The Best Date Night Restaurants In Los Angeles
Whether it’s the first or the 101st date, this guide to date night has you covered.
Dating is tough. First dates require the strategy of a war council, second dates are arguably even worse, and if you make it to a third one, you have to finally start telling the truth about your life. But what about the 20th date? Or the 120th date? Or the please god let’s not sit on the couch and watch HGTV again date? None of this is easy. But we’re here to help. Read on for our best LA bets for all-around dating success.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Saffy’s is the latest restaurant from the team that gave us Bavel and Bestia, and admittedly, a very hard table to snag. But for date night, just do what we do and walk-in. Ideally, try to put your name in by 6pm (a little early for a date, but more time to talk if things are going well) and then hang out on their sidewalk area where wine is poured quickly and ice breakers happen naturally. Once seated—which will probably be at the gold and pink wrap-around bar—expect a meal full of excellent, straightforward dishes like hummus ful with pillowy challah bread, red snapper tagine with coconut rice, and a juicy, tender beef skewer that’ll make you question every beef skewer you’ve ever eaten previously.
At this point in your relationship, neither of you are interested in being stuck at some candlelit table taking part in Lady and the Tramp cosplay all night. That’s why you should go to Cobras & Matadors. The lively Spanish bistro in Beverly Grove certainly has romantic overtones, but the quaint, rustic dining room is also one bottle of Beaujolais away from becoming a full-blown neighborhood mixer. The menu is filled with simple, well-executed dishes like buttery gambas al ajillo, decadent maitake mushrooms, and a $90 steak-frites for two. Oh, and it’s also BYOB. So plan ahead, because the bottle of Beaujolais you brought might be the one that tips things over the edge.
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With only a couple posters on the walls, two communal tables, and a few chairs scattered on the sidewalk, Voodoo Vin feels like a no name Parisian cafe that a local sent you to with the qualifier, “no one knows about this place—it’s great.” The quaint Virgil Village wine bar isn’t necessarily dripping in romance, but there’s an intimate charm that’ll let the person sitting across from you know the night is special. For food, we absolutely love the beef tartare toast with Caesar cream, spicy ‘nduja bolognese, and a plate of homemade mortadella with pickled sweet chilis. Warning: Voodoo doesn’t accept reservations (never ideal for date night), but even on weekends, wait times rarely exceed 20 minutes.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
If the idea of planning and executing the perfect date night triggers every anxiety portal in your body, just head to Lasita. At this Filipino rotisserie/wine bar in Chinatown, there’s no pressure to make decisions or a long-standing reservation, and you and your date are free to hang out as long as you want. Looking to drink natural wine, get to know one another, then share some snacks? Go right ahead. Maybe things are going better than expected and you want to add more to your order. No problem. Head right to the host stand and order all the garlicky chicken, pork belly lechon, dips, and sauces your table has room for. At Lasita, the only rule is there are no rules (though we do insist that you order the pancit).
You just got out of a movie at the Los Feliz 6 with your date and neither of you is ready to call it just yet. Go grab some snacks and a nightcap or two at Nossa Caipirinha Bar. The tiny Brazilian spot on Hillhurst opened in 2021 as a more formal restaurant, but has now evolved into the kind of casual hangout spot perfect for a last-minute add-on to date night. There’s an open-air dining room and a sidewalk patio—both offering excellent Los Feliz people-watching—plus hearty bar food like chicken heart skewers and mortadella sandwiches, and of course refreshing caipirinhas, the daiquiri-like national cocktail of Brazil.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
A restaurant with a roaring open fire in the dining room is always going to be a good bet for date night, making Dunsmoor an easy choice for a slightly romantic dinner. And yet, the real move at this Southern-ish spot in Glassell Park is to skip the dining room altogether and just walk into the hidden wine bar around the back. Here you’ll be able to chat up the sommelier about their favorite bottles that aren’t listed on the menu, eat from an abridged bar menu (that includes all the major highlights from the main menu), and prove to your date that you actually are as cool as your highly-curated dating profile would suggest.
Though perhaps not a traditional aphrodisiac, there’s no denying ordering paella on a date is a power move. If that’s the energy you’re going for, our new favorite version in town is at Dos Besos. The menu at this sexy new Spanish restaurant in Pasadena is stacked with shareable dishes—the tuna carpaccio is a standout—but the specialty among them is the paella served in a large, shallow skillet. There are four different varieties (including a vegetarian version), but our favorite is the paella del mar, a seafood-rich dish with mussels, shrimp, calamari, and two giant prawns. If you get thirsty, the red wine sangria pairs well with just about everything.
Cento’s new indoor/outdoor space in West Adams is certainly bigger than the original operation, but it still maintains the look and feel of a neighborhood wine and pasta bar—and that’s exactly what date night calls for. There’s a cozy, string-lit front patio if you’re looking for something classically romantic, but the bar inside is even more exciting. Here’s where you and your date will get a front-row seat to the pasta show: spicy pomodoro covered in basil, and the iconic beet spaghetti drenched in brown butter, whipped ricotta, and chives. Cento’s expanded menu has plenty of excellent new dishes like savory chicken liver crostini and banana pudding tiramisu that will live in your subconscious for weeks, but at the end of the day, you’re here to eat a lot of pasta—which is still among the best in the city.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Jones Hollywood is what we call an ace restaurant. Pull this casual Italian Weho spot out for any kind of date imaginable, and Jones will get the job done—and then some. The menu is full of solid staples like margherita pizza and spaghetti and meatballs served in a skillet, and their briny Dirty Sue martini is one of our favorites in town. The atmosphere inside always feels like a cool after-party in the Hills, but not in a way that’s intimidating. At Jones, everyone feels like a Hollywood insider.
On paper, the concept of Mātu is sort of absurd. This dimly lit spot in Beverly Hills specializes in a five-course prix-fixe menu consisting of various premium Wagyu beef dishes. It's an indulgence of the highest variety, and yet, the experience inside is toned-down and sensible. For starters, the prix-fixe menu is $78. Sure, that’s a lot of money and no one should be mistaking Matu for a casual Tuesday spot, but to be eating five courses of premium meat on S. Beverly Blvd. for under $100 is a good value. Secondly, the food is excellent and coursed out in a way that doesn’t feel like a grotesque meat parade. You’ll sip clear earthy beef broth, sample thinly sliced pieces of NY strip steak, and finish with a wood-fired ribeye and perfectly cooked broccolini. Mātu is the kind of place where celebrating an anniversary or the fact that you’re head-over-heels for this person feels euphoric—without having to constantly check the prices.
A cramped tavern that doesn’t take reservations might not seem like an ideal date spot, but Ototo proves that theory wrong. Sure, you’ll probably have to wait a half-hour or so to get in, but this izakaya/sake bar in Echo Park lets you drink on the sidewalk, making the downtime much more palatable. Inside, you’ll find a dark, sexy space, a delicious snack menu (the pan-fried yakisoba noodles and cheese okonomiyaki are standouts), and over 40 different kinds of sake. If date night has become a bit boring lately or you’re looking for a great pre-game spot before seeing a show on the Eastside, move Ototo to the top of your list.
The Best First Date Spots In LA
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Located on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, Sushi Note is a wine bar/sushi restaurant hybrid —a dream combination for a splurge-y date night. You can order anything a la carte here, but we prefer to go all-in on the Whole Note omakase. At $115, it’s a higher-end omakase, but after eating 12 pieces of high-quality sushi, edamame, miso soup, a starter, hand roll, and dessert, you’ll feel like this meal has more than earned its price point. Then make friends with the sommelier, who will happily course out all the wine you need.
Wife and the Somm
With several inter-connecting patios, exposed wooden beams, and a big triangular bar where the neighborhood congregates nightly, this Glassell Park wine bar looks like a movie set where the protagonist always finds undeniable love in the end. Go and try your luck at Wife & The Somm. There’s a solid menu full of snack-y dishes like roasted brussels sprouts and spicy tuna tartare, plus excellent rotating pastas like tagliatelle in yuzu butter. That said, the real reason everybody’s here is for the excellent wine list, which includes a mix of regular and biodynamic options.
L&E Oyster Bar
The two-story oyster bar in the heart of Silver Lake has one of the strongest curb appeals/front patios on the entire Eastside, with the food and environment inside to back it all up. This is a real neighborhood spot, but with an upscale atmosphere that makes it feel more special than your Tuesday night go-to. Order the moules-frites and several rounds of oysters.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Tar & Roses
One might expect a “globally inspired” restaurant that’s been open since 2011 to feel somewhat tired at this point, but not Tar & Roses. There’s still a genuine excitement at this popular Santa Monica spot, and it’s because the food is better than ever. You and your date are going to eat dishes like shellfish curry, strawberry crostatas, and share a plate of oxtail dumplings you’ll both be making mental note of to have served at your eventual wedding.
Little Beast Restaurant
Little Beast is one of those places you always forget about, and then remember it, and then make plans to get back there for night date immediately. Located in a century-old Craftsman bungalow in Eagle Rock, this American comfort food spot has an affordable menu filled with solid dishes like sweet corn risotto and pork osso bucco, all the parking in the world, and a string light-adorned back patio that makes you feel like you’re eating at a best friend’s house. Save room for the brioche bread pudding.