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 game 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 martian (or worse, a New Yorker) for wearing a fitted suit jacket or platform heels. Here are 14 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 Daisy Buchanon all night.
Driving up PCH to Malibu, you’ll spot a few things: surfers trying to parallel park, oceanfront mansions that are someone else’s beach bungalow, and giant mothball-filled steakhouses that look exactly the same. Skip them all and go to Lucky’s instead. This fancy spot inside the country mart comes to us from Southern California’s other A-Lister commune, Montecito, and though you probably won’t spot Oprah and Meghan Markle here, the well-heeled crowd is definitely there to impress. You’ll see locals sipping martinis and intentionally placing their hands so everyone can see their jewelry and modern-day socialites making grand entrances in hopes of climbing the ranks. That said, Lucky’s is more than just a people-watching sideshow - the food is good too. We recommend doing your best not to fill up on their excellent table rolls and then going for whatever big piece of meat catches your eye.
The Barish only opened in 2020, but thanks to being inside one of LA’s most historic hotels (The Roosevelt), this upscale Italian restaurant has serious Old Hollywood energy. There are Art Deco chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, leather banquettes, and a large marble bar just begging patrons to have a seat and drink a martini. It's the kind of place where you sip cocktails while toasting a new client or fill up on cheese-filled rigatoni and steak tartare before seeing a show at The Pantages. If you’re looking for a fancy dinner spot in Hollywood right now, The Barish is where you go.
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.
Here’s the thing about Sushi Ginza Onodera - this tiny, minimalist sushi bar in West Hollywood is one of the most expensive dining experiences in LA. And yet, you could absolutely walk in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and no one would stop you. But if you’re willing to drop $400 on a two-hour omakase, we have some advice: meet the moment. Get dressed up, bust out your fanciest fragrance, and go experience 23 courses of some of the most inventive and well-executed sushi in the city.
Spago is Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant and one of the most recognizable names in LA dining. 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 risqué 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 - eight courses of ridiculously fresh, inventive seafood dishes, a visit from a magical roaming cheese cart, and a waitstaff that makes you feel like you’re a big deal 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 Linda Ronstadt 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.
If some of the things you know about French food are that it’s typically rich, and it’s sometimes expensive, then you already know a lot about Pasjoli. Both of those are true at this Santa Monica spot, but that doesn’t stop us from putting on a nice ass shirt and going to eat some incredible French food. That includes a lot of things happening tableside, like canard à la presse - a pressed duck, prepared on a little cart wheeled to your table, then juiced in an antique contraption that could be a 15th-century torture device. It’s an experience that will transform any big date into a home run - because you’re ultimately going to be eating excellent-tasting duck.
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 several different areas where you can reserve a seat (bar, high tops, regular dining, and private dining) 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 $85 per person.
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 someone who lives a well-balanced lifestyle is a good thing, 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.
Nothing about Melisse is cool. This decades-old, tasting menu-only French restaurant in Santa Monica doesn’t have shared plates, a converted warehouse space, or HBO actors flirting at the bar. What it does have, though, is incredible food, sommeliers in suits, and an atmosphere that lets everybody be as fancy as they damn well please. That said, Melisse is hardly some stuffy time capsule. People speak at normal volumes, the waiters have clearly practiced plate choreography, and everybody gets excited when the champagne cart gets wheels out.
The Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse
The Royce is a very fancy steakhouse in Pasadena 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.