Some nights are easy: you pick a restaurant, you eat at the restaurant, then you go home and fall asleep to Friends Season 2. But other nights are filled with activities: concerts, musicals, comedy shows - LA has no shortage of them. And you need a gameplan. We've done the work for you - here are the best dinner-and-show combinations (with the dinner spots in actual proximity to the venues) in Los Angeles.
If you’re seeing a musical in Los Angeles, chances are you’re seeing it at The Pantages. But the reality is that the surrounding neighborhood offers very little in the way of real pre-theater dining options - save for Birch. The bright, airy restaurant a few blocks down on Cahuenga has solid food and great drinks, and a casual atmosphere that’s fun, but also a necessary reprieve from the sh*tshow outside. Order the #3 cocktail with cardamon, some butter chicken rice balls, and go watch Elphaba belt her way through this crazy thing we call life.
The Roxy / Whiskey A Go Go / The Viper Room
Before the Sunset Strip became a place people drank $20 vodka sodas and Snapchatted next to rooftop pools they’re never getting into, it was the best place to see live music in the country. While those days are long gone, the great music venues still exist and no matter which one you’re heading to, make sure to start your night at Night Market beforehand. The LA Thai staple doesn’t just have some of the best food in the city, it’s also an excellent place to get a little rowdy. Prices are affordable, the atmosphere is very casual, and they have beer towers. Repeat: They have beer towers.
Rule: Oysters always work on date night. And when the move afterwards is to The Satellite up the street, L&E Oyster provides the ideal pregame. The two-story seafood joint is one of the few true neighborhood spots left in Silver Lake, and its low-key vibe and stellar wine and champagne list will get the night started right.
Nobody needs a big fancy dinner right before you dance all night, and Here’s Looking At You gives you that nice balance of great food in a space you won’t get bogged down in. Our move before a show is to head straight for the bar, where you can still get the full menu (order the steak tartare or die) and take full advantage of the fantastic cocktail situation.
The Walt Disney Music Hall
And some nights, you just want to listen to some classical music. Head immediately to The Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the LA Philharmonic and the most acoustically perfect space in Los Angeles. And if you’re going in on a night of Tchaikovsky downtown, you’re only dinner move beforehand is down the hill at Redbird. The stunning space has a massive menu full of things you’re going to want and a classy vibe that doesn’t feel dull.
Chicago has The Second City, but Los Angeles has The Groundlings. And if you’re in the mood for the best sketch comedy in LA, the 40-year-old theater on Melrose is your place. The neighborhood has more pre-show dinner spots than it knows what to do with, but our move is always Village Idiot. The restaurant/bar a few blocks down has a good crowd, a fantastic beer list, and a solid menu that won’t make you slip into a food coma.
The Palladium is a Hollywood icon, and one of the most famous/infamous live music venues we have. Don't do yourself the disservice of showing up there with an empty stomach. Head up the street to Hoy-Ka first for some excellent Thai food and a full bar that can get surprisingly rowdy. The pad see ew and the sneaky pork are standouts, and it’s never not fun to say “I’ll have the sneaky pork” out loud.
El Rey Theatre
Down amongst the corporate nothingness of Mid-Wilshire, the El Rey often gets overlooked as a great live music venue, but the large space is one of our better ones. And with Commerson now in the neighborhood, your ideal pre-show spot has arrived. The shiny seafood restaurant is casual (there's TVs on the wall), so rolling in with a group isn't a problem, but still nice enough to use for a date. The poke appetizer and scallops are must-orders.
The Greek Theatre
The Hollywood Bowl is easily LA’s most iconic outdoor music venue, but let’s not forget The Greek over in Griffith Park. The smaller, more manageable amphitheater feels like you’re seeing a show in the Northern woods, and if you’re looking for a spot to grab food beforehand, Messhall is your answer. The sprawling restaurant has solid food, a big outdoor patio, and a very dangerous two-hour Happy Hour if you’re catching a weeknight show.
The Wallis Annenburg Center for the performing arts
If you had told us a few years ago that a bougie new theater three blocks over from Rodeo Drive would become one of LA’s best places to see new theater, we would’ve laughed in your face. But, alas Wallis Annenberg became that and more. And you need a place to eat beforehand. Beverly Hills doesn’t offer much in the way of reasonable dining that’s actually enjoyable, but our move in this situation is Citizen. The new restaurant within walking distance of the theater has a cool, artsy vibe, solid drinks, and a jidori chicken you’re going to want to get your hands/face on.
The echo / echoplex
You really haven’t lived if you haven’t spent a night dancing uncontrollably at The Echo/Echoplex. And there isn't better way to get your evening of glory started than over at Button Mash - the arcade bar down the street where the eating (and drinking) get started early. This is drunk Chinese food of the best variety with a solid beer list and long communal tables for everybody in the group to share everything. And nobody turns down pinball.
largo at the coronet
Easily the best place to see very famous comedians do stand-up, the Largo on La Cienega is a classic and if you date enough in this city, you’ll absolutely see a show here. The move beforehand? Across the street at Sushi Fumi - our favorite affordable sushi spot in the city. At $65, there isn't a better more affordable omakase in town, but if you’re looking for less of a commitment, head to the bar and go in on the daily specials (the red snapper with yuzu pepper is a mouth miracle). Alcohol bonus: The Roger Room back at Largo is one of the best bars in Weho.
The half block trek between The Troubadour and Dan Tana’s is one of the great date night pilgrimages in this city, and we’re certainly not about to change that. Go eat some chicken parm and caesar salad inside the West Hollywood classic, get more drunk on red wine than you had expected, and go get weird at the very famous music venue next door.
Back before the Arts District was a place people even knew about, Villians Tavern was that strange vaudevillian bar/outdoor music venue “by the river” that you went to for a crazy weekend adventure. Fast forward a few years and now there’s more reason than you count to stay down there. Among our favorites? ERB. The restaurant/bar serves excellent food (the burger is a must), a seemingly endless beer and wine list, and a perfect outdoor patio for getting your night started.