West Hollywood is LA’s trendiest neighborhood, where A-list stars and influencers in the wild can be spotted on the daily. Celebrity and celebrity-adjacent experiences abound. I’ve seen Pauly D driving a neon orange Lamborgini down Melrose Boulevard, befriended Cardi B‘s party bus driver outside of Poppy Night Club, pet Logan Lerman‘s dog at Alfred Coffee, and even took a pilates class with P Diddy.
West Hollywood, or what locals like to call WeHo, plays like one big, very bougie party. And when you’re there, it’s easy to feel like you’re invited.
While the famous folks and the slew of TikTokers who risk their lives by dancing in the streets keep things interesting, it’s the restaurants and nightlife that actually make WeHo cool. And yes, even the restaurants have had their share of time in the spotlight. Many of West Hollywood’s most beloved food destinations have been featured on reality TV – anyone watch Vanderpump Rules? (No? Us neither. Not even on rainy, hungover Sundays when reality TV seems super comforting and it’s running in four-hour blocks and you can just curl under your comforters and…)
If you’re a sucker for Instagrammable ambiance and shockingly attractive waiters (most of which are aspiring actors and male models, obvi), WeHo’s food scene lives up to the hype and then some. Below, I’m sharing the trendiest West Hollywood restaurants — all of which I recommend you try at least once.
Gracias Madre is one of my favorite restaurants in all of LA. It packs dreamy decor, bomb ass food, and one-of-a-kind drinks that are equally as tasty as they are aesthetically pleasing into one place. The half indoor, half outdoor restaurant serves a full menu of vegan Mexican dishes made from scratch using local, organic ingredients. I know you meat lovers are probably rolling your eyes at me right now, but don’t knock these plant-based delicacies until you try them.
Everything I’ve eaten on the menu (and I’ve had a lot) tasted ultra-fresh and flavorful. I particularly love the chicharrón tacos, filled with battered fried oyster mushrooms, sunflower sprouts, chipotle aioli, and habanero salsa with a side of rice and black beans. The crunch-to-sauce ratio is on point, and the habanero’s spicy kick will wake you right up. The wet jackfruit burrito and the various “bowls” are crowd favorites, too. You should also order the chips and guac, but that’s a given. Flavor-wise, if I didn’t tell you this joint was vegan, you probably wouldn’t even notice.
In addition to the food menu, the selection of signature drinks will elevate your Gracias Madre meal to the next level. They’re especially satisfying to drink under the twinkling lights and olive trees on the picturesque patio. When I feel like straying away from my usual margarita order, my go-to cocktail is the “Slushie,” a frozen mix of watermelon, Cupreata mezcal, aloe, manzanilla, gentian amaro, lime, and agave. If you’re feeling dangerous, you can even order a mezcal or tequila flight.
Peruse the full Gracias Madre menu here.
Reality TV junkies will already know this one, but it’s definitely worth the mention. Pump is co-owned by Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, Lisa Vanderpump, whose first restaurant, Sur, rose to fame on Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. Pump is in the center of West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ neighborhood where gay bars, flashing LED lights, and rainbow sidewalks rule. It’s a blast, and there’s always something to do if you choose to keep the night going after dinner.
In fact, Pump almost feels like a nightclub in and of itself. The restaurant’s dim lighting, whimsical decor, and romantic table settings (complete with a rose and candle) will get you in the mood to hit the town.
When it comes to trendy hotspots like Pump, I usually expect the experience and food to be overrated. However, Pump’s Mediterranean-inspired menu is surprisingly well-curated with a diverse selection of appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, and main courses. Make sure to order the Rock Shrimp Tempura. The battered shrimp are tossed in a chili citrus aioli, then topped with paprika mango chutney, chives, and micro cilantro. As for the main event, you can’t go wrong with any of the pastas. These are also a smart choice if you plan on making a stop at The Abbey next door for more drinks. I recommend the four-cheese ravioli or angel hair with roasted chicken and pine nuts.
Now for the fun part – the cocktails! Pump’s extensive drinks menu features quirky-named cocktails like “Take Mai Tie Off” and “Spicy Cowboy.” I order the “Pumpagranite Margarita,” which is Pump’s twist on a pomegranate marg. The sweet (yet strong) cocktail is made with Blanco Tequila, triple sec, fresh lime, home-crafted simple syrup, and pomegranate liqueur.
Check out Pump’s drinks, dinner, and brunch menus here.
I’ve celebrated several birthdays at Bacari, and it delights me every time. Tucked behind what looks like a dingy storefront is an intimate patio dining area adorned with string lights, ceramic chandeliers, and vines hanging overhead. Walking through the dark cobblestone alleyway to enter the restaurant transports you to what feels like a mini European plaza. Bacari’s menu offers Venetian-inspired small plates and Mediterranean-influenced dishes by Chef Lior Hillel.
Bacari is great for groups and celebratory events because the menu is ideal for sharing with the table. The wide variety of sharables include dishes like charcuterie plates, burrata Caprese, caramelized brussels sprouts, pizza (the Asian pear and brie pizza is a must), and chipotle chicken wings. If you want an eccentric sweet treat to top off your Mediterranian meal, order the “best cake you’ve ever had” from the dessert menu. It’s topped with Medjool dates, brown sugar caramel, and crispy bacon (Tip: Add vanilla ice cream to the mix. Trust me, it’s worth the additional $2.)
Bacari is best known for its wine list, but it also offers 15 different cocktails that are equally as enjoyable to sip on. Dairy-free folks will be happy to know that the espresso martini is made with oat milk (the restaurant clearly knows its LA audience). If you like whiskey, order the brown butter sour. It consists of brown butter-infused whiskey, dry curaçao, egg white foam, nutmeg, and lemon.
Overall, Bacari presents a dinner to remember. If you want to try it for yourself, definitely make a reservation. Being that the venue is on the smaller side, it’s a good idea to book a table ahead of time.
View the full Bacari W. 3rd menu here.
If you’re looking to woo your next date, take them to Ysabel. The Italian-inspired restaurant’s sleek, modern decor combined with yet another patio full of twinkling lights makes for a romantic setting like no other. Ysabel is on the finer side of dining experiences in WeHo, so you’re likely to see an influx of designer ensembles at the host stand. I definitely felt slightly underdressed the first time I showed up in jeans.
Basically, you’re in for an upscale meal. The good news is that the food is actually worth the hefty price tag. The hand-cut spaghetti is so good that, honestly, it’s the only entreé I’ve ordered. It’s tossed in kale and Marcona almond pesto and topped with a soft poached egg. I still remember my first bite of this earthy pasta dish – mmm. Luckily, I’ve always gone to Ysabel with friends who let me try a bite of their main courses. If you like seafood, you’ll love the spinach and cheese tortellini with roasted shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and parsley.
As for the appetizers, the spicy tuna tartare, multigrain flatbread, and brussels sprouts can do no wrong. Of course, Italian goes best with a glass of wine. Ysabel’s extensive wine list is sure to quench your thirst. If you’re not one for a savvy B, then one of the many cocktails should do the trick.
Check out the full Ysabel menu here.
Laurel Hardware is the speakeasy version of a classy sit-down restaurant. From the outside, it looks like a beat-up old hardware store (hence, the name). On the inside, though? You’ll find a chic, dimly lit restaurant and bar that gives off major NYC vibes. Keep walking past the stocked bar and high-top tables, and you’ll find yet another charming patio with flowers and lights strung on trees galore. Are you sensing a theme here? I guess the year-round great weather in LA makes for the ideal patio dining scenario.
Aside from the undeniably hip atmosphere, Laurel Hardware also has a delicious selection of farm-to-table new American fare. The crispy shrimp appetizer is a good place to start. The spicy, tangy sharable is made with shishito peppers, pickled tomatillos, and chili aioli. It’s the zesty kick you need to start your meal on a high note. Follow the crispy shrimp with one of the many pleasurable main courses, which include a variety of salads, pizzas, pasta, and large plates. The ricotta tortellini is quite literally life-changing. Cheese, breadcrumbs, pesto sauce – so much yes.
For something hardy, the pan-seared branzino is a must-order. It’s paired with rainbow chard, cauliflower puree, capers, and lemon. It’s one savory dish with lots of textures intertwined. You’re sure to need a luscious libation to combat the saltiness. Fortunately, Laurel Hardware has a long list of fine wines and signature cocktails. The frozen lavender margarita is exactly the flowery drink you need to match the fairytale-like environment on the patio. The boozy refresher consists of Cazadores Reposado, Cointreau, lavender, and lemon. One of Laurel Hardware’s most unique drinks is the LA Manhattan, a combination of rose black tea steeped old forester, Alessio, cassis, and ginger.
No matter what your alcohol preferences might be, you’re sure to find a cocktail to your liking on the menu.
Browse the Laurel Hardware menu here.
In the thick of the WeHo neighborhood on Santa Monica Boulevard is the ultra-trendy yet intimate Zinqué restaurant. It’s a smaller space, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in ambiance. Upon arrival, you’ll quickly notice its relaxed, charming environment. What I love about Zinqué is that you can show up in a dress and stilettos or jeans and sneakers. You can make the experience whatever you want, whether it’s a casual happy hour or a stylish dinner out.
Le Bowl seems to be the restaurant’s most popular dish, and for good reason. The fan-favorite dish is made with brown rice, avocado, tomatoes, arugula, comté, parmesan, sriracha mayo, and chicken or frittata. It’s light and healthy but still delivers a blast of flavors and textures. The tartines, flatbreads, and charcuterie plates are also a great choice, especially if you want something to share with the table. Everything on the menu is best paired with a glass of wine, and Zinqué’s extensive wine list has plenty to offer. However, the drink menu also features a handful of bubbles, beer, and signature cocktails.
Check out Zinqué’s brunch and dinner menus here.
I’ll be honest, I’ve spent more time on E.P. & L.P.‘s rooftop bar than I have in the actual restaurant. It’s a hotspot for late-night mingling, overpriced margaritas, and city views (a few of my favorite things). While I love the rooftop shenanigans, the restaurant has earned a well-deserved spot on this list, too. The contemporary restaurant serves modern American fare from a seasonal menu that features many local California-grown ingredients.
With appetizers like caviar and oysters, as well as expertly prepared entreés on the menu, the options are a tad pricey. However, the experience, fresh meal, and first-hand access to the rooftop bar for post-dinner drinks make the hefty check worth it. I wouldn’t come here for an everyday dinner, but it’s somewhere to keep in mind for birthday celebrations or special anniversaries.
If you’re ready to treat yourself and indulge in a memorable meal, order the gnocchi lobster, which is a plate of fresh gnocchi with sautéed Maine lobster, golden tomato, Calabrian chili, and basil. It’s safe to say it beats my usual frozen gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. If you’re not a seafood fan, try the Niman Ranch pork chop schnitzel. It’s marinated with peppers, pickled mustard, capers, and basil. Yum.
View the full E.P. & L.P. menu here.
Toca Madera is one of my most recent WeHo restaurant discoveries. I had driven past it many times and was continually intrigued by the crowds of young, overdressed people I saw waiting outside to be seated. I finally decided to see what the hype was all about, and I now fully understand why it’s always packed to the brim. It has the aesthetic of a classy, stylish restaurant but with the liveliness of a bustling late-night bar. There are 20-somethings flirting at the bartop, groups of hungry guests passing apps around their tables, and by the end of the night, a fire eater and dancer might even turn up to perform (to say my jaw dropped mid taco bite is an understatement).
Toca Madera’s nearly 30-page drinks menu speaks to the party vibes that seep through the restaurant. If you’re a lightweight like me, I’d recommend Ubering so you can try more than one beverage. You need to sip on one of the uniquely curated cocktails. Being that it’s a Mexican-inspired restaurant, I chose one of the many flavored margaritas on my first visit. I went with the guava margarita, made with Avion Silver, Combier, guava, thyme, and lime. It was the ultimate combination of sweet and citrus.
The Toca Madera food menu features all your usual Mexican fixings, including fresh AF guacamole, upscale tacos, and street corn. I ordered the white prawn tacos and didn’t regret it a bit. The corn tortillas were filled with sautéed shrimp marinated in garlic, lime, and white wine, jalapeño cabbage, avocado-tomatillo salsa, and cilantro. My tastebuds loved the tanginess. In addition to the expected entreés, Toca Madera also has a raw bar featuring fishy favorites like Baja style poke and ceviche.
Peruse the Toca Madera menu for yourself here.