Valentine’s Day Restaurant Guide:
Waking up to the smell of heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes. Seeing my grandfather’s grand piano overflowing with blooming carnations. Trading candy in the courtyard. Writing love letters to my best friends. When I think of Valentine’s Day, these glimpses into childhood nostalgia come flooding back. A day to celebrate any type of love – familial or romantic, love for hot coffee or a glass of deep red wine for your best friend or yourself—who doesn’t love to celebrate love?
Although I have a love/hate relationship with my hometown of Los Angeles, I will say this—it is undeniably romantic. Driving through Laurel Canyon feels nostalgic for the 70s. The Beverly Hills palm trees and Silver Lake architecture never gets old. The magic of finding an oasis within nearby Malibu beaches—it’s all pretty astonishing.
While the city can feel vast and overwhelming, it can simultaneously feel incredibly small, warm, and welcoming. But, of course, that is if you know the right spots to go. And you’re in luck as my passion (obsession) for restaurants, mixed with time spent growing up in the city, makes me your recommendation cupid this Valentine’s. Below I’ve rounded up my favorite, most wistful, and what I deem most fervently ‘romantic’ spots within the city of angels.
It is an absolute necessity to start Valentine’s day with a pastry (or 5), and Clark Street’s are really, really tasty. I discovered the Echo Park flagship when they were offering free sourdough starters during the height of the pandemic. I picked up my starter with a sampler of pastries to bring home to my family, and we were hooked, my favorite being the dark rye brownie. Pro-tip: when your at-home sourdough patience runs out, their bread is also delicious.
Nothing screams self-love to me quite like shopping, especially when the clothes are fun, funky, and sustainable. I can say with certainty that I spent every weekend of my entire teenage life traversing various flea markets in Los Angeles, and Silverlake Flea remains my favorite. LA in February is also the perfect outdoor shopping weather…oh the joys of the west coast.
Girls’ days are the best days, and no one knows how to plan one quite like my mother. Growing up, we’d drive from the San Fernando Valley to Malibu, passing the time by singing Joni Mitchel or making up our own songs. Arriving at Malibu Country Mart after what felt like a cross-country road trip, the absolute best Chinese Chicken Salad and buttery, crisp chocolate chip cookies awaited. Bringing our lunch to the beach and then lounging until the golden sun faded away. At eight years old, this was my favorite day and has remained so at twenty-three.
Since moving to New York, I’ve noticed that no one does salads quite like LA. And The Sycamore Kitchen has my favorite. When I interned at Flaunt Magazine, I used to take myself out to lunch, reading the latest issue and munching on an Italian Chopped salad. While I do not love dining solo, my solo outings here never resulted in feeling lonely. Of course, make sure you get a pastry on your way out as you won’t regret it (but then again, who’s ever regretted a pastry?).
Gjusta is a patio situation quite like no other. And what’s possibly most impressive is that to this day, I can’t decide if it’s better for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. That statement alone should be reason enough to visit. However, if it’s not, picture fish smoked to perfection, the best roast chicken, deliciously stacked sandwiches, and an LA vibe you’ll be talking about for years to come.
All I have to say about Courage is that I live in New York City and dream about these Montreal-style bagels at least once a week. Just know, you may want to avoid it on the weekends due to the line that typically awaits.
A must-go whenever I’m home, Night & Market has my two favorite things: excellent food and great (natural!) wine. Simultaneously hip enough for your gen-z sister and quality enough for your parents, the only thing to note is that the flavorful food is spicy!
Last but not least, here are a few more honorable mentions in case all of those just weren’t enough:
- For classic LA establishments worth the hype: Dan Tana’s & Casa Vega
- For the best shrimp tacos: Mariscos El Faro
- For LA’s version of jam on toast: Sqirl
- For sexy sandwiches with a hilarious TikTok: Ggiata
- For my favorite grocery store sushi: Farm Boy
- For pizza, pasta, and Kanye West: Jon & Vinny’s
- For an actual date night: Cafe Stella
Valentine’s Day Restaurant Guide