This article was first posted on Resident Magazine online.
Depending on your date or mood, Los Angeles is comprised of many unique areas to satisfy your taste buds or your date specifications whether that involves cocktails, food, views, or entertainment. Whether you desire ambiance that includes ocean views, Hollywood Hills views, marina views, or sunset views, Los Angeles has many desirable options. Try a classic steakhouse, an authentic Mexican establishment, or rooftop sunset cocktails. Experience the culinary creativeness of a meticulous chef who creates an artful blend of ingredients presented in visually pleasing ways. Food is always about the experience and shared memories, so make your date a memorable one. Mix up your date spots with one of these locations.
Gargantua Pop-up dinner series at OP Cafe in Santa Monica
Slated to stay open until the end of 2017, Gargantua brings you a five course menu after dark at Santa Monica’s small, unassuming, neighborhood restaurant OP Cafe. The menu is exquisite, challenging your taste buds to reach new levels of flavor sophistication. Chef Nick Barainca orchestrates dishes with unexpected flavor combinations and new food medleys you may have not thought possible. For us, its about the integrity of an ingredient and the morality of the method. Gargantua wants to offer food that hints at familiarity but is pursued by curiosity. And, it does just that.
The culinary experience included dishes like Four Melon Ceviche with trout roe and cream poured over the greens leaving a unique sweet and salty savory flavor. To start our meal, we were presented with a circular black garlic bread with an aged beef mushroom glaze, the right amount of salt crystals, and just churned kefir butter. Each course felt like we were eating art or an item created with exquisite care and love. A beautiful bowl of Ancient Grains came out as our third course consisting of five grains, grapes, lavender beans, and eggplant cream with forbidden rice prepared to give the dish a nice crunch. The whole menu was marvelously memorable, a perfect experience to expand your palate!
Share: The whole 5 course meal for $47 per person. Menu items change weekly.
Order: The selections are chosen for you, but you can order a la carte. Every dish is noteworthy and flavorful. The most expensive dish of the tasting menu was the Pork Collar cooked for 36 hours over almond wood. The melt in the mouth pork atop caramelized onion powder (oh so yum!) was prepared with young ginger and sun chokes.
Drink: BYOB or savor the drip coffee from Beacon Coffee Co, the Loose Leaf Tea from Mad Monk and signature drinks like an elderflower concoction.
Dessert: Nude Oat Financiers like an ode to a Madeline, but topped with a jam, Satsuma plums, and meant to be dipped in the buttermilk scoop.
Be Prepared: For the casual intimate space and new flavor combinations you’ll be wanting to concoct at home.
Baltaire in Brentwood
For a romantic dinner date or meet-up at the elegant dark bar, Baltaire is known for being one of the best steakhouses in town. The sophisticated professional crowd can be compared to dining in NYC.
Share: Global Wagyu tasting or 12 oz filet tasting with various sauces like blue cheese fondue, although the meat tastes perfect on its own. At the bar, share lollipop lamb chops and a lobster roll.
Order: Maine lobster cocktail, Mac and Cheese with crab or lobster, French onion soup.
Drink: Rose champagne or a bold red wine. Try the Summer Splash, a lavender infused hanger one vodka with smoked honey syrup and lemon juice.
Dessert: Powdered beignets, bourbon croissant bread pudding, dark chocolate salted caramel tart.
Be Prepared: To spend money, and to dress up a bit more than LA casual.
Sea Level at Shade Hotel in Redondo Beach
After two nights at Shade Hotel in Redondo Beach right on the marina, we quickly felt like the hotel may have been developed around the cuisine. Every meal at this boutique hotels Sea Level Restaurant and Lounge was extraordinary thanks to the expertise of Chef Aaron Robbins and his culinary team.Â What made our stay so memorable were not only the sunset cocktails above the harbor with sweeping views of Palos Verdes, but the food. We indulged in many meals at the property’s indoor outdoor terrace restaurant on the sleek harbor front. At night, nosh around a fire pit or under heat lamps.
Share: Brunch items like Crispy Prosciutto and Mozzarella Egg Scramble with asparagus, Coconut Chia Seed Pudding with perfectly aligned berries, and Braised Short Rib Dip. The table next to us each ordered their own Breakfast Pizza covered in eggs, cheddar, bacon, and creme fraiche. Save room for the heavenly cinnamon roll in a skillet topped with roasted apples, toasted pecans, and vanilla cream cheese.
Order: We quickly discovered the Local Mussels with a roasted garlic wine mustard broth were too delicious to leave a drop and the Wedge Salad with candied smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes, St Agur blue cheese, and buttermilk blue cheese dressing would have to be ordered the second evening too. Other memorable dishes included Citrus Cured Hamachi, Curry Shrimp Ramen, Fennel Sausage Pizza with charred broccolini, chili and fennel pollen, and Grilled Filet Mignon with truffle butter cooked to juicy perfection.
Drink: Shade Lemonade made with their house-made lemonade, tropical nectar, and EFFEN Black Cherry Vodka, or try one of their Belgium inspired beers.
Dessert: Black Bottom Chocolate Pot De Creme Cocoa Cake with Almond Toffee, Chocolate Streusel, and Fleur De Sel.
Be Prepared: To leave stuffed, satisfied, and needing a walk, or just get a room.
Poppy in West Hollywood
Poppy is the h.wood Group’s latest endeavor to successfully run all the most beautiful and
elegant nightlife spots in LA. Enter into Poppy, a fantasy world filled with a sexy whimsical bohemian cast of characters from modern mermaids, peacock poppies, garden gypsies, human animals, and swinging storytellers. Lounge in the indoor/outdoor patio area, receiving personalized poems and caricature portraits. Created and built by John Sofio of Built, Inc., prepare for a night of mischief and social magic. Open only on Thursdays from 10 PM – 2 AM, this private club may make you think of a live version of a surrealist painting.
Share: An Uber ride there and back.
Order: Bottled spirits that come encapsulated in oversized roses and oyster shells and crystalized bathtubs.
Drink: Champagne that come with bottles and models and sparklers flying off your bottles.
Dessert: Eye candy models walking around in flamboyant garb petting stuffed foxes and swans.
Be Prepared: For the paparazzi snapping shots late night of all the latest starlets ready to dance the night away in their own private booth. If you want to hold a conversation, find a cozy couch in the patio area surrounded by hanging poppies and warm candlelit glow.
The Highlight Room on the rooftop of Dream Hollywood Hotel
This rooftop party epicenter on top of the Dream Hotel is gorgeous with an open air restaurant and bar, pool, and unparalleled views. The Dream Hotel is located next to Tao and Beauty and Essex, but the rooftop offers a nightclub feel around the pool (glowing purple at night) and offers expensive reserved cabanas during the day to get your game-on.Â Dine in the far corner of the rooftop near the bar for a bit more calm during pool party raging hours. While I dined I had direct views of the Hollywood sign near my finance’s ear with an ethereal glow of the city at sunset. Brunch is apparently a winner here too. direct views of the Hollywood sign near my finance’s ear with an ethereal glow of the city at sunset. Brunch is apparently a winner here too.
Share: The sunset views glowing over the whole City of Dreams while dining on Lobster Avocado Toast, Hamachi Crudo, and their delicious Chopped Chicken Salad with goat cheese and corn.
Order: Crispy Chicken Sandwich or Grilled Catfish Sandwich with skinny fries. We heard the menu will be updated soon to include more fine dining like Tao nearby.
Drink: Pretty in Pink – sip the $35 cocktail slowly made from Moet ice rose champagne, Belvedere vodka, Saint Germain, and strawberries. You can’t go wrong with any well crafted cocktail made here starting at $16, like the the Cucumber Sparkler, The Hemmy, Bubbles and Berries, or the $35 Escalade with Allaire aged crystal tequila, cointreau, and cold pressed lime juice.
Dessert: Olive oil cake with caramelized fig and ice cream.
Be Prepared: To spend $$$, and for the daytime pool party madness with a young crazy Hollywood scene.
Frida Mexican Cuisine in Beverly Hills
We heard celebs show up often at this spot, and now we know why. This is the best Mexican food in Beverly Hills. It may be a bit pricey but worth the authentic fresh recipes and handcrafted tequila cocktails. Located in a casual environment on busy Beverly Drive, this is the a nice spot for after work happy hour or a casual drink date that could turn into shared food.
Share: Fresh $15 large guacamole made table side with jalapeño chile, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and fresh lime juice and the fresh and the most flavorful Ceviche (3 kinds) we’ve sampled in LA.
Order: Shrimp and cheese quesadilla or one of their tacos like fish Baja style or grilled marinated Rib Eye.
Drink: Go for Happy Hour! Watermelon Jalapeno Margarita and the Passion de Tamarindo made with El Silencio Mezcal and a Tamarindo swizzle stick in the glass will end your day well.
Dessert: Massive moist Tres Leche cake with whipped topping.
Be Prepared: For casual vibes inside with 2 TV’s. We suggest dining outside on the busy street on a warm night.
Surfside Bar and Grill in Venice
Come for brunch or after beach cocktails. Stay for the game on the big screen. With an epic location on Venice Beach’s famous Windward Ave, in one of the most historic buildings in the area, Chef Jesse Gutierrez has created a diverse selection of menu items to entice beachside guests from California comfort food, to a delicious mix of LA-Korean inspired dishes, sustainable seafood and vegan and vegetarian options.
Right out the door is Venice Beach promenade and the gritty weird and wild Muscle Beach with characters to entertain you and your date for hours. Stroll the promenade in awe. Watch the skateboarders. Thank your God that you are in California!
Share: Korean Fries with caramelized kimchi and bulgogi steak, Surfside Nachos topped with your choice of chicken, short rib or tofu, and/or Lobster Mac N’ Cheese.
Order: Fish & Chips, the K-Town Bulgogi Burger featuring 1/2 pound of certified Angus beef with house-made caramelized kimchi, fried egg and a savory Korean bulgogi spread all served on a buttery brioche bun, and for a healthier option, the Namaste Bowl with massaged kale, turmeric brown lentils, pumpkin seeds, and roasted squash with cashew cream dressing.
Drink: The Creamsicle concocted with Pinnacle whipped cream vodka, OJ, half and half, and an orange Red Bull pour over, smooth Irish coffee, and/or the refreshing Windward Avenue made with gin, spiced ginger and pear syrup, lemon juice, soda water, and candied ginger.
Dessert: The Half Baked Cookie, an ice cream sandwich (cookies of your choice) topped with locally made fosselman’s vanilla bean and chocolate ice cream.
Be Prepared: For a casual beach environment with the ocean and beach strand right outside the door. It may not be easy to find parking nearby on the street on weekends. Parking lots are $15 or more.