Where To Eat & Drink When You’re Feeling Hot
When your self-confidence is higher than the current temperature.
Is there anything more powerful than feeling hot? And before you say something lame, like “being creatively fulfilled” or “doing your taxes on time so the IRS doesn’t send you threatening letters,” let us just stop you there. It’s the dawn of Summer 2021 (otherwise known as the Hot Girl Summer Redux), we just survived a global pandemic, and… what’s that we see? You finally found that perfect pair of vintage pants that’s been sitting in the back of your closet for the better half of a year, and they hug your hips so tight, you might think they were tailor-made for you.
So, yeah. It’s time to put down whatever passion project you picked up during the pandemic (trust us, marathon watching Anya Taylor-Joy’s entire body of work will still be there when you get back), and focus on looking so good, a random stranger will be forced to fall in love you from a distance. For that to happen, you’ll need a restaurant that’s beautiful to look at, without a whiff of stuffiness or pretension, that maybe even has a couple of bottles of natural wine on the menu. It’s a tall order, but here’s a list of 12 LA restaurants that fit the bill.
Back in the year 2019 (an era that many scientists are now describing as “forever ago”), a little seafood counter called Found Oyster became the sexiest place in Los Angeles to grab a meal. Eating here always felt like you were in on a secret – aesthetically, it’s serving you “slightly-eclectic-neighborhood-diner,” with a super friendly waitstaff, casual patio setup on the street, and general laid-back atmosphere. Get the scallop tostada, plus half a dozen Little Namskaket oysters - they’re just the right balance of salty and sweet.
photo credit: Jon Anthony
Is there some sort of “must-be-hot” rule when making a reservation at Tilda? Because every time we come to this natural wine bar in Echo Park, the tables are filled with some of the most stylish-looking people we’ve ever seen. When you’re running late and forget to change out of your knee-length sleeping shirt, that scene can feel quite daunting. But when the world’s opening back up and you’ve finally found a pair of jeans that make your butt look so good, it’d be a shame not to be shown off? Pair that with plenty of plates for sharing, like gigante beans bathed in sherry vinegar and baguettes served with a side of tinned fish (chic), plus a healthy list of rotating natural skin contact wines, and ciders.
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Night + Market Weho
Whenever we’re serious about having a fun night, and want to feel like Usher must have felt in Hustlers when he strolls into the strip club to his own song , we head to Night + Market. Sure, the mega-popular Thai restaurant has other outposts, but their Weho location is the only one with a spacious, tree-covered back patio. It’s the perfect place to eat crispy rice salads, drink ancestral wines from Spain, and discuss in earnest with your best friend whether or not you got hotter during quarantine (spoiler alert: of course you did).
Bar Restaurant is permanently closed
Bar Restaurant is a weird, experimental French spot in Silver Lake that’s somehow perfect for every occasion. Their menu is a blend of recognizable shared plates, like super soft jamón Ibérico and marinated olives, mixed in with unique takes on moules frites (it comes buried beneath a creamy Dijon sauce and a mound of curly fries) and NY strip steaks. They’ve also completely transformed their adjacent parking lot into not one, but two impressive patios, where you’ll find perfectly spaced-out tables, lanterns the size of UFOs, and a cozy atmosphere that’ll make you have minor heart eyes for anyone within ten feet of you.
Musso & Frank Grill
This old-fashioned Hollywood restaurant is Glamor with a capital-G. You’re not here to get hit on by scantily clothed recent grads who look like they just got off a double shift at Hollister - you’re here to wear sunglasses indoors, find a seat at the bar, then sip on one of the most iconic martinis in the city. Stirred and served with a sidecar on chilled ice, it’s technically a perfect cocktail that’s been served the same way for decades, and one that makes gravity tricky after just half a glass.
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Eating a meal at Republique is like having your own fairy godmother – particularly if your wishes include some combination of agnolotti, dining in a literal cathedral, and delicious cheese plates for dessert. From their excellent wine list to a wait staff that is so polite, you suspect they might have a crush on you, this fancy-ish fine-dining French restaurant is a well-oiled machine, and exactly what you want after spending just a little too much money on a blowout and are desperate to show it off.
Oriel is one of those places where you walk in and ask yourself “Did I just fall into a noir film from the 50s?” It’s a hyper-specific question, but as anyone who’s ever been to the Chinatown wine bar can attest, there’s a gritty, and definitely palpable sexual energy here. Maybe that’s because the menu is filled with aphrodisiac-esque foods, like French onion soup, escargot, and charcuterie boards. Maybe it’s because it’s located right under the Gold Line metro tracks, and every time the building shudders from the train racing overhead, so do your heartstrings. Or perhaps it’s because the floor-to-ceiling windows are dyed deep pink, so everything around you looks ripped from an If Beale Street Could Talk scene. Cue the Nicholas Britell.
If you were an LA restaurant right now, you’d probably be Gigi’s – because this Hollywood spot is so hot, it should come with a warning label. Unless you’re down for dinner at 5:30pm or 10pm, snagging a reservation at this French bistro is close to impossible. This is the kind of place that treats you like low-level royalty, like the Duke of Gloucester, or whatever Prince Harry is now – sommeliers pour glasses with a generous hand, and the delicate raw scallops will remain on your mind even beyond the moment you return home.
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Crudo e Nudo
There’s nothing that screams “I’m a young, fun, cosmopolitan person living in a major city” than tossing back oysters on the half shell while looking like a snack on a Santa Monica patio. And there’s no better place to do just that than at Crudo e Nudo. The former pop-up has found a new brick-and-mortar home on Main St., where you’ll be treated to daily crudos served with herbs and house-made sauces, a full raw bar, and tuna tartare paired with seeded loaves from Gjusta.
Foo Chow Restaurant
Not all restaurants can say they served as a set piece in Rush Hour (or feel the need to paint that fact onto the side of their building). But then again, not every restaurant is Foo Chow. Over the last year, they’ve added a beautiful al fresco patio to their courtyard, where you can eat Chinese comfort dishes like sweet and sour fish and wonton soup while in the shadow of their large, jade green building and beneath a million swaying red paper lanterns. It’s the ideal place to bring a book while mysteriously flipping through the pages, or flaunting your sexiest outfit and channeling Maggie Cheung from In The Mood For Love.
Entering into this Latin cocktail bar in Echo Park feels like stepping into another dimension – one where you’re a gorgeous, [REDACTED]-age person with good taste, and definitely not someone who once spent hours creating a spreadsheet to predict the final matches on Are You The One. There’s a beautiful patio in the back of Bar Flores, the drinks are strong and taste great (the sangria should win some international award), and we have no clue what’s in the air, but it smells better than an Aesop showroom in here.
The Venice Boardwalk isn’t where we’d typically send people who are experiencing Megan Thee Stallion-level hotness, (or anyone, really), but The Waterfront is an exception. The sprawling neighborhood bar/cafe has been around since the mid-90s, but recently underwent a big, fancy renovation that includes a brand-new patio, an updated food menu, and plenty of decorative surfboards. They serve all kinds of distinctly California snacks that use both farm-fresh produce and incredibly fresh seafood, like chips and guacamole made with heirloom tomatoes, and burritos packed with Oaxacan cheese. All of which can be enjoyed on their waterfront patio, filled with colorful murals and comfy cabana chairs.