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.
With its vaulted ceilings, mismatched chairs, and old framed photos hanging on the walls, Wood Spoon looks a lot like that Parisian flat you fantasize about while stuck in traffic on the 405. The menu, made up of traditional Brazilian entrees like seafood stew in a coconut sauce and our favorite chicken pot pie in the entire world, feels like true home cooking. At some point during the meal, you’ll probably forget you’re even at a restaurant.
In a neighborhood as pummeled by tourists as Hollywood, local gems like Papilles are difficult to find. Located in a nondescript strip mall on Franklin Blvd., this casual French bistro is a place you could pass 100 times (or more likely, creep by in bumper-to-bumper traffic) and not notice it. But inside, you’ll find a calm, quiet space that looks like a modern French farmhouse. The menu changes frequently, but there’s always a three-course prix fixe for $38, or you can order anything you want à la carte.
This porridge shop in Historic Filipinotown is a good place to complain about your dating life for an hour. And the menu, full of warm, comforting dishes, definitely helps. The poultry + mushroom is our favorite of the porridges, but you should definitely get whatever their seasonal option is as well. Don’t leave without ordering a few puff donuts and the brown butter mochi.
Mizlala is a casual Mediterranean restaurant a few blocks down from The Galleria in Sherman Oaks and a great spot to grab some food before seeing a movie with friends. With colorful tile and shelves of knick-knacks running along the wall, the space is cute without being obnoxious, and though it can get crowded during peak hours, the atmosphere is always laid back. Get the artichoke hummus, eggplant moussaka, and at least two orders of the Moroccan chicken.
Located in an El Segundo strip mall, Jame Enoteca is a tiny Italian restaurant with some of our favorite pasta on the Westside. And by tiny, we mean there’s about 10 tables in the whole place, and if it wasn’t for the sign out front, you might mistake it for a Souplantation. But that’s also kind of why we love it. The waitstaff will talk to you like you’re their neighbors, there’s a kale salad that’s so good it’ll make you change your mind about kale salad, and almost all the pastas fall under $20.
Your group probably has a preferred house to hang out in. A meal at Lasa is like spending an entire evening at that house, only with better food (sorry, Vanessa). Lasa serves Filipino dishes with a twist - like rice flour chicharrones instead of pork, or salt and vinegar taro chips with beef tartare - in a bright, comfortable dining room, and has a wine list that’ll make you want to stay even longer.
You finally have an opportunity to get all your college 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 place for an 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 generally cost 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 actual 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 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 menu is tremendous.
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.
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.
This bright cafe in a Silver Lake strip mall 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.
This tiny little tapas spot 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.
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.