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Date Night Recommendation

Hey Hounds,

I'll be visiting a romantic interest in LA for the better part of a week and am looking for a good date night place. We've already made plans for most of my visit but I'd like to take some time to bring her on a proper date and make her feel like a lady.

I'm looking for a restaurant where we can get a little dressy but also be comfortable and intimate. I'm looking to spend up to about $150, but that doesn't mean I have to. My first priority is for the both of us to enjoy the night and have a memorable experience. Neither of us think that great food has to come with a big price tag.

I'm looking outside Downtown LA since that's where we're staying and it'd be nice for a change of pace. A restaurant with an outdoor space/view is a big bonus. We're open to all types of foods. Last criteria is that I'll be able to reserve a table from about one week out.

Some restaurants that I've researched/was suggested were La Botte, Providence, Melisse, and The Bazaar.

Can anyone make any other suggestions or comment on the ones above? Much appreciated.

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  1. Of the ones you mentioned, Melisse and Providence would be my choices. The decor at Melisse is nicer but also more formal. Saddle Peak Lodge is also worth considering if the drive is not an issue for you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: New Trial

      Do you think that $150 will cover Melisse? That might be a tight budget for what they charge, especially if they intend ot have a before dinner drink or a glass of wine with dinner.

      Josie http://www.josierestaurant.com/ would be a good fit for this and downtown I'd be inclined to look at Cafe Pinot http://www.patinagroup.com/restaurant... or Rivera http://www.riverarestaurant.com/ or the newish Bestia http://www.bestiala.com/

      1. re: Servorg

        No, it wouldn't. It'd be more like $150 per person at Melisse. Easily, with alcohol, tax and tip.

        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

          To do Melisse right I think you should get one of the two tasting menus - either "The 10" or the Carte Blanche menu. But the 10 - the less epensive menu - runs 150 per person (or it might have gone up).

          So right there you're at 300 with no wine, tax or tip.

    2. $150 total or $150 per person? If it's the former and you plan on having any alcohol, you'll have a very difficult time sticking to your budget at any of the restaurants you've mentioned (which are all very good). And if Rivera is priced like Playa, you're going have to be fairly careful what you order to get in under budget (unless you both have a relatively small appetite.... I tend to eat a ton of food....).

      It gets mixed on the board, but my friend and I had a wonderful time at Lucques a few yrs ago. The ambiance is exactly what you're looking for (minus the view, although there is a patio), and they do Sunday night set menus that should easily fall w/i your budget....

      2 Replies
      1. re: ilysla

        I meant $150 total but I'm willing to spend more if the experience is really worth it. I would put my upper limit at $250 but we'd really have to have our minds blown.

        We're really looking to stay away from places that are stuffy or could be perceived as pretentious. Thanks for the Lucques suggestion, that looks like it could be promising - can't do much more research while at work.

        I might add that the restaurants I listed (Providence, Melisse, Bazaar) were suggested by a friend who's more into the $$$$ category than I am. I'm definitely looking for more suggestions. Thanks, guys. Appreciate the help.

        1. re: AeneasWalks

          Ah, thanks for the info. Servog's recs come up often when people ask for a Downtown rec. Don't know if a place like a place like Water Grill would be in your budget, but it gets good reviews (I've never been) and is in Downtown, as well.

          If you're looking for casual upscale (and it sounds like you might *not* be looking for that), Wood Spoon and Colori Kitchen are good and easily within your budget, but the ambiance (which is perfectly acceptable for a regular dinner) might be too casual for your purposes. Mo-Chica is tasty, upscale, in Downtown, and should be within your budget, but it's rather loud inside (and thus not particularly romantic).

          Ushuaia (sp?) is an Argentinian steakhouse in Santa Monica. Good food and service and the ambiance and should be barely within your budget. While there definitely seemed to be some people on dates there, there were also a lot of tables of guy seeming to have a boys' night out. Still, I think it's worth a look. The outdoor patio at Hostaria del Piccolo might fit your needs and is also w/i your budget (skip the pizza, stick w/ the pasta, take a romantic walk near the beach afterward).

          Lukshon (Asian fusion) in Culver City would probably also fit within the budget, if you choose carefully and aren't super hungry. I last went several yrs ago, but a few posters have been more recently and said that the quality hasn't declined.

      2. There are hardly any dressy places in LA anymore, but that shouldn't stop you from dressing up as you want. Also, intimate is really hard to find at the hottest places with the best food right now, it's just not the trend.

        Il Piccolo in Venice is small and intimate, food was great but I haven't been in a few years and don't know how it's held up. Il Cielo in Beverly Hills has a very romantic patio with lots of little white lights. Again, haven't been in years, so don't know how the food is anymore. Hotel Bel Air would be the most romantic place I can think of, but it is quite pricey. Wolfgang Puck has redone their restaurant, don't know if they did away with the intimacy it used to have.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

          I was going to recommend Il Cielo. And The Little Door in West Hollywood. Both romantic and nice.

        2. The new Riva Bella on Doheney and Sunset is a really pretty romantic restaurant. I have not eaten there but have heard good things. The Puck restaurant at the Bel Air Hotel is also very romantic. Sam's by the Beach is a very nice Mediteranian option and whle not inexpensive, less than the Bel Air for sure.


          1. Not exactly the epitome of Chow-worthy, but I think one of the most romantic spots would be the Restaurant at the Getty. Great way to experience a lot of what LA has to offer: great view, great museum, and horrible traffic.

            Your other options do have better food, but their ambiance and experience is confined to the restaurant itself. If you go to Providence, you go there, eat, and you go home. You can't really walk around outside, and you would just hop back in your car right after dinner.

            Definitely would NOT recommend Water Grill as mentioned above. The new space is cold and more appropriate for business lunches.

            1. No outdoor space/view, but my vote is for: Craft. Quite simply because you will be treated like royalty and your date will most certainly feel like a lady. If you get drinks, you'll be pushing your budget, but I'm certain it will be memorable. It's shared plates/family style. Because of that, the two-top tables are set farther apart than regular tables (to allow ample room for dishes) - so you may feel far away from your date (only slightly). It would be a wonderful date spot.

              Another memorable, recent meal:
              Sotto - no view/outdoor space, again - but intimate due to low lighting, warm service, and amazing food. Price point will be spot on, if not less, depending on drinks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: The Oracle

                Love Sotto and while it is a great place for a date, it is not the mushy romantic date place the Post seems to be seeking.

              2. I don't know La Botte but Providence, Melisse and The Bazaar are much more expensive than your suggested price range.

                I'd recommend Eva -- good food, good atmosphere, nice people, intimate space, not too loud and $150 sounds easily doable.

                1. If you are from a place where ocean views are special, I recommend Moonshadows, on the ocean off Pacific Coast Highway in lower Malibu. It will be a very nice drive and easy to find -- the Santa Monica Freeway (10) west out of downtown until it curves right through a tunnel and turns into the pacific Coast Highway. A nice drive north/west along the coast through Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades and then Malibu. Restaurant has its own parking lot and is situated right on the rocks with the surf coming up underneath you. Food is not the focus for this date -- the drive, the views, a drink or glass of wine at sunset are -- but you can get a good steak or piece of fish as long as you stay simple.

                  For more of a focus on food but still getting a view, have sunset drinks at The Penthouse, in the Huntley Hotel on 2nd Street a block north of Wilshire in Santa Monica -- great views up and down the coast. Then have dinner about ten minutes south at Chinois on Main, Wolfgang Puck's original fusion restaurant with bold flavors, '80s decor, excellent service, and everything served to share on Main Street in lower Santa Monica.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nosh

                    Moon shadows? Really? Respectfully NO. SAMs by The Beach is the call.

                    1. re: BSW6490

                      If Sams has as dramatic crashing waves, killer view, and easy access with better food, ok. Remember, my rec of Moonshadows is with a heavy emphasis on the date, not necessarily the meal.

                      1. re: nosh

                        Good point, Nosh. Moon Shadows would make for a fantastic first date.

                        1. re: jgilbert1000

                          skip any mixed drink that involves a mix at moonshadows.
                          they use the worst pasteurized stuff from a jug that can easily ruin the taste of well swill.

                  2. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I booked a reservation for Lucques last night. The biggest consideration for me was that it seemed to fit the ambiance I was looking for: upscale without being stuffy, refined while comfortable. The patio helped with all these factors. I was also attracted to the fact that they had some creative in-house cocktails and I’ve always preferred cocktails over wine with my dinner. Photos of the food encouraged me to feast with my eyes yet the portions seemed reasonable. Lastly, it looks like this will all fall easily within my budget. Besides just having to spend more money, a big check at some of the other restaurants may have made my date uncomfortable. Thanks for all the input everyone, I’ll try to remember to post a review when all’s done.

                    Oh, and for some reason, I liked the instructional videos and active blog on the Lucques website. It gave me the impression that these people wanted to share their passion for food with everyone, with people who don’t just dine-out but also cook-in.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: AeneasWalks

                      I'm not the biggest fan of Lucques and the food isn't the most exciting but it fits everything you are looking for.

                      Just to stir the pot a little, you should also take a look at Hatfield's. I like the food a lot more, you can go dressy or casual, and it'll fit within your budget.

                      There is a patio but there are also seats looking in on the impeccable kitchen which is always fun for me.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Agreed, we had terrible service at Lucques, and wouldn't bother going back. Hatfield's is wonderful though.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          +1 - I had a mind-blowing dinner at Hatfield's and a blah dinner at Lucques (enough to never want to return).

                        2. re: AeneasWalks

                          Lucques is a good restaurant, but for ambiance AND great food, I would highly recommend looking into Catch at Casa del Mar Hotel. Great views, great food, fantastic service, wonderful live jazz in the beautiful lobby for a drink after dinner (or go next door to Shutters for a drink and live jazz)

                          1. re: AeneasWalks

                            Enjoy your meal at Lucques. Every meal I have ever had there has been excellent. I also love the ambiance and service.

                            1. re: AeneasWalks

                              Given your parameters, the sister restaurant of Lucques, AOC, not far away, is much more romantic on the patio. The new menu is great. It recently moved to the old Orso space and it's nice and fresh.

                              Was just at Lucques and though the food was really good, the restaurant looked and felt a little tired to me.

                              1. BAH! Too late! Was going to suggest Scarpetta in BH.
                                Top notch service, food, and atmosphere.

                                1. no longer has the most chowish food, but my pick for a romantic date is still Cafe del Rey in marina del rey.

                                  the primary thing they offer that is available at very few restaurants, is that they will accommodate your reservation/request for a table that allows both members of the couple to sit either on the same side of the table or at right angles to each other.
                                  if you think of skin contact is a very important part of a romantic meal, this place will deliver.

                                  for romance, i'm not a fan of sitting across a table of food from my date and not be able to have any body contact without risking knocking over the wine glass

                                  lovely view,
                                  white tablecloths
                                  good wine list by the bottle and by the glass
                                  pretty restaurant
                                  they NEVER rush you to turn the table.
                                  parking is never a hassel
                                  if the weather is nice, it is possible, after dinner to take a stroll along the boat docks at the marina while your car stays parked in their lot.
                                  good service, friendly but not stuffy.
                                  if nathan is the bartender that night, he makes great mixed drinks

                                  1. Thanks again for all the suggestions. I changed my reservations to Cafe del Rey before my trip as we also had a visit to the beach on our list, it was a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Westsidegirl was spot on with the food and the arrangement of the tables. The food wasn't "chowish" but we still enjoyed it. It wasn't the focus of the night anyway. We shared a couple of cocktails, one which was pear infused, that were delicious. Wait service was friendly and accommodating. The lady enjoyed herself and we stopped to hear the band playing some Al Green on our way out of the hotel lobby. Mushy stuff but it fit the bill. Next time I travel to LA I'll look forward to checking out Hatfield's and AOC.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: AeneasWalks

                                      Thanks for the update. Glad you enjoyed yourselves.