We all know Valentine’s Day is amateur night. These days, a lot of us forgo the fuss of trying to get a reservation at a crowded restaurant, even if we’re in relationships. Then, long after February 14, we cash in the card and candy we didn’t get for a more relaxed night out – a full-on dinner date, with appetizers, dessert and everything, not for some holiday, but for each other. With tight food budgets to contend with, we want a night that feels like a treat and a retreat from the world when we spend the money. There’s nothing better than a sexy food and drink indulgence with someone you love, lust or hope to feel both for one day (if the Tinder or Bumble connection actually goes somewhere). After a couple years of wondering if “date nights” could even still be a thing during COVID lockdowns, we appreciate them more than ever. Here, in no particular order, we list 10 of our favorite establishments, old and new, that offer the sexiest dinner dates in L.A.: tantalizing nightlife experiences you’ll want to share, anytime of the year.
More special restaurant coverage in our Food Section this week.
A sultry newcomer to Downtown L.A., the sister spot to its popular flagship in Pasadena tops our list for dark atmosphere and exquisite menu presentation. To many, fish eggs remain the ultimate in decadent starter delights, and at Kaviar, they take it quite seriously. Used as a component on an array of sushi dishes, it’s also the spotlight for the restaurant’s Kaluga and “Aureta” caviar items, the later named after co-owner Aureta – entrepreneur and social media star who has her own brand of luxury caviar and even a chandelier-adorned tasting room at the restaurant to savor it in (alongside Casa Del Sol tequila pairings, which she also partners in). Co-owner and chef John Hans Yeo created a high-end steak menu with a Kagoshima A5 Wagyu and a tomahawk (marinated overnight), both with truffles and truffle butter, gold touches, and caviar elements. They truly go for the gold here – various sushi rolls also are gilded with 24K, and the buttery fish tastes as expensive as it looks. Kaviar is one of the most stunning new restaurants in L.A. with an open kitchen, black-and-gold color scheme and Deco nods of marble and brass. Lighting is low and the art is arresting, especially the glass encased samurai armor suits that stand in the middle of the room. Take a date and they are guaranteed to be impressed with the luxurious Japanese ambience, the rhythmic soul-flavored soundtrack and the chic cocktail menu (Kaviar Mule, Emerald City, K75 and Lychee Mint Martini). Beyond “going for sushi,” Kaviar is a dinner experience, a sure-thing splurge. 449 S Hewitt St., Downtown L.A. Kaviarrestaurants.com/losangeles
The Escape Hotel is popular with Hollywood tourists, horror fans and escape room enthusiasts alike, but the upstairs bar and eatery called Room Number 13 has become the best reason to return again and again, especially with a date. The thematic, old-timey dining spot is entered via a “secret” stairway in the lobby of the escape room building, which leads to its mezzanine, where a red-hued brothel-like restaurant awaits. Vintage velvet couches, deco tables and intimate table and chair set-ups around the balcony provide both a 360-degree view of the haunted “hotel” below and a small stage, which features entertainment from “the Golden Age of Hollywood.” We went around Christmas and saw an adorable sequin-costumed pinup girl-esque singing trio, but they also have a popular Frank Sinatra impersonator on Thursdays who’ll make you swoon “Oh Frankie!” just like those old cartoons when he croons. Perfect-for-a-pair menu items include a signature charcuterie board with house-cured patè and duck prosciutto or small plates like Tikrokroketes (fried cheese balls with guava dipping sauce), empanadas and shrimp cocktail. Espresso martinis, classic cosmos and old fashioneds, and a tart treat known as the Headless Horseman (Ginger, vodka, lemon juice, bitters) lead the list of libations you’ll love. Currently, 13 is doing a “Havana Nights” dinner show, serving Latin flair on the stage and the plate. 6633 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Roomnumber13.com
Delilah might be the definition of atmospheric allure. Since it opened in 2016, the roaring ‘20s-style supper club remains a staple for a special night out. This is a restaurant to get dolled up and don your sexiest dress and heels for. Dishes range from whimsical appetizers (pigs in a blanket and lobster rolls) to classic entrees like chicken cordon bleu and grilled lamb chops, while drinks reflect the hot spot’s embrace of past and present – the Post “Melon” (a vodka and watermelon concoction severed in a wine glass) and the Mary Pickford are just two of the cheekily named libations. Go early for a chill lover’s meal, as things get livelier later. Live jazz and/or DJs add to the scene, but this gorgeous space, filled with velvet seats and mirrored-trimmed walls, has its own dazzle before things get loud. We should note here that this building will always hold a special place in every L.A. club-goer’s heart as the former Club 7969/Peanuts, past home of dance clubs like Sin-a-matic, Velvet, Michelle’s XX Revue and Grand Ville. They’ve kept the signage out front as a nod, and we appreciate that. 7969 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Delilahla.com
The L.A. Asian wonderland known as Tao is as big and bodacious and embellished as you’d expect from a Vegas hospitality juggernaut. The two-level space is like a temple, with a 16-foot Quan Yin statue as centerpiece and bodacious Japanese style art throughout. A truly grand staircase leads to a lower dining level that’s open and interactive, with a warmth that feels both family friendly and nightlife-y. The menu, developed by Chef Ralph Scamardella offers Asian-fusion dishes with Chinese, Japanese and Thai flavors. Though LA Weekly’s former food critic gave it a bad review back when it opened, a recent visit showed the place is putting as much attention on the menu as they have on the flamboyant surroundings. It featured a super-fresh selection of melt-in-your-mouth sushi, tangy/crispy orange chicken and tofu, and an epic dessert with a giant fortune cookie and a fortune that read: “Someone is thinking kinky thoughts about you.” 6421 Selma St., Hollywood. Hollywood. taogroup.com/venues/tao-asian-bistro-los-angeles
It has nothing to do with the long-gone Silver Lake fave on Virgil Avenue that was known as Cha Cha Cha, but LA Cha Cha Cha should be just as beloved at this point. CCC was more tropical-food driven, while this Arts District destination is authentically Mexican – straight from Mexico City in fact, as it is the sister spot to the Terraza Cha Cha Chá in Mexico City. Blue fin tuna and charred octopus tostadas make for perfectly portioned sharers as do seasoned empanadas and crispy churros (shaped into “LA” letters). Cocktails (margaritas rule here obviously) and cuisine is on point, but the main reason to come is the atmosphere. The light-up rooftop setup is romantic to say the least – especially after a couple margies or Mezcal drinks… you almost forget you’re in Los Angeles. Definitely a good choice for a foodie getaway with the guy or girl you call – or want to call – amor. 812 E. Third St., Downtown L.A. Chachacha.la
For L.A. natives and nightlifers, The Formosa Cafe has long been a favorite meetup (we met an online date there once and even though a love connection didn’t work out, we were happy to visit before it shut down and was subsequently bought by Bobby Green and the 1933 Group). Back then it was more kitschy than sexy. Since 1933’s remodel, it’s become something else altogether – a sumptuous Asian oasis of red-and-gold splendor that feels both historical and hip. The glamour of its past is front and center these days. The Formosa first opened its doors in 1939 and was frequented by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and Elvis Presley (Warner Bros. just hosted the official Elvis movie party there). From the original red trolley car dining area to the old autographed celebrity photos to original memorabilia seen throughout the restaurant, Formosa aims to tell a story about Chinese culture in Hollywood, which is reflected in the food (crispy cauliflower, walnut shrimp, cold peanut noodles, egg rolls, scallion pancakes) and cocktail menu (we like tiki-style drinks like the Mai Tai and Singapore Sling) as well as the exotic decor. 7156 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Formosacafe.com
A modern industrial Japanese dining destination in Downtown LA, Mrs. Fish (located in the same building as Perch, with the same owners), feels like it could be in Tokyo itself. A mural-covered tunnel and staircase lead to the underground restaurant that has two levels of seating. Every (fish) eye line in the room is backdropped by a gigantic aquarium above the room, filled with large tropical creatures that seem to swim to the beats by DJs who play here often. During our recent date night, the DJ spun a mid-tempo mix of multi-era hits, from James Brown and Michael Jackson to Outkast and Bad Bunny. Things seem to get livelier here as the night progresses, but some nights are clubbier than others. Every Tuesday a live band plays from the top level of the restaurant. If the entertainment weren’t enough, there’s modern Japanese art to see throughout the restaurant. Check it out after enjoying dishes like pork belly skewers, the Oyabun (lobster, beef tataki, avocado, asparagus and garlic) roll and miso black cod dinner, with inventive cocktails such as the Hattori Hanzo (tequila, lime, shishito and mezcal mist) and the Tsuma (vodka, ginger, passion fruit, yuzu and strawberry). 448 S. Hill St., Downtown L.A. Mrsfish.com
From club nights to flamenco shows, El Cid has long been a place that represents old and new Silver Lake (who can forget the epic Sunset Junction street festival parties of yore?). When Steve and Mitch Edelson bought the place well over a decade ago, they righteously kept things going in an authentic old school S’Lake way, booking longtime neighborhood favorites like Miles Tackett’s Funky Sole on Friday and bringing local small stage spectacles like Pleasant Gehman and Shana Lelani’s Bell Book & Candle witchy burlesque night to the restaurant [disclosure: we used to do some booking for the Edelsons and deejayed at Candle]. In terms of food, they’ve got a tasty tapas menu featuring ceviche, sliders and a cheese plate to name a couple options, and potent margaritas to go with it all. Go for a dinner show and stay for the old world charm inside and on the historic patio. 4212 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. Elcidsunset.com
In the same old school way, we love eating, drinking and dancing at El Cid (or Musso & Frank’s, which we would’ve included on this list if it wasn’t already too crowded most nights), the quaint and classic charm of the equally landmark-ish Miceli’s in Hollywood beckons from time to time, especially when trying pick a fun food place with our significant other. It’s simply a must-go when you’re looking for a quintessential Lady and the Tramp spaghetti moment, figuratively speaking. The pizza, bread and wine is authentically delicious, and the singing waiters and pianist elevate the cinematic presentation. Of course, the ultimate date move here is a wine bottle purchase – guests get to personalize the bottle with a sharpie before it’s hung inside the restaurant as decor and becomes part of the place forever. We’ve got two there. 1646 N Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood. Micelis.restaurant
Better Than Sex is a chain restaurant specializing in desserts. We don’t usually highlight franchises in our nightlife coverage, but this one was literally created with sexy date nights in mind, and the Hollywood location, opened in 2020 by Patricia and Alan Lopez, clearly understood the assignment. Red walls, provocative art, and an assortment of orgasmic sweet eats (which is all they serve, so if you’re looking for a savory meal go elsewhere first) meld together to create a truly seductive atmosphere. The website alone is a tongue-in-cheek R-rated read. It touts chocolate “rimmed” beer and wine and signature cocktails, which always lead to a fun and fanciful sip experience. Specialties such as the Minty Moaner, Love Potion 69, Super Soaker and the obligatory Money Shot, hit the hot themed spot. In terms of “eating out,” order up your favorite chocolate guilty pleasure, or fruity, creamy fantasy, with naughty names like the Cookie Nookie Pie, Caress My Carrot, and the Missionary Crisp, then take your sugar high back home and straight to the bedroom. 7166 Melrose Ave. Betterthansexdesserts.com/location/los-angeles
Editor’s note: The disclaimer below refers to advertising posts and does not apply to this or any other editorial stories. LA Weekly editorial does not and will not sell content.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.