In the process of continuing to discover the city (I’ve only lived here about 2.5 years) and its many neighborhoods, I’ve stumbled upon a few hidden gems and well-known hotspots while hanging out with le husband, who has ended up becoming my best friend in the process – guess that’s what happens when you move to a new city as adults and don’t know anybody!
Highlighted here are some of the results of such explorations. Sometimes I visited here after thorough research, sometimes by referrals from friends, other times on a whim and then even more so just walking by a spot and having my curiosity piqued. By no means is this list exhaustive, it never will be, not if you live in L.A. but definitely a list I’ve been meaning to share for a long time. Here goes, in no particular order!
1. Chin Chin
This spot is actually kinda close to where I live and somewhat walkable distance to and fro. Their Asian fusion fare is pretty fantastic, I’ve had out of towners go crazy over the food here. I love that they are located on the Sunset Strip so if they are busy, you always have a bunch of other places in the area to dine at or hang out at the boutiques for a bit. They also have plenty free parking, which is a blessing in this city. I like their outdoor seating area too and recommend this chocolate torte on the left as your dessert choice if you visit.
2. Crossroads Kitchen
I first visited here as a guest at an event but quickly loved the place. I cannot believe everything here is vegetarian and vegan. The chef Tal Ronen is amazing and if you can get your hands on his cookbook, you will love it. I am the proud owner of a copy and many at-home date nights have been spent cooking from those pages. This place is great for lunch (below) or dinner and I hear their brunch is amazing as well. I believe celebrities frequent this spot so there’s another reason to go check it out!
3. District DTLA
This is a Valentines Day discovery and therefore doubly special, because, you know, if both of us can agree on a spot at first sight, it is usually a miracle. Right outside the Metro and 7th Station on the Red Line (yes some of us do use the train in this city), located at the Plaza level of The Bloc is District DTLA Lounge and Bar. Stopped by for a drink (see right) and some banter but really liked the ambience. Will need to go back for a taste of the food but the drinks are the bomb – good spot for drinks before or after whatever else you got going on in the area.
This one’s a casual guilty pleasure do! We love Mexican food and especially a good burrito bowl. These folks have great options, so many good deals and discounts and we’d never had them in Atlanta so this is our go-to here when we hangout in the downtown area, which happens quite often. I’ve had their grilled shrimp bowl (below) and a chicken option as well. Of course, guac and chips are always free and that cookie/brownie they have for dessert is killer.
All of my visits here have been for events so I can’t say it was actually a date night experience but I do think this would make for a great date venue if you chose to. I absolutely adore their décor and all their different rooms – definitely a tastefully done spot and very stylish presentation with their food and drink offerings. I don’t know if these mini cupcakes (see below) are on the regular menu but I had them at one of the events hosted here and couldn’t stop devouring them!
6. El Compadre
Funny story this. There is a location right by my place in Holywood but despite planning on going and checking it out, the occasion never arose. So finally I got to actually visit their downtown location by the Convention Center and gobbled up the machaca you see here up left. I’d never heard of such a dish before but later found out many of my friends have had it. I loved the dried seasoned beef and along with those eggs and rice it made for a pretty hearty meal. They are always busy though so give yourself ample time for a fun experience.
7. Indigo DTLA
Again one of those discoveries I chanced upon because of an event held here but now I love the spot – the food, the service, the décor – it all comes together so nicely. They’ve done a great job with their interiors – from the bar and restaurant when you enter to their rooftop pool cabanas and even their sky view lounge bar, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house here. I recommend early drinks by the lobby bar, dinner at the restaurant adjacent (see below) and then late night drinks on the very top with amazing views of the downtown area.
8. Espresso Cielo
Not so much as a date night spot but a date morning I guess. We love biking on Santa Monica beach weekend mornings and usually head over early enough to grab a bite before we embark on ‘strenuous activity’. This happened to be right by the garage where we parked and wasn’t too crowded so a quick bite was in store. As you can see from the lead image to this post, I was smitten by their décor bit I assure you the food was splendid – great coffee and juice, and we shared an avocado egg sandwich plus a croissant. Heavenly!
9. The Hollywood Roosevelt
Full disclosure – I live so close to the historic hotel I walk by it every day on my morning walk and pass it again at least once a week for meetings or other area events. I’ve been in here a few times but only dined at their restaurant proper twice. While lunches are great here, I do recommend a date night dinner (see below) – they also have a chefs table if you’d like to do something special or you could hangout with friends too in their lobby bar. After dinner, they have a space up top called The Spare Room that you have to visit to know why I am crazy about it – there’s a bowling alley there and they have board games to play too! And the best part is their 24/7 restaurant on Hollywood serves up some boozy shakes so late, late night date night is warranted.
10. Le Petit Paris
I’ve walked past this spot so many times but always found it crowded and busy so never wandered in. Then the day I did, I was kicking myself as to why I had refrained before. Don’t let the entrance fool you – this is a huge space indoors with multiple seating areas and arrangements. The have a bar at the lobby and one up a grand staircase that gives you sweeping views of the whole place. Their food and cocktails (above right) are amazing, and they have live jazz, which is music to my ears (see what I did there!). Agreed parking can be a disaster but they do have valet, there are public parking spots around and you could always consider rideshare. Must visit!
Okay so what recommendations do you have for me to add to this list now?