Regular dates are exciting because you get to eat food and chat with someone who you don’t really know, all while trying to figure out if they’re going to kiss you later. On platonic dates, however, you don’t have to worry about any of that. It’s just you, your best friend, and the mutual love you both already share for each other. All you need now is the right restaurant. Think cute spaces that are comfortable, but fun, good food that isn’t overly expensive, and of course, plenty of great drinks. These 12 spots fit the bill.
Tucked away in everyone’s favorite cut-through to The Valley (Laurel Canyon), Pace has always had one of the more idyllic restaurant settings in LA, but now with an expanded outdoor situation, dinner here feels like you’re eating in Tuscany, not three minutes from Hollywood Blvd. Whether you’re in the mood for prosciutto-topped pizza, tortellini stuffed with ricotta, or wood-grilled salmon, everything at Pace is solid and the perfect thing to eat while you and your bestie contemplate leaving it all behind and opening an alpaca farm in the Central Coast together.
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Mazal opened only in November 2020, but has quickly become one of our favorite casual dinner spots on the Eastside. This completely vegetarian Israeli restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, but we love their alleyway patio adorned with string lights, awnings, and patterned concrete walls. That said, Mazal is more than just a cute space - the food is excellent too. We love their smoky babaganoush and flakey bourekas, which comes filled with potato, feta, or pesto/olive mix. Everything is sharable and under $20, meaning even with a few glasses of wine, you and your friend can walk out at around $40 a head.
With vaulted ceilings, mismatched chairs, and old framed photos hanging on the walls, Wood Spoon looks a lot like that Parisian flat we fantasize about while stuck in traffic on the 405. The Brazilian menu, made up of traditional Mineiro dishes like seafood stew in a coconut sauce and our favorite chicken pot pie in the entire world, feels like true home cooking. At some point during the meal, you and your friend-date will probably forget you’re even at a restaurant altogether.
This excellent neighborhood bar in Sherman Oaks recently reopened after a long hiatus with outdoor sidewalk seating, plus limited indoor seating that even includes some chairs at the bar. Wherever you end up sitting, know you’re in great hands with a staff who’ll happily let you sip and swirl until you find the exact wine you want. As far as food goes, it’s mostly snacks like charcuterie and olives, but there is a $42 New York strip that’s perfect for sharing.
This little tapas spot in Santa Monica sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of the big name restaurants in the area, but when it comes to finding a comfortable spot to have a two-hour wine-and-vent session on a Friday night, Manchego can’t be beat. The charming interior has tiled walls and floors, and there’s a big new front patio now to go along with the one they’ve always had hiding in the back. For food, expect an ever-changing line-up of sharable small plates ranging from spinach croquetas to jamon-wrapped dates.
Anajak has been serving the Sherman Oaks community for almost 40 years, but thanks to the owner’s son, Justin Pichetrungsi, taking the helm in 2012, it’s become one of the most exciting Thai restaurants in LA. Whether you and your bestie come for Thai Taco Tuesday, their reservation-only omakase table, or are simply looking to hang out in their cute dining room and sip tremendous natural wine while discussing your respective relationship drama, Anajak is an option that never disappoints.
Located in a converted Virgil Village bungalow, Melody is a tiny natural wine bar that still feels like a secret - and that’s exactly why we like it so much. Their outdoor courtyard is cozy and rustic - think big, comfy couches, lanterns overhead, and an evening light that’s so flattering, your best friend won’t stop bothering you until you take a picture of them and immediately set that as their contact photo in your phone. Be sure to also take advantage of whatever pop-up is scheduled that night. The patio is open Monday through Saturday until 11pm and 10pm on Sundays.
Messob Ethiopian Restaurant
Open since 1985, Messob is a Little Ethiopia staple, and the perfect spot to go on a date with someone who constantly puts up with your antics - aka, your best friend. Order the Super Messob Exclusive, a gigantic platter of ten different menu highlights that range from collard greens to doro wot, a fragrant chicken stew that’s been cooked for 50 hours. You’ll sit around circular tables made of straw, tear off pieces of spongy injera with your hands, and neither of you will even glance at their phone - mainly because their fingers are too covered with food to respond to texts. We’d consider that quality friend time, indeed.
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L&E Oyster Bar
The two-story neighborhood oyster bar in Silver Lake looks like it was pulled straight out of a Nora Ephron movie, with a beautiful, lush space and people who look like well-placed extras all having a good time and casually falling for each other. We love it as a casual spot to grab some fresh oysters and wine with a friend, all while pretending to be just as in love as everyone else here. If you’re in the market for a full meal, the fried oyster po’boy with fennel and the creamy clam chowder are both standouts.
Unless you’re still in your 20s, being seen out in public after 8:30pm is possibly an anomaly. That’s why you and your friend should agree on a day date at Lodge Bread instead. This Culver City spot started out as a bakery, but is now a tremendous, all-day spot with simple, great food and a lot of locals playing catch-up with each other. The wood-fired pizzas are made with a soft, slightly sour dough and the romanesco salads are topped with tahina, raisins, and a bright-green Morrocan chermoula sauce. But the star of the show here is their cinnamon bun, which is about the size of the pillow you’ll be lying on shortly thereafter.
Toranj is a Persian restaurant located in Westwood Village - an ideal spot when you and your roommate can’t get too far from UCLA’s campus. There’s a big open dining room inside, but we prefer to hang out on their sidewalk patio and watch the neighborhood stroll by. As far as the food goes, the priority here absolutely needs to be the Juicy Chicken. It’s slightly sweet, somewhat buttery, and so unbelievably tender you’ll forget you’re actually eating chicken. We also like their ghormeh sabzi, which is a bit more sour than other versions in Westwood, and goes nicely with the tahdig appetizer that you’re absolutely sharing together.
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Marvin is a neighborhood wine bar in Beverly Grove that we’re always hesitant to talk about too much because we like the fact that we can almost always get a table, eat delicious French food, and drink wine without waiting. Go on as many platonic dates as you want here, order too much wine, and silently plan your next visit before you even leave.
There are a lot of super cute restaurants in Venice, but most of them are packed with tourists and people who will happily wait two hours for their food. Chez Tex is different. This tiny spot on Main St. is full of locals who are there to drink wine with a friend and share delicious food like burrata and crostinis, seared scallops, and chicken paillard. By the time you leave, your server will probably have memorized your name, which all but solidifies you’re standing as a regular from here on out.
The order-at-the-bar gastropub in Culver City is a great place to grab a burger and a beer with your old roommate and hash out just how life has changed now that you both live with your significant others. The massive front patio is always filled with a low-key crowd of locals and in the event neither of you are going to miss a Lakers game for this, there are also a few TVs in the corner.