“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. 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 you’re looking for some adventure, check out The Escape Game, which features 60-minute escape rooms!
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.
3. 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.
TIP: Parking can be difficult on weekend evenings. If you can’t find street parking, park in the underground parking lot at The Block, which is the mall at Sawtelle and Olympic. Parking is only a $10 flat fee on evenings.
4. Lulu Restaurant and 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 great, but I love the ambiance there as well. You dine in the museum courtyard under a tree with lanterns overhead.
As a bonus, the Hammer Museum is right there and FREE! If you come for lunch like we did, you have a built-in after-meal activity.
The Hammer is not a huge museum but it has some very thought-provoking modern art pieces as well as traditional impressionist paintings. Don’t miss the green laser exhibit on the lower floor! It’s not obvious how to get there from the restaurant so ask a guide.
If you have dinner reservations, I recommend arriving a little early to peruse the works of art before dinner. The museum is open until 6 PM most days.
I can’t think of a better date idea in Westwood: stroll through a renowned museum, then have lunch or dinner at a restaurant by a legendary chef! Or just stop by the outdoor bar for drinks!
5. 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 Teleferic, featuring authentic Spanish cuisine – see the next section for details. Not far behind 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.
For Sushi, we love Sugarfish for authentic sushi at reasonable prices (get the “Trust Me”). They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait. Check out Taiko for an informal Japanese dinner, or Katsuya Brentwood for a more upscale atmosphere.
Another new and very worthy entry is Jemmi di Mare, from the folks who brought you Ospi in Venice. They specialize in Italian seafood and pasta. Atmosphere is upscale and bustling, although early in the evening there were numerous families with kids there. We loved all of our dishes, except perhaps the clam pasta; the clams were huge but rubbery and hard to chew. Everything else was pretty flawless. Save room for their Spumoni soft serve ice cream dessert, inspired by a scene with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone 2!
The service at Jemma di Mare was very fast and efficient, especially considering it was newly opened when we went. Time at your table is limited to 90 minutes, so not so great for long conversation, but fine if you have somewhere else to go afterward.
For a casual coffee or lunch meet-up, I really like Coral Tree Cafe.
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, clean neighborhood. A great place for dessert is Winston Pies – one of our favorite pie smiths!
On Sundays, check out the Brentwood Farmers Market between 9 AM and 2 PM. There will be a line to get in, but it goes fast.
6. Teleferic Barcelona LA
The hottest new restaurant in Brentwood deserves its own entry. Teleferic features authentic Spanish cuisine. The original U.S. location is in the Bay Area and this is its first L.A. location. It’s so authentic that they brought in chefs and servers from Spain on work visas to staff these restaurants!
Of course, you’ll have to try a Sangria. Or even better, have the flight! We loved their empanadas and crab croquetas. The paella was a tad salty for us, but was still great – all of the seafood was cooked perfectly with good flavors. All dishes are for sharing.
The crazy part was that about halfway through our meal, a server came by with a jug of something that looked like Sangria and asked us if we wanted to try it. We assumed they would provide glasses, but he poured it directly into our mouths! I was thinking, “what’s next, shotgunning a beer?” But we loved the crazy notion of doing this at a nice restaurant and got a laugh out of it.
The restaurant was packed on a Sunday night (two weeks after opening). Atmosphere was bustling but the noise level wasn’t too bad; we could easily hear each other over dinner – a welcome change from typically noisy L.A. restaurants!
Overall, Teleferic is a great date destination with some amazing dishes and good atmosphere and service in Brentwood!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Lala Rice and Thai Eatery
Located in an unremarkable minimall off of Barrington just south of the 10 Freeway, Lala Rice doesn’t have great surroundings but it does have some of the best Thai food on the West Side.
We had the Sweet-Chili Fish, a de-boned fish fried with a sort of sweet-and-sour type of sauce, plus the green curry chicken and prik king chicken. All were wonderful. Just remember that each dish comes with rice, so don’t order extra rice on the side.
This place gets four-and-a-half stars on Yelp and is always busy. I wouldn’t bring someone here on a first date, but if you’re craving some seriously good Thai food on the West Side, Lala Rice should be on your shortlist.
More Date Ideas in the Surrounding Areas
Those are my best date ideas in West Los Angeles. Let me know if I’ve missed any of your favorites!
Check out more great date ideas in these nearby areas! – Brian