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The best romantic restaurants in Los Angeles

Seduce your sweetheart with fireplaces, ocean views and splurgeworthy meals at L.A.'s best romantic restaurants

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Nobu Malibu

Lady and the Tramp had the right idea—what better way to celebrate with your significant other than sharing a romantic meal? Whether you're looking to wine and dine on a rooftop, cozy up on a first date or splurge to celebrate a special occasion, we've got you covered with a round-up of L.A.'s best restaurants that lay on the charm. Check out our guide to the best romantic restaurants in Los Angeles.

RECOMMENDED: Ideas for Valentine's Day in Los Angeles

L.A.'s most romantic restaurants

1

One Pico

Escape to Nantucket at this beachside destination seducing lovers and landlubbers alike, where you can grab front row seats overlooking the Pacific. If that's not enough to impress your sunset-discriminating friend, cozy up to the roaring fire over surf and turf plates, like wild snapper with house-made cous cous, lobster fettuccini, 24-day aged rib-eye and Sunday night prime rib dinner served table side. The quiet dining room jazzes up, literally, come nightfall with live piano Sundays to Tuesdays and Supa Lowery Bros. on trumpet and drums Thursdays to Saturdays in the hotel's Living Room lounge, perfect for graduating on to cocktails and more fireside canoodling.

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Santa Monica
2

Elf Cafe

Because vegetarians are lovers, too. This Echo Park haunt is a date night go-to for Eastside vegetarians and omnivores alike who fall for the Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean menu that changes with the season. Call ahead to claim a spot at the counter or table, rubbing elbows with your date (or neighbor) inside the cozy, matchbox-size dining room. BYOB ($5 charge) and toast over vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options like Moroccan vegetable tagine and walnut-pesto pappardelle.

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Echo Park
3

Inn of the Seventh Ray

Forget the Topanga stereotypes of burning sage and healing crystals (okay, they sell those here too). Off Old Topanga Road, love-stricken diners can enter a bucolic, wooded city escape: A multi-tiered outdoor dining space draped in lights, lilac and oak trees—and, yes, the wafting scent of incense that hits you on your way in. Take in the serene, creekside surroundings under heat lamps and twinkling stars. Start with a fermented elixir and follow with a slow-poached local egg with potato-truffle foam and then, charcoal-grilled grass-fed beef or miso-braised short ribs with house-made kimchi. Nostalgic Angelenos will be happy to know that it's still veg, vegan and gluten-free–friendly and has been romancing diners for more than 35 years.

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Topanga
4

Firefly

Firefly may be the closest thing to a modern day secret garden in L.A., walls of tangled ivy included. Found on a more popular stretch of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, the fine-dining restaurant offers modern American cuisine from chef Paul Shoemaker in a romantic, cozy setting—a heated patio is decorated in candles and twinkling lights, while the library-like bar area offers a truncuated menu and an ideal date-night vibe. In this secret garden, you’re fed exquisite plates of Shoemaker’s carefully constructed dishes, like perfectly seared scallops or the popular John Dory chicken. Make goo-goo eyes at your date by sharing A Beautiful Disaster: a deconstructed ice cream cone (with spiced mocha and peanut butter scoops) that looks like it has fallen and splattered on a plate.

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Studio City
5

Nobu Malibu

While ocean views are a dime a dozen in L.A., Nobu's rivals any we've seen, with waves crashing down below, some sandy footsteps away from the Malibu pier. And while the dramatic oceanscape, complete with a beach house–like patio, is an obvious draw that seems all-looks-and-no-substance, the eatery doesn't give it all away at once—there's food chops to back its good-looks reputation. Sushi whiz Nobu Matsuhisa's food is still as good as ever, and with a new address of sleek, minimalist style, the destination is more relevant now than before. Sit on the patio or take a seat at the sushi counter and let the chef guide you through Peruvian-inflected tiradito, uni mini tacos and sashimi so fresh, you can taste the Pacific. (Take note: Every night of the week is packed; reservations are a must.)

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Malibu
6

The Bazaar by José Andrés

The Bazaar at the SLS hotel is the kind of place where you seal the deal with salt air margaritas and caviar cones. There are five different dining rooms, each with a different menu and ambience, but the Rojo y Blanca—oozing with a not-so-coy je ne sais quoi—is where couples should head. Dine dangerously in the more masculine, matador-themed banquettes—a nod to chef José Andrés' Spanish roots, hence the Iberian-style small plates on the menu—or opt for rustic, tan leather chairs as you contemplate traditional and modern tapas. Go avante-garde with bites like eel and chicharron Japanese tacos, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches—the inverted serving features air bread flanked with strips of Wagyu beef—and steamed buns from uni to oxtail. Staids need not apply.

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Central LA
7

Scopa Italian Roots

Oh, Scopa, what are you doing to us? Those crispy squash blossoms and homemade meatballs are making our hearts melt, not to mention the intoxicating glow of the fully-stocked liquor bar that lights up the restaurant. Couples canoodle in dark booths, sharing plates of rigatoni in vodka sauce and fusilli tossed with capers, olives and anchovies. Chef Antonia Lofaso has a knack for churning out quality comfort food in a date-worthy atmosphere (look to her Black Market Liquor Bar for a Valley alternative), and Scopa is no exception. End the night with a fried fluffernutter (trust us).

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Venice
8

Perch LA

This rooftop bistro is one of the prettiest in town—patterned tile floors, dead-on view of the Central Library, potted trees full of twinkly lights (and not to mention beautiful Downtown locals, plus a few hundred of their closest friends). Inside, the eclectic French décor displays a series of tasteful boudoir paintings over the bar and a scattering of plush sofas.  Sample the wide selection of Kir and wines (and bubbly) by the glass and drop in for Happy hour—dubbed Aperitif Hour—weekdays from 4-6pm.

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Downtown Historic Core
9

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air

Since opening its doors in 1946, Hotel Bel-Air has been the site of Old Hollywood's (then new) city escapes—from honeymoons to camping out in the secluded hills away from the lights. Couples should set up at a booth on the patio overlooking verdant gardens and expect to indulge in top-notch food (at top dollar). The Mediterranean-influenced menu sees glimpses of old and new with updated Puck favorites like Cantonese-style duck, weiner schnitzel and agnolotti. Finish with a nightcap in the glam bar that features a live pianist evenings or a stroll through the fabled Swan Lake for a fairy-tale ending.

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Bel Air
10

Lucques

Long heralded as one of the top restaurants in the city, Melrose Avenue's Lucques continues to draw both foodies and the fashionable set who come to worship at Suzanne Goin's Cal-Med staple. The menu takes cues from the season with local farmers' market ingredients highlighted on the plate (and in your cocktail glass), and the bar menu features a separate selection of eats and seasonal concoctions, another experience and reason to visit. Indulge by flickering candlelight over a bottle—the well-curated wine selection features worlds both old and new—and don't skimp on desserts. You won't want to pass up housemade donuts, ice creams and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

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West Hollywood
11

Taylor's Steak House

What's sexier than steaks over stiff drinks in a dimly lit room of red leather booths? Prime rib under $30 and rib-eye dinners served by old-school waiters at a 50-plus-year-old steakhouse. The Koreatown fixture may not look like much at an unlikely location but, once inside, curved tufted seating, dark wooden panels and low lighting give way to irreplicable charm—what date nights are made of. Traditionalists order a classic wedge salad or French onion soup and work up to au jus and a horseradish-adorned prime-rib plate or the super retro Monday night special, Steak Diane, at Eisenhower-era prices. What to drink? An Old Fashioned, naturally.

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Koreatown
12

mar'sel

When the parsley sprinkled over the pasta you're eating has come from a garden right outside the restaurant doors, you know you're eating fresh. Such is the case at mar'sel, where an on-site herb garden is mere steps from the kitchen and incorporated throughout the menu. Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, mar'sel is where you take a date to impress; a significant other to propose to; or a parent to show that, yes Mom, I'm doing quite well for myself, thank you. For mimosa-lovers, a Sunday brunch is offered as well.

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Rancho Palos Verdes/Rolling Hills Estates
13

Mélisse

Ask anyone in L.A. what the best fine-dining spot is and Mélisse is most likely at the top of the list. And if you're going to splurge on a meal in this town, there's no better than Josiah Citrin's Santa Monica restaurant. Serving dinner only, suited waiters serve course after course—you can opt for the basic four, 10 or chef's carte blanche, which is an epic 15 courses and a worthy indulgence—of artfully-composed plates of pure decadence (if that doesn't seduce you, we don't know what will). While two private dining rooms offer a more intimate setting, the main dining room hosts couples, who should request a booth. 

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Santa Monica
14

Cliff's Edge

This hidden gem's patio is one of the prettiest on the Eastside, an open structure that's outfitted in hanging lights and a fireplace under a huge banyan-like tree. The menu reads like an exotic escape—to the Mediterranean or Aegean, perhaps—with a California influence: Little Gem salad with pistachio and candied kumquat, roasted chicken with za'atar, olives, salsify and sweet potato and grilled artichokes with Manchego, lemon and preserved tomato. Start your Thursday evening (6-7pm) with none other than oysters—$1 for each and $20 for a dozen—to get you in the mood.

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Silver Lake
15

Catch LA

Perched above the dynamic streets of West Hollywood on the corner of Melrose and San Vicente, CATCH LA is the West Coast outpost of acclaimed New York restaurant CATCH. A globally influenced seafood restaurant, with locations in New York, Dubai and Playa del Carmen, CATCH is a one-stop shop for food and beverage experiences, providing something for everyone in dining, nightlife and events in a retractable rooftop open-air dining room. With its signature open kitchen, set against breathtaking views of Downtown L.A. and the Hollywood Hills, the 340-seat rooftop haven invites the outside in as it blends great seafood with sushi, Asian influences and a streaming, shareable style of service. 

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West Hollywood
16

Cafe Pinot

Transport yourself to another place and time at this Downtown bistro where it's all about the outdoor patio. Settle under olive trees decked in twinkling lights and a towering skyline overhead, with the Art Deco Central Library as your up-close-and-personal view. When it comes to the menu, expect an extensive wine list, eclectic flavors and elegantly-composed plates from this Patina-owned restaurant. Those seeking romance can pine over French onion soup, rotisserie chicken with frites and warm apple tart tatin and Calvados for la vie en rose.

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Downtown Financial District
17

Il Cielo

If a restaurant could make you weak at the knees, Il Cielo in Beverly Hills would have diners dropping left and right. Serving lunch and dinner under a canopy of twinkling lights, the romantic Italian eatery aims to be a "country restaurant in the city," where bubbling fountains and white tablecloths create a darling ambiance to rival a Tuscan trattoria. Sample the risottos and pastas, crudos (carpaccio, perhaps?), before diving into the surf and turf entrées: rainbow trout, Maine lobster, lamb chops, and filet mignon have all made an appearance on the menu. And because dolce really is the most romantic course of all, share a plate of tiramisu before Il Cielo completely sweeps you off your feet.

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Beverly Hills

Looking for a good view?

L.A.'s best rooftop bars

There's nothing more romantic than a beautiful rooftop. After dinner, grab a night cap at one of these top rooftop bars.

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By: Erin Kuschner

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