“The West Side” of Los Angeles has some great restaurants and date spots. Here are some of my favorites!
1. The Getty Center
The Getty Center, located off of the 405 freeway, is hands-down, one of the best date spots in Los Angeles. Aside from the museum, it also has great gardens, amazing views of the Los Angeles basin from the ocean to downtown L.A., and a high-end restaurant that will even impress a foodie (it’s called simply “The Restaurant at the Getty Center”).
If you want to keep your budget under control, you can bring a picnic lunch and have it on the grounds. The Getty Center is just an awesome place to spend with someone special!
2. Il Cielo
Undoubtedly one of the most romantic restaurants on the West Side, Il Cielo is adorned with thousands of tiny lights on the walls. Reviewers describe the ambiance as “magical” and “enchanting”. If you are looking for an amazing date experience for a special occasion, it would be hard to do better than Il Cielo unless you’re a foodie seeking out a famous chef like Wolfgang Puck or Suzanne Goin.
3. Century City / Eataly
With its numerous restaurants and shops, extravagant decor, and of course, Eataly, Westfield Century City is a fun place to bring a date.
I think the restaurant there with the best ambiance is the rooftop Terra restaurant, located on the third floor of Eataly. It features a wood-burning Italian grill with a view of the city.
If you prefer Chinese, Century City has some excellent options, starting with the dumplings at Din Tai Fung. Make a reservation though, because there is always a wait; I’ve seen wait times up to four hours!
If you prefer Chinese hot pot, check out Hai Di Lao, with its 4.5 stars on Yelp. Serving sizes are huge! Make reservations as there is always a wait.
If that’s not enough, check out The Escape Game, which features 60-minute escape rooms, opening in September 2022!
Eataly is a massive space within Century City that has multiple walk-up and sit-down dining areas, a cheese shop, a meat shop, wine section, pastry shop, and Italian grocery store all in one. It’s fun to eat and shop there, or just look around.
4. Sawtelle Japantown for Dinner or Dessert
Yes, that’s the official name of the fun and vibrant Japanese-themed area of Sawtelle starting a few blocks south of Santa Monica Boulevard down to Olympic Boulevard. On any given night, you’ll find lots of young people there enjoying the amazing Japanese restaurants in the area. No matter which one you pick, you pretty much can’t go wrong if you don’t mind casual surroundings.
For udon, we love Marugame Udon. Grab a tray, pick your udon, then your sides.
If you prefer Chinese food, there’s Dan Modern Chinese. The dumplings are not quite as good as Din Tai Fung’s, but they’re close.
Sawtelle also has the best concentration of dessert spots in L.A. that are open late, perfect for extending a good date! Check out my personal favorite, B Sweet Dessert Bar (as seen on “The Profit”) for sumptuous bread pudding, Somi Somi Soft Serve & Taiyaki, Honey Mee, Brian’s Shave Ice, Millet Crepe, or Artelice Patisserie for French Pastries on Olympic. All are within walking distance of each other! It’s worth making a trip to Sawtelle just for the dessert selection!
Somisomi has soft-serve ice cream served with a fish-shaped waffle! It’s a “must-try”!
If you’re still looking for something to do after dinner, check out private-room karaoke at Karaoke Bleu, great if you love to sing, but hate doing it in front of a crowd.
Most of the restaurants in this area are casual. They’re fun and have great food, but may not be not so good for a formal date or special anniversary dinner.
5. Dinner in Beverly Hills
If you want to really impress someone and you’re willing to spend some dough, take them to one of the famously high-end restaurants in Beverly Hills. Check out Crustacean, Mr. Chow, Madeo, Ocean Prime, Il Fornaio, Urasawa, or The Palm. My personal favorite, though, is the world-famous Spago by Wolfgang Puck. Read my full review of their tasting menu or my review of their outdoor Pavillion.
There’s not a whole lot to do in Beverly Hills at night, but I’ve enjoyed going to the Secret Rosé Garden at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, within walking distance of any of the restaurants above. Or, take a stroll up Via Rodeo and take a few Instagram shots.
Another after-dinner option is to stroll through the small but lovely Beverly Cañon Gardens at 241 N. Cañon.
6. Lulu Restaurant (at the Hammer Museum)
Lulu is located inside the Hammer Museum in Westwood, but make no mistake, this is no museum cafeteria.
Created by legendary Bay Area chef Alice Waters and chef and author David Tanis, Lulu focuses on farm-to-table New American cuisine with sustainability in mind. That’s no surprise if you are familiar with Alice Waters’ legacy.
The food is amazing, but I love the ambiance there as well. You dine in the museum courtyard under a tree with lanterns overhead.
As a bonus, I recommend arriving a little early to peruse the works of art at the Hammer Museum before dinner. It’s free and open until 6 PM most days.
I can’t think of a better date idea in Westwood: stroll through a renowned museum, then have dinner at a restaurant by a legendary chef!
7. Brunch, Dinner, Coffee, or Dessert in Brentwood
San Vicente Avenue in Brentwood is an upscale, walkable street with lots of restaurants to choose from. The hottest new addition undoubtedly is Suzanne Goin’s A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant (in the space formerly occupied by Tavern). This is probably the best date restaurant for foodies in Brentwood now, so make reservations early. They’re also known for their brunch.
Perhaps the best restaurant for white tablecloth ambiance in Brentwood is Baltaire. The fare is American steak and seafood, and will not disappoint! Perfect for a date on a special occasion like a birthday.
Our favorite Italian restaurant is Pizzana, on Jonathan Gold’s list of top 101 restaurants in Los Angeles. Reservations required.
A hip new entry that we enjoy is Jon & Vinny’s Brentwood. We loved the pasta and calamari there. Atmosphere is casual; the food is the star here. Reservations required!
For great Italian fare in a really nice atmosphere at a reasonable cost, check out Toscana, in the brick building right on the corner; you can’t miss it as you head into Brentwood from West L.A. Book reservations, even for lunch!
Speaking of Italian, reviewers on Yelp love Palmeri, right across from A.O.C. It’s always crowded and has a nice atmosphere. Slightly more expensive than Toscana.
As you can see, there are tons of great restaurant choices in Brentwood, all within walking distance of each other!
After dinner, take a stroll along San Vicente. It’s a relatively safe neighborhood. A great place for dessert is Winston Pies – our favorite pie-smiths!
On Sundays, check out the Brentwood Farmers Market between 9AM and 2PM. There will be a line to get in, but it goes fast.
8. Picnic at Will Rogers Memorial Park
To be clear, I’m not talking about the Will Rogers State Historic Park hiking trail for this one. But rather, I’m talking about the charming and secluded historic Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills just south of Sunset Boulevard.
Constructed in 1912, this was the first public park in Beverly Hills. The small, triangle-shaped park features wonderful trees surrounding a central pond with fountain. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet picnic with someone special. You really feel like you’ve been transported to some other time and place when you’re in this lovely oasis. Conveniently, it has an on-site restroom too.
If you want to do something afterward, it’s just a short drive south to the fancy restaurants in Beverly Hills.
9. Drinks at The Wellesbourne
Hollywood and Downtown L.A. might have the coolest bars in Los Angeles, but if you don’t want to drive that far, check out The Wellesbourne.
Themed after a 19th-century English mansion, the Wellesbourne is an unusually cool bar for the West Side. Located on Pico just west of Westwood Boulevard, this is a good place to stop for a drink before or after dinner.
10. Stroll at Beverly Gardens Park
You’ve probably passed Beverly Gardens Park on Santa Monica Boulevard a million times on your way to West Hollywood from West L.A. It’s the long strip of grass and trees along SM Blvd. in Beverly Hills.
I passed it a bunch of times too before stopping to check it out. Turns out, it’s quite a charming park! It’s got shaded pathways, outdoor sculptures, a rose garden, and of course, an Instagram-ready Beverly Hills sign. There’s free two-hour parking in the adjacent residential streets. The only downside of this park is that it’s adjacent to busy Santa Monica Boulevard, but on the other hand, you won’t be bothered by folks playing music or throwing frisbees at this park, as those activities are forbidden.
While I wouldn’t make a special trip to Beverly Hills just to go to this park, and I admit it’s somewhat touristy, nonetheless it’s a lovely place to walk off a meal after having lunch in one of the fine restaurants in Beverly Hills.
11. Ice Cream Sandwiches at Diddy Riese in Westwood
Years ago, Westwood was the most happening pedestrian area on the West Side. Its popularity has faded over the years and it never recovered despite efforts to revitalize it. However, there’s still one reason to go. If you’re craving an amazing late-night ice cream sandwich, head to Diddy Riese in the heart of Westwood. Ice cream sandwiches are only $3.50 each. You’ll be standing in line with UCLA students, but it’s worth the wait for this Westwood institution! They’re open till midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and open until 11 PM on other nights.
Those are my best date ideas on the West Side and Beverly Hills. Let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorites! – Brian