The Infatuation is built on the idea of “Perfect For” categories, catering to your specific restaurant needs and situations. Date night? Group dinner with friends? Your college roommate from Hartford is finally coming to LA and she told you in advance she already hates it here? We can handle it.
But sometimes, there are situations that just don’t fit into a concise, pre-determined category. And there is one such genre of restaurant we keep hearing over and over again - at parties, baby naming ceremonies, or cardio barre classes we’ve actually never attended. It’s what we’ve come to call the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends” (SCRPRTCUWFF). In general, SCRPRTCUWFFs are:
Somewhat quiet. But not boring. Relatively small. With plates mostly under $20. (Drink as much Chardonnay as you want, though.)
Now go ahead and plan that Wednesday night dinner.
Every friend group has a preferred house to hang out in. That’s what Lasa feels like - someone’s dining room that you and your friends could spend an entire evening hanging around in. But with better food than any of your friends can make. Lasa serves Filipino dishes with a twist, like rice flour chicharrones instead of pork, or salt and vinegar taro chips with beef tartare.
You finally have an opportunity to get all your college school friends together, but one of them is in the middle of her residency and goes to bed at 9pm, and another just really needs 10 hours of sleep before her 5:45am workout class. Lodge Bread is the ideal early group dinner. This Culver City spot started out as a bakery, but is now an all-day spot with simple, great food and a lot of locals having low-key meals. Order pizzas to share, and get the cinnamon roll that’s about the size of the pillow you’ll be lying on shortly thereafter.
Sometimes, your group is more concerned with the super-cute element than the food one. If that’s the case, Melody will be a good fit. You’re here for the converted craftsman and its equally charming patio (which involves blankets). You and your friends won’t be disappointed with a few shared plates and some wine, although you might also be enjoying your time outside too much to care.
Marvin is a neighborhood wine bar we’re hesitant to talk about too much because we like the fact that we can almost always get a table, eat French food, and drink wine without waiting. Bring your friends, get the tomato toast and the bolognese, but don’t tell too many people.
There are a lot of super cute restaurants in Venice. But most of them are packed with tourists and people who will happily wait two hours for their food. Chez Tex is one of the few where you can actually go to talk to your friends, eat great food, and not have to deal with any angel investors hovering over your table glaring at you when you don’t get up as soon as you’re done. The menu is full of familiar dishes (burgers, pasta), the servers will probably learn your name, and that beach-house feel will make you want to become a regular.
Tsubaki is an izakaya in Echo Park, and while the words “Japanese small plates” might sound pricey, know that this bright little spot keeps things extremely affordable. Plates run generally around $8 -$12, and range from trout ceviche to curry soba to chicken meatballs. And everything is excellent. The whole place is extremely laid-back, and the people working here will make sure your cup of sake is never empty.
From the light-wood everything to the tiny little lights hanging from the ceiling, Kismet is definitely cute. You’ll probably have to wait, which isn’t exactly SCRPRTCUWFF material. But Kismet isn’t too painfully cool - the space is pretty quiet, the staff is friendly, and most things on the Middle Eastern-inspired menu are under $20.
An authentic-feeling French bistro isn’t really what you’d expect to find on the outskirts of Brentwood. But then you meet Belle Vie, a restaurant full of wicker bistro chairs, big red booths, and French people, and you realize the Brentwood population has been keeping this secret to themselves. The menu is ideal for sharing and the beef burgundy tacos are a must-order as you engage in some (mostly) light flirting with your new Parisian boyfriend/waiter.
The massive Buenos Aires streetscapes plastered over Barcito’s walls aren’t exactly a master class in subtlety, but there’s something charming about this DLTA Argentinian spot. Maybe it’s because its Staples Center-adjacent neighborhood is otherwise littered with meaningless corporate bars or because we can’t stop thinking about their octopus and egg dish, but Barcito is where we want to be on laid-back Wednesday nights with friends.
Your best friend Amy just texted to tell you she’s breaking up with her person and blames her dog and needs comfort quickly. Head to Cafe Birdie, the Highland Park spot with excellent comfort food (order all the pork cheek ragu Amy can handle) and an interior that reads like a French country home you rented for a weekend while you’re going through a quarter life crisis (aka Amy). Also, the cocktail situation is tremendous.
This corner taqueria on Highland is bright, colorful, and the kind of place Hollywood needs more of - an affordable spot for dinner with friends. This is a Baja-style cantina, so expect a lot of fresh fish in a lot of different ways. There’s a tropical ceviche served in a coconut, marlin tacos, and a cheese-doused shrimp cazuela that’s actually the best thing there.
Culver City is a part of town with a restaurant called Destroyer, and another one called The Cannibal. But then there’s Loqui, which might have concrete floors, but also has chilis hanging from the walls. Order a couple of tacos at the counter, have beers on the back patio while you wait, and get out for $15 a head.
Montana Ave. is one of LA’s most charming streets, but it’s also one of the strangest: gourmet froyo, AARP members getting hammered in corporate bars, and by our count, at least 14 different Chico’s stores. But then there’s Art’s Table, one of the few things around here that feels real. The atmosphere is extremely welcoming and the food is solid. Get a table on the sidewalk.
Bowery Bungalow is easily one of the most underrated restaurants on the Eastside. The renovated craftsman bungalow right off of Sunset Junction has more charm than it knows what to do with, and a Mediterranean/North African menu that happens to be great. You and your friends need their giant plate of hummus. And also their back patio.
The first thing you’ll notice walking into Escuela are all the little wooden shoes hanging from the ceiling. It’s admittedly concerning. But then you sit down, pop open those bottles of red wine you brought (it’s BYOB), order some tacos, and suddenly realize you love it here. The space isn’t large, but has a great low-key energy to it, and on a weekday you won’t need a reservation.
Wait, is that an actual tuffet? Like one that you can buy? It is. Located in the back of an antique furniture store on La Brea, Cafe Midi is a tiny little French spot and everything your ladies who lunch power date dreams are made of. The food here isn’t life-changing, but the menu is massive - meaning whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find. Now go get that tuffet.
Badmaash gets several things right: a fun, modern space, a laid-back atmosphere, and an Indian-fusion menu that has no business being as good as it is. Despite the fact that it’s fairly small, you’re always able to snag a table pretty quickly, leaving you that much more time to move the conversation beyond “so tell us how you’ve been!”. Get the Chicken Tikka Poutine or don’t even bother coming.
This bright cafe in a Silverlake stripmall is the second location of an SGV staple (that has since closed). The great Burmese menu involves big flavors, plenty of curry, and a dish called Ohnoh noodles we could eat every day. The place is also a Pinterest fever dream - you’re definitely stealing a few ideas for that one wall you don’t quite know what to do with at home.
A wine bar? With Thai food? It’s not exactly the cookies and milk of restaurant combinations, but somehow Same Same has made it work perfectly. Located directly next to Daw-Yee Myanmar, Same Same used to be a full-fledged Thai restaurant, but morphed into a wine bar and kept the Thai food. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed - the ideal setting for talking about your new boyfriend, who’s actually not your boyfriend, but just the guy you mouth-breathe at in the elevator every day.
This tiny little tapas place in Santa Monica sometimes gets passed over, but when it comes to finding a spot to have a four-hour venting session on a Tuesday, Manchego won’t disappoint. The place itself is very charming, and its tapas menu is easily shareable. Because that’s the point of tapas.
Tucked away behind Melrose Place, Croft Alley is an escape from all the would-be bloggers that lurk on that street, posing with their ‘But First, Coffee’ cups. This tiny cafe is a prime lunchtime catch-up spot, especially if you can snag a table on the extremely attractive enclosed courtyard. Get a kale salad (this is West Hollywood after all), and then balance it out with a cauliflower grilled cheese.
Salt Air is one of the cutest restaurants on Abbot Kinney, with a bright and beachy space that never tips over into nautical kitsch. Most importantly, it’s one of the few restaurants on this over-hyped street that you can walk into on a weeknight and not have to wait an eternity. Go heavy on the shareable appetizers, and then go straight to the monkey bread for dessert.
There’s a lot of super-cute going on at Pizzicotto. This Brentwood mainstay has a handwritten menu, wine bottles lined up all over the place, and old-school simple Italian food. It’s the perfect place to order a couple of pizzas and debrief on whether or not Sophie should quit her high-paying consulting job to pursue pottery.