You say it’s your birthday? From cool bars to fancy restaurants, there are destinations across Los Angeles that will make your birthday party unforgettable no what decade you're celebrating.
You've finally turned 21 and it's time to celebrate! It’s pretty much impossible not to be in a festive spirit when you’re sipping a Hurricane or housemade Sarsaparilla and bourbon at Sassafras, the atmospheric Southern saloon located on Vine. There’s Southern comfort food too, including fried chicken sliders on sweet potato waffles. On any given night you might be treated to a burlesque performance, live band or even Drag Bingo. Call ahead if you want a table.
BEAUTY & ESSEX
Modeled after a vintage jewelry box, the new Beauty & Essex at Dream Hollywood is the perfect combination of glamour and cool. Guests enter through a pawn shop. Then it’s on to the stunning dining room with its soaring ceiling, sparkly jelly fish-esque chandeliers and handsome wood tables. The menu is free ranging: poke tacos, chicken tandoori, chilaquiles. And they just debuted brunch. Oreo pancakes are a must for the table. A special note to the girls in the group: on busy weekend nights, they often set up a Champagne bar with complimentary pours in the ladies restroom lounge. Now that's the good life. Afterwards, you can dance the night away at local clubs like Avalon, Sound or the newly opened Station1640.
TOP CHEF DINNER
You've reached your prime earning years, so for your 40th birthday you deserve a dinner made by a Top Chef Master. Australian culinary king, Curtis Stone has long been a fixture on the small screen with his appearances on talk shows, reality TV competitions and as host of Top Chef Masters. Located in Hollywood, Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant is a collaboration between Stone and his brother Luke and it's a very personal restaurant, named for their maternal grandmother and reflecting the brothers' early years working in a butcher shop.
Stone's fellow Top Chef Master, tattooed French chef Ludo Lefebvre is another favorite amongst L.A.'s gourmands. The five-course tasting menu at Trois Mec changes frequently and to enjoy it, you have to make prepaid reservations. The restaurant also hosts events called "2 Chefs," when Chef Ludo joins forces with one of his pals for a six-course menu. Those events also require a prepaid reservation. Meanwhile, Petit Trois offers a set menu and doesn't take reservations, making it a more accessible way to experience Lefebvre's French inspired cuisine.
One of L.A.'s most exciting neighborhoods, Koreatown is home to incredible Korean BBQ, acclaimed restaurants like Here's Looking At You, and vibrant nightlife that's perfect for a birthday party. Finding Break Room 86 is an adventure in itself. The entrance is on the west side of The Line Hotel. Once the bouncer waves you in, make your way through a corridor in the back end of the hotel to this 80s wonderland complete with walls of lockers and cassette tapes, retro arcade games, and vintage vending machines. Throw in the occasional performance by break dancers or a Michael Jackson impersonator and you may start wondering if just maybe there is such a thing as time travel. If you want one of the private karaoke rooms, book in advance.
If you're not in the singing mood, stop by The Normandie Club at the Hotel Normandie for expertly made craft cocktails in a sophisticated lounge setting. Or book a table at the Walker Inn, the bar hidden inside the Normandie Club that serves seasonal omakase-style drink menus.
Nothing says "birthday party" L.A.-style like the lovingly restored Highland Park Bowl, the oldest functioning bowling alley in the city. It opened in 1927 and features the original pin mechanisms. But there’s far more than eight lanes here - there are two bars and the kitchen turns out authentic Neapolitan pizzas. On Friday night, two burlesque dancers do their thing - Miss Ashley Hayward and company definitely turn up the temperature.
Located on the Mezzanine level of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The Spare Room offers a bowling experience that's unlike anywhere else, featuring two circa 1940s maple and pine wood lanes that were discovered in Texas. An attendant keeps score on an old fashioned chalkboard. Local designer George Esquivel crafted the bespoke bowling shoes. In the gaming lounge, challenge your friends to Connect 4 that's fashioned from walnut, or perhaps Jenga or Monopoly. There’s an impressive drink menu featuring a long list of spirits as well as grown-up punch bowls for your party. Find the secret photo booth and capture your birthday night with a photo strip.
The spinning salad bowl with dressing dramatically poured from on high and glistening beef carved tableside from gleaming silver carts never lose its allure. Opened in 1938, Lawry’s The Prime Rib is a Los Angeles institution and a swell place to celebrate. People dress up. The offerings are decadent: Yorkshire pudding, creamed corn, and of course that prime rib. Be sure to mention you are celebrating a birthday when you make your booking (and it doesn’t hurt to remind your server). The kitchen will send out a complimentary slice of English trifle.
Open in Hollywood since 1919, Musso & Frank Grill has been a favored destination for generations of celebrities, from Charlie Chaplin to Johnny Depp. Some of the 20th century’s greatest writers were Musso’s regulars, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler. The extensive menu features classics like flannel cake, grenadine of beef and welsh rarebit, and daily specials like the famous chicken pot pie. Even more than these favorites, a must-order at Musso's is the classic gin Martini, served with an olive garnish and a small carafe with the remaining cocktail on the side.
PORSCHE EXPERIENCE CENTER
Mid-life crisis? Not when you’re behind the wheel of the latest model Porsche 911, 718, Cayenne or Panamera. At the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles, you and your guests each choose your preferred vehicle, in consultation with your 1:1 staff instructor, who will also be your passenger. All driving sessions last 90 minutes. And because the outdoor track can accommodate up to 24 vehicles, there’s no need to take turns. You can all burn rubber together. (Okay, maybe not exactly burn rubber.) Afterwards, head upstairs to Restaurant 917. There are dynamite views of the track, a private dining room that can accommodate up to 24, and the pretzel rolls are served with butter sculpted into tiny Porsche 911s. If the full driving experience is a bit too spendy, they also rent out their simulator room, with five simulators, by the hour.