99 Essentials

5 Essential Special Occasion Restaurants in Los Angeles

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Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM

click to enlarge The dining room at Rivera - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • The dining room at Rivera
Our 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants issue came out last week, and we're highlighting a few categories drawing from the list. Today, we're focusing on special occasion restaurants. If you're like us, a special occasion is just as likely to happen at one of the list's taco stands as it is at one of these fine dining restaurants, but for that truly big night -- the anniversary, the birthday, the engagement -- here are five essential L.A. restaurants that scream "special."

5. Rivera

In this long, sleek restaurant, which features different menus for different rooms, chef John Sedlar explores Latin culture with exacting, beautiful dishes that touch on his current obsessions. Rivera is a place for grown-up drinks and nibbles in the lounge with one of Julian Cox's fantastic cocktails, or a blow-out special occasion in the hushed room beyond.

Read Rivera's full 99 Essentials listing here.

click to enlarge Sugar and spice beignets at Hatfield's - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Sugar and spice beignets at Hatfield's
4. Hatfield's

There are myriad beautiful things about Hatfield's, Quinn and Karen Hatfield's comfortably large Melrose Avenue restaurant. The enormous, open kitchen that occupies the center like a performance space; the pretty hanging pots; the rows of lowered heat lamps almost like lanterns; the Michel Richard-designed pastry station; the small battalion of toque-wearing chefs working in the kind of unison that would have made Escoffier proud.

Read Hatfield's full 99 Essentials listing here.

click to enlarge Pear Pain Perdu and the Hallway dining room at Spago. - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Pear Pain Perdu and the Hallway dining room at Spago.
3. Spago

The wine list is still one of the best in town, and the service is still old-school in its accommodation of your every whim and its adherence to the grand old ways of fine dining. There are still celebrities and women dripping in diamonds to gawk at; it still feels like the vital, beating heart of Beverly Hills.

Read Spago's full 99 Essentials listing here.

click to enlarge Scallops at Providence - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Scallops at Providence
2. Providence

There is a particular kind of alchemy that takes place (casually, nightly) at Providence, Michael Cimarusti's Melrose Avenue seafood palace. Because amid the white tablecloths and the relative peace and quiet, the nicely dressed patrons and the faint purr of the German-engineered cheese cart, there is the kind of exquisitely executed food that can make you gasp with astonishment.

Read Providence's full 99 Essentials listing here.

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