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.
At Viceroy Lounge, diners await plates of Middle Eastern delicacies in a dining room full of comfy couches illuminated by drop lighting and mirrored walls reflecting revelers. A mutabbal appetizer starts meals with a potent blend of roasted eggplant, garlic, and sesame oil, whereas the shrimp cocktail helps crustaceans fit into a lounge setting without being overshadowed by tuxedoed cephalopods. Filet mignon stacks up on skewers in the beef shish kebab entree, and the chicken lulah kebab pairs minced lean chicken and chopped onion. Alternatively, a soltani entree mixes meats with tomato sauce and garlic yogurt, eerily reproducing the sensation of eating gyros in a Moroccan tomato forest. Beers from brands such as Sapporo, Blue Moon, and Stella Artois accentuate the eats.
Infusion Lounge's menu of savory appetizers fuels energetic bouts of dancing on two distinct dance floors, each featuring the sound stylings of a rotating cast of DJs. The hoisin mayo of Hawaiian rolls disguises seasoned pork from overly flirtatious taste buds in the Pan-Asian sliders ($7), and wasabi-infused spinach dip adds zing to wonton strips ($5). Meanwhile, slow-cooked short ribs marinated in a Thai dry rub ($21) combine to form a house-specialty plate that pairs well with a glass of wine. Before stepping out on the dance floor or wandering into the sunset, sip one of Infusion Lounge's nine specialty cocktails, such as the refreshing ginger lemon drop ($12) or the Veev-Acai-accented Fountain of Youth ($11).
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.
Saddle Ranch Chop House allows diners to put together a feast from a menu loaded with steaks and salads, then rock and ride with the restaurant's "rock meets Western" theme. Chow on a sizzling steak, such as the charbroiled, marble-cut rib eye ($24.99), or chomp into the pineapple teriyaki burger, served with a wasabi cream sauce ($11.99). To wash down a full order of barbecue baby back ribs ($21.99), take part in the Texas Tea Party, a stiff concoction of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, sweet-and-sour mix, and Coke. Saddle Ranch Chop House's seasoned chefs also cook breakfast and brunchy grub, such as cinnamon swirl Texas toast ($9.99) and buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh fruit ($8.99), until 3 p.m.