Alamy
Rachel B. Levin
January 26, 2015

Couples looking for a little night romance might initially survey Los Angeles with dismay. At first glance, the city's traffic-clogged, strip-mall-lined streets seem to offer little in the way of romantic respite. But it's really the case that you just need to know where to look. Within the city grid, restaurants with enchanting garden terraces or soft candlelit interiors make the bustle of cars and commerce melt away. And for an even more complete escape, head to the city's margins−its foothills, beaches, and canyons−where soothing nature and spectacular views make an ideal backdrop for serenity and intimacy. Aside from the setting, the cuisine itself can often spark romance. At these five restaurants, both the atmosphere and the food are infused with special occasion flair, whether it's fresh seafood by the ocean, Mediterranean delicacies in a villa, French cuisine in a sexy bistro, or plates of pasta in a verdant canyon.

The Little Door

Behind an unmarked door awaits a secret garden patio and European-style villa with plenty of nooks for canoodling couples. Nibble on French-Moroccan fare nestled amid the terrace's flickering wrought-iron candelabra, lush ferns, and bougainvillea, or cozy up inside by the fireplace. The late-night lounge menu is perfect for after-hours romance.

Yamashiro

This hidden gem is nestled in a historic Japanese mansion in the hills above Hollywood. Teak pagodas, terraced Japanese gardens, and stunning views of the city lights set the scene for romance. The Cal-Asian menu boasts decadent offerings like butter-poached lobster and seared Wagyu steak on a Himalayan salt plate.

Pace

Escape the bustle of the city completely at this organic Italian restaurant tucked into woodsy Laurel Canyon. Sultry red walls, candlelight, and banquettes with soft toss pillows encourage warm tête–à–têtes. The low-lit patio with rustling leaves is equally romantic. Come on a Monday to catch some live jazz.

Moonshadows

Starry-eyed couples flock to this Malibu beachfront restaurant to dine to the sound of the waves. Cozy up on one of the day beds on the deck to watch the sunset over the Pacific while sipping fruity cocktails. Then, head inside for a fresh seafood dinner and linger over quiet conversation.

Church & State

This French bistro is the next best thing to hopping a plane to Paris. Smoky mirrors and strings of glowing bulbs suspended overhead transport you to the City of Light, as does the spot-on bistro fare. Platters of oysters, steak frites, and French wines make for a decadent special-occasion meal.

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