Depending on where you find yourself in Los Angeles’ 503 square miles, there are endless choices to dine and unwind, but sometimes you need some new culinary inspiration, especially for a date night. If it’s a first date or you are dating your husband, you may want to stay in your neighborhood, meet up in your work area, or travel to a different section of LA to spice up your life. Try one of these new (or newly revamped) venues for a pleasurable night out in LaLaLand.
VIVA HOLLYWOOD in Hollywood
6350 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Beso Hollywood has been replaced by the ultra glam grown-up Viva Hollywood with a seductive new setting that includes an exceptional cocktail menu and Mexican California fusion bites perfect for sharing with friends before a night out on the town or the theater nearby. Start with guacamole sprinkled with pomegranate seeds served with plantain chips and loosen up with one of their outstanding cocktails (thanks to beverage director Erik Weatherford) that might just make you scream, “Viva Hollywood!” The new Chef Raymond Alvarez brings the Mexican fervor from chicken mole to tacos to flatbread pizzas. Select a cozy couch or small table downstairs, or opt for more privacy upstairs where there is booth seating.
Share: Flatbreads like Fresco with your choice of pulled short rib or chicken machaca with queso fresco, roasted tomato sauce and oh la la, a spicy garlic aioli drizzled all over the pizza. Opt for less aioli sauce drizzle or keep it on the side.
Order: Tamales de Maiz Dulce (sweat corn medley in a roasted pasilla chiles) and the crispy Seared Seabass.
Drink: Everything, but high on the list is La La Land, light and refreshing with Belvedere Citrus, Lemon, Giffard Pamplemousse, Aged Whiskey Bitters, Champagne. For him, El Nino mixes Union Mezcal, Blackberries, Mint, Lime, Honey, and end with some Sleepless Nights – Orange Spice-infused Glenlivit, Cold Pressed Coffee, Cream, Chocolate.
Don’t miss: Live music nightly. Upstairs, marvel at the life-size colorful pinatas hanging with characters like Trump and Angry Birds.
Be prepared: It can get loud with the live music, and thus harder to hear your dinner date.
Impress: Show your date your salsa dancing skills and take them for a spin.
Dress: Hollywood chic glam, from jeans and sexy tops to dresses and heals.
Dessert: Churros con Chocolate with various ice creams or sorbets. Dip your warm churros in the chocolate.
Parking: Meters on the street or valet $10.
THE BOARDROOM in downtown LA
135 N. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA
Next to Kendall’s Brasserie and the theaters in downtown LA is a new dark, sexy cozy “room” where you enter through a side door. Come before or after a show, and order one too many impressively crafted cocktails, such as the William Faulkner or Gertrude Stein while sampling Parisian bites thanks to the French Chef Jean-Pierre Bosc. The menu consists of uptakes on French classics known as the BoardRoom’s “Sexy Little Tastes” like Oxtail Poutine, Jidori Chicken Pate, Crudite Chopped Salad, and Black Market Burger with foie gras, red wine caramelized onions, and truffle aioli. Surrounded by French art and live jazz music, the ambiance may make you want to make out in the corner of this speakeasy.
Share: Uni Deviled Eggs, Duck Fat Garlic Fries
Order: Real French Dip (carved rare roast beef with whipped horseradish to dip) and the Beef Bourguignon “Sloppy Joe” style with red wine braised beef short rib and mushrooms on brioche bread.
Drink: Frida Kahlo with Ilegal Joven Mezcal, Aperol, lime, and Giffard vanilla or the Ernest Hemingway Punch Bowl with Havana Club rum.
Don’t miss: Live jazz music. The romantic wine tower. Escargot shooters in puff pastry baked in a porcelain shot glass.
Be prepared: To try to find the venue. It is tucked into the Music Center’s Kendall’s Brasserie. It is dark and moody, but date optimal.
Impress: Order the Punch Bowl that arrives at your table for 4-6 people for $60 like the Virginia Woolf concoction with champagne, St. Germain, Grey Goose vodka, blackberries, raspberries, sugar, and lemon.
Dress: Business attire, LA cocktail wear
Dessert: Sinful macaroons
Parking: Underground parking garage next door
THE VENUE in Koreatown
3470 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Head underground to Koreatown’s swankiest new expansive adult playground. This dark and sultry location (almost New York-like) dazzles with playful cocktails in giant copper pineapple mugs and superior drink concoctions curated by drink master mixologist Devon Espinosa. The menu created by Chef Kayson Chong satisfies with family-style comfort bar food in towering platters (perfect for the karaoke rooms) like beef sliders, fried mac and cheese, and chipotle maple chicken wings, while the main dining room brings a little bit of everything with a full dinner menu and late night snacks.
Share: Yellow Tail crudo, Three Cheese Fried Mac, Mussels, Duck Ragu Tagliatelle, Garlic Parm Fries, Lobster Corn Dogs
Order: Short Rib, Stripped Bass, Salmon
Drink: Giant copper pineapple mugs with fruity crushed ice and vodka drinks. Sip Across the Line with altos reposed, pomegranate hibiscus, rhubarb bitter, and elderflower foam.
Don’t miss: Make it a night here by heading into one of the private luxe karaoke rooms after dinner to sing your heart out with your date or new friends.
Be prepared: To try to find the venue adjacent to the Line Hotel. Revel in the authenticity of Koreatown.
Impress: Stay at the Line Hotel. Show off your vocals. Have a song picked out ahead of time to show your date how much you adore them.
Dress: Casual hip
Dessert: Caramel Popcorn Cake
YAMASHIRO in Hollywood
1999 N. Sycamore Ave, Hollywood
The iconic Hollywood location with its Pagoda Bar, Buddha, and lovely gardens sits atop the Hollywood Hills, and of course is still sunset-worthy with its almost 360 degree views of LA. Choose to sit in the front viewing the twinkling city or sunset hues, or eat inside their garden courtyard where they show various old films. Since 1941 this special property has been featured in movies and TV shows, but now with new ownership and new management, the menu still includes sushi, light Asian-fusion dishes, and handcrafted cocktails.
The Executive Chef Christophe Bonnegrace and new sushi chef offer many options, such as nine creative sushi rolls from the Red Dragon (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, avacado, spicy mayo, unagi sauce, tempura), to the Samurai (spicy tuna, yellowtail, cucumber, sliced tuna, sriracha, serrano peppers) to Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice. Vegans can now order marinated grilled vegetables skewer with peanut sauce, teriyaki tofu and veggies and steamed vegetable dumplings.
Happy Hour is 5 – 8 PM in the lounge. The Pagoda Bar will open soon for spring and summer cocktails by the pool. In the works is upcoming Sunday brunch and the sensational Thursday evening Farmer’s Market around Yamashiro with live music, food trucks, and produce is slated to open this spring on Sundays.
Share: Truffle Hamachi, Scallop and Lychee Yusu, and the Salmon Tataki and Sweet Miso. Not watching your weight? Try the Duck Confit Fried Spring Rolls with BBQ dipping sauce.
Order: Start with their grand bowl of miso soup. Exceptional Entrees not to be missed are the Shoyu Glazed Black Miso Cod with wasabi mashed potatoes, maitake mushrooms, sauteed mustard greens, and a soy daikon sauce, and Asian BBQ Baby Back Ribs slow braised in duck fat for 4 hours served with spicy BBQ sauce.
Drink: Hot Sake, Japanese Whiskey, Japanese Mule, Yamashiro Koi Bowls that are like giant goblets of tastiness. Try the Blue Dragon with blueberry vodka, blueberry liquor, and fresh lemonade. Tokyo Tea End with the The Geisha Girl (like dessert) with Kahlua, Bailey’s, cream, fresh raspberries.
Don’t miss: The Sushi Boats in beautifully handcrafted boats are filled with endless sushi bites (36 or 72 pieces) for 2-4 people to 4-8 people priced from $80 or $160.
Be prepared: To be wheeled out. Valet is the only option. Expect crowds, especially during tourist seasons.
Impress: Score a table in the farthest right corner with views for a bit of privacy. For a more interactive dinner, experience the Himalayan Salt Plate with American Wagyu Steak seared the way you like it with garlic, baby potatoes, and greens. You can decide how long you want to place your meat and accoutrements on the hot salt block allowing the steak to be cooked at the table with a full taste and new level of flavor complexity.
Dress: Business casual chic
Dessert: Strawberry Filled Doughnuts include three warm jam filled doughnuts with a cream dipping sauce and a vanilla strawberry creamy ice cream. S’mores Fudge Brownie with a house-made marshmallow, graham cracker cookie dough ice cream, and a creamy vanilla ice cream oozing over the warm brownie equals pure self-indulgence!
Parking: valet $10
PUBLIC SCHOOL in Culver City
Share: Bacon Cheddar Tots, Chorizo Mac and Cheese, or Bar Food like Crispy Naked Wings.
Order: Chicken and Waffles, Shrimp and Grits, BBQ Bison Burger, Beer Battered Fish and Chips.
Drink: Beer flights for $5 that come with a description of the beer and which food to pair.
Don’t miss: The decor details like the menu in an old school composition journal, school multiplication flash cards over the bar, and vintage scales and maps.
Be prepared: Loudness. Tables are close so you can hear conversations all around you.
Impress: Come in with some knowledge of beers offered.
Dress: Anything goes
Dessert: Nutella Cookie Sandwich with vanilla ice cream and bacon brittle snuck inside
Parking: Metered parking on street or parking garage nearby with $1 an hour rates