Best L.A. Birthday Restaurants & Ideas 2018

We made the plans, now you bring the balloons

Even if you're not celebrating this month, chances are you know someone who is. Here's where to go in Los Angeles for dinner, the place to source dessert and a fresh list of gift ideas.

Where to Eat

For a Dressed-Up Affair: Lucques

There's not a chef who defines L.A.'s cuisine more than Suzanne Goin, whose flagship restaurant has been a city mainstay since 1998. Any seat in the airy, enclosed garden feels like a VIP spot, especially when a bowl of short ribs, nestled in potato purée and braised onions, is on the table. There are plenty of options for larger groups, too, so you won't miss out on any of Goin's market-driven menu.

The Hard-to-Get-Into It Restaurant:


Having a smaller circle of friends is a good thing—especially when you're trying to get into David Chang's just-opened foray into Los Angeles. Share a few plates like crispy pork belly wraps and kampachi crudo, or spring for a large-format dish suited for four to six diners, like Chang's signature bo ssam—a hulking glazed pork shoulder that comes with plenty of sides.

For a Milestone Birthday: Arts District Brewing Co.

Ignore whatever those two digits on your card say—nothing beats throwing it back to the birthday bashes of your childhood. This group-friendly brewery-arcade hybrid delivers the nostalgia of a pizza party celebration (Skee-Ball machines included) without any of the costumed mascots.

A Cocktail Spot for a Small Group: The NoMad Bar

Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's L.A. outpost of their acclaimed bar is finally open, and any one of the plush, velvet couches located in the ornate lobby is the perfect spot to sip on a cocktail from bar director Leo Robitschek. 

Something More Casual: The Mighty

Start with a plate of fried polenta crispier than any french fry you've had before moving on to one of the homemade pastas from husband-and-wife duo Quinn and Karen Hatfield. Nothing on the menu will set you back more than an Andrew Jackson—even the seemingly lavish squid-ink chitarra with Dungeness crab. 

Where to Get the Cake

Dominique Ansel L.A.

Grab a few obligatory Cronuts if you have to, but the real move at Dominique Ansel's new bakery at the Grove is a full-size version of the pastries you see behind the glass case, such as the Paris-LA: a wreath of choux pastry sandwiching two types of chocolate ganache and a raspberry chambord jam.

What to Gift

Products we have our eyes on that will help your friend (or yourself) live more deliciously.

Butter Pat Cast-Iron Pan

This chef-approved take on the kitchen staple is deceptively light, questionably thin around the edges and looks more like a bronzed antique than something capable of everything cast-iron pans are known and loved for. It even has a 100-year warranty, in case you have any doubts.

Steeped Coffee Tea Bags

This one is for those who know the best gift is that of a seamless morning routine. This newly launched subscription service supplies packets that look like Earl Grey but taste like a coffee shop-level morning brew.

To'ak Chocolate

Nothing says "I appreciate your existence" like the most expensive chocolate in the world. The company treats chocolate making the same way winemakers or distillers approach their spirits, and no two batches are the same.