Under-The-Radar Rendezvous: 7 Surprising Date Spots

Our editors share some L.A. hideaways that are unexpectedly romantic

Urban Light
There’s a reason why Chris Burden‘s ‘Urban Light’ is on our Sex Issue cover. As the editor of the package, it was one of the destinations I pitched because it’s the sexiest public space in town. Step between the glowing lampposts and you and your beloved feel like you’re alone at the center of the world, bathed in a golden glow. The posts themselves provide that crucial back support when you’re pressed against each other and making out for a nice chunk of time. Just beware of all of the amateur models getting their photos taken there—you might end up photobombing with your hotness. Speaking of hot, warm things up beforehand with a cocktail at the nearby Stark Bar. I recommend Smokey & the Bandit—a whiskey cocktail that lingers on the lips. >>5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
-Nancy Miller, Deputy Editor

Clearman’s North Woods Inn
When it’s 90 degrees and you see sparkling snow on the roof, you need to pull over immediately. Clearman’s North Woods Inn has been a dark, comfortable, delicious hideaway for more than half a century of date nights. Their three locations are log cabin labyrinths of Tiffany-style lamps, baroque paintings, and stained glass. The vintage restaurants share the same menu of lumberjack steaks and classic cocktails, but only the Covina location has a mammoth brick and copper fireplace that becomes a tinkling water show in the summer, it is the only location with a giant taxidermy bear to frighten you both into each others arms, and only the Covina Clearman’s has the ancient wooden “Love Tester Machine” where flashing bulbs indicate your love status: “Clammy,” “Wild,” or “Hot Stuff.” >>540 N. Azusa Ave., Covina, (626) 339-5645
-Chris Nichols, Associate Editor

The W Hotel in Hollywood – The Living Room Bar
No, it’s not what you are thinking! The Living Room Bar at night (before it gets too crowded) is a good spot. It’s dark, there are twinkly lights (and that great chandelier by the winding staircase), and you get a great view of the firepits, busy Hollywood Boulevard, and the glittering street (yes, the street in Hollywood glitters at night!) from the outside bar. Perhaps you’d attend a big to-do upstairs in the meeting/ballroom and find yourself sitting by someone interesting. The two of you can have a drink at the bar afterwards, where it’s still with comfy couches, and you can hear what the other person is saying if you just scoot a little closer. >>6250 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, (323) 798-1300
– Kari Mozena, Associate Editor

Cha Cha Cha
Maybe it’s the bright colored walls, the small shared plates we tend to order, or all that spice, but whenever my husband and I decide to head over to Cha Cha Cha in Silver Lake for dinner, the girl in me who likes to pretend we’re still dating perks right up. It doesn’t hurt that you often don’t need a reservation (read: spontaneity is fun!), or that I really do love the food (don’t pass up the jerk pork, the guava and goat cheese quesadilla, the black bean tamales or the spicy corn chowder). For me, a night at the Caribbean restaurant is a secretly sexy getaway just a few miles east of home. >>656 N Virgil Avenue, (323) 664-7723
-Shayna Rose Arnold, Senior Editor

Cana Rum Bar
You aren’t likely to find Cana unless you know about it. There’s a small neon sign announcing its presence, but the entrance is semi-hidden in a parking garage. You have to be a member to get in; the cost is a nominal $20 per year, but that helps keep downtown’s crazier atmosphere at bay. Once inside, you can take your pick of expertly crafted cocktails, including sophisticated throwbacks, tiki classics, and wholly invented modern libations. The vibe is classy and usually mellow, though the joint gets packed on weekend nights. Linger on the patio or tuck into a booth. And the monthly rum tastings are a blast. >>714 W Olympic Boulevard,  Los Angeles, (213) 745-7090
-Elina Shatkin, Senior Editor

Suite 700
What’s more romantic than cocktails and canoodling as you watch the sun sink into the ocean? Santa Monica’s only open-air rooftop bar and lounge, Suite 700 at the Hotel Shangri-La, offers a rare seagull’s-eye view of the Pacific and the Santa Monica Pier. The key is to get there early in the evening and settle into a spot on the deck (preferably near the firepit for continued romance when the sun—and temperature—drops). With its metal railings and curved corners, the balcony along the 1939 Streamline Moderne hotel feels like the bow of a luxury cruise ship, perfect for your Titanic “king of the world” moment. But, like some relationships, the Shangri-La offers a fleeting experience: shortly after sundown, food service stops and the bar becomes a happening hotspot with a DJ that fills to capacity very quickly. If that’s not your scene, walk two blocks to the Blue Oysterette, have dinner and head home. (Oysters are an aphrodisiac, after all!) >>1301 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, (310) 394-2791
-Linda Immediato, Senior Editor

The Bigfoot Lodge
This is a perfect bar for a middle-of-the-week night out. I would drive all the way from Brentwood to Atwater Village every Wednesday night for their rousting trivia challenge, which I’d highly recommend as far as fun date night activities go. It’s a hipster hangout to be sure, but Bigfoot Lodge manages to maintain a modicum of modesty; the décor is upscale ski lodge meets Lester’s Possum Park, the drinks are reasonably priced, and the ambience is reminiscent of a reliable neighborhood tavern. Go with your beau and test your trivia skills—a little competition never hurt any relationship. >>3172 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 662-9227
-Marielle Wakim, Associate Editor