No sitter, no problem! The romance is in full force, even when you bring the kids along at these restaurants that manage to have spectacular vistas, twinkling lights, or plush dark booths as well as fabulous food for big and little people alike. And they’re located everywhere from Silverlake to Manhattan Beach and Hollywood to Topanga. Pick a spot and bring date night back, any night.
photo: Little Beast
A romantic spot that has also earned a place on our list of the “Best Kids Menus in Town”? Be still our foodie hearts. Get a table on the twinkling patio of this cozy craftsman and sip a glass of carefully selected wine while you peruse the menu. The American bistro-style food for the parents is upscale and simultaneously inventive and rustic (duck liver mousse with port gelee, blueberries and sherry gastrique or pan roasted steelhead trout) while the kids options are simple, healthy and appealing, like a roast chicken, quesadilla with broccoli, or Little Beast Jr. Burger and fries. You’ll all want to be sure to start with everyone sharing the addictive edamame hummus, and end with the Belgian chocolate pudding (you might need a few of these, as you won’t want to share).
1496 Colorado Blvd.
photo: Remi Y. via yelp
This tucked away spot on Hyperion in Silverlake is hard to stumble across; it has no sign or website. But once you find it, you’ll be a regular. The restaurant is mostly the patio, filled with plants, heat lamps & blanket to keep you toasty when it’s chilly and candles. It feels tucked away and transports you to another world, one filled with fantastic hand made pasta (kids love the fresh squid ink pasta that turns teeth black!) and risotto, fresh salads and a smattering of desserts. Be sure to arrive early to secure a table and settle in for a cozy evening.
2547 Hyperion Ave.
photo: Meghan Rose
Inn of the Seventh Ray
A fairytale setting just a short drive from Santa Monica city lights, Inn of the Seventh Ray is a peaceful oasis with naturally built-in entertainment. Nestled in tranquil Topanga Canyon, the magical woodland setting seems ripped from the pages of a storybook. Request a creekside table so you can kick back while the kids remain in sight exploring the nearby stream bed for a family brunch, or dig into a dinner under twinkling lights. How’s this for romance: chances are better than even that you’ll get to see a wedding! Gourmet preparations of organically sourced veggie, vegan and raw dishes appeal to all taste buds and kid-friendly simple preparations are no problem.
128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd.
A hop, skip and jump from Old Town Pasadena, Saladang (and sister restaurant Saladang Song, next door) delights Thai food lovers with modern interpretations of traditional dishes. Slip into its open, airy dining space for oodles of noodles—legitimate reasons for the kids to play with their food—as well as spicy curries (for grown-ups) and fried delicacies begging for refreshingly sugary Thai iced tea. Even the garnishes evoke romance: fruits and vegetables carved into miniature birds and swans. An eclectic selection of beer and wine entices you to linger, allowing time to try one of their signature desserts, including sweet sticky rice and crowd-pleasing homemade coconut ice cream.
363 So. Fair Oaks Ave.
photo: Dorothy H. via yelp
If old school charm rings your bells, this is the spot. This French restaurant in the middle of Echo Park has been here since 1927, and you sense the history instantly. It feels like the Rat Pack could take the stage at any moment. The interior is dark and quiet, the booths deep and comfy, and the food retro, classic and delicious. If steak au poivre and escargot aren’t on your kid’s list of acceptable foods, fear not: there are hearty burgers and fries on the grown up menu, and a menu for kids that includes chicken and veggies, spaghetti or mac & cheese, and to seal the retro deal, kid meals come with soup or salad and sherbert.
1911 Sunset Blvd.
photo: Tin Roof Bistro
Tin Roof Bistro
This lively Manhattan Beach eatery brings wine country cuisine to the South Bay. Arrive before 6 p.m. to enjoy Bocce Hour on the patio, where grownups can sample libations for less, salads and artisanal woodfire pizzas while the kids learn the fine points of Italian bowling. Keep the vino flowing from their Napa Valley list while sharing farm-fresh sides and family-friendly nightly features like fried chicken, porterhouse steak and whole fish. Pint-sized palates will be pleased to find faves such as burgers and pasta. Romance is allowed to flourish when little ones are otherwise occupied…
3500 No. Sepulveda Blvd.
The Water Grill, Santa Monica
Across the street from the Santa Monica Pier, you can savor the same stunning views, minus the crowds. Large roll-up-door windows carry in sea air, inviting beach babes to grab a perch to watch the spectacular sunsets. While they wait, little ones will be enchanted by various fish tanks, doing dual duty as decor and appetite enticers. Grownups in want of an aphrodisiac will be well-served by the selection of freshly-caught oysters, while the kids settle into tufted leather booths to get acquainted with hand cut fries, steamed edamame and homemade gooey mac n’ cheese. The entire family can partake of a whole fish from the daily catch and top it off with a shared bowl of homemade ice cream and be well away before the evening crowds arrive. (Because the real romance takes place later at home, and you need to get the kids tucked in early!)
1401 Ocean Ave.
The steep hillside road leading to this iconic Japanese restaurant is reminiscent of an amusement park ride. Steeped in old Hollywood history, the storied site delights all ages with ornate pagodas, a cascading waterfall and indoor garden, not to mention a breathtaking top-of-the-world view. Now over 100 years old, Yamashiro’s heritage is alive and well in the updated menu, mixing Mai Tais that bring you straight to the tropics and spicy sushi rolls with kid-pleasing finger foods including crispy chicken, Asian BBQ ribs and plain veggie rolls. The spring season brings the return of the outdoor Pagoda Bar. Reserve ahead to avoid long waits and weekend disappointments.
1999 No. Sycamore Ave.
Where do you go for dinner when burgers won’t cut it and a sitter can’t be found?
—Kim Orchen Cooper