For centuries, smoking hookah in a café has been a way to relax among friends. Lux Cafe & Hookah Lounge adds a touch of refinery to this experience. Dim lighting punctuated by a rim of neon on the ceiling shrouds the room in hushed ambiance, and a music-video DJ projects audiovisual collages onto the lounge’s wall. Seated at sofas, love seats, and magical toadstools around low tables, hookah smokers puff on Starbuzz tobacco flavors ranging from blackberry and tangerine dream to fuzzy naval.
The bartender receives an order selected from the chalkboard menu and turns toward the sky-blue backsplash of the wood-framed bar, grabbing the desired vintage from a selection of international wines that includes New and Old World-style bottles from both hemispheres. Above the bar, angled mirrors reflect the crimson walls that give The Red Room Food and Wine Bar its name, revealing dark wood tables where diners clink glasses of robust and jammy reds that can stand up to entrees of seared lamb chops and braised short ribs. Bubbly fermentations from France and Napa Valley accent crisp arugula or kale salads, and delicate, airy whites from Oregon and Argentina pair perfectly with edible bubble wrap. In the kitchen, chefs forge Mediterranean and continental small plates to accompany the bacchanalian pours with cured meats, roasted vegetables, and herb-crusted flatbreads.
Places like The Fifth might be hard to avoid calling a home-away-from-home. Especially since this home has arcade games, a pool table, and perfectly-execute drinks someone else makes. Complete with a mirrored lounge, leather banquettes, and a unique, rounded bar, The Fifth is a cozy and chic place for a tipple. Behind the bar, the staff uncaps a wide variety of beers, and crafts cocktails and mixed drinks?both on and off the menu.
The chefs at Pi on Sunset aren't the master of just one cuisine, but nearly everything in the Mediterranean realm. They blend together classic Lebanese dishes alongside Italian favorites and update them with modern pizazz. Starting at lunch, they fuse the flavors and sauces of Mediterranean cuisines to make meals such as beef shawarma pizza, beef kafta wraps, and falafel with hummus. Their dishes can be eaten in the restaurant or delivered to houses and groups camping out for Rod Stewart tickets.
Servers hoisting skewers circulate continuously through Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, pausing tableside to carve mesquite-grilled morsels of brazilian sausage, bacon-wrapped chicken, and sirloin steak. Clusters of mod white couches stand out against glowing orange walls, which contain plenty of nooks for groups to squeeze into. Brunch hours offer a consortium of all-you-can-eat meats such as marinated beef and pork. The main course is complemented by unlimited trips to the salad- and Brazilian side dish-buffet, as well as your choice of mimosa, champagne, and sangria. At night, a chorus of smooth-limbed showgirls catalyzes the party with a slight assist from the caipirinha bar's more than 20 versions of Brazil's national cocktail.
Strings of lights twinkle like fireflies over the patio at Il Cielo, webbing out from extravagant chandeliers. Below, flickering candelabras barely illuminate faces already aglow with the radioactivity that comes with being in love. Inside, it’s more of the same—soft yellow lighting, billowy white linens, large windows, and painted cherubim on the ceilings. From one event to the next, a room transforms from cozy fireplace surrounded by scenes of tranquil hillsides, to hearth trimmed with twinkling vines and floors carpeted with rose petals. The fairytale ambiance inspired About.com readers to crown Il Cielo their favorite romantic L.A. restaurant. But before it was a haven for lovebirds, Il Cielo was a home. Celebrity hairstylist Marcel Machu and his family made memories in the space until renovations in the 1940s. Where the dining room now sits, the Machus once posed for Christmas photos. The eatery’s garden was the setting for dinner parties with family and friends. Marcel's children grew up padding along its sidewalk to the waiting car. So when Il Cielo owner Pasquale Vericella went searching for a location for his eatery, the site of the former home cried out to him. He wanted a restaurant that felt homey and welcoming—like the Italian and Pennsylvanian countryside of his childhood—but still inspired magic. With its ample candlelight and delicious Italian cuisine, Il Cielo does just that.