Daughter's 20th Birthday Dinner in LA with Family?

I am taking my family to LA for a family vacation (we are from the Kansas City area) and I am looking for someplace to celebrate my daughter’s 20th birthday. There will be 5 of us – myself, my wife and our daughters (20, 17 and 12). I have already made reservations at The Bazaar. I’ve been there before and I thought that would be a fun place. We all are adventurous eaters.

Other birthday dinner spots I’m looking at:

  • Musso & Frank
  • Spago
  • Il Cielo
  • The Little Door
  • Grill on the Alley
  • Michael’s (Santa Monica)
  • Wilshire (Santa Monica)

I know that my daughters would like to go somewhere that they can dress up a little.

We are staying in Santa Monica, but we can go most anywhere.

Relatedly, as we are staying a week, I am planning on taking them to:

  • Philippe
  • A-Frame
  • Pann’s
  • Parks BBQ
  • In N Out (as we don’t have those in KC)
  • Apple Pan
  • Pink’s

Any advice on the birthday dinner and any iconic and unique LA spots would be appreciated!

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And i second spago

Animal for a non birthday dinner




Orsa & Winston

Hinoki and the Bird


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The Bazaar is a whole lot of fun. If you’re into wine, my friend is the lead Somm there…ask for Rachel and she’ll lead you down the right path.
Providence would be an excellent choice, too. If you happen to be coming soon, you might be able to take advantage of their anniversary pricing.
Spago never disappoints and the patio seating is a nice way to spend a southern California evening.

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If I was visiting from KC with daughters those ages…

Brunch: Hotel Bel-Air (dress-up)

Lunch: Nobu Malibu, Petrossian (WeHo)

Upscale Dinner: ink (Melrose), Providence (Melrose), Spago (Beverly Hills), n/naka (Palms), Redbird (Downtown), Bestia (Arts District)

Casual but tasty: New Port Seafood (Beverly Hills), Aburiya Raku (WeHo), Sawtelle restaurant crawl (West LA), Bulgarini Gelato (Altadena), Urth Caffe (WeHo), Ricky’s Fish Tacos (twitter), Kogi Taqueria (Palms), Connie & Ted’s (WeHo), Messob (Fairfax), Animal (Fairfax), Father’s Office (Santa Monica; note: age 21&up), Marugame Monzo (Little Tokyo), JapaDog (Santa Monica Pier;twitter)

Celeb sightings (they come out on weeknights): Matsuhisa (La Cienega Blvd.), Giorgio Baldi (Santa Monica/Pacific Palisades), Capo (Santa Monica), Chateau Marmont (WeHo), Dan Tana’s (WeHo)


Hi @Topekahawk,

For Birthday Dinners from your list, I’d say:

  • The Bazaar - Fun, different.
  • Spago - Food-wise, I think others are better, but it’s a very famous LA establishment, and the dining room patio area is nice.
  • Providence

I’d go to those 3 before the Wilshire and others on your list.

For your other restaurants, I’d go swap out:

  • Pink’s for --> Langer’s (best Pastrami ever :)).
  • Great call on Park’s BBQ - Fun, different for your family and top quality meats.

Since you are around 5/8 farther from the Pacific as you are from the Atlantic, and let’s face it - it’s a long way from any ocean - I suggest you drive along the Pacific Ocean Highway and eat at one of the great places along the ocean. If your family is inclined to hiking I recommend taking Yerba Beuna Rd off of PCH to Sandstone peak, http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/sandstone-peak/, taking the short hike, and then driving down to eat at Neptune’s Net. Go for the fresh side, not the fried side and enjoy a meal you won’t be able to get in KC - plus you may see dolphins as well as bikers.

If you don’t mind my asking; is Arthur Bryant’s still as good as Calvin Trillin touts in his original books? I loved reading about the WWII scenario where the white guy sticks with his black friend, eschews the segregated restaurants, and ends up with the best meal in his life.

Hope you have a wonderful trip!


Thanks for all the great replies. VERY appreciated. I have a lot of research to do!

I will give a full report when I get back on June 16.

ebethsdad, Arthur Bryant’s BBQ is still that good. You have to go to the original one in downtown KCMO. The one in KC Kansas by the NASCAR speedway is not as good. There are so many good BBQ places in the KC metro area. My favorite these days is Joe’s Kansas City BBQ http://www.joeskc.com. I still love Bryant’s though.

I don’t think the food at Pink’s is supposed to be worth the wait in line (when it’s busy late at night) I think it’s fun to people watch there (you all may enjoy walking by to gawk at the line), but I’d save the calories for something else.

Likewise, I think the atmosphere at Apple Pan is great, but I don’t think the food is anything special there.

Penthouse at the Huntley might be a nice visit. Food is fine (and certainly better than it has to be, given the location/view), and the view can be breathtaking. And it’s right in Santa Monica. Catch at Hotel Casa del Mar is also good.

Walking along Sawtelle might also be fun for the family. Just remember that parking can be painful.

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I agree with @paranoidgarliclover. Pinks is for people watching. It has the Hollywood history. My sons saw the actors from Entourage filming a scene for the movie there. Your kids would like that more than Apple Pan. Ditto on the Penthouse at Huntley. My niece had her sweet sixteen there.

But, everybody has given you good suggestions. Are you thoroughly confused yet?

Have fun!

Hatchet Hall :slight_smile: that was fun for me. Hope you’re the kind of family where a 20 year old can have a half a glass of wine.

Just FYI.

Best place to people watch is at Sqirl.

It will make you reconsider the relevance of humanity. Or perhaps everything.


Tons of great options in this thread. For me, I think Red Bird downtown would be choice. The outdoor space is stunning and the food is fantastic. Plus you can take the newly opened metro from SM to Downtown! But probably not if you’re getting dressed up.

And definitely agree about KC Joe’s > Arthur Bryant’s; although, I preferred LC’s when I went earlier this year.

I will gladly trade both of my left testicles for the burnt end sandwiches at KC Jones.

Everything else at most BBQ joints in KC are just sort of meh-kind-of-good, AB and KCJ included.

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I would also highly recommend Nobu Malibu for lunch (request the outdoor patio), Redbird and Bestia for the higher end although not necessarily dress up spots, you can. Great ambience and good food for all 3.

Reservations are tough for Nobu Malibu and Bestia so I recommend getting on that ASAP.


Agree with the Penthouse. I had my 40th there a few months ago and it was great.

Also, it’s not amazing food, but good food, but you go there more for the ambiance: Geoffrey’s in Malibu. Amazing views. They do a nice Sunday brunch menu too. If you want to do something “LA”, you can say you had dinner in Malibu, beach-side. You can get a little dressed up there too.


I think if the OP and the family want beach-side or sea-side dining, the recent refresh at the Lobster in Santa Monica would be a fine option.

And much easier to get to than most places in Malibu, with better food too. Win, Win.




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We have meds for that now. Better living through chemistry.


Do LUNCH there, not dinner. They turn off the “ocean view” feature in the dining room after dark, for some reason…