Four BEST Places to Canoodle in Los Angeles…

It’s time to establish some priorities. Always on the hunt for the best places to canoodle in Los Angeles, we found four hot spots and a place to stay that should be on your greatest kiss-and-tell list. Let’s start where we slumbered, shall we.


Proper Hotel – 700 Wilshire Blvd. – Santa Monica, CA 90401 – 310-620-9990 –

A romantic coup is about to take over.

If you correlate a resort lifestyle and its fine dining attributes to old-money country club guys sipping overpriced scotch in posh club rooms, it’s high time we fast forward you to the new phase of living in fine feather. Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel will force you to drop that pretentious preconceived notion.

Every person and every detail at the Proper Hotel are on their best behavior to win you over. The aesthetic was dreamt into reality by famed Kelly Wearstler and her husband Brad Korzen; both have set a design bar so high that you may not find it matched again in these parts. Copied eventually, sure. But never quite this unique. The property is adorned with earthy tones, textures, and patterns in every unexpected nook and cranny. Bold, select furniture greets you in the main lobby—an artful introduction to your travel-weary eyes.

Santa Monica, California, plays host to unique architecture already. So, these parts wouldn’t take too kindly to an over-the-top developer coming into the neighborhood and breaking up the harmony. So Proper Hotel didn’t. They took an existing historic landmark and redesigned it into accommodations that offer a traditional nod to the past with a fresh, modern take on the present. Proper Hotel is speaking an octave of synergy with Santa Monica.


You can hear that octave from the patio of your balcony or garden terrace, too. Bellino Italian comforter and pillows paired with Fili D’Oro linens say come hither after you’ve unpacked your unmentionables. State-of-the-art technology will please the techie traveler in tow (including the Proper phone app, electronic keys, and electronic check-out). Connecting rooms available if you’re traveling with family or security.

The space was immaculate. As if never disturbed before our arrival. There were no sounds of guests nearby; it caught us by surprise to learn at check-out that our hotel was at capacity. That’s code for what a well-insulated building! The walk-in travertine tile shower was generous in size and the soft, plush robes hanging nearby were made by Parachute Home (um, add that to our tab, please!). The smell of Aesop bath products made me want to wash up even when I was already clean.

Take up brief residence on the landmark building side, which has a more NYC vibe. Whether on that proper side or not, do notice how Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel tells a story. It’s a Zen-Asian world with breezy “Californication” and European high style at every turn. Look forward to relaxed luxury when staying at Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel.


Santa Monica already feels like a wanderluster’s fantasy, with diverse dining cuisines available within walking distance in every direction (3rd Street Promenade, Montana Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard). But the reasons to not leave the grounds may—and should—catch up with you.

Onda—An open kitchen and bustling bar scene serve up artful culinary concoctions that celebrate Mexico City and Los Angeles food scenes. Reservations suggested. Jessica Koslow and Gabriela Camara are the foodie heroes here.

Palma—The lobby lounge of Proper Hotel is an inviting and intimate space lined with windows, lush greenery and exotic original art. A true continuance of bliss is settling into one of the carved-out niches for all-day dining. Reservations suggested for dinner.

Calabra—The elevated rooftop indoor/outdoor bistro with unmatched 360-degree views and Mediterranean and California cuisine by Executive Chef Kaleo Adams. The stunning views are best enjoyed with thoughtfully prepared boutique wines and seasonal cocktails.

Surya Spa—Your staycation isn’t complete without a spa day. Viola! Prayers answered. Ten thousand years of Indian wellness principles are practiced here through massage, steam and oil treatments, cooking, yoga, and meditation.

It’s as if Proper Hotel chose us.

No matter the reason or the season, Santa Monica’s Proper Hotel is the ideal mark to reclaim your senses!  And when you restless vagabonds are looking to elaborate on that Los Angeles trip, Ventre Magazine’s travel bag suggests four extremely desirable places to canoodle.

FIRST STOP…FIG Restaurant – 101 Wilshire Blvd. – Santa Monica, California 90401 – 310-319-3111 –

We’ve always been attracted to spaces that lift us up in nurturing ways. The first tell-tale signs that we reached this SoCal utopia was a large Moreton tree and stone circular driveway nestled in a garden-like setting. Gobsmacked is a yummy way to be introduced to a property.

FIG Restaurant is located inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows in the heart of Santa Monica, CA. We’ve explored Fairmont properties in Ventre Magazine before—Sonoma, CA and Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego—so the dinner plans at this posh landmark were familiar and warmly received.

Chef Jason Prendergast and the culinary team at FIG served up autumn in a dish. Prawns freshly harvested that day (weather permitting, of course) started our love affair with this menu. Disarmed and charmed by the Lady Edison Extra Fancy Country Ham and Cheddar Biscuits—our server informed us that this Rufus Brown ham is cured 12-18 months and only available at two “approved” locations in Santa Monica. Well, fancy that! You’ve never tasted ham like this, each bite savory and conversational.

The Maine Lobster Rigatoni with Matt’s Mushrooms, Bloomsdale Spinach, Tarragon Fennel and Lobster jus deserves a closer examination. Everything served up feels creative yet familiar. No staple was too over the top, just the ocean views.

You wish your ex-boss would surrender the way the Aspen Ridge Braised Short Ribs and Herb Gnocchi surrenders to your fork.

The vibe is bistro cool and upscale casual; quintessential California on its very best behavior. The pewter bar and communal table brought flash-forwards of Happy Hour canoodling.  A sweet gesture to yourself would be a return trip for the Sunday brunch!

None of this is a figment of your imagination.

Also available at Fig Restaurant:

The Lady Edison Extra Fancy Country Ham is cured and aged for 12-18 months by Rufus Brown and the meat is from pasture-raised hogs, free of any antibiotics or hormones. For a bit more information on the company find their website here:

2ND STOP… Belle Vie – 11916 Wilshire Blvd. – Los Angeles, CA 90025 – 424-832-7375 –

When tonight’s forecast for laughter, killer wine consumption, and California centric French fare calls you, pay attention to the broadcast. Never pass up a Happy Hour invite, dinner with an old friend, or a quirky, friendly bistro with warm vibes to canoodle with someone very dear. Your host? Say enchanté to Belle Vie in Brentwood, easily one of the coolest new spots in town.

Talk about sweet first impressions. The music was eclectic and matched the colorful and varied art and decor. Our server Kate’s timing was perfect. Our dinnerware was thoughtful and unique—table side water from vintage milk glassware reminded me of being in some funky eatery in Austin, Texas. The setting snaps one back to being in the Lower East Village, if not Paris itself. To say your palate is about to be transported is not overselling it.

Enticement continued as Chef Cedric Nicolas (this guy has street cred in Paris and trained under Gordon Ramsey), served up French comfort inspired by local California produce. Never has West LA seen such a perfect menu-conjuring of farm-to-market vegetables, rock fish, octopus, duck, chicken and so much more. This was the dinner hero we were looking for. The Scallops On Their Shell, with the perfect amount of breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and butter, hit our mouths and changed the table chatter back to where we landed. Warm Goat Cheese Salad, Sausage Galette, and Angel’s Eggs played temptress to the eye—but we must save something for the return visit.

We mixed up the fromage and charcuterie board and never regretted one moment.  For fear of missing out on what all the other tables were ordering, Gratin de Coquillettes (mac & cheese in a truffle cream) is an absolute must at Belle Vie. And if you filled up three bites ago, adjust your Spanx for the main attraction to come—Pouley Aux Morilles a succulent half organic Mary’s chicken in a unforgettable morel sauce and Pomme Dauphine (crispy potato puffs). You really had us at hello.

My guest coveted the Bavette a l’échalotte (skirt steak) and its demi-glaze, butter and shallots finishing. Each bite so distracting and tender. He only came up for air a few times, nodding in complete approval.

The spell of this room never wore off, even as I write this a week later. Belle Vie was fun, yet casual at the same time. Belle Vie felt authentic and that feeling in and of itself makes me wish we took residence around the corner so we, too, could be those lucky locals.


Pacifique – 631 N. La Cienaga Blvd. – West Hollywood, CA 90069 – 310-359-0788 –

Los Angeles has long been a city with open secrets. West Hollywood proper has a bevy of foody options competing for your precious time. In our lusty search for perfect places to canoodle, Pacifique on La Cienaga Boulevard has its neighbors gracious in their defeat. This farm-to-table neighborhood bistro nailed exactly the vibe of seduction we were looking for.

Merge high-end hideaway with an inventive cocktail list and this scene is already winning by a mile. Visualize Mokum fabric banquettes and drapery in private booths. The lighting is low and the tone of conversation in the main room and bar is just right. Chef Wes Whitsell (Soho House NY, Manuela) vies for your affection through every bite of Scallop Skewers and Lime Mayo Ginger in a setting that will school you on pure ambiance.

The evening began with five-star Pork and Shrimp Dumplings, harmoniously crispy Brussel Sprouts, meaty Prawns large enough to slap my dinner guest into submission and blistered Shishido Peppers. The artful smear on that plate shouldn’t be missed! It’s squid ink aioli and was an unexpected heavenly hit on the table.

And there’s a clear scheme behind the bar to win over your senses, too: a sassy watermelon margarita named Eleven (tequila, Mezcal, watermelon purée jalapeño lime and agave syrup) will wash away any bad work week you had.

It’s an act of love to cook for guests at Pacifique. Prolong the courtship over decadent desserts, if you have any room left. This California Pacific cuisine with notes of Asian flavors had us at a minor crossroads on which entree to share. The grilled Sonoma Lamb Chops, Ora King Salmon, and Ribeye Steak all looked tantalizing — we agreed on sharing the Grilled Skirt Steak and Little Gem Salad. A side dish of crispy Baby Potatoes in Jalapeño Aioli Dill was obvious synergy!

The possibilities for a successful dinner outing were bountiful on this menu.

We learned over our scrumptious dinner affair that Pacifique is also open for lunch and brunch. It might be time to take this relationship of ours to the daylight hours.


Library Bar – 630 W. 6th Street – Suite 116A (street level) – Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90017 – 213-614-1900 –

Stop, drop and roll isn’t just applicable when you’re on fire. Stop by Library Bar to extinguish your thirst and reclaim your senses after a long day at work. Drop your hunger pains off here (that fried chicken sandwich is seriously about to own you in every good way possible) and roll through fine libations like “Gone with the Gin” to send a clear signal that this day has come to a pleasant end.

A non-descript storefront means only one thing in these parts—there are locals inside. To pass Library Bar would be a missed opportunity. As views of Happy Hour come into better focus, Library Bar in the heart of DTLA should be on your radar. Whether you’re delaying that grueling commute home, stumbling upon this gem by accident, or canoodling here often with someone who gives you butterflies, Library Bar is smitten to have you.

It’s a stylish interior in a romantic setting. The menu reads like a best-selling novel with a prologue of handcrafted cocktails and gastropub bites. The food is elevated here! The charred brussel sprouts in sherry vinegar were palate perfect and the calamari with squid ink aioli was better than what we had at that fancy-schmancy resort last vacation. It’s easy to opt for the shrimp wrapped in bacon as you pair your favorite wine with the charcuterie board.

Not much of a drinker here to be honest. But a good true martini with a charming name and lusty ingredients got me back in the game again. The “Adventures of BlackBerry Finn” left my senses gobsmacked.

Locals and out-of-towners pretending to be regulars discuss The Broad, Staples Center, and banking over “Tequila Mockingbird & Fifty Shades of Charcoal.” Mental note to my single gal pals that this place is dripping with young professionals who moved out of Mom and Dad’s basement eons ago.

To make us leave such a warm and whimsical place could be the cruelest thing you could ever do, but to make us return often for silent movie projector nights and DJ shenanigans make it all better again.

Where else did you expect to find me? Looking forward to bringing you more playful places through this travel blog!

Always wondering and always wandering,
Sam Russell
    Givingsam  Givingsam