We live in Los Angeles - the city of eternal sunshine, year-round vegetation, and Kiefer Sutherland sightings at hot pilates - but most likely, your parents do not. Which means one thing: they’re on their way. Whether it’s for vacation, graduation, or because they miss you and Indiana is 2,000 miles away, they’re heading west, and it’s time to impress. We hope you know your parents better than we do, but here are some essentials to keep in mind:
- They want to make sure you’ve got your life at least somewhat together.
- They don’t see the need to go outside of their comfort zone.
- They want to drink.
That’s no easy checklist. But help has arrived. Here is an updated list of where you should be eating and drinking the next time your parents arrive in Los Angeles.
You’re taking your parents to Rossoblu because, above all else, this new Italian restaurant in the Fashion District is impressive, and it’s time to show them you’re a thriving adult who isn’t scared of a fancy meal. Opened by the Sotto crew, Rossoblu is all about pastas and meats and eating them in large quantities without worrying about the check. The large industrial space is beautiful, the waitstaff will help you figure out how to plan your meal, and the wine list will have your folks feeling good in no time. Get the belly-on pork chop.
At some point, your parents will get tired of the beach and The Grove and you’ll need a backup plan. Take them to LACMA. And when you’re done roaming around the best art museum in LA, head for Ray’s & Stark Bar on the ground floor for some drinks and nourishment. The mostly-outdoor restaurant serves food that everyone likes - burgers, pizzas, and artisan cheese boards to complete your art museum experience.
You were born and raised in the midwest, and seafood to your parents is a gamble you simply don’t take. Change their minds and head to Malibu Seafood, the best seafood shack in LA. Located right along PCH, this tiny spot gets largely bypassed by the typical Malibu tourist circuit, leaving lines shorter, the atmosphere far more relaxed, and your parents realizing they’re eating somewhere truly special. Everything is great here, but their calamari is some of the best we’ve ever had.
At some point on your parents’ visit, you have to hit a few of the classics. And since you’re driving down Rodeo anyways, you might as well head two blocks over and grab brunch at Nate ’n Al. The Beverly Hills landmark has been serving Jewish deli staples since 1945 and is still one of the best spots to grab a bagel and lox and watch the rest of neighborhood roll in behind you. This is that LA rare restaurant where 70-year-olds in jazzercise pants peacefully brush shoulders with hungover CAA bros, and your parents will want to sit back and soak it all in.
Of all the restaurant choices in Venice, Salt Air is the most parent-friendly - it’s not outrageously loud, the menu isn’t full of intimidating ingredients, and the number of hats worn inside is kept to a minimum. Instead, there’s lots of seafood, meat options if Dad is scared of shellfish, and a pea toast you should bully them into ordering either way.
Cafe Birdie is the place to take your parents when you need to convince them that you are, indeed, an adult. This is the grown-up restaurant that Highland Park has long needed, and will show them not everyone in LA lives in Santa Monica or West Hollywood. Take them out the back to the hidden bar too - they’ll definitely be telling Cindy and Joe from bridge club all about how cool it was once they get home.
At that inevitable point in the visit when they start not-so-subtly dropping hints about you moving back East, it’s time to make a visit to Salazar. When you can comfortably drink horchata and eat delicious tacos served on housemade tortillas while sitting outside at the end of October, you’ve answered the question for them.
Salt’s Cure is good for any and all dear-god-I’ve-been-spending-too-much-time-with-the-parents situation. Mom and Dad been getting snippy at each other? The oatmeal griddle cakes at brunch will fix that right up. Dad complaining he’s had too many salads this week? That 16oz pork loin will solve his problems. So what if all these things happen on the same trip and you end up here multiple times? No one will be complaining.
Choosing a bar to hang out at with your parents is a tough one. Obviously, anywhere too loud is out of the question, and dives are a no-go when Mom is wearing her best pair of kitten heels. 71Above is the perfect parent bar - it’s pretty swank, and to say it has killer views is putting it mildly. Great cocktails and friendly bartenders round things out and, if you want to settle in for the evening, dinner is an excellent option too.
Steps from the beach and just far enough away from the mixtape salesmen of the boardwalk, C&O is a completely cheesy and totally awesome Italian restaurant that your parents will never stop talking about. The family style menu is familiar and appealing, and their all-you-can-eat garlic knots should definitely be on the list of most dangerous foods in America. Yes, the courtyard and its painted facades are over the top, and the waiters are definitely going to sing “That’s Amore!” more than once to you, but who cares? Mom’s totally buying into it and so are you. Corkage fee is minimal, so surprise them by bringing a bottle of their favorite wine.
If your parents are like our parents, the only thing they actually give a sh*t about in LA is being by the water. And at Malibu Farm, you’re not just by the water, you’re hovering over it. Located on the Malibu Pier, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular setting with prices as reasonable as Malibu Farm. The menu generally veers toward the salad/sandwich route, and that’s ideal for your midday cruise down PCH. Their cocktails are unique and refreshing, but your obvious move is the mimosa bar. Mom and Dad won’t need much convincing on that.
At some point during their trip, LA will become too much for your parents and they’ll need a break. Time to get out of the city. And while you can pretty much go any direction to find cool stuff, one of our top moves for the parents is Saddle Peak Lodge in the Santa Monica Mountains. This place feels more like stepping into a wilderness lodge in Jackson Hole than into a restaurant above the Malibu coast. Dad’s going to love the meat-heavy menu, and Mom will love everything else about it (especially the wine list). Head up on a weekend to take advantage of their tremendous brunch situation, too.
It’s time to show the parents that LA isn’t all glitz and glamour. While this city has plenty of old-school relics, Pace stands out thanks to its Laurel Canyon location and the laid-back vibe that comes with it. The food at this throwback Italian joint is solid and accessible, but you’re really here to show Mom and Dad that LA can be just as welcoming as back home. And it’ll only take a few glasses of Malbec and some rigatoni before they agree.
Your parents didn’t come all this way for just another dinner - it’s time all those years of nurturing and tuition checks were reciprocated. If you’re looking for a parental throwdown type of experience, then Rustic Canyon is your answer. The Santa Monica staple is always fantastic, with a menu full of food Mom and Dad will actually be excited to see on a menu in winter (read: fresh vegetables). Oh, and the wine situation is one of the best in the city. Someone’s got to drive back to the hotel and it’s not Mom.
Whether your dad will ever admit it or not, he definitely smoked pot in the 70’s, loved it, and is now simply waiting for his state’s legislature to catch up to Colorado. Give him a taste of what’s to come with a jaunt up the hippie highway that is Topanga Canyon. There’s plenty to see up here, but no day trip is complete without a stop at The Inn of the Seventh Ray. Unfortunately not a peyote commune, Inn of the Seventh Ray is a stunning restaurant in the trees you have to see to believe. It’s also far more upscale than you’d think it would be, and that’ll calm your mom’s fear of your dad buying weed off the waiter.
Every single person who lands in LA wants top-notch Mexican food, and your parents are no exception. While we could write a whole guide on Mexican restaurants your parents would love, our ultimate pick here is La Cabana in Venice. The 70-year-old Westside staple is the old-school California/Mexican everyone can appreciate: gigantic burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, plates of meat, and all the unlimited chips and salsa you can handle. The vibe is festive (with live mariachi music on the roof), and there’s a bright back patio perfect for soaking up another warm California night. And lots of margaritas.
Sometimes you want pasta and sometimes you don’t really want to work hard to get it. Welcome to Spartina - the neighborhood trattoria on Melrose that’s always solid and always fairly easy to get into. The front patio is fantastic, but our suggestion with the parents is to move inside for a slightly more intimate experience. And even though pasta is king here, there are also over 40 shareable dishes from pizza to salad to an uni panini they definitely won’t want. But order a bottle of red and anything is possible.
Greetings from the best-smelling restaurant in LA. When your parents walk into Odys and Penelope for the first time and see that towering pile of chopped wood slowly being fed into the open ovens - and the glorious smells emanating from it - they’ll never want to leave. The menu is American comfort food, and all things your parents will recognize, but done in ways they maybe haven’t seen before. The fried mushrooms, creamy cauliflower, and tri-tip bearnaise are musts.