There are a lot of bad ways to spend a good amount of money: A yearly succulent subscription, for example, or a bar tab for a bunch of people you don’t care about (but still felt obliged to get vodka-sodas for).
But if you’re looking to blow a car payment-sized amount of cash, there’s no better option than a Treat Yourself Meal. The kind you’ve earned after a historically good - or bad - day, where you go to a restaurant, order a couple drinks, a few plates of food, and spend around $100 on yourself... just because. These are our favorite solo-dining spots in LA.
Forget family style - sometimes, the best way to do an Italian meal is to do it alone. We love to order some cured meat, a bowl of pasta, and a bottle of wine for ourselves, and Rossoblu is the perfect place for that kind of meal. Not only do they have one of the best wine selections in the city, they’ve also got a 24-month prosciutto we’d fly to Italy and smuggle out if we had to. Those, along with a bowl of their duck ragu pappardelle with pistachio and porcini mushrooms, will make this a meal you’ll remember for a long time to come.
If you’re like us, you’re tired of being told to order “two or three small plates each” at every meal, which is another reason why we love Son Of A Gun - the best dishes come in bite-sized portions, which makes sharing practically impossible. Here, you’ll sit at the bar, eat the tiny (but absolutely incredible) cold lobster roll and shrimp toast with hoisin and sriracha mayo, and then maybe something slightly less rich, like a sneaky great trout amandine. Finish it off with an Italian Hamburger (ice cream in a brioche bun) - it’s the best dessert here, and we’d brave Third St. for it alone.
You just got a bonus. And not just any bonus - the kind of bonus where you can say “F*ck it,” and head to Encino to pretend you’re LeBron James for a day. And while LeBron’s probably eating at Nobu, you know that you can find better sushi at Shin, the strip mall spot right off the 101 behind an Office Depot. Come early, and you might be the only person sitting at Take-san’s bar, but you’ll still get the full show, including Washington oysters, Japanese conch, and bluefish from Boston that tastes so fresh you can practically hear it talking about Bill Belichick. Add in some sake, and you’ll go a bit over $100 - but what else are you going to do with that bonus, save it?
There’s a lot of really incredible stuff to eat at Republique - like the brown butter agnolotti, the quail with chantarelles, or the duck breast with porridge. And you could order any of it and be happy. But what we really like to do here is sit at the bar, order some house bread with French butter, a couple cocktails, and eat their next-level cacio e pepe. The bucatini is firm, and they use (we think) an entire wheel of Parmesan in it. Will you walk out with swollen fingers from all the salt? Perhaps. But you won’t care, especially after a couple of their fantastic Fig cocktails.
For basically just being tasty rocks, oysters are pretty damn expensive. But you’ll know why when you go to Found Oyster, the East Hollywood spot that feels like a cross between a New England clam shack and a Parisian wine bar. You’ll want the Namskaket oysters from the raw bar, the broiled Wellfleets on the half shell with Espelette butter, and the lobster bisque roll (which is exactly what it sounds like). Most of the oysters come from the dude behind the bar’s family farm in Cape Cod, making them about as farm-to-table as you could possibly get. Add in a glass of something from their constantly changing wine list, and you’ll feel like a wealthy oligarch - if only for the night.
Two hours on the 405 probably doesn’t sound like a way of treating yourself, unless you’re going to Taco María, the tasting menu spot in Costa Mesa. Walking into this restaurant is like booking a two-hour solo vacation - you sit at the bar, and watch the chefs assemble smoked black cod tacos and scallops on the half shell with melted cheese and squid ink breadcrumbs like they’re Impressionist painters. It’s $79 for the four-course menu - and if that sounds like a lot, just know there are meals with twice as many courses that aren’t half as filling. Make sure to book ahead of time, because this place fills up quickly.
This Venice pasta spot is one of the toughest reservations in town. But there’s a workaround: They keep some bar seats open for walk-ins, and if you show up when they open, you can just walk in and sit down. Strolling past all those people who booked a table months ago will make you feel like Henry Ford driving down the street when everyone else was still riding horses. And you’ll still feel like a genius when you sit down, and order some red wine and the rigatoni all’amatriciana. The hardest part of this night is deciding if you want the budino or the torta alla nonna for dessert. But don’t worry, there’s no wrong answer.
Listen - you once spent $100 on a standing-room ticket to watch the Dodgers lose in the NLCS, so spending that amount on incredible French food really doesn’t seem that bad. This bright, comfortable spot on Main St. in Santa Monica is the kind of rich-person-casual restaurant you wish you could eat at every night. You’ll have things here like a foie gras-like chicken liver wrapped inside homemade brioche, duck confit with preserved cherries, and an onion tart that tastes exactly like French onion soup. Throw in a couple cocktails - we like the Boulevardier or the Sidecar - and you’ll feel like a very well-paid French literature professor. And who’s to say you’re not?
There aren’t many restaurants where you’re better off going solo - but Ceviche Project is one of them. It’s a little spot on one of the most traffick-y stretches of Hyperion in Silver Lake, but inside it feels a lot more like you’re near the beach in Todos Santos. You can sit at the bar, have a glass of pet-nat from Baja, and not worry about how you’re going to split a kampachi tostada two ways. Watching the chef assemble your food like he’s some sort of tweezer magician is a big part of the fun here - so sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. And the scallop and uni shooters.
There’s a full-sized Petit Trois in The Valley now, but since you’re by yourself, you can go to the the phone booth-sized (and much better) original in Hollywood. A meal here feels like you’ve plopped down in the middle of Paris, and not just because it features - and we don’t care if this sounds like hyperbole - the best Boursin omelet we’ve ever tasted. The space is small and lively, and the steak frites are excellent: They’re not reinventing the wheel, it’s just a perfect steak, and crunchy, salty fries. We can’t think of a better way to treat ourselves.
Wine and sushi. Sushi and wine. No matter what your top priority is, you’ll be very happy you went to Sushi Note, the Sherman Oaks sushi spot with an omakase and wine pairing that’s the kind of fun, simple meal it’s important to experience as often as you can. Sit at the sushi bar, and the chefs will place ten pieces of perfect fish in front of you, along with some appetizers, and the spicy yellowtail biscotti (which doesn’t come with the omakase, but should be ordered anyway). The wine situation is also perfectly on point - if you order the pairing, the sommelier courses out the glasses with what you’re eating, but not in the pretentious kind of way where they use words like “mouthfeel.”
Bar Restaurant is a strange, excellent, SEO-unfriendly spot that feels like a Broad Museum fever dream, with pastel paintings, disco remixes blasting, and a pervasive pink-gray theme that permeates everything here. The sort of-French menu is varied and inventive - think moules frites with curly fries, or pain perdu with brie. When we’re here alone, we usually go for their prix fixe. It’s $61 for three courses, including sweet, vinegar-y lamb tartare with crunchy puffed buckwheat, and a killer confit duck breast with blackberry vinegar. Come once, and you’ll start planning another meal here immediately.