Up to Date: an After-Dark Guide to Hollywood, Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory has long been a popular spot where couples go to crank up the romance
Griffith Observatory has long been a popular spot where couples go to crank up the romance | © Stoycho Stoychev / Alamy Stock Photo

Century-old cinemas, burlesque shows and restaurants that have starred in movies provide a romantic roll call for a cast of courting couples in LA’s dating hotspot.

While most of the big studios have moved on, and you’re not likely to bump into as many movie stars these days, few places still conjure up an image of glitz and glamour like Hollywood. But like Los Angeles as a whole, it’ll come as little surprise that the dating scene in Tinseltown can be tricky to navigate. So whether it’s an app-enabled first meeting or you’re a few stages along, read on for where to go for the perfect Hollywood date.

The Dresden

Restaurant, American, $$$
The Dresden
The Dresden | Courtesy of The Dresden
Stepping into the Dresden, don’t be surprised if you feel a twinge of familiarity – it’s been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, from Swingers (1996) to What Women Want (2000). And it’s easy to see why. The wonderfully atmospheric cocktail lounge is a perfect slice of vintage Hollywood and a top spot to start or end a date. In between, you can shimmy into a white booth in their dining room and speculate about which of the hundreds of celebs who’ve visited might have sat right where you are.

La Descarga

Nightclub, American, Pub Grub, $$$
Artfully recreating the thrill of a 1920s speakeasy, access to La Descarga is up some stairs and through a hidden wardrobe. Once inside, you’re immediately transported to a Cuban Prohibition-era bar, complete with carved wood paneling, a wrought-iron balcony and a phenomenal choice of rums. Regular live music and burlesque shows turn up the heat, plus dancing with your date is always an option. There’s a dress code, so you’ve got a good excuse to pull out your best threads.

Griffith Observatory

Building, Museum, Park
Griffith Observatory at night, in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California
Griffith Observatory | © Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo
High up on the Hollywood Hills, Griffith Observatory has long been a popular spot where couples go to crank up the romance. The panoramas over Los Angeles are truly dazzling, and particularly dreamy at dusk when the sea of lights gradually flickers on over the city. You can get a bit more elevation from the observatory roof, plus you can geek out over a show in the planetarium inside, featuring immersive 360-degree films and projections.

La Poubelle

Bistro, French, $$$
As authentic a slice of Parisian gastronomy as you’ll find in LA, this Hollywood fixture has been delivering oh-la-la to romancing couples since the sixties. From coq au vin to escargots, this cozy French bistro serves all the classics, plus other dishes from around the Mediterranean. It’s all chunky wood tables and vintage posters inside, while sidewalk seating adds to the European cafe-culture feel. If you want to impress your date with your knowledge of French, La Poubelle means “the trash can.” Romantic, non?

Vista Theatre

Theatre
Vista Theater, Hollywood California
Vista Theater | © David George / Alamy Stock Photo
Another iconic piece of Hollywood history, this single-screen movie theater has stood on the same spot for almost a century. From its neon-illuminated art deco frontage to sumptuous Egyptian film-set-style interiors, a date here is to be transformed back to the times of the Silver Screen. They show everything from art-house flicks to the latest blockbusters, with late-night screenings perfect for a post-dinner-date experience.

Gigi’s

Restaurant, French, $$$
Gigi’s restaurant
Gigi’s | Courtesy of Gigi's
Swanky without being snooty, Gigi’s quickly established itself as one of the hottest restaurants in town – with its instant star-quality attracting some “hey, isn’t that…” clientele. It’s loosely French, but the tightly produced menu meanders between seafood towers and shrimp cocktails to whole roasted bass and steak tartare. Velvet booths and banquettes provide comfort where it counts, while cocktails are just the right side of experimental.

Dream Hollywood

Dream Hollywood
Dream Hollywood | © Dream Hollywood
Set just south of Hollywood Boulevard, this uber-swish hotel is part of a complex that includes a range of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Its party-focused vibe feels like a microcosm of 21st-century LA nightlife and is a popular haunt with the see-and-be-seen crowd. From its lofty rooftop pool to its numerous nightspot options, you might struggle to find a reason to leave. Rooms, too, are neutral havens of calm, with floor-to-ceiling views over the city – and the iconic Hollywood sign, if you’re lucky.

The Hollywood Roosevelt

Roosevelt Hotel - Hollywood
Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood | © David George / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’d rather stay in a genuine piece of Hollywood history, the Roosevelt is the place to come. It’s set right on the Walk of Fame, so its location could hardly feel more Hollywood. In its heyday, it was the place where movie legends and their entourages would party. Today, it still attracts a mix of movers, shakers and hopeful next-in-liners, though without losing its whiff of romantic old-school glamour.

Find out more and start planning your trip now by visiting discoverlosangeles.com

These recommendations were updated on March 29, 2022 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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