Dating is hard. We all knew that. But for whatever reason it has always felt especially hard in LA. Are there too many options? Too little? Is there anyone just nice or normal out there? The simple fact of the matter is you can meet people anywhere if you’re motivated enough – yes, even in LA. If you’re lucky enough to find said nice or normal person – and god willing they even live on your side of the 405 – the first date is crucial. We’re all about big first impressions in LA, and whether you’re swiping right or meeting people IRL, I’ve listed out some first date spots that will at least set a good vibe. It’ll be up to you to do the rest maestro!
THE BEST FIRST DATE SPOTS IN LA
For a drink:
because booze always makes first dates more bearable.
Located on Sunset Blvd in the heart of Silverlake, this dimly lit bar is the place of cinematic “LA-meets-Paris” dreams. Stemming from it’s own classic French bistro style, Cafe Stella‘s romantic lighting and first class mixologists makes this a first date staple. And second. And third.
Los Feliz is one of the best neighborhoods for a date, and if there’s one place to start the afternoon or evening off, it’s Big Bar. It’s casual enough that you could even start with just coffees on the patio, and if all goes well transition into a couple of some of the city’s best craft cocktails.
Faith & Flower
For one of the best and most beautiful restaurant bars in Los Angeles you have to head to Faith & Flower Downtown. It’s a beautifully designed “Art Deco” type space that makes for ideal first date ambiance. After you enjoy some of my personal all time favorite cocktails, you have the option of keeping the evening going by staying for dinner. Which trust me, you’ll want to! If it’s all going according to plan of course, wink wink.
Sometimes location is key, so if you’re in the Hollywood area the best place to meet for a nice drink would be at Gwen. Gwen is known for their incredible renown cuisine as well as their fantastic cocktails. If your date is a foodie or an appreciator of particularly good cocktails, Gwen is the jam. I’d say stay for dinner if you really like said date, because it’s $$$$, but that being said Gwen is one of LA’s most impressive restaurants. And “I love you” is almost guaranteed to follow said meal.
Located in Culver City, The Wallace is the perfect bar/restaurant to first grab a drink and then sit for dinner, if you so feel like it. Not to mention Culver City in general is turning into the date-spot hub with cafe lights lining the streets and a plethora of bars/activities to choose from for any post date strolls. Culver Hotel jazz nights anyone?
Located in Venice, The Otheroom boasts a strict beer and wine menu, yet the casual outdoor/indoor vibe makes this perfect for an early evening date, with some of the best people watching in tow.
Think Paris neighborhood bistro vibes, but in West LA. Need I say more. Belle Vie is my favorite neighborhood spot where I can get great French wine, friendly conversation, delicious food, and maybe even a little live music if I’m there on the right night! It’s basically perfect.
For a meal:
Since, ya know, ya gotta eat.
Seriously. One of my all time favorite restaurants. I take that back – my actual all time favorite restaurant. Gjelina is located on Abbott Kinney in Venice – aka America’s “coolest” street – but the key is to definitely get a reservation, otherwise you’re stuck at the communal tables. Hey, that might be your kind of thing, but it’s worth the call to try to get a table. Gjelina is an LA institution, there’s a reason it’s been packed every single night for the past 9 years so you cant lose with this one!
Everson Royce Bar
Ok, I know I just said Gjelina was my favorite restaurant in LA… but ERB is easily a close second. I mean like, right on it’s ass. It has everything you could ever want for a first date: a casual yet hip bar with friendly knowledgeable bartenders, an incredible patio, great cocktails, and the best burger in LA. You heard it first!
Night + Market Song
Located in Silverlake, this loud and fun restaurant boasts Thai fusion with a twist. It’s definitely spicy – so be prepared for a culinary adventure. But the bright atmosphere and friendly servers make Night + Market Song a great casual cool place to get to know someone.
Talk about romantic… Cliff’s Edge looks like something straight out of every girls perfect date dreams! If your idea of a great first date is something a bit more dim and dramatic, something with the ultimate “wow” factor – without being too overtly cheesy. fancy, or overpriced – Cliff’s Edge is the spot.
You thinking “fun”? The best patio seating in LA? Tequila? Or more importantly, insanely delicious tacos? Salazar, located in Frog Town, is just the ticket. Whether your and Eastsider or Westsider, the effort to dine or drink at Salazar is beyond worth it. Let’s just say, if I have sat in traffic for an hour an half, multiple times, just to hang out at Salazar… you know it’s good.
Okay, yes, another Italian place. BUT Cosa Buona is a bit more affordable than Gjelina, a bit more casual, and also in Echo Park – aka geographically ideal for all you East siders! Don’t forget the mozzarella sticks.
Oh Marvin. My dear sweet understated yet genius French neighbor Marvin. Sometimes you just want simple yet stunning, right? Marvin, located in Beverly Grove, is just that. It’s one of LA’s best “hidden gems” of sorts, and is the perfect place for a cozy, thoughtful, neighborhood-type-spot date. I’d go out with me again if I chose Marvin as a first date spot, I’m just sayin’.
Fishing With Dynamite
So your date likes seafood – loves it as a matter a fact. They’re down for a little adventure, so you take them to Manhattan Beach to dine at the cutest little nook of a nautical restaurant called Fishing With Dynamite. The atmosphere is so fun, so casual, but you know you’re in for a serious culinary treat. Finish the date off with the key lime pie and a walk around the beach and you’ve got yourself a great little date!
For an activity:
If you want something to do besiiiiides eating and drinking.
[Highland Park Bowl]
Located in Korea Town, Shatto Lanes bowling alley is both super cheap and really fun. Outfitted with a bar and an entire arcade, you can get cocktails for under six dollars and bowl for under $20. Holla.
Runyon Canyon Hike
For the fitness enthusiasts! On top of it being one of LA’s relatively easier hikes, this Hollywood staple has incredible views and is really great for any doggo lovers out there. Runyon is just short enough that you’re not committing to spending too much time together, but it’s just long enough to have some decent conversation! Plus, if you need to run from your date, this would be a natural environment in which to do that.
The Griffith Observatory
Think La La Land… minus floating around in the air. And possibly singing and dancing. There is tons to do around Griffith, plus, what better excuse to go up there than while on a date? You could finally see that spectacular star show you’ve been saying you’d catch at the Planetarium for years!
The Boardwalk Between Venice and Santa Monica
Ok. So this might be a long walk, but it’s a fun one on a nice day and you get to enjoy the Venice Beach Boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier along the way! Walking, talking, people watching, Ferris wheel riding… I see a lot of silly fun in your future.
Echo Park Lake
Whether you’re in the mood for pedal boating, a light walk, a picnic, or just some ice cream, Echo Park Lake has all kinds of fun things in store for a fun first date!
An Outdoor Movie Screening
You can catch an outdoor movie screening pretty much year round in Los Angeles, but during the summer the activity is almost mandatory. Some of the event producers – like Rooftop Cinema Club, Street Food Cinema, and Eat See Hear – offer options like food trucks and live music as well.
Highland Park Bowl
I know, more bowling, but everyone likes bowling?! Right?! Highland Park Bowl is particularly special though. It looks straight of of the 1930’s, they’ve got a full bar, AND a full kitchen with some pretty serious Neapolitan style pizzas to boot.