Los Angeles has plenty of places to drop a ton of cash on dinner - but much rarer are the places where you drop a ton of cash and don’t regret it for an instant. The “Is it actually worth the price?” question is a tough one, and whether you’re heading out for a special occasion, a dining experience you’ve never had before, or simply because you feel like balling out with your friends tonight, you need those spots that can confidently answer with a yes. Here are 10 LA restaurants worthy of that distinction.
It’s one thing to dish out a bunch of money for great food - but it’s another to dish out a bunch of money for a tomahawk pork chop, a bone marrow pot pie, and a 50oz. Black Angus porterhouse. This entirely meat-centric extension of the Mozza empire at Melrose and Highland is going to set you and your friends back several hundreds of dollars, but when everybody feels this good about their life choices as they walk out, who’s counting? Chi Spacca might be perfect for guys night out, but this isn’t your rowdy, whiskey-shot apocalypse. This is adulthood at its finest.
When it comes to sushi in Los Angeles, it’s basically Sushi Park and everybody else. This no-frills space on the second floor of a random stripmall on Sunset has an omakase that will set you back a quick $200, and there’s very little to soften that initial blow. Except for the moment you put that first piece of fish in your mouth and the clouds open up before your eyes and you see god. This is not your big group extravaganza spot. This is where you go by yourself (or with one friend) at 3pm on a Wednesday simply because you know you deserve it.
Any city’s “most famous restaurant” is not usually the best place to start when you’re looking for a truly top-notch meal. But in LA’s case, it is. Since opening in the early 80’s, Spago has been the standard-bearer for high-end dining in Los Angeles. And 35 years later, we can confidently say Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurant is still firing on all cylinders. With an always-changing American-ish menu and a beautiful space that never feels dull, Spago is still the place you go to see and be seen (and eat excellent food while you’re at it).
Animal is pretty much the platonic ideal of a restaurant made for throwing down for the sake of throwing down. This tiny spot on Fairfax is one of the best restaurants in the city (it’s our highest rated review, after all), and it’s where you go when you simply want to feel damn good about yourself. Grab two or three of your closest (meat-loving) friends, order everything you possibly can on the menu, and walk away knowing you’re living your best life.
There are pricey meals in Los Angeles, and then there’s Providence. A dinner for two at this Melrose landmark can easily exceed $800, and we don’t care if you’re Oprah, that’s a difficult number to stomach. So is it actually worth it? Yes. Choose from one of four different (experimental, seafood-based) tasting menus, spring for the wine pairing, light your wallet on fire, and go experience a meal you can’t get anywhere else. This is your special occasion, major life celebration dinner extravaganza.
To be clear, Wolvesmouth isn’t really a restaurant as much as it is a roaming dinner party. If that sentence made your eyes roll back in your head, stay strong - Wolvesmouth is worth it. Usually hosted in an actual house somewhere on the Eastside, a night at Wolvesmouth is basically a night with the chef and his closest friends. There are no set dates (get on the mailing list to try to snag a seat), you’re only allowed to bring one other person, and it’s entirely BYO. Time to pull out that bottle of Cabernet you’ve been saving since Christmas.
Thanks to Netflix, N/Naka is consistently one of the most difficult tables to secure in town. You’ll fail a few times, but take your cue from Aaliyah and dust yourself off and try again. Because this tiny, nondescript building in Palms is home to one of the most unique (and fantastic) meals you can get in LA. You’re getting Kaiseki, a Japanese style of dining that involves 13 courses all served in a mandatory order with no choice involved. Oh, and it’s also $185 per person.
After four years of experimental menus based around a monthly-rotating single ingredient, Maude has changed their format a little. Now, the $125 menus change four times a year, and are inspired by specific wine regions. Yes, this still sounds pretentious, but Maude continues to get away with it because their waitstaff is as fun and laid-back as they come, and the tiny Beverly Hills space feels more like a sidewalk cafe in Paris than it does a place where you’ll eat something with a “veil of mint” on top of it.
As a general rule, expensive sushi and ocean views usually lead to the kind of tourist trap hell-zones that will have you regretting ever going towards the beach in the first place. Except for Nobu. Not only are those unobstructed views of the Malibu coastline excellent, but so is the sushi. This is your big group spot when you want to show off that you not only live in LA, but you’re thriving here too.
As fascinated with eating green leaves as LA is, we also have a pretty excellent crop of steakhouses. But if you’re looking to get down with a big slab of meat, skip the sceney Beverly Hills spots and head to Taylor’s instead. This family-owned steakhouse in Koreatown has been around since the 1950’s and is a true LA institution. Taylor’s is where you go to get a perfectly-cooked New York strip, some potatoes and vegetables, and the best Manhattans in the city. Never bet against a combination like that.