We’re not entirely sure what the difference between dinner with some friends who happen to be women and a fully fledged Girls’ Night Out is, but we suspect it has something to do with the presence of margaritas.
Whether or not this is correct, planning a night out with your lady crew is now a little bit easier, with this list of places that are generally fun, mostly not impossible to get into, and with menus that should keep your whole group happy. The involvement of tequila is entirely up to you.
If your crew feels like having an Eastside night, Kismet is a good place to be right now. Will you probably see someone wearing a flower crown? Yes. Will you be so focused on their delicious Israeli/Mediterranean food to actually care? Also, yes. Everything here is pretty vegetable-oriented, which is ideal because Kelsey just had her third glass of wine and wants to go dancing. Luckily, Kismet’s Los Feliz location puts it in close proximity to plenty of good bars.
When it comes to a big night out, restaurant location matters. And you really aren’t going to find a better one than Rosaliné’s. This modern Peruvian restaurant at Melrose and La Cienega is not only in close proximity to plenty of after-dinner drinking venues, but its central location also means your Westside friends can’t complain about having a longer drive than everybody else. The food is good and light (order all of the ceviches) and the excellent cocktails will get the mood up in no time.
Tallula’s might not be the most authentic Mexican food around, but it involves good-tasting Mexican food on the Westside, so people (including us) are pretty excited about it. The big, loud, colorful restaurant is right off PCH, and ready for you and your friends to have one too many rounds of margaritas. We like the seafood dishes best, especially the regularly-changing fish tacos, but branching out into the duck confit chilaquiles or the braised pork isn’t a bad idea either. Just remember that all those small plates are going to add up.
When your friend is only eating plant-based foods for the month, but you are very much not, there’s Botanica. This new-ish Silverlake all-day spot has a nice patio in the back, everything looks good when you point your phone at it, and they can supply you with a steady stream of rosé (and even better cocktails). There are many giant piles of green things on the menu, as well as heavier (but still super fresh) things like clams and chorizo or lamb kebobs. This is the answer when you need to make everybody happy.
Madera Kitchen is a rare Hollywood spot where you can eat good food and hear yourself talk. This Mediterranean restaurant has one of the more attractive patios in LA, complete with lots of greenery and hanging lights that will make it look like you found an exclusive resort rather than a semi-casual restaurant off Franklin Ave. The space is huge, so it’s always easy to get a table for big groups, the shared plates are all simple but consistently good, and the crowd never gets so loud that you can’t have a real conversation. And if you’re done talking after dinner, there are a ton of rowdier bars to hit just a few minutes away.
You want to stay on the westside, but that doesn’t mean you want to interact with the entire UCLA class of 2017 at the Bungalow. For something a little more sophisticated, head to Bodega. This giant wine bar off Lincoln is always full of attractive, young-but-not-that-young groups and couples, and everyone is having a great time. This isn’t the wine bar you come to when you just got dumped and need a dark corner to sit and reflect in. This is the wine bar to catch up with friends and reminisce too loudly on the giant couches by the patio. The wine list is long, the food is better than it needs to be, and their happy hour goes from 5-7pm and then all night after 10pm. You’ll stay here for a few hours longer than you intended - and you won’t be bothered by anyone wearing a fraternity tank.
ERB is one of those places that makes getting everything right look easy. The Arts District spot has great cocktails, a never-ending wine list, fantastic bar food, an attractive crowd, and an outdoor back patio the crew will never want to leave. Definitely snag a reservation beforehand as crowds are pretty intense on the weekends, but trust that the burger and biscuits and shrimp roll and hamachi are all worth it.
If you know one thing about your friend group, you know they’re picky as f*ck. So instead of calling every restaurant in town to see if they have a gluten-free option for your one friend who consistently thinks she’s breaking out in hives - just go to Gracias Madre instead. The no-real-meat-or-cheese Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood might not involve the best food in town but it caters to Kate’s very special stomach preferences, and is also just fun. The cocktails continue to be tremendous, and if there’s a better group dinner setting in the area than this side patio, we don’t know it.
You know if you chose some local restaurant you love you’re inevitably going to be back home in bed by 10pm. So, go be your best Jenner and get a table at The Nice Guy. The La Cienega spot is technically an Italian restaurant, but nobody here’s scarfing down red sauce pasta and meatballs. This is a complete see-and-be-seen, which-E!-Show-are-you-on crowd, and sometimes that’s just what the doctor prescribed. Also, a free photo booth never hurt anyone.
If the mood is right to make it a Hollywood night, Cleo is as an extremely reliable (and also really fun) option. This Mediterranean restaurant has consistently great food and a setting that’s trendy but not obnoxious, and is smack dab in the heart of all things Hollywood nightlife. Plus the menu is tapas style, meaning everybody can share, and your risk of overeating and going home early is minimal.
You’re looking for a scene, but not so much of a scene that you want to go home early for a long bath and a box of Breyer’s. Just head to Toca Madera. The organic/healthy/lettuce-cups-are-king Mexican restaurant on 3rd Street is a scene, but with food you won’t hate yourself for eating. The space itself is beautiful, you might see Channing Tatum, and the tequila situation is strong. Whatever you do, save room for the churro ice cream sandwich.
Not all girls’ nights need to lead to dancing on the tables and forgetting about said dancing the next day. Sometimes, you just want to put on that dress your significant other doesn’t get and eat some really good food with your friends. Norah will make you feel like a grown-up - in a “Yep, I have my life together,” not a “Sh*t, doing my own taxes sucks” kind of way.
Is one of your friends fairly famous on Instagram? Do they refuse to eat anywhere unless they can get a bunch of good content? With Republique, everybody wins - the tiled floors, wooden tables, and high ceilings are your friend’s dream and the French food is some of the best in town. And getting drunk on champagne and eating your weight in oysters is the definition of girls night success.
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, the closest thing your friend group has to a garden is a fiddle leaf fig in the corner. Pretend like you have the best patio in the world and get to Commissary, which is inside an actual greenhouse next to the pool at The Line in Ktown. Besides the fact that you practically need the code-breaking skills of a Dan Brown character to decipher the menu, the Asian-inspired farm to table food tastes great and is prime for sharing. But you’re really here for the Gin & Juice cocktails and some snacks before joining the party downstairs in the lobby.
Mama Shelter is technically a hotel. But it’s a hotel with one of the best rooftops you’ll find in LA. With foosball tables, a projection screen playing old movies, and kitschy colorful furniture, Mama Shelter isn’t about the usual models and bottles atmosphere of Hollywood rooftops. The food is solid, well-priced, and ideal for goals of not needing a nap afterwards. And those views are what beveling group photos are made for.
The idea of a girls night out in Beverly Hills sounds about as fun as a cab with a chatty driver, but hear us out - Citizen is a good time. The downtown BH spot has a young crowd, solid food, great cocktails, reasonable prices, and an aesthetic that reads like the house of your aunt who doesn’t care if you smoke pot on the patio. This part of town gets sleepy in a hurry, but Weho is right around the corner for afterwards.
Hamasaku is not at all a scene, unless Westside families with children named Bear and Cecile are your idea of a scene. But on a Wednesday night when everyone’s finally available and you were supposed to make the reservation a week ago, Hamasaku is a lifeline to a still- excellent dinner. Sushi is obviously a prime girls’ night food group, but there are also hot things for that one annoying friend who still thinks raw fish is icky.
Sometimes it’s necessary to spend a Thursday night ordering every pasta on the menu. This is not a thing you can easily achieve alone, so next time you’ve been up since 6am dealing with your nightmare of a boss, gather the crew post-work and head straight for Spartina. Grab a spot on the patio if you can.
When half the group wants a quiet dinner, and the other half wants a bar, meet in the middle and get to the front patio at Esters. Yes, it’s a wine bar, but there’s also a pretty substantial food menu that will keep everyone happy. You could order a charcuterie platter and a salad to share, but you could also order a grilled cheese and feel much happier about your life choices.
We’ve been hard on Eveleigh in the past, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent girls’ night candidate. The room is pretty, the atmosphere is borderline rowdy, the waiters are good-looking, and there are lots of cocktails. The food is expensive for what it is, but that isn’t really the point tonight. The point is you’re going to 1Oak later and Eveleigh is the perfect pre-game.