The One-Two Punch: An LA Date Night Dinner & Drinks Guide
The ultimate guide to dinner and drinks.
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. 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
photo credit: Alicia Cho
High Rooftop Bar at Hotel Erwin
You hate LA smog until you remember how cool it makes our sunsets look. And if your idea of a good date involves staring into a pink sky, head to High. Yes, this bar is on top of a Venice Beach hotel right near the boardwalk. And, yes, that means it’s a bro magnet. But if you make a reservation for just before sunset, you won’t have to wait in line, and you’ll be able to sit on one of their couches and get to know your date with prime position for a viewing of our city’s signature pollution-fueled skies.
Once the sun has set, head to Abbot Kinney to share some of the best pasta in LA. Felix is the kind of restaurant that works for most situations, including whatever number date you’re on. The dining room is usually packed (don’t come here without a reservation), but you can also hear the people across from you, the pasta is excellent, and the space is like a fancy beach house that happens to come with a refrigerated pasta-making room.
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You know that big converted warehouse serving modern American food Downtown? No, not that one. Or that one. Or that one. OK, so a lot of restaurants are doing what Stocking Frame is doing, but Stocking Frame wins out for early-in-the-game dates. The space is casual but intimate, as in there are sports on the TVs at the bar, but also booths where you can properly hear each other. The menu is basically a list of what food is trendy right now (octopus, bone marrow), but it’s all good and very shareable.
The conversation’s been pretty good, but as the check comes you both discover your mutual passion for obscure Olympic sports. Time to take a walk to Las Perlas, a mezcal bar with excellent drinks and a low-lit, divey atmosphere. Order a couple of margaritas (or the Spiced Daisy), find a dark corner, and continue that debate on the best badminton player of all time.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
If you and your date share an appreciation for spicy food, you can’t go wrong with Jitlada. LA does Thai food better than any other city in America, and Jitlada is the best of the best. It’s also the spiciest of the best. The space is kind of kitschy and not particularly romantic, but you’ve moved past the need for white tablecloths or dim lighting. You’re here to sweat together.
You have more in common than a love of mouth-numbing spice? Great. Head over to Know Where Bar, a vastly underrated spot on Hollywood Blvd. The long space feels sort of like a jungle-themed bar from the ’70s, complete with palms, bright green walls, and a gold ceiling. Oh, and the drinks are strong. You might need them after all that chili oil.
We wouldn’t usually advise you to head to Montana Ave. for a date unless you have a hard 8pm bedtime and you still wear Juicy Couture sweatsuits. But Forma is the exception. This modern Italian spot is full of servers who seem to enjoy talking to you, and a younger crowd of people who live north of Wilshire. Get any of the pizzas, or the pastas that are tossed inside a cheese wheel.
Continue your carb-themed night by heading down to Father’s Office for beer. This tiny, wood-paneled bar is the only place that’s open within a few blocks’ radius, but you’re not going here because it’s your only option. Father’s Office has about a million beers on draft and more in bottles, the place is always crowded, and once you’re inside you’ll completely forget that you’re next to a place that sells socks for $80.
photo credit: Holly Liss
Esters Wine Shop & Bar
There’s going to be a wait at Cassia, but that’s a good thing - you want to be grabbing drinks at Ester’s next door first. This bright wine bar is good at knowing what you want to drink, and also serves excellent small plates that will tide you over until you can stuff your faces with curry.
Once your wait is up, walk over to Cassia for some modern Vietnamese food. This spot is pretty perfect for dates: you’re not jammed close to the table next to you, it’s not too loud, and the open space is attractive without being too in-your-face fancy. Order the charcuterie fried rice and the chickpea curry.
photo credit: Holly Liss
Sushi Fumi is that perfect middle ground between Tuesday night sushi and $200 birthday night omakase. You can do omakase here (for $80), or you can go the more low-key route and get a few rolls and sashimi plates. Whatever you decide, you’re getting excellent fish. Sit at the bar to watch the chefs doing their thing for a built-in conversation starter.
Across the street from Fumi is Roger Room. It’s a speakeasy-style (but not annoying) spot inside the Largo, where you’ll find a date-night-appropriate (but not boring) atmosphere and some of the best cocktails in West Hollywood. This is one of our favorite bars in LA.
Kismet’s bright, airy space might look like it’s made for daytime - but we like this place even better at night. 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.
Bar Covell is 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.
Black Market Liquor Bar
Black Market is easily one of the best places to grab a cocktail along Ventura. The vibe can get a little rowdy on the weekends, but come on a weeknight after dinner and you’ll find a fairly subdued, romantic atmosphere that feels like you’re drinking in an old Parisian sewer line (trust us, it’s appealing).
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Connie & Ted's
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. 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 neighborhoody feel keeps it from getting 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 Factory Kitchen
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, a great wine list, and a lively atmosphere to keep the conversation going.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Everson Royce Bar
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, 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.
The Little Door
The Little Door is like stepping into a Beauty and The Beast fever dream, except no song and dance from the kitchenware. The French menu at this classic 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 sparks are flying, 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 feel and bartenders who know what they’re doing.
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.
The Normandie Club
Trying to decide which place in Ktown you want to grab a drink at is not an easy task. But when it comes to capping off a solid date night, you can depend on 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.