These are my favorite restaurants for special occasions.
The Ivy (Beverly Hills and Santa Monica) Very fancy and well-known.
I came here for my 21st birthday. You are greeted with complimentary champagne and ushered into an elegant living room with a live pianist and fireplace. The whole restaurant is covered in huge floral printed couches and pillows. We ordered the fried calamari, oysters, halibut, black cod with ginger coconut curry, and wild swordfish. While the food was delicious, this is a place you go to enjoy the atmosphere. The servers make your experience very magical and special. Dessert is brought out with a firecracker candle. There is a good chance you will see a celebrity—we saw Larry Flynt. Recommend: The black cod with fresh ginger and coconut curry. Atmosphere: lavish and elegant (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Animal (N. Fairfax) Very creative and adventurous tapas food.
Part of Jon and Vinny’s restaurants (Son of a Gun, Trois Mec, and Petit Trois, Helen’s). We shared the bone marrow, grilled quail, pig ear, BBQ pork belly sandwiches, and ended the meal with the yellow peaches mocha and brown butter ice cream. The servers are eager to recommend dishes for first-timers. Recommend: The bone marrow and pork belly sandwiches. Atmosphere: dimly lit, chic (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Lucques (West Hollywood) Refined and pricey.
I came here on my college graduation night with my family. The servers are very attentive. The owner actually checked in on us and asked how our meal was. We ordered the scallops, the halibut, the market fish, and the lamb. For dessert we ordered the chocolate tart with espresso hazelnut and cardamom ice cream and the shortcake with pistachio ice cream. The food is decent but not the best I’ve tasted in that price range. Recommend: the scallops and the halibut. Atmosphere: elegant, sophisticated. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)
Sugar Fish (Brentwood) Upscale sushi.
I came here for the four-course Dine LA meal: First course – seasoned edamame; second course – one piece of salmon sashimi; third course – 4 pieces of sashimi (albacore, salmon, yellowtail, and scallop). My favorite was the scallop piece. The fourth course was a toro hand roll. Cost $20. Recommend: “Trust Me” meal. Atmosphere: clean, simple, trendy. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)
Flores and The Ladies Gunboat Society (on Sawtelle Blvd.) Rustic chic LA restaurant.
Unfortunately, I did not take any photos but check out their Yelp Page! Flores uses fresh ingredients but takes it to the next level with rich flavors and decadent sauces. Everything is served family style. The décor of Flores is a fairy’s cavern meets a grandma’s living room with vintage-style mismatched silverware and plates. We ordered the house made biscuits with maple butter and sea salt, toasted farro risotto, seared diver scallops, and salmon. The desserts are out of this world. We ordered the vanilla bean cake with mascarpone mousse and the berry crumble with buttermilk ice cream. The cake was extremely moist and rich. Recommend: the biscuits, scallops, and vanilla bean cake. Atmosphere: trendy, vintage/rustic, modern eclectic. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)