Whether you’re power lunching or craving a refined way to dine during the day, leave fast-casual behind and pull up a chair at one of these six exquisite Los Angeles midday destinations.
Freds at Barneys New York
Shopping your way up to the fifth floor of this Beverly Hills fashion mecca has its rewards. At one of L.A.’s newest power lunch spots, relax in a chic modern environment and dine on a contemporary American menu with a California twist. Ask to be seated on the north patio so you can pair sweeping views of Rodeo Drive and the Hollywood Hills with go-to dishes like the Beverly Hills club (a generous heap of shrimp, crab, avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato served on seven-grain bread) or the Palm Springs shrimp salad (mixed greens, hearts of palm, avocado, tomatoes and hardboiled eggs tossed in a green goddess dressing). Refresh with cold-pressed juices or unwind over seasonal cocktails made with small-batch spirits such as the Laurel Canyon Sunrise, a citrusy mix of pineapple, orange and grapefruit juices with pureed strawberries spiked with Patrón.
Fig & Olive
Step onto the shores of the French Riviera when you dine at this breezy Melrose Place eatery. During the day, the sun peeks through skylights to warm the olive trees and rosemary bushes that accent the dining room. After a quick perusal of the menu, you’ll learn that the cornerstone of executive chef Pascal Lorange’s menu is olive oil. Begin any meal with a tasting to appreciate this key ingredient in its purest form. Other must-haves are the restaurant’s signature crostini in combinations like manchego, fig and Marcona almond; prosciutto, ricotta, fig, olive and walnut; and cured salmon, radish and cucumber yogurt with dill. Once you finish that course, move onto the branzino a la plancha highlighted with Cobrancosa olive oil or the comforting pumpkin-sage ravioli.
The Polo Lounge
No trip to L.A. is complete without lunch at the iconic Polo Lounge inside Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Beverly Hills Hotel. Further, no visit to the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant is whole without ordering the McCarthy salad at least once. While executive chef Kaleo Adams likes to keep the menu fresh by adding seasonal dishes and sourcing most of his ingredients from local farmers markets, the beloved salad — a mix of romaine hearts, grilled chicken, organic eggs, beets, tomatoes, cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, avocado and balsamic vinaigrette — is so sought after that it accounts for 10 percent of the restaurant’s total food sales. Dine inside to live piano accompaniment or enjoy your meal with a side of people-watching on the airy patio.
Ray’s and Stark Bar
Set on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ray’s and Stark Bar serves up carefully crafted dishes to culture aficionados. Ray’s charcuterie selections are the perfect way to kick off any sitting. The duck rillettes, truffled chicken liver, lamb salami and fennel sausage are all expertly made in house. Round out your lunch with yellowtail collar served with fermented black bean and scallions; any of the seasonal housemade pastas like the squid-ink bucatini with tomatoes, Calabrian chile and calamari; or the “Lamborghini” merguez, wood-fired pizza made with lamb sausage, provolone, Niçoise olives, red onion, garlic and pomegranate molasses.
Culina, Modern Italian
The stately ambience in Culina, which sits inside Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, is rivaled only by the food. This probably explains why you’ll often see Hollywood’s elite noshing on Hawaiian amberjack crudo, savoring short rib burgers and creating the next big deal over chicken piccata with black rice. And in true L.A. fashion, you can accompany your meal with a freshly squeezed juice from a formula you create. Savor everything under the impressive blown-glass chandelier in the dining room or alfresco among palm and fruit trees.
Sink into one of Tavern’s stylish settees to enjoy the California sunlight streaming in from glass vaulted ceilings in the dining room. Though the five-year-old spot from lauded chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne is a hit any time of day, it’s during lunch when Brentwood A-listers leisurely nibble on items such as bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Parmesan; the “pork pork pork” burger topped with romesco and manchego on a bun from Larder Baking Company (another one of Goin and Styne’s winning concepts); and the Niçoise sandwich with Spanish tuna, tomato, black olive and egg.