There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to dining at Providence. Either you’re down to spend over $250 on the most luxurious night of seafood you’ve ever had, or you’re not.
Well, are you in?
Photos by Jakob Layman
Providence is a landmark restaurant, one of those storied places that put LA dining on the map and seems to have more awards than Spielberg, Hitchcock, and Kubrick combined. While the Bay Area has Chez Panisse—a Berkeley restaurant that emphasizes direct relationships with farmers and cooking with seasonal produce—Providence does something similar, but mostly with seafood. The fine dining destination brought farm-to-table (or rather, sea-to-table) practices like wild-caught sustainable seafood and high-quality vegetables to Hollywood, pledging to treat dishes and diners with the utmost respect.
And it worked. Even today, as a new era of Providence emerges, reservations are still impossible to come by. Unless you’re extremely flexible and call day-of—they might have a seat or two at the bar—the earliest you’ll be able to get in here is in a couple months. It’s a hot ticket, one coveted by both longtime fans and tourists. Almost two decades later, Providence is still the picture of high-class, high-quality dining it always promised to be.
Tables are covered in pristine white tablecloths. When you leave for the bathroom, someone will come by and quickly refold your napkin into something beautiful. We imagine Providence's clientele to be like an intricate Venn diagram—circles overlapping and overlapping and overlapping each other, labeled with things like “wants to be impressed,” “secretly enjoys truffles shaved onto things,” and “will get so excited by uni served in a petrified chicken leg, a fork just may drop.”
For lifelong fans, things look a bit different than they did in 2019. The menu has been pared back: there are no longer a la carte options (even at the bar) and the roaming cheese cart is, sadly, gone. Instead, you’ll find one tasting menu, an intoxicating journey filled with Dungeness crab pasta and uni spooned into pools of butter. It’s three sacred hours that feel like a conversation between you, Providence, and someone from the sea (probably Poseidon). Come here with hard-to-please parents, the ones who cling to prestige and secretly wish you had gotten into Harvard. Bring very special dates, best friends you’ll spend the rest of your life with, or partners you love enough to drop serious cash on and not feel resentful. And, if you ever get asked the question—“Well, are you in?”—do everything in your power to say yes.
Chef’s Tasting Menu
There are eight courses on the formal menu, ranging from gently warmed oysters brimming with caviar to house-made chocolate covered in earl grey gelato, in addition to complimentary additions scattered throughout the meal. Servers take great pride in describing where, exactly, the shaved celtuce you’re about to eat comes from, and will happily answer any and all follow-up questions with the patience of an elementary school teacher. Some parts can, of course, feel performative (has anyone ever actually wanted to eat foam?), but overall, the entire meal is a giant homerun. Dishes are never embellished for embellishing’s sake, and not a single card explaining a sourdough’s origin feels out of place.