Lola’s bartenders are happy to whip together any one of their more than 50 different martinis, but they smile a bit bigger when they’re asked to make the concoction they invented: the apple martini. Their pride has caught the attention of various press outlets—including LA Weekly and Vogue— and spills over onto the menu, where martini-pairing suggestions accompany each plate of pasta, seafood, and signature mac ‘n’ cheese. Once encore chants finally subside, eaters can settle on the kitchen’s cocoa-centric desserts, such as flourless chocolate cake and chocolate bread pudding.
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.
Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
In an opulent, Eastern-inspired dining room that steeps in the scents of intoxicating spices, Nirvana blends classic Indian cuisine with the sophistication of Beverly Hills. Chefs call on both traditional Indian grilling methods and the excitement of new flavors to prepare an assortment of unusual dishes, ranging from unique curries and tandoori breads to whole legs of lamb marinated in Indian rum and spices. Beyond the vibrant mural and white booths of the dining room, the lounge and bar lure patrons in with the comfort of canopied beds, damask sofas, and the tranquil gaze of a giant Buddha's head. A flowing river—sealed with glass to protect feet from above and seafood escapees from below—runs along the floor and leads guests through each of the restaurant's distinct areas.
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.
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.