Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that, even if obligatory, when you mess it up—you really mess it up. And while two weeks’ lead time might be fine for gift shopping, it’s really cutting it close for dinner reservations in Los Angeles. Lots of hot-ticket spots are already completely booked, but don’t panic. We found nine superbly romantic restaurants that still have plenty of tables for two. From the east side to the west, these dining destinations are perfect for the year’s most hyped-up date night. Just book soon, and don’t say we didn’t warn you!
One of downtown’s most glamorous restaurants is offering a special menu this Valentine’s Day in it’s elegant mid-century dining room. Three courses will take you through options like Kumiai oysters or lamb heart tartare, smoked tofu with maitake or filet of beef with lobster hollandaise, and flourless chocolate cake or pistachio financier to finish. $125 a seat; add $65 for wine pairings. 114 E. Second St.
If you’re not at the “big ticket splurge” level of commitment yet, Café Birdie comes through as the sweet and casual option for your special dinner date. This uber-charming Highland Park bistro is classy and comfortable, with a menu designed to share. What’s cuter than sharing a plate of Moroccan spiced fried chicken over a split bottle of a local Pinot Noir? 5631 N. Figueroa St.
If you’re going for the jaw drop, secure yourself a table under the restored 1920s gold Italianate ceiling at downtown L.A.’s most fashionable hotel. A special prix fixe served in its stunningly ornate lobby offers tagliatelle with Alaskan king crab and chocolate lava cake. Prefer less formality but want all the beauty? Head up to the mezzanine, where it’s first-come, first-served for champagne by the glass and platters of fried chicken with caviar, black truffle tartes, and Shigoku oysters. $95 a prix-fixe seat; add $55 for wine pairings. Giannini Place, 649 South Olive and 7th St.
Brentwood’s chic, candle-lit Italian joint is offering a three-course prix fixe with an abundance of wonderful choices. Start with an antipasto (cold poached lobster salad with artichokes, squash blossoms with ricotta, beef carpaccio), then a paste (black squid ink tagliolini with sea urchin sauce and crab, gnocchi with porcini and gorgonzola) and seconondi (rack of lamb, Sonoma duck). Offered at $110; includes a glass of sparkling. 11930 San Vicente Blvd.
What’s more romantic than watching the waves crash below you at the iconic Geoffrey’s in Malibu? A three-course dinner offers seafood classics (fresh Maine lobster, day boat scallops with lobster and pea risotto) or elegant meat dishes (filet mignon with foie gras butter), and concludes with a variety of scrumptious desserts (pomegranate white chocolate mousse, chocolate hazelnut crunch bars). $125 per person. P.S. They’re offering brunch, too. 27400 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Le Petit Paris
If your amour is a Francophile, charm his or her socks off at this downtown dining hall in the historic El Dorado building. Dine on a three-course prix fixe featuring tarte tatin with goat cheese, roasted sea bass with white beans and pesto, and sesame-crusted duck breast with cherries and black trumpet mushrooms. $95 per person seats you upon elegant velvet couches, surrounded by gold ornate architectural details. 418/420 South Spring St.
Chandeliers! Candelabras! This Santa Monica favorite for locally sourced Italian cuisine is bursting with sophisticated romance. Dine on antipasti like octopus carpaccio with Meyer lemon and pink pepper, buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto crostini, and fritto misto before enjoying a main course of fresh pasta, risotto, or pesci e carni. 3009 Main St., Santa Monica
Warm your foodie lover’s heart with this James Beard-nodded destination, lit up by an outdoor hearth and glimmering tea lights under a patio shrouded by olive trees. The romantic atmosphere is simple and clean, setting the stage for the creative, refined California-meets-Mediterranean cooking that arrives with superb service, in the heart of West Hollywood. 8474 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
This boisterous Los Feliz favorite for upscale Italian-ish bistro food will have you all cozy in red leather booths with your sweetheart. Order martinis and split a wood-fired pizza, or dig into its exquisite elevations of chicken parmesan or spaghetti and meatballs. The classiest of comfort food spots in perhaps all of Los Angeles is perfect for a throwback-tinged romantic evening more fun than austere. 2128 Hillhurst Ave.