It’s a big game weekend, or parents weekend, or they just decided they NEEDED to see you. Whatever the reason, the parents have descended on LA and they are down to hang.
Sure, you could just take them to your go-to near-campus spot (looking at you, Bacaro), but we would argue that’s a big waste - you might as well get some good meals out of a parent visit. Better yet, they should be spots you normally wouldn’t get to try without Mom and Dad (and their wallet). So we’ve put together a guide to parent-friendly LA spots that are particularly great. Get busy with those reservations now.
One thing guaranteed to win over Mom and Pop: epic views. 71Above officially has the best ones in the city - from the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower, the tallest building in LA. The food here is also great - interesting but not so out-there that your parents might be put off. At $70 for three (normal-sized) courses, it’s also not outrageously expensive either.
Ever since you arrived in LA, everyone you’ve ever met (including us) has been telling you to get to Bestia. There are just two problems: you can never get a table, and oh yeah, you’re in college so you cannot possibly afford it. So when Mom calls to say they’re coming in three months for the UCLA game, just pick up the phone and make a reservation. One bite of the chicken liver toast and they’ll thank you.
Another meal with a view, this time from the top of the Ritz Carlton. WP24 is parent catnip - there’s the view, it’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and they serve fancy Chinese food. Surprise twist: the food is pretty excellent. Be warned, WP24 is expensive, so just make sure they have a martini to start and you’ll be golden.
So you’re from the East Coast, and your mom is VERY worried about the LA deli situation. “But how do you survive without decent matzoh ball soup?” Take her to Langer’s, order her a #19 (the greatest pastrami sandwich in the entire city, if not the country), and she’ll sleep better knowing you’re being well taken care of.
If you’re from anywhere other than California (or, you know, Mexico), you probably didn’t have amazing Mexican food before you got to LA. So your parents probably haven’t either. Take them to Broken Spanish for the very best modern Mexican in LA and watch in real time as their minds are blown.
If you’re reading this and are currently in college, your parents grew up without the internet. It might be hard to believe, but just ask them what they did for fun and we bet one of them says “I was a pinball wizard.” So they’re probably going to be into Button Mash, which has lots of arcade games, great Asian food, and also one of the best burgers you’ll ever eat. Get Dad to show you his moves while you wait.
Do Mom and Dad like pretty things? They’ll be all about Redbird. The restaurant, located in a converted old church, is straight-up beautiful and the food is perfect for sharing. If you’ve hit the Downtown culture circuit and need a drink after all that art, Redbird is an excellent option.
If your parents aren’t super adventurous in the food department, make them (and you) happy and head to Republique. The French food here is interesting but never intimidating - and they can always go with the safe order of steak frites if all else fails. The space itself is gorgeous and was built by Charlie Chaplin, so they’ll be into that too. Consider it for an upscale dinner or a seriously impressive breakfast.
If your parents usually end up hating every cool place you take them to because every other sentence out of their mouths is “Huh, what did you say?”, just bring them to Osteria Mozza. They take their Italian food very seriously, white tablecloths and all, and you’ll actually all be able to hear each other. Order all the pastas and everyone will be happy.
Maybe you’ve been taking advantage of the whole parents in town things a little too much - take them to Maccheroni Republic and tell them it’s on you. With parent-pleasing Italian food, a nice little courtyard, affordable prices, and a BYOB policy, this place also still feels nice enough for family dinner. Mom and Dad might be confused at first but will eventually be very glad you didn’t take them to Macaroni Grill.
You know what old(er) people like? Pasadena. And also Italian food. Union actually feels like it should be in a different part of town, one where people go to bed after 9pm and don’t have 3 kids. Once you’ve ordered, say sorry to Pasadena for being so mean. We’re sorry Pasadena.
Are Mom and Dad a bit sick of all the fancy places you’ve been dragging them to and just want some “real food” (Dad’s words, not ours)? Roll your eyes and take them to Plan Check. And then take back that eye roll real fast, because the fried chicken and burgers here are not only “real food,” but also really great.
If they’re up for a drive, and also have been bugging you about getting some ‘real’ Mexican food, shut them up with a trip to La Casita Mexicana in Bell. Order the Chile en Nogada and the Azteca Cheese Fondue and they’ll be happy.
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