LA is an extremely casual town. You can wear sneakers, a baseball hat, and a wrinkled t-shirt you got for free at a Lakers games two years ago inside almost any restaurant in the city. Don’t get us wrong, we like that about LA. But sometimes, it’s fun to get really dressed up and feel fancy as f*ck. To do so, you’ll want to go somewhere you can walk in without being looked at like a criminal (or worse, a New Yorker) for wearing a fitted suit jacket or platform heels. Here are 12 great LA restaurants where getting dressed up is part of the experience.
Truth be told, if you don’t dress up at Cicada Club, you’re the one who’s going to feel stupid. This reservation-only supper club Downtown looks like you accidentally slipped into a black hole and landed in 1920s Manhattan. There’s a huge live swing band, people unironically dressed in flapper outfits, and a dance floor that gets started early and never stops. The prix fixe menu is admittedly just OK, but nobody really cares when you’re able to role-play F. Scott Fitzgerald all night.
Lawry’s is one of those places where you’ll see a booth filled with a family wearing t-shirts and cargo shorts, and turn a corner to find a room full of three-piece tuxedos and evening gowns. Dress the part of the latter. With spinning salads and shining golden carts of prime rib on wheels, this Beverly Hills original is one of the most entertaining meals in town. The more all-in you go on the unabashed cheesiness, the more you’ll get out of it.
Spago is Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant and, depending on your annual salary, it’s also the restaurant in Los Angeles. It’s also a great place to watch really famous people get incredible drunk because, for whatever reason, they feel safe here. Don’t come here if you’re trying to be home by 8:30pm. This is where you put on that risque button-down you bought last year in Berlin, eat some off-menu salmon pizza, and join Mary Steenburgen on her quest to champagne glory.
This prix fixe seafood restaurant on Melrose might just be the fanciest of them all. Don’t be surprised if the final bill here comes out above $300 per person - what you get for that price is an experience you can’t get anywhere else in town - 11 courses of ridiculously fresh seafood, a visit from a magical roaming cheese cart, and a waitstaff that makes you feel like you’re a member of the royal family from the second you walk through the door.
There are a handful of places in LA where you can experience genuine Old Hollywood atmospheres, but none even come close to the magic of Dan Tana’s. This classic Italian restaurant in West Hollywood is small, cramped, and objectively chaotic. That said, if you aren’t in the mood for Ron Jeremy to accidentally spill his martini on your dress shoes or eat chicken parmesan like your life depends on it, you probably shouldn’t be here anyways.
LA has plenty of rooftop restaurants where the views are the whole reason you show up. But then there’s 71Above, a high-end spot on the 71st floor of one of LA’s only real skyscrapers that serves food that’s just as good as the 360-degree views. The massive space has six different areas where you can reserve a seat (bar, skylounge, regular dining, chef’s table, private dining, and edge table) and each comes with its own specific views and experience. If it’s your first time, we recommend sitting in the regular dining area where you can build your own three-course meal for $78 per person.
Driving down PCH to Malibu, you’ll spot a few things - surfers trying to parallel park, oceanfront mansions whose owners only stop by once a month, and giant mothball-filled seafood restaurants that all look exactly the same. If you’re having trouble narrowing down which seafood restaurant you need to check out, we’ll help you - go to Geoffrey’s. This 70-year-old Malibu landmark has stayed relevant through the years by constantly updating the menu and keeping the space from feeling like an invite-only ghost ball. Also, you won’t find better oceans views than this.
Thanks to the TV overlords at Netflix and the first season of Chef’s Table, N/Naka went from being a niche Japanese restaurant in Palms to one of the hardest tables to get in the country. This now very famous restaurant offers one kind of dinner and one kind of dinner only: a modern take on the very traditional kaiseki (a multi-course meal where dishes are served in a mandatory order). There’s no menu - perfectly composed plates will hit your table one after another accompanied by brief explanations from the waitstaff. This is dinner as theater, and it’s one of the more refined dining experiences in town.
Being a healthy person who lives a well-balanced lifestyle feels good - but only if you toss in a night of complete excess every now and then. Go to Chi Spacca - the meat-centric restaurant at Melrose and Highland where excess isn’t just encouraged, it’s mandatory. Concentrate on the charcuterie, the focaccia, and the beef and bone marrow pie. Your week of clean eating can start the next day.
Le Comptoir is a tiny prix fixe restaurant in Koreatown where you’ll feel like you’re at a dinner party with friends. Except at this dinner party, the food is light years better than whatever chicken picante your roommate always makes, and no one will judge you for wearing a suit jacket. The bare-bones space is basically just one long wooden counter with eight chairs and a guy and his friends cooking you dinner all night in the open kitchen. The $90 menu changes frequently, but expect to eat a ton of very good vegetables (they have a family farm in Long Beach) and a creamy yam soup we’d take with us to a deserted island.
The Royce is a very fancy steakhouse where you go to impress extremely important people in a room that feels like the top deck restaurant of the Titanic. This is the kind of place where old money goes to feel young again, so you might as well put on your Sunday best and go play the part with them for a few hours. As one might expect, steaks should definitely be the focus here, but it would be a mistake not to have at least one order of crab cakes on the table.