Los Angeles Date Ideas: 10 Great Spots to Go
Dating in Los Angeles isn't easy. For one thing, there's the sheer size of the city to contend with—if you live in North Hollywood and meet a handsome stranger from the South Bay, well, you might as well be ships passing in the night.
But let's assume you do find the right person (or the wrong person, whatever) and want to give it your best shot. Where do you take them? That's where this list of Los Angeles date ideas comes in. These LA nightlife spots range from laidback lounges to fancy restaurants, so there's something for you here no matter what kind of night you have in mind. Take a look:
1581 Industrial St. | Arts District
Good for: Taking off the first-date pressure
The story: Meeting for drinks can be great, but it's not without its pitfalls. What if the conversation starts to lag? The beauty of a beer tasting is there's built-in fodder for discussion. Not only will you be learning the backstory of this Arts District brewery, whose opening is part of a larger downtown revitalization effort, but you'll be tasting some of its signature brews, which include Iron Triangle Gold pilsner and Land of Fire Red IPA. Bingo: something to turn over together while you get to know each other.
11938 Ventura Blvd. | Studio City
Good for: Keeping your options open
The story: Perched on a bustling section of Ventura Boulevard, the perennially crowded Laurel Tavern is the perfect place for hedging your bets. The menu focuses on craft beer and gastropub fare, and it comes across as sophisticated without trying too hard (take notes). But the best part might be the absence of super-intimate seating: a communal table stretches the length of the room, and it's easy to make friends if your date isn't going so hot.
2930 Fletcher Dr. | Glassell Park
Good for: Cozying up in the car
The story: There's a reason the drive-in was a go-to date spot for decades: it combines the fun of a night out with the coziness of a night in. Of course, if you prefer you can also turn this Saturday night screening series into another classic date, a picnic, by bringing a blanket and choosing the lawn seating. You really can't go wrong.
9081 Santa Monica Blvd. | West Hollywood
Good for: Less talk, more rock
The story: A good follow-up to a first date is a show at The Troubadour, a West Hollywood institution that's as classy as a venue can be while still having sticky floors. Bonus points for picking a band or an artist you care deeply about. There's no point in things going any further if your date can't relate to your impeccable taste in music.
140 Pine Ave. | Long Beach
Good for: Sharing food and trading glances
The story: There's a lot competing for your attention at Cafe Sevilla. First there's the food, which consists of Spanish tapas such as pan-seared salmon, chorizo-stuffed pork chop, and bacon-wrapped dates. As if that weren't enough, on Saturday nights the cafe hosts flamenco shows, lively performances of the Spanish dance that also mix in belly dancing and other elements. If you want to wow your date, this is the place.
1159 N. Western Ave. | Hollywood
Good for: Dressing up and getting down
The story: Need a little excitement in your life? Head for La Descarga, a Cuban-themed nightclub that feels like a cross between The Godfather (there's a cigar lounge) and Dirty Dancing (it's sexy as hell). Burlesque-style salsa acts often perform in the middle of the club, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to engage in some sensuous dancing of your own. Take note: you have to be dressed to the nines to get in this place.
Good for: A group date without the group
The story: It's not the most intimate environment—you'll be taking this painting class with a bunch of strangers after all—but that can be a good thing too. The class's social vibe resembles the feeling of hanging with a group of friends, which is a low-stress setting for feeling each other out. Plus, you get to show off your artistic skills. Plus, there's booze.
1910 Ocean Way | Santa Monica
Good for: Getting away from the city without getting too far away
The story: Who knew Santa Monica could feel like it's a world away? For the most romantic evening possible, start with some barrel-aged cocktails at the bar and then watch the sunset while dining at the hotel's top-rated seafood restaurant. From there, the possibilities are endless: a trip to the spa, a dip in the pool, a walk on the beach. Then again, you might not want to leave the room.
10622 Magnolia Blvd. | North Hollywood
Good for: Keeping it chill
The story: Think most bars in Los Angeles are too high-strung? NoBar is your spot. It's the work of Craig Trager, the mastermind behind The Woods, The Well, and other low-key lounges, and this laidback speakeasy fits right into his portfolio. A handful of drafts, a pool table, a jukebox, some dim lighting—what more do you need for an easygoing night out? If you want to look like an insider, ask the doorman if he's Ron Jeremy and he'll give you a voucher for a free shot.
9018 Burton Way | Beverly Hills
Good for: The most romantic meal you've ever had
The story: Whether you're popping the question or celebrating an anniversary, it's hard to find a more romantic spot than Il Cielo and its private dining room for two. With fresh rose petals on the table, a 2-foot taper candle in a silver holder, and a lobster dinner on the way, love will be in the air. Add some personal touches such as bouquets or champagne, and you've got a glamorous fantasy brought to life.