You may have traded in candlelit romantic dinners for sippy cups and kid’s menus, but celebrating Valentine’s Day family-style doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a delicious meal. L.A.’s wealth of restaurants include a few gems that are both family-friendly and sophisticated — at these places, you can linger over rave-worthy dishes with the kids in tow. Try one of these three spots:
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without Champagne and oysters, unless you prefer milk and fish sticks. At Playa Provisions, a sprawling, casual beachside restaurant, you can have it both ways. The atmosphere is relaxed, but the food is high-end and seasonal. It’s actually divided into four different little venues: a restaurant for dinner (Dockside), one for breakfast/lunch (King Beach), an ice cream shop (Small Batch), and a back-room bar (Grain).
Make a reservation for Dockside, a cozy dining hall blanketed in warm wood. Start with the crab pops, a deep-fried mini crab cake served on top of a crab claw. Seafood lollipops like these will coax even picky eaters into taking a bite – though they’re so good, you’ll be reluctant to share. For the main course, try the grilled salmon served with sweet, roasted parsnips and a tangy kale pesto sauce. If the kids like fish sticks, try the healthier alternative from the kids menu: breaded and fried crispy sand dabs. And because it’s Valentine’s Day, dessert is a necessity: Hop over to Small Batch for daily-made, artisanal ice cream. You can’t go wrong with flavors like malted chocolate or Thai tea.
Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
In a city littered with gourmet burger joints, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar stands out by putting an Asian-inspired twist on its offerings — like burgers topped with ketchup leather (try to picture a ketchup Fruit Roll-Up) and fries cooked in beef tallow. The beauty of Plan Check is that they offer pint-sized versions of their burgers; rather than the paltry, rubbery discs that usually pop up on kids’ menus, your kids feast on mini versions of the real deal.
Grab a seat on the open-air patio with views of the bustling Sawtelle strip. Pick from a daily special, like the mushroom Swiss truffle burger. Your kids will love the house-special plan check burger, but the highlight, by far, is the dessert: cinnamon- and sugar-dusted crullers, made to order and nestled in a cast iron pan, surrounded by mounds of whipped cream and fruit.
800 Degrees Pizza
When you require a crowd-pleaser, pizza always wins. 800 Degrees Pizza, a Neopolitan-style pizza joint in Santa Monica, serves the hottest pies in town – literally. Inhale the delicious scents of mozzarella mingling with crushed tomatoes as you enter the open, modern dining hall, and order from the build-your-own menu. The kids love watching their pizzas being built as they pick toppings from behind the glass-cased counter – and you zero in on elevated options like rosemary ham, butternut squash, and truffle cheese. Cooked in the brick woodfire ovens, where the heat is intense, the pies are finished in about a minute: The perfect wait time for impatient kids.