I eat out almost every meal. I'll spend time on Citysearch and Yelp trying to find good new spots to try, but my preference is still to get great recommendation from friends. Enter Leslie Wade, who put this list together for me below in an email (including the cute commentary), and I feel compelled to share it with the world since she's not yet doing her own blogging. I can at least take credit for adding the links :) This list does skew to fancier places in the Westside/Hollywood area, but those are some of the best spots in LA.
(*) denotes a recommendation. Others listed are in the area and definitely great spots, but may not be ideal for groups.
Animal - great space...they do lots of private parties. Not much for vegetarian options though.
* AOC - the food here is amazing, wine is amazing and their wine bar/bistro fare is fun for a group
* Bazaar at the SLS – no matter how many times people have been, it’s always fun. Interesting (it's all molecular gastronomy), delicious food and WAY fun drinks.
* BLT Steak - great steakhouse (a Wadavon favorite) with amazing food, service, and a nice group dining area. Plus those popovers always get people talking.
* BOA Steakhouse on Sunset - really beautiful patio/bar area. Plus, you can’t go wrong with steakhouse fare when trying to please a large group.
Bungalow Club – an LA staple for events. There’s a reason for that...people love it.
Campanile – lovely inside, lovely food.
Dominick's – low key. good for groups... food is ok, drinks are better- a more laid-back atmosphere
Eva – for the foodies.
Gordon Ramsay at the London - restaurant is $$$ but the roof-top pool area for drinks is really lovely for after dinner
Hatfield's - if it’s about the food- this is the place.
* Jar – the food here is a sure crowd-pleaser. Comfort food done up fancy in a sweet, minimalist spot. Great wine list, great cocktails.
Katana – definitely fun for a group (but I know you know this spot)
Koi – a weho staple.
La Paella - décor is nothing special, but the food is authentic and great
Lucques - inside is rustic, yet chic. For the foodies.
Nobu Matsuhisa - another weho staple.
Osteria Mozza – the food is great and it’s a nice space. Anyone who hasn’t been yet will have most likely been dying to try it. Great wine list.
Ortolan - super French and fancy (if that’s what you’re going for)
* Pali House – haven’t tried the food- but the space has a great environment. The dining patio area is really lovely and the drinks there are great
* Providence – if budget isn’t an issue, Providence is the type of place to BLOW EVERYONE AWAY. Gorgeous inside, amazing food (primarily seafood).
* Red O – beautiful inside, the food is decent but definitely a crowd-pleaser, plus it’s the “it” place in LA, so people would like it for the “event” of it.
RH – hidden gem inside the Andaz Hotel on Sunset. Not many people know about it, so it’s a nice surprise how cute it is. Simon LA - (which I know YOU know!) Great patio area...plus the Junk Food platter is always a crowd-pleaser
STK - lovely inside, the typical dark, moody steakhouse feel. Nice booths- not sure about a big group though.
Susan Feniger's Street - food is interesting (not outstanding), but it’s definitely fun. And it’s got a nice patio for a group dining experience.
* The Tar Pit – SO cute. The inside is lovely, a very 1920s vibe (http://tarpitbar.squarespace.com/pics/the-tar-pit/)...food is great, drinks are amazing.
The Foundry on Melrose - popular for group events for a reason. This place is always a crowd-pleaser. * Tres by Jose Andrés - same chef at The Bazaar... nothing here disappoints. Plus the hotel is beautiful and the drinks are amazing. XIV – the food is fancy, lots of “foams” and “terrines” and such. But could be nice for a group event.
Honorable mentions: (probably too casual, but worth a mention anyway because of the food)