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Need help for romance on a budget

I'm looking for a romantic place that is not too expensive. I dont mind spending around 30 dollars on an entree, but 40-50 dollars is just too much on my college budget; especially after the Christmas holidays. I'm just looking for a place where I can hang out with my girlfriend. Good food, good drinks, and an atmosphere where we can hold a conversation and not get drowned out with noise. I have been going through this forum and looking at the menu's of suggested restaurants....seems good but priced for special occasions. Can you guys help me out? I want to find a place around Santa Monica, Hollywood or closely neighboring cities. Any help would be appreciated. And the type of food? I love everything, but my girlfriend is not a big fan of cilantro....that is all.

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  1. Petit Bistro on La Cienega may be a litttle loud but if she's into french at all, she'll love it and it's by far the most expensive seeming place for the price. Entres are maybe $20 when you'd expect them to be $30 at least. We usually spend a little over the $100 for 2 when we go to Carlito's Gardel on Melrose, excellent steaks and very big wine selection.

    1. Check out Taste on Melrose Ave., just east of La Cienega. It's a good vibe, good food and entrees are around $20 or less.

      1. Girasole, or another place that doesn't charge corkage, would be a good choice. Chameau is fun and the food is festive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JudiAU

          I 2nd Girasole! It's in Larchmont Village. They don't sell wine or beer, it's BYO but with no corkage fee. Saves a bundle! Husband loves the osso bucco, and everything is 10-20 for entrees.

        2. SAWTELLLE KITCHEN on Sawtelle between Olympic and Santa Monica Blvd.

          Chicks love this place, works everytime . . . unique twist on some familiar dishes all treated with a Japanese theme, several seafood choices, several pasta choices, all entrees under $20.
          It's hard to describe Japanese catfish or linguine, etc but trust me -- they've got it going on.

          The ambience is cute-chic, not formal but simple, very friendly and the lighting is nice and warm. One drawback is they DON'T take reservations so you just walk up and get on the list . . . BIG PLUS is they don't serve booze so you bring your own and there's no corkage fee.

          Bring a bottle of chard for the fish choices and a merlot or pinot noir for the more substantials, it's not a big red meat joint so you don't need a pricey cabernet. They don't mind if you drink wine while you wait on the patio but you'll need your own opener for that although I remember they'll give you the glasses.

          There, your bar tab's at $10 - $20 and the dinner tab shouldn't top $50 even with dessert. Try this place . . . if not this time, sometime.

          4 Replies
          1. re: jimmyodonnell

            Sawtelle Kitchen is currently closed for remodeling.

            1. re: JudiAU

              Sawtelle Kitchen is also not even remotely romantic. The tables are very close to one another and it can be noisy.

              I'd recommend Sprazzo on Westwood Blvd, just south of Wilshire. It's good, basic Italian with nice ambience. Typical entrees are in the $10-$20 range. It's quiet and a great place for a conversation.

              1. re: Jwsel

                Well, not CLOSED it's not ;-) . . . but I've always found it very comfortable in there, is there something unromantic about the smallness of the room or the proximity of the tables?

                1. re: jimmyodonnell

                  I would call Sawtelle Kitchen homey, but not romantic. I find it hard to have a romantic experience when: (1) I'm nearly sitting on top of the people next to me; and (2) they can hear every word of my conversation (and I can hear theirs). I'm not saying Sawtelle Kitchen is a bad place; it's not. But if I want to take my SO somewhere romantic, I'm looking for a little more upscale and quiet.

          2. La Buca, Melrose near Bronson (right by Paramount). Exceptionally good Italian, byo wine (no corkage fee), very intimate and very romantic. And, considering the quality of the food, cheap. No entrees over $30.

            1 Reply
            1. re: thegrifter

              I second La Buca -- it is cute, intimate, affordable and the food is wonderful, but be advised, it is more of a neighbourhood osteria than a "romantic" venue.

            2. Locanda Portofino on Montana at 11th (I think). Excellent food, very intimate and romantic. If you're there on a night when they have the pasta with sea urchin special definitely try it.

              1. Chez Mimi in Santa Monica has good food and a nice patio with a romantic feel, but is not expensive for the quality of the experience. They have a menu online, so you can decide for yourself if it's in your budget:

                1 Reply
                1. re: Nicole

                  I was also going to suggest Chez Mimi. The patio is full of sparkling lights--very romantic. There's also an inside area with a fireplace. It definitely has the feel of a more expensive restaurant. My boyfriend and I did an anniversary dinner there a few years ago and were very pleased.

                2. I would recommend Jiraffe in Santa Monica but only on Mondays. You can get a 3 course meal for $33 and its really delicious. I would recommend asking for an upstairs table as it tends to be nicer upstairs.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CarlieInLA

                    Jiraffe is a great idea! This is one of the best deals in town if you can get your girl out on a Monday night.

                    1. re: CarlieInLA

                      I second Jiraffe. My boyfriend took me here, and I thought it was very romantic. The food was great, too. Try to get a seat upstair. It's quieter with less table around.

                    2. Well, not CLOSED it's not ;-) . . . but I've always found it very comfortable in there, is there something unromantic about the smallness of the room or the proximity f the tables?

                      1. I disagree with Chez Mimi and Jiraffe as inexpensive options (and not worth the money, in my opinion.)

                        I recommend Second City Bistro in El Segundo, Nook Bistro and Orris in West L.A, and Violet in Santa Monica as options where you could eat well for less than $100.

                        Other, cheaper but good date options included: Fritto Misto and Ye Olde Kings Head, and Thai Too in Santa Monica. (Less than $60)

                        1. I think the patio at Dominick's is romantic and fun, see if you can reseve a table by the fireplace.


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: duckduckgoose

                            I agree a table at Dominick's by the fireplace is romantic...and if you go for their "Sunday Supper" it's $15 for 3 courses and $10 bottles of house wine!

                              1. Check out Warszawa in Santa Monica. Very good eastern European food, nice atmosphere. It's an old house converted into a restaurant, with several different rooms, mostly dimly lit as I recall. Good food & cocktails, reasonable prices, nice friendly service. Highly recommend.

                                1. CAFE BIZOU IN SHERMAN OAKS! its like walking into a french cottage, so romantic and classic inside inside and so affordable, id say you could walk a way with a $25-30 a person, AND you can bring your own wine! check out the menu online!

                                  1. I'd second Le Petit Bistro and Chameau. Sometimes the husband and I will go get burgers at In N' Out, eat them in the car, then have an after-dinner drink at the Hotel Bel Air.

                                    1. Go to Lucques on a Sunday--you can get the whole tasting menu for $35 bucks!! Ask to sit by the fire.

                                      1. you want romance? I cannot for the life of me figure out some of the recs. I have been to them all, nothing will compare to grace in the back room, there is a table on the right and it quiet and elegant and the food is some of the best I have had in LA, just ask anyone into food. Forget Lucques, it ok and its 40 on sunday - jar is nice, you can sit in table 20 something around the front - look for something with good portions that you can split - nobody comes close to the value of grace, the wine list is outstanding, we just ate there last week and had a killer 00' Rioja for $ 42 - split a salad, app and main and wine and its 100 bucks. bet you think about the meal for weeks. aoc upstairs or outside would also do the trick, or keep it for the second date

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: oldboardKurt

                                          I would not ever consider Grace a "budget" restaurant.

                                          1. re: CarlieInLA

                                            30 dollars on an entree is what the man said - grace more than falls into this range. 100 for dinner split between 3 items and wine. the portion size at grace and quality blows away every other place in la,no problem

                                        2. I would definately recommend San Gennaro at Barrington and Sunset in Brentwood. The foccacia bread there is AMAZING, and their pastas and pizzas are all under $20. And the best bargain is their bottles of wine at the back of the menu are only $12!! The restaurant is dimly lit, and it is never noisy. Good Luck :)

                                          1. I would totally choose Opus. Three-course tasting menu for $30! I would ask for one of the side tabels when you make the reservation.