down to the beach for some… sunset extracurriculars.
With a slightly hidden location under the Gold Line tracks, entering this French bistro’s patio in Chinatown is like stepping into a New York film noir - everything has a muted pink tint to it and the romantic drama is palpable. In addition, all of the food is fantastic (get the bavette steak), and the wine list is full of interesting and well-priced selections that will certainly help break the ice.