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Where To Eat A Romantic Meal In LA On Valentine's Day

Cheryl Minikes and Matthew Mandell, both 22, from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, take the ultimate St. Valentine's Day plunge by getting married in a bathtub full of hot chocolate in New York. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
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Valentine's Day is coming. Box of chocolates? Check. Dozen roses? Check. Romantic dinner? Record screech.

Los Angeles is blessed with such a culinary cornucopia it can be hard to pull the trigger. You want to pick the perfect place, a restaurant that expresses the depth of your emotions through its menu. You also need a place where you can get a table.

Some of the most popular and coveted restaurants are booked months in advance so you won't see Scratch Bar, n/naka or several other spots on this list.

Which brings us to our PSA: Make your reservations ASAP because a Valentine's Day dinner reservation is like the hospitality industry's Hunger Games -- but with less archery and more truffle oil.

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Prices listed below are generally for the prix fixe menu separate from wine pairing. For all of these restaurants, reservations are a must and you should make them as far in advance as possible. Go get your grub on -- and go get your lovin'.

High above downtown L.A. on the 71st floor of the U.S. Bank Tower, chef Vartan Abgaryan, formerly of Cliff's Edge fame (another very lovey-dovey restaurant), is quite literally top chef. Sunsets at 71Above can be a life-changing event especially while enjoying a poached oyster with uni and caviar. You're so high you may see a helicopter whoosh past the AON Center below. When the city lights fade up, it's like Christmas all over again. For Valentine's Day, there's a four-course dinner featuring grilled maitake mushrooms, Ōra King Salmon, and Japanese Wagyu.

Le Petit Paris
A lustrous mahogany wood bar greets you at the entrance. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling like diamond-studded engagement rings. A grand staircase beckons, leading you to the second floor of this opulent downtown L.A. restaurant. Snuggle into one of the plush and cozy seats for a meal inspired by the City of Lights (that'd be Paris). V-day options include a "vegan carrot rainbow" or a goat cheese tarte tatin, followed by seabass, duck breast or butternut and pear ravioli. Dessert included.

Mrs. Fish
If DTLA can't come to the ocean, why not bring the ocean to DTLA? For a night that's less Pretty Woman and more The Shape of Water, Mrs. Fish invites you to eat sushi under a 5,500-gallon aquarium. Imagine munching on bluefin tuna while clownfish, blue tang and the occasional shark swim by. If that makes you feel too guilty, you can order a skewer trio of Jidori chicken karaage, skirt steak and Kurobuta pork belly or Wagyu filet mignon or a vegan rice noodle plate. This saltwater spectacle is nicely paired with provocative, contemporary Japanese art.
$70/person. Additionally, they'll offer four seats for a more attentive, seven-course kaiseki experience at the omakase bar. $238/couple

Brothers Chad and Chase Valencia are the duo behind Pinoy cuisine sensation LASA, located in the Far East Plaza. They describe LASA's food as "Filipino-inspired, California-influenced," and that's true. The vibrant sour, salty and sweet flavors are woven into almost all the dishes, from the whole fried pompano to the inasal chicken gizzard skewers. The service is attentive but the vibe is relaxed. You and yours bring the love. Valentine's menu TBA.

Former Patina Group chef Viet Pham now runs the kitchen at this almost secret Studio City spot where there's no sign, only a storefront sheathed in ivy. Start your lovers' holiday with cocktails in the library lounge. If you're lucky enough to score one of the few semi-private cabanas as your table, cupid is probably on your side. The restaurant will offer Valentine's dinner specials February 11-13, and on Valentine's Day will serve a prix fixe menu that features an amuse course of Kusshi oyster champagne gele�?e. Other items might include coconut lobster bisque, filet mignon, "imperial" dungeness crab and red velvet baked Alaska as a possible dessert pick. $150/person

Lakeside Cafe
This Californian brasserie's unique location next to Los Encinos State Historic Park and its intimate, pond front patios make it a seductive choice for Valentine's Day. The menu is delicious and eclectic with specials such as paella, lobster pizza and osso buco. Plenty of housemade pastries are available to sweeten the night. Valentine's menu TBA.

Situated at the rear of an Encino mini-mall, this small bistro specializes in Uzbek fare as well as a smattering of dishes from Russia, Georgia and the Caucasus. There's Ukrainian pork belly (salo) that you can slather like butter onto bread, beef aspic (kholodets), a variety of dumplings, braised lamb shank and savory samsa pastries filled with ground lamb and beef. They're all good selections at this low-key, romantic hideaway dedicated to Central Asia. The regular menu is also offered on lover's day.

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This legendary Burbank hills restaurant is in a league -- and a location -- of its own, especially after a $10 million renovation. Since May 2018, it has also boasted a new chef, Perry Pollaci, who previously cooked at The Royce and Firefly. Steaks are the main event at Castaway, where carnivore favorites like Snake River Wagyu and Angus tomahawks chill in a state-of-the art dry age room. Order a glass from the expansive wine and take a stroll on the patio where, the unparalleled views stretch from Universal City to DTLA. Valentine's Day tasting menu kicks off with a Kumomoto oyster and Petrossian caviar. Your choices include lobster bisque, steak tartare, risotto and sea bass before a confection tasting for dessert.

Saddle Peak Lodge
Nestled in Malibu Canyon, Saddle Peak Lodge feels like you've entered a rustic hunter's dem in a state that isn't California. Nary an avocado toast on the menu. Bring your sense of adventure so you can sample seared elk tenderloin in a sticky bacon chutney, a ménage à trois of Pacific oysters, Chilean sea bass and Peruvian albacore tuna tartare. After all, you're a lover not a hunter. The four-course Valentine's menu is available Feb. 14-16.

Opal Chinese Cuisine
Opal Chinese Cuisine serves the sort of Cantonese food found in crazy rich parts of mainland China and Hong Kong. The menu is tightly curated, especially compared to many other high-end Chinese restaurants in town. The dining room is exquisitely appointed with ultra high ceilings. Rare items like bird's nest soup, prove that this place is the real deal. Beyond that, there's like braised egg tofu, lobster e-fu noodles, traditional Peking duck with all the accoutrements and sizzling whole lobster. The tea service is also spot-on. At Opal, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day are combined into once celebration, effective Feb. 5 to 15, when steamed red rock cod, lobster on fire with gold leaf and slow poached pig tongue will be featured in addition to the regular menu.

Under the helm of chef Suzanne Goin, Lucques has been doing its thing -- New American fare made with seasonal, local ingredients -- better than almost anybody for 20 years. The cozy, candlelit dining room is ideal for lingering fireside conversations. The ivy-accented patio is charming and pairs well with a wine list that Caroline Styne will select for this special night. The Valentine's Day dinner is a five course prix fixe menu and is a ticketed event via Open Table only.

Fig & Olive
Dining at Fig & Olive feels like you're eating at an indoor park with all its light and greenery. It gets lively once the large dining room is full but it still feels intimate. The on Melrose Place restaurant will offer two Valentine's menus. There's a dinner for two with your choice of Chateaubriand or whole branzino, plus salad, dessert and a bottle of wine at $189/couple. There's also a four course prix fixe menu for $75/person.

La Boheme
With its recent remodel, La Boheme has rebranded as a fancy steakhouse and refreshed its flair for the dramatic. The dining room is intensely red and black with its massive roaring fireplace as the focal point. Several crystal chandeliers are suspended from the high ceiling. The Phantom of the Opera won't be your host for the evening. Instead, how about a four course dinner of New American cuisine with dishes like porcini risotto, filet mignon or halibut & lobster "forestiere." Check restaurant for details.

The Arthur J
Manhattan Beach is chef David Lefevre's home base and The Arthur J is the turf to his surf. The steakhouse, named after a bon vivant family member, has a midcentury flair. For Valentine's Day the regular menu is in full effect along with specials like lobster ravioli, a massive 90-day dry-aged tomahawk rib eye and caviar with all the fixings. Turf's up, dude.

mar'sel at the Terranea Resort
This Palos Verdes restaurant welcomes you with a fireplace that warms the room as a Pacific Ocean breeze wafts in through the French doors. The enchanting dining room is the perfect size. Many of the people eating there are guests at the seaside resort. Naturally, mar'sel serves a lot of seafood: grilled Spanish octopus, roasted red fish, caviar. Dinner here is California Dreamin' meets French and Spanish influences. The name says it all: mar (French for sea), sel (Spanish for salt). For the five-course lovers' day menu expect scallops, lobster lasagna,Wagyu shortrib, aged ribeye and a chocolate lava cake.

Ayara Thai Cuisine
When you're near LAX, family-run Ayara is your best bet for delicious Northern Thai specialties. Their khao soi chicken noodles are famous among connoisseurs of the dish. The curries are top notch here as is the larb. Feeling ambitious? The When Tigers Cry Tomahawk is 32 ounces of bone-in ribeye flavored with a tamarind sauce. Dungeness crab fried rice satisfies every time. Both Ayara's service and dining room make for an elevated experience, great for Valentine's Day. Check with restaurant for Valentine's menu TBA.

Meals By Genet
Along the stretch of Fairfax between Olympic and Pico, Meals By Genet sets itself apart from Little Ethiopia's other restaurants. The small restaurant has only 12 tables and they're covered in white linen and tea lights. The service is attentive and the food is authentically Ethiopian. You'll find plenty of vegan options although Ethiopian steak tartare (kitfo) is popular. What could be more romantic than hand-feeding your lover injera filled with shiro? Regular menu only.

Breakup Bar Popup
For the lonely hearts who are done with love and want a little company for their misery (or their liberation), head to the Breakup Bar pop-up. Running February 1-14, you get to choose one cocktail (Ghosted, Serious Baggage or Cold Day in Hell) or a flight of sparkling wines.
$20/person, tax & gratuity included

Bone Kettle
Pasadena is lucky to have Bone Kettle, where chef Erwin Tjahyadi combines his fine dining acumen and his street food chops to produce an irresistible combinations of flavors and textures. You'll find citrus-brined fried chicken wings, clams seasoned with a spicy black pepper sauce and paired with fried Chinese you tiao donut sticks, oxtail dumplings, beef ribs served off the bone. It's a satisfying pick for a hearty Valentine's night.

Bistro Mon Cheri
For a memorable night of guaranteed attention from chef Kimmy Tang, head to Bistro Mon Cheri, a tiny Asian fusion eatery on the second floor of a Pasadena mini-mall. Tang will ask you what kind of dishes and flavors you prefer then prepare some of her unique creations: coffee chicken wings, meatballs filled with chocolate lava sauce, chicken mint fried rice, Vietnamese prawn curry. If you want something special, let her know and she'll make it -- or at least try to. This is the antidote to your typical Valentine's Day destination. Special four-course menu includes appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert.

Plate & Petal
You have to know where to look to find Plate & Petal, a restaurant and bakery on a small street off Brand Blvd. Chef Robert Antonyan, a protégé of celebrity chef Todd English, has helped open a few high-profile L.A. spots including Perch and Delphine. The menu is an ever-changing mix of items like banh mi, steak frites, lobster mac n' cheese and spaghetti carbonara. Don't skip the desserts. Valentine's Day menu TBA. Check with restaurant.

Plant Food + Wine
This Abbot Kinney spot is a great place to take your herbivore honey for plant-based dishes that you can eat on a magical patio, brightened with twinkling lights. Chef Matthew Kenney's signature vegan dishes such as kimchi dumplings, kelp noodle cacio e pepe and heirloom tomato and zucchini lasagna are among the many creative items on the menu. Valentine's Day menu TBA. Check with restaurant.

The Rose
Although it gets loud and boisterous inside, The Rose's outdoor patio can be a romantic al fresco experience. The vibe is mixed at Jason Neroni's joint: It's a party in the front and a chill place to hang on the back patio. For Valentine's Day, head outside where dim lights, verdant greens and the occasional ocean breeze set the mood for love. Neroni is a pasta polymath so the smoked carbonara is a standout. All the meats, from charcuterie to steaks, are also excellent. Valentine's menu TBA.

Wilshire Restaurant
For a romantic vibe, the patio is your best bet at this Westside hot spot Wilshire. Brendan Collins is now the chef so expect top notch chicken liver mousse and pâté alongside English classics like beef Wellington. Collins also surprises with items like lobster donuts and Korean fried chicken. Valentine's Day menu TBA. Check with restaurant.

Khong Ten
This Westside newcomer, located on Pico Blvd. in the former Freddy Small's space, specializes in "New Vietnamese" cooking, authentic but not necessarily traditional. At Khong Ten, you'll find a charcuterie platter, which includes Vietnamese pates and mortadella, as well as a black bean and ginger braised beef cheeks on the menu. The dining room is stylish. Throughout February, couples on any kind of dating-app date -- Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, whatever -- can get 50% off drinks by showing your server or bartender both phones to prove you matched! On Valentine's Day itself, ALL singles sitting at the bar get 50% off drinks all night. If you're single, might as well make it a double.

Tuck Room Tavern
Sherry Yard's eclectic New American restaurant is whimsical yet seductive. Surreal portraits of anthropomorphized animals blend with crystal chandeliers. Nosh on Reuben croquettes and southern shrimp and grits as you sip Hollywood-themed cocktails. Speaking of La La Land, you and your true love can slip into the iPic movie theater inside the same building for a deluxe screening experience. Valentine's Day (Feb. 14-16) includes a four-course prix fixe menu of oysters, roasted beets with burrata, lobster tail or grilled lamb chops and "infinity" cake for dessert.
$75/person ($65/access member)

In L.A.'s fickle dining scene, Michael's has managed to stay relevant since 1979. Part of the restaurant's secret is recruiting young, talented chefs to periodically update the menu. The other is knowing what to leave alone, like the restaurant's patio. The oasis of lush vegetation offers a sense of calm that can easily segue to romance. The regular menu features Asian dumplings and oxtail fazzoloti. The Valentine's menu is a four-course meal of oyster on the half shell, Peruviana beans, branzino and calamansi pudding, among other offerings.

Chef Nyesha Arrington's New American fare is winning accolades thanks to dishes such as braised rabbit and foraged mushroom spaghetti. The dining room is spare but intimate, ideal for hushed conversation and playing footsie. Native offers a Valentine's Day prix fixe menu of selections like Liberty Farms duck, 18-day aged Flannery beef New York strip, whole snapper or vegetarian dish.

The main dining room at Estate has an Art Deco appeal and plush furnishings and the lighting is just right. Chef Hisashi Yoshiara's global, eclectic menu features all sorts of creative dishes. Seafood is his strong suit. Don't miss his signature Canadian scallop encased in spun potato. The Valentine's menu is three courses and has inventive options like a "cigar" of tuna tartare and a farmer's market bento box, plus dessert. Enjoy a live jazz duet that night too.

If you've got serious dough to drop, Josiah Citrin's temple of contemporary French cuisine is the place to go. What could be more perfect than dining at a two-starred Michelin restaurant on this special night? Melisse's intimate setting and its world class cuisine is an experience that's best shared. The nine-course Valentine's menu features artichoke soup, lobster risotto and yellowtail tartare.

Cafe del Rey
Valentine's Day in the Marina should include a panorama of docked sailboats and yachts blasting Toto through Bluetooth speakers. Cafe del Rey is the place to find that -- along with high-end surf and turf. White tablecloths go with the attentive service. Valentine's Day menu TBA.

Have millennials killed Valentine's Day the way they murdered can openers and breakfast cereal? If not, Salazar, bordered by a cemented river on one side and a largely industrial zone on the other, is an ideal spot for hipster lovebirds looking for the kind of urban romance only L.A. can offer. Plus, the food is great. Tacos filled with carne asada and al pastor are made with housemade flour tortillas. Mesquite-fueled flames add extra dimension to branzino, pork chops and steaks. There are good vegetable options too. Regular menu applies.

Little Beast
Located on a hips stretch of Colorado Blvd., this bungalow-turned-restaurant feels like you're eating at a good friend's home -- a good friend who happens to cook and plate food like a pro. There are lots of New American small plates for guests to share. For V-Day, the regular menu expands to include oysters on the half-shell, pan-roasted diver scallops and braised short ribs.

Get your Med on at Momed, a modern Mediterranean restaurant that stays true to the cuisine while keeping the vibe fun. Dine al fresco on the restaurant's covered patio as you choose from various dishes such as Greek meatballs, roasted beet salad, short rib tagine and snap pea tabouli.

Cliff's Edge
Cliff's Edge has a forest fairy charm and the menu is as eclectic as the patio is lovely. Find an adobo rubbed half-chicken alongside crisp branzino served with a green papaya salad. Small plates include harissa carrots or wild boar and veal terrine. Check restaurant for Valentine's specials.

Ma'am Sir
Chef Charles Olalia's new Ma'am Sir swings for the bleachers after warming up at DTLA's Rice Bar. Exciting dishes like oxtail kare kare, crisp lechon, lumpia, pork sisig, lobster with salted black beans and garlic crab noodles plus an extensive wine, beer and cocktail list all make this Filipino restaurant a good bet for V-Day. The atmosphere is invigorating with vines dripping from the skylit ceiling. Valentine's menu TBA. Check with restaurant.

The aptly named Atrium is the newest addition to Los Feliz's restaurant scene. Situated away from Vermont's main drag, its airy dining room, lifted by a high trussed ceiling, has an olive tree in the center. The aphrodisiac promises of oysters-on-the-half-shell are a good way to begin your night. Clever culinary twists on classic dishes like Atrium's uni, cacio e pepe pasta, Patchamama pork chop, and cauliflower shawarma make for a whimsical meal. Chef Gregory Baumgartner will also be offering a bittersweet chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet, beet foam and gold.

Over the decades, the famed hilltop, Asian-fusion restaurant has gone in and out of favor, been neglected and resurrected, with food quality faltering and now recovering to a level that almost matches its multi-million dollar vistas. Take your pick for seating. You can't go wrong. Inside gets you a breathtaking city view while outside on the patio make you feel like you're on a Hollywood set. Trendy ishi-yaki (rock grill) presentation for Kobe or Wagyu beef and the ever-popular sushi boats are Yamashiro's crowd pleasers, so expect similar selections when the Valentine's specials are revealed.

Michael Cimarusti, not Aquaman, is the undisputed king of the sea. If you love seafood, there's no choice other than Providence. The setting is formal and quiet conversations are easy so it's a good venue to whisper sweet nothings into the ear of your beloved. The prix fixe Valentine's menu includes whitefish, wagyu or duck.

Terra Cotta
Terra Cotta hits the sweet spot for delicious food in a stylish and sexy setting. A fleet of shimmering chandeliers hangs above the dining room. Comfortable seats including a few high-back leather banquettes. An impressively stocked bar the width of the restaurant has just about any libation you want. The vibe is chill and the food is hot with lots of shareable plates and snacks such as fried chicken wings with habanero sauce, army stew and ramen, tofu kimchi and spicy Korean escargot with acorn noodles. The regular menu is also available.

Kali Restaurant
For years, chef Kevin Meehan cultivated a loyal following with his clandestine Kali Dining tasting menu, operated from his Culver City home. Before that, he was the executive chef at Cafe Pinot in DTLA. Now, he's gone legit with Kali Restaurant, a stone's throw from Paramount Studios. Meehan can cook almost anything and make it taste good. On Cupid's big day, he offers a multi-course tasting menu that includes an oyster starter and a rib eye main.

Post and Beam
Chef Govind Armstrong's Post and Beam is a casual outpost that blends Southern comfort with California cuisine. The patio, next to the pretty herb garden, is a great backdrop for romance. Some nights, there's live music to entertain diners. Although a three-course prix fixe menu for $47/person is available, the special Valentine's à la carte menu seems more tantalizing with choices like homemade cornbread, shrimp and grits, jerked fried chicken, black eyed peas with buttered bay leaf rice and lemongrass pound cake.

Chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana fame expanded their reach with Mexicano and they continue to evangelize their brand of Mexican cuisine. They make unforgettable versions of cochinita pibil, enchiladas and mole. For a romantic evening, the secluded rear dining room is better than the livelier lounge near the entrance. For Valentine's Day, Mexicano serves from the regular menu as well as offering specials. The first 50 couples will receive a complimentary jamaica or classic margarita.

Il Cielo
This gem of an Italian restaurant is a prototype for romantic dining in L.A. thanks to its fairytale setting of candlelit tables, suspended chandeliers and an outdoor patio dotted with twinkling lights once the sun sets. If you want to re-enact the famous spaghetti-eating scene from Lady and the Tramp, there's no better place to do it than Il Cielo. The Valentine's Day menu features several choices including pappardelle with Maine lobster and filet mignon.

After a $10 million facelift, seminal Asian fusion restaurant Crustacean was reintroduced as a sleeker, more romantic version of itself. The only vestiges of its former identity are the subfloor koi pond and Mama An's garlic noodles. Owned by the An family, the restaurant consistently attracts A-list celebrities as well as a few food lovers. The new menu includes unique dumplings and several seafood items like the "cha ca" broiled red snapper. For Valentine' Day, diners can choose between the special love-themed menu ($135/person minimum) or the regular à la carte menu (also $135/person minimum).

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