L.A.'s 15 Best Fine-Dining Restaurants for Special Occasions (2024)

L.A.'s 15 Best Fine-Dining Restaurants for Special Occasions (1)

Get all dressed up for a splurge-worthy night at L.A.'s best fine dining restaurants.

Photograph: Courtesy Joy Limanon/Kato

Edited by Patricia Kelly Yeo

Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Los Angeles

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When out-of-towners hear the phrase “L.A. fine dining” they might scoff, thinking it’s an oxymoron considering how casual this city is, but the truth is that Los Angeles is home to some of the best tasting menus and fancy restaurants in the country—you just need to know where to look.

When you want to dress up for a romantic dinneror splurge on your birthday, there are some stellar spots; at the best fine dining restaurants in L.A. you might sit down to an elegant kaiseki dinner, a tasting from one of the world’s most famous chefs, or a seafood-centric meal filled with artistic flourish, and you can be sure servers won’t try to slip you their headshots as they present perfectly plated entrées.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to thebest restaurants in Los Angeles

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The best fine dining restaurants in L.A.

1.n/naka
  • Japanese
  • Palms
  • price 4 of 4

  • 5 out of 5 stars

  • Recommended

Photograph: Courtesy Jesse Hsu

Despite an infamously difficult reservation process, Niki Nakayama's modern kaiseki restaurant—of two Michelin starred Chef's Tablefame—remains an indispensable part of the city's fine dining scene.The Japanese restaurant delivers a nontraditional kaiseki meal that excites, delights and even soothes across every aspect; in short, it lives up to the hype and the bloodsport level effort involved in snagging a reservation. Nakayama invokes a mix of contemporary and traditional sensibilities throughout n/naka's ever-changing 13-course tasting menu—which, unlike many others in this city, also offers an option for vegetarians. Each course invokes the rhythms of a particular season, seamlessly blending classical Japanese cooking with the inherent seasonality of California cuisine.

2.Hayato
  • Japanese
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Stephanie Breijo for Time Out

Brandon Go’s two Michelin-starred kaiseki counter inside the Arts District’s expansive outdoor mall, ROW DTLA, offers an intimate, multi-course seafood-centric meal plated using handcrafted ceramics imported from Japan. While bookings for this artful, once-in-a-lifetime chef's table experience fill up almost instantly when Tock reservations are released on the first of each month, those who experience this transportive meal generally agree it's worth the hassle.The space is intimate and almost reverent, the ceramics are handcrafted and imported from Japan, and Go's precision and technique come by way of training under some of Japan's top chefs. Steamed abalone with an unctuous liver sauce; an owan course of delicate crab meatball soup; and fresh fruit coated in a salted sake jelly might all arrive before you, with Go and hisprotégés working the counter all the while.

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3.Kato
Photograph: Courtesy Joy Limanon/Kato

With each passing year, Jon Yao's tasting menu reaches new heights. The lauded self-taught chef—and native Angeleno—blends his Taiwanese and San Gabriel Valley roots to create a tasting menu that’s something new entirely: Asian-inflected fine dining that’s almost too pretty to eat. Now firmly ensconed in a larger, sleeker space at ROW DTLA, Yao's former strip mall restaurant has evolved to a new—and much more expensive—level. A bar-only tasting menu plays to Kato classics, including the city's best milk bread, while the regular tableside menu evolves with the seasons. In recent months, Yao's found his stride with dishes that evoke the original General Tso's sauce and a trio of delicate Asian-inspired desserts.

4.Providence
  • Seafood
  • Hollywood
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy John Troxell

Since 2005, Michael Cimarusti has set the gold standard for seafood-focused tasting menus—and garnered a James Beard Award and two Michelin stars in the process. As an L.A. fine dining institution, you'll find all the hallmarks of the white tablecloth experience: top-notch service, delicate amuse-bouches and, of course, high-quality shellfish and finned fish from all over the world. Cimarusti combs the world's waters to showcase pristine seafood in imaginative (and occasionally sustainable) ways, like Providence's signature farm-raised caviar and Santa Barbara uni nestled above a decadent egg yolk.

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  • Contemporary Asian
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 3 of 4

  • 4 out of 5 stars

  • Recommended

Photograph: Angie Smith

The pandemic may have shrunk chef Josef Centeno'sDowntown restaurant empire, but his Italian-Japanese concept Orsa & Winston, has survived the worst crisis the restaurant industry has seen in living historyandkept its Michelin star to boot. On the Fourth Street restaurant's $125 tasting menu, expecthyper-creative, genre-bending dishes like scallops and uni in a flower-dotted rice porridgr or tempura-like fried shiso leaf under abalone. Across every dish, you'll find lots of L.A. love, global inflection and a deep understanding of balance that make every meal here enjoyable. Even factoring in the 20% mandatory service charge (tip notincluded), it's still one of the less eye-poppingly expensive fine experiences around town.

6.Damian
  • Mexican
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 3 of 4

  • 5 out of 5 stars

  • Recommended

Photograph: Courtesy Araceli Paz

After opening during the early pandemic, this Mexican fine dining restaurant by Enrique Olvera (of Pujol in Mexico City and NYC’s Cosme) has quietly become one of the best restaurants in the city. The understated yet stylish ambience and unforgettable seafood-centric small plates, grilled meats and playful vegetable mains easily put it in the same league as its always-popular parking lot neighbor, Bestia, but the restaurant defies any simple comparison. When every bite reflects Damian's commitment to traditional Mexican cooking techniques and ingredient sourcing, there's no one singularly great dish to order, but you’d be remiss not to order the unforgettable duck carnitas and art-like hibiscus meringue.

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7.Chi Spacca
  • Italian
  • Hanco*ck Park
  • price 3 of 4

  • 4 out of 5 stars

  • Recommended

Photograph: Courtesy Chi Spacca

Few restaurants can accomplish what Nancy Silverton's ode to Italian flame-grilled meats does on a daily basis.With one of the best charcuterie programs in the city and a stunning open kitchen, Mozza's younger sibling flame-grills tomahawk porkchops, cures fennel salami and dry-ages massive Flannery Beef steaks so big they almost feel like they rock the table when they land. This is a rustic Italian steakhouse that’s worth the meat sweats, and it’s worth the splurge; you may be spending around $200 on steak, but don’t think about skipping the sides of roasted sustainable veggies—nor that focaccia di recco, which oozes stracchino cheese. The staff mans the open grill like nobody's business, so whatever you order, you’ll be in good hands.

8.Sushi Kaneyoshi
  • Japanese
  • Little Tokyo
  • price 4 of 4

  • 5 out of 5 stars

  • Recommended

Photograph: Time Out/Patricia Kelly Yeo

For all the warm sushi rice and dragon rolls, L.A. boasts plenty ofexcellent Edomae-style sushi bar, with perhaps no better example than this relative newcomer hidden away in the basem*nt of a Little Tokyo office building. Run by veteran sushi chef Yoshiyuki Inoue, Sushi Kaneyoshi tops out in luxury, refinement and overall wow factor. The exact seafood used in Kaneyoshi’s approximately 20 courses changes seasonally, but diners are likely to dig into a delicate Hokkaido crab chawanmushi, along with one of the city’s best preparations of ankimo (monkfish liver) and nodoguro (blackthroat sea perch) for the cool price of $300 per person. A word of warning: Tock reservations here are tough to snag, but the eventual outcome is well worth the time and effort.

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9.Spago of Beverly Hills
  • Californian
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Spago

Name a more iconic L.A. fine-dining institution...we’ll wait. After almost 40 years, Wolfgang Puck's Spago is still everyone's old fine dining standby, but its ever-changing menu keeps the restaurant feeling fresh and relevant. (Don’t worry, you can still order the smoked salmon pizza.) Spago purists will be pleased to hear the kitchen is refreshingly old-school when it comes to presentation, but modern flourishes are what keep this icon feeling fresh without ditching its hits. If it's your first visit you must order Spago’s iconic tasting menu for the classics, but if you’re a repeat guest, the most fun you can have is offroading with the fleeting and hyper-seasonal specials, especially when it comes to dessert. Spago's been serving stellar cuisine since the Reagan era, proving that age ain't nothing but a number.

10.Ardor
  • Californian
  • West Hollywood
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Nikolas Koenig

Equal parts celebrity hotspot and exceptional fine dining destination, this ultra-stylish Sunset Strip hotel eatery offers flawless "vegetable-forward" cuisine and an air of sweeping, expensive romance that’ll make you forget all about the fact you’ll have to pay $18 for the EDITION's valet parking, if not more. Here, hosts in slinky white dresses and kitten-heeled boots will usher you to the plant-filled, warm-hued dining room—and the overall effect is downright cinematic. Every dish that arrives dazzles here, from the must-order milk bread topped with caramelized beefsteak tomatoes to the skirt steak, which comes with garlic confit and an exquisite red salt. Larger groups can splurge on the eye-poppingly expensive gooseberry phyllo pizza drizzled with aged balsamic dinner; the tableside preparation and final product make it well worth the price of admission.

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11.Maude
  • Contemporary European
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Andrea D'Agosto

Beverly Hills is full of high-profile restaurants perfect for an expense account or date-night splurge, but one of the finest and most memorable is Curtis Stone’s ambitious temple to the tasting menu. This Michelin-starred eatery first gained buzz for its ingredient-driven concept—swapping menus out every month—but the restaurant's current format tends towards seasonal, with chef de cuisine Osiel Gastelum, who has drawn upon his Mexican roots since Maude's post-lockdown reopening, imbuing the menu with a kind of spy freshness you won't find anywhere else in town.

12.Gwen
  • American
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Gwen/Wonho Frank Lee

In the last few years, celebrity chef Curtis Stone's Hollywood restaurant has come into its own as a gleaming, Michelin-starred Art Deco-stylesteakhouse where enormous, high-end cuts of beef and delicious, market-driven sides can be had alongside the city's best charcuterie. After ordering, choose your own steak knife from the velvet-lined box—each one has a story behind it—and dig into dry-aged Kansas steaks from Creekstone Farm and other carnivorous delights. Plus, the daytime-only butcher shop letsbuy coils of lamb sausage or hefty cuts of steak to take home.

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13.Pasjoli
  • French
  • Santa Monica
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Jesse Hsu

Located on Santa Monica’s Main Street, this traditionally inclined French bistro elevates classics like onion soup and beef tartare to new-to-casual-L.A. heights of fine dining. Chef David Beran, previously of the now-closed Dialogue, even possesses an old-school French duck press for an artery-clogging, show-stopping traditionally prepared duck for two, which includes roasted duck breast, crispy duck skin salad, and duck leg bread pudding doused in drippings combined with cognac and red wine. Prepared tableside, it’s worth ordering at least once, although there is no bad dish on the menu at Pasjoli, where the"stupidly good" foie de pouletà la Strasbourgeoise delights even the pickiest of food critics. The co*cktail program is stellar as well, for those looking to imbibe—especially the seasonal grasshopper made with aged eggnog.

14.Sushi Ginza Onodera
  • West Hollywood
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Teddy Wolff

At this point, Edomae-style sushi isn't particularly hard to come by, but you'd be hard pressed to find it at the same level of renown as this West Hollywood sushi bar named for (and originating from) the most exclusive neighborhood in Tokyo. The nigiri-forward omakase—the most expensive per head in Los Angeles—climbs past 20 courses, each bite focused on incredibly high-quality fish that's been brushed with soy, lightly tempura-battered or served in a pool of ponzu. Of course, all this raw fish mastery doesn't come cheap: An omakase here will set you back $400—a splurge worth making for some of the finest sushi in L.A.

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15.Mélisse
  • French
  • Santa Monica
  • price 4 of 4

Photograph: Courtesy Jeff Couch

Josiah Citrin's Michelin-starred Santa Monica stalwart—a long-time high watermark among L.A. tasting menus—underwent a rebrand, and gone is the more formal white-tablecloth experience. There’s also a new setting, a more private vibe and that entirely new menu, giving us a familiar experience with a little freshening up. Now cordoned off in a near-hidden alcove within the greater Citrin space, Mélisse seats only 14 and delivers exquisite and detail-oriented dishes for the eye-wateringly cost of $399 per person. While dishes vary with the season, expect lots of truffles, caviar and Wagyu beef—in other words, the kind of luxury ingredients such a high price commands.

Need to save money after one of these meals?

The best cheap eats in Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy Jonathan Manimtim/@jonislike

Rents may be sky-high, but Los Angeles is still a city where you can find great food without breaking the bank—and we’re not just talking about a Double-Double at In-N-Out. Times are especially tough and every dollar counts, so from udon in Glendale to tacos in West L.A., here are a few of the city’s best inexpensive eats, all ringing in at $15 or under.

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

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