Things are going great. Dinner was amazing, conversation is still going strong, and turns out they’re just as into that sh*tty indie band as you are. Date night success. Except one thing - neither of you are ready to call it a night just yet.
So what’s the next move? Trying to figure this out mid-date just leads to a bunch of panicked googling and an inevitably cheesy option. Don’t let this be you - be prepared with a One-Two Punch.
This is our proven road to date night glory. Whether dinner-then-drinks or drinks-then-dinner, the One-Two Punch means you’ll always have a plan for the next step. And we’ve plotted the best ones out for you. We can’t promise these will convince someone to go home with you, but we can promise they’ll be a very solid foundation on which to seal the deal.
The one-two punches
There are a lot of new and cool restaurants opening in Highland Park these days, but Maximiliano isn’t really one of them. And that’s exactly why we love it so much for date night. Located on a quiet neighborhood corner, Maximiliano is the kind of low-key Italian joint you don’t find much in LA - excellent service, great space, and everybody seemingly knows everybody. The menu is stocked with classics you’re going to love (get the white pizza), and you’re definitely going to want to snag a table on that very romantic back patio.
ETA is the ultimate nightcap bar. It’s dark, fairly quiet, there’s never a line, and you won’t get served some gross mixed drink you’ll regret in the morning. The cocktails at this small Highland Park bar are fantastic across the board, and with names like “Prettiest Girl Of All Time,” you’re teed up nicely to say the right thing.
It took all of about five minutes for Kismet to be crowned the Eastside’s new restaurant golden child, and we’re here to tell you it holds up. The menu reads something close to Eastern European, plus a whole bunch of colorful vegetables. Think Persian cucumbers with citrus, roasted radicchio with sunflower seed tahini, and a rabbit for two you’ll definitely want to get involved in. The modern space is mellow and ideal for that early-in-the-game date you don’t want to get too romantic.
Turns out your common ground for sleazy television runs deep, and there’s no way this night’s over quite yet. Make moves to Bar Covell, the wine bar two doors down where you don’t have to be a cabernet savant to look like you know what you’re doing. Just tell the bartenders what kind of wine you’re in the mood for and they’ll do the rest. All the more time to discuss your thoughts on Summer House.
When it comes to Ventura Blvd., restaurants tend to fall into two categories - sushi bars and sports bars. So thank god for The Bellwether, an extremely solid neighborhood spot with date night glory written all over it. The American-ish menu is full of things you see everywhere in LA (cauliflower, octopus), but you’re not on a date in the Valley to expand your palette. The space is certainly casual, but unlike most places in Studio City, that doesn’t mean there will be a Lakers game on in the corner.
Black Market is easily one of the best places to grab a cocktail along Ventura. The vibe can certainly get a little rowdy on the weekends, but come on a weeknight after dinner and you’ll find a fairly subdued, romantic atmosphere in a space that feels like you’re drinking in an old Parisian sewer line (trust us, it’s appealing).
We’ll be honest, sometimes date night restaurant choices come down to looks, not food. With Hatchet Hall, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other - the place is seriously pretty and romantic, and has interesting, modern Southern food. Get a spot on the patio, go to town on some country ham and octopus (separately), and make a game of trying to figure out just what’s going on with the indecipherable wine list.
This second move has the very obvious plus of not actually having to change locations - just walk to the back of Hatchet Hall and you’re suddenly in your cool uncle’s dimly-lit hunting lodge. There’s a focus on liquors of the brown variety and a dedicated Old Fashioned menu, all of which adds up to an excellent end to the night.
Yes, High is on top of a Venice Beach hotel right near the boardwalk and has become something of a bro magnet. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. Make a reservation just before sunset for the perfect pre-dinner drink setting, and you’ll be removed from any potential elbowing of former frat boys. On a clear day the views are the best in the area, with prime position for witnessing one of those pollution-fueled but spectacular LA sunsets.
Once the sun is down, walk through the canals towards Washington Blvd. and right to your outside table at Leona. Open for a little while now (but still under the radar), the food here sometimes sounds a little absurd (like the “Bacon and Eggs” involving a hash brown “nest” around a duck egg with bacon broth poured over the top), but is always solid. We’re very into all the appetizers here, especially the lamb belly wontons and ceviche.
One way to find out if your date is a keeper - they don’t blink when you order the seared lamb heart tartare at Belcampo. Even if neither of you are feeling heart-level adventurous, Belcampo is still a very good option thanks to the dark and romantic room, strong cocktails, and their very good cheeseburgers.
Chestnut Club might be a short Uber from Belcampo (you could walk, but this is LA), but it might as well be a world away. On weekends it gets ROWDY (the capitals are necessary), but there’s always a corner for two somewhere. The cocktails here are way better than you’d expect and, if rowdy isn’t your thing, it’s much quieter here during the week.
Connie and Ted’s is one of those places that opened big a few years ago and then slowly fell off people’s rotation for no particular reason. Well, guess what? It’s time to put it back on. This laid-back Weho seafood spot is as good as it’s ever been, with a large, open space ideal for that date night you want keep casual and fun. Seafood is the obvious move here, but if you’re in the mood for some land animals, their burger is phenomenal.
Just three blocks down from Connie And Ted’s you’ll find Surly Goat - one of only a handful of places in Weho where you can actually just walk in, grab a beer at the bar, and go hang out on the patio. No lines, no waitlists, no $16 cocktails. This is a no-frills bar with a great crowd, fantastic craft beer, and a noise level where you’ll actually be able to hear what your date is saying. Plus there’s shuffleboard - a little competition never hurt anybody.
Located in the most Silver Lake-y area of Silver Lake, Alimento is an absolutely fantastic Italian restaurant, and a spot you file away for date nights you don’t want to screw up. You’re going to spend some money here, but its overall neighborhood vibe keeps everything from becoming too uptight. And you’re trying to show your best self here - being relaxed is important.
You crushed it at dinner and neither of you are ready to say goodbye. Power move: Walk across the street to 7-Eleven, find the best twist-off bottle of wine they have, and head two blocks up to the reservoir. If you think doing a lap with a paper-bagged bottle of wine in one hand, holding their’s in the other, and talking about everything that’s actually important in life won’t seal the deal, please try it for yourself.
The Arts District has no shortage of good date night spots, but we like Factory Kitchen for the simple fact that you don’t have to wait a month to get a reservation. You’re on a quest for love and companionship after all - time is of the essence. Factory Kitchen has a fantastic Italian menu (go all-in on that prosciutto), a great wine list, and a lively atmosphere to keep the conversation going.
The idea of waiting in a line outside a bar after a great dinner is date-night suicide. So bypass that nonsense and go right to ERB. Despite being one of the more popular bars in the area right now, ERB somehow manages to keep lines low and levels of fun inside high. They have a great cocktail list and an even better back patio to drink them on. Keep things on their feet with some bocce ball, or find a quiet corner and go in for the kill.
The Little Door is so romantic it’s almost unfair to other restaurants. It’s like stepping into a Beauty and The Beast fever dream, except no song and dance from the kitchenware. The French-tinged menu continues to be excellent, and if you leave here with a lesser opinion of your date than when you started, it just wasn’t meant to be.
The romance vibes are pumping, and it’s time to capitalize. Blue Collar is one of our favorite neighborhood cocktail bars in the mid-city area, with a cool, maybe-I’m-drinking-in-Paris in the 1920’s feel and bartenders who actually know what they’re doing. You can go all-in on one of their cocktails or just tell the bartender what type of flavors you’re in the mood for, and they’ll make you one from scratch.
Date night reminder - pizza always works. And while Wildcraft might not be the best in town, it’s still pretty damn good and the romantic atmosphere inside is all you need for date night glory. And that goes for the outside too, because you’re definitely eating on the patio and enjoying everything Culver City has to give you on a Saturday night (read: more people enjoying date night).
You don’t generally come to Culver City to get a taste of old Hollywood, but at the Culver Hotel, you’re straight up smothered by it. Movie history runs deep at this landmark hotel, and there isn’t a better way to cap off a great date night than cruising up to the lobby bar, ordering an Old Fashioned, and pretending you don’t work in a law office on the weekdays.
Here’s Looking At You is on the newer side, but it takes one visit to realize this bright Ktown restaurant was made for date night. The space isn’t very big, but there’s a comfortable energy that makes talking to a potential first date extremely easy. They have excellent cocktails, good service, and a steak tartare that’s from a different planet. The modern American menu might seem a bit scattered at first, but when everything is this good, it doesn’t matter.
Trying to decide which place in Ktown you want to grab a drink at is by no means an easy task. But when it comes to capping off a solid date night, our move is always Normandie Club. The dark, lively bar can get a little crowded on the weekends, but you’re always able to find a quiet table in the back (and a strong cocktail from the bar) to keep the good times rolling.