Date Place on Sawtelle?
Looking for a good first date place on or around Sawtelle (like the area between Olympic & Wilshire). Mainly just want to avoid any place with blinding bright light that makes so many great restaurants feel like cafeterias. Pricewise, around - $15-30 each (not including drinks). [[I always feel expensive restaurants make first dates feel too formal.]]
I think the bill might be a bit higher than you're shooting for, but Kiriko is a great place on Sawtelle. Great sushi, great cooked food.
Other, cheaper options... Yakitori-Ya is a good yakitori place on Sawtelle around the corner from Kiriko. Also, Mizu 212 is a good shabu shabu place that uses high quality ingredients (especially with their vegetables), has good service, and is in an attractive setting.
I'll second Yakitori-ya. Every time I've been there the food's been fantastic, from the regular chicken pieces to the skin, gizzards, and livers. Also the ground chicken on rice dish is good there. It doesn't get too loud, and is a nice balance between the formal and casual, leaning heavily towards the casual.
The one place that immediately comes to mind is 2117. It's lighting and ambiance is a little more "date" like than most of the places on Sawtelle. It's in the same mini mall as Hurry Curry, Manpuku and Hong Kong on the west side of Sawtelle just a half block north of Olympic.
I also wonder how the remodel of Sawtelle Kitchen came out in terms of making their indoor space more "user friendly"? It used to remind me of a coal mine inside.
I think Orris is fun for a date, although they don't take reservations. It's small plates so you'd have to decide whether you're okay with sharing food on a first date.
If you're looking for the sort of first date where there's some action inside the restaurant and minor diversions, helping you and your date to relax and fill any awkward silent moments: Manpuku, a Korean-Japanese bbq place, is fun, good food, and you cook your own meat so this can be a nice icebreaker. Waits can be long at times, however. Yakitori-ya is a good idea too, as long as you both like chicken and lots of chicken (ain't nothin' else, except sometimes some duck).
If you want a quieter, more traditional restaurant experience, 2117 is the ticket, although it might stretch the $30pp budget just a little bit depending on what you order.
Orris is sort of in-between these two; the waits can be seriously long at times, the small-plates sharing is fun. the food is outstanding for the most part. It's not easy to linger there, because there are usually lots of people hovering over you waiting for your table. But if you're hitting it off you could head down the street to one of the karaoke bars or something?
I haven't been to Furaibo in a while, but it's also kind of a fun, casual place, like a Japanese bar with good, varied food. And Place Yuu, which is a bar/sushi bar, a bit more upscale than Furaibo (but it also has a giant screen TV) is also a good place, although I guess it could get more expensive if you order a bunch of sushi and good sake.