Where to Eat with Friends and Family in Los Angeles

Main image for guide titled Where to Eat with Friends and Family in Los Angeles
Beef and bone marrow pie at chi SPACCA | Photo by Joshua Lurie

A major factor in dining out depends on who’s joining you for the meal. Some friends or family members call for specific types of themes or experiences. Be prepared with our guide to dining with friends and family.

Main image for guide_item titled
ink. | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Art Fan: Ink.

It’s debatable whether food qualifies as art, but if so, one place that would make the cut is ink., Michael Voltaggio’s stylish Mid-City restaurant. Forget what you know about dishes like mac & cheese and “cereal” when ordering from the ever-changing menu. Yes, the references are clear, but Voltaggio dials up the presentation and flavor several notches. What’s even clearer is co-owner Michael Ovitz’s contributions to the visuals. He rotates in framed works from artists in his lauded private collection to display for diners, including Chuck Close’s Lucas Paper/Pulp and Ed Templeton’s photographic black-and-white selfie, Untitled (Ed in bathroom).

Main image for guide_item titled
BBQ carrots at Trois Mec | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Chef Groupie: Trois Mec



Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre’s culinary star continues to rise. The native Frenchman, who cooked with some of his country’s leading chefs before moving to L.A., first gained acclaim at gastronomic temples like L’Orangerie and Bastide before popularizing the pop-up with LudoBites. Ludo Bites America was his IFC precursor to national stardom with The Taste. With Trois Mec, the intimate ticketed restaurant that he opened with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo in Hollywood, it’s now possible to sit directly across the counter from Lefebvre, who’s nearly as well known for his unpredictable behavior as he is for cutting-edge cuisine, which factors into five seasonal, market-driven courses.

Main image for guide_item titled
Beef and bone marrow pie at chi SPACCA | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Foodie: Chi SPACCA



Anything goes, from nose to tail, at the newest restaurant in Mozza Restaurant Group’s Hollywood compound, a holistic vision from Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianich and Matt Molina. Chef Chad Colby implemented exacting standards to create a compelling charcuterie program, the results of which are on display behind glass, or on multifaceted planks. An open kitchen provides prized views of wood grill, wood oven, and plancha, which contribute a meat-centric menu, including a 42-ounce Tomahawk pork chop and 50-ounce costata alla Fiorentina. Award winning Mozza pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez contributes scintillating desserts, including Dario’s olive oil rosemary cake, named for famed Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini, a friend of the Mozza family.

Main image for guide_item titled
Traxx at Union Station | Photo by Joshua Lurie

History Buff: Traxx



The epicenter of L.A. history is at Olvera Street, which 44 Mexican immigrants founded in 1781 and renamed in honor of judge Agustin Olvera over a century later. Right across the street, you’ll find Union Station, a 1939 Art Deco milestone that’s more than a destination for travelers, thanks to chef-owner Tara Thomas’ seasonal California restaurant, Traxx. Thomas prepares signature dishes like pan-roasted beef tenderloin with a Gorgonzola crust and potatoes two ways; and house-cured pork loin chop with Mission fig polenta. Across the way, Traxx Bar is more geared toward commuters who are looking to grab a quick cocktail or burger on their way home.

Main image for guide_item titled
The Old Room at Musso & Frank Grill | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Movie Fan: Musso & Frank Grill



Hollywood is synonymous with Hollywood star power - with film shoots, flashy premieres and celebrities flocking to make the scene - and Musso & Frank Grill has nearly seen it all since opening in 1919. The neighborhood’s oldest restaurant features the Hollywood Walk of Fame right out front and maintains a retro glamour within, including luxurious red booths and counter stools with a similarly bold hue. Musso & Frank is still a drinking destination, with people traveling for miles to order a martini or Gibson from famed bartender Manny Aguirre. Current executive chef J.P. Amateau continues a tradition set forth by long-time chef Jean Rue, including flannel cakes at breakfast, steaks, chops, sand dabs and Petrale sole at dinner.

Main image for guide_item titled
Pastrami sandwich at Langer's Deli | Photo by Joshua Lurie

New Yorker: Langer's Deli



Aggravate visiting New York know-it-alls by proving the best U.S. pastrami resides in LA. Al Langer first started building his family’s pastrami legend in 1936, when he relocated from the East Coast to L.A. Son Norm and daughter Trisha run the show at the MacArthur Park institution, which is best known for hand-sliced pastrami, which they still sugar-cure and season like corned beef before applying smoke and a delectable spice rub. Langer’s bestseller is #19 on the menu, a pastrami sandwich with Swiss, cole slaw, Russian dressing and warm re-baked rye. Another popular choice is the #44 with tangy sauerkraut and nippy cheese. Corned beef, potato pancakes and frothy egg creams further bolster the menu.

Main image for guide_item titled
Sashimi at n/naka | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Rich Uncle: N/Naka



Chef Niki Nakayama’s kaiseki-only restaurant resides in a modest grey building in Palms, a space that contains wall-mounted wood cutouts, relaxing jazz music and lacquered black wood tray “placemats.” The 13-course menu starts at $185 per person, unless you’re a vegetarian. In that case, it’s $160 a head. Either way, you’re in for a relative value compared to restaurants like Urasawa, and if your rich uncle’s paying, he probably won’t blink. Nakayama showcases seasonal dishes in a seamless progression of refined Japanese preparations that always includes sashimi, grilled seafood, salad, sushi and dessert. Surprises are guaranteed, and so are premium ingredients like Washington State razor clams, hairy crab and Santa Barbara spot prawns.

Photo: Henry Hargreaves, Nobu Malibu

Photo: Henry Hargreaves, Nobu Malibu

WATERFRONT DINING LOVER: NOBU MALIBU



Owner Piero Selvaggio operates one of only three restaurants in L.A. - along with Patina and Spago - to earn the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award, honoring the nation’s best programs. His wine cellar is legendary. He’s reinvented the Santa Monica restaurant many times in more than 40 years of business, and now focuses on the cuisine of Sicily and Sardinia, with chef Nico Chessa delivering house-made pastas and comforting but beautifully presented seafood preparations. As always, Selvaggio is on hand to suggest complementary wine pairings from his approximately 1,200 choices and 100,000 bottles. If you want to buy a $25,000 bottle of baller 1891 Brunello Biondi-Santi Riserva, this is the place, but there are also higher-value picks from Italy, France and California.

Main image for guide_item titled
Swordfish wrapped shrimp at Valentino | Photo by Joshua Lurie

WINE AFICIONADO: VALENTINO



Owner Piero Selvaggio operates one of only three restaurants in L.A. - along with Patina and Spago - to earn the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award, honoring the nation’s best programs. His wine cellar is legendary. He’s reinvented the Santa Monica restaurant many times in more than 40 years of business, and now focuses on the cuisine of Sicily and Sardinia, with chef Nico Chessa delivering house-made pastas and comforting but beautifully presented seafood preparations. As always, Selvaggio is on hand to suggest complementary wine pairings from his approximately 1,200 choices and 100,000 bottles. If you want to buy a $25,000 bottle of baller 1891 Brunello Biondi-Santi Riserva, this is the place, but there are also higher-value picks from Italy, France and California.