It doesn’t matter how old you are, when your parents come to town it will stress you out. Between fielding questions about why you’re single to hearing about your Uncle Bob’s back surgery you still need to come up with palate pleasing places to dine. Pick the right place and you will be the toast of the town at the next family holiday. Pick the wrong place and your evening could devolve into an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. A lot rides on dinner with the ‘rents.
Whether they’re traveling across the country or just down the block, you still need to put some effort into your restaurant choices when you’re entertaining mom and dad. You can mitigate some of the pressure by picking a spot you know your parents will enjoy but that’s easier said than done. You might swear by your favorite sushi joint in Santa Monica but if your parents usually eat meat and potatoes that’s gonna be a no-go.
The goal here is to have your mom raving to her friends about the bolognese she ate on her visit while keeping your city dwelling taste buds dancing. Because, let’s face it, we’re spoiled in Los Angeles with one of the best food scenes around so you can’t waste a dinner out eating at an overpriced chain restaurant. Here are the perfect spots to grab some grub that will please every type of parent.
For Chain Restaurant Lovers
Studio City, West Hollywood, $$
There are plenty of parents who live for chain restaurants and there is nothing wrong with that. But, if you’re not really an all-you-can-eat-shrimp-fest kinda person, it can be tough to satisfy both palates. Hugo’s Restaurant is the perfect place to please your parents with an expansive menu full of staples like pasta and burgers. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options and the quality of the food leaves any old chain restaurant in the dust. This might actually be the place that will open mom and dad’s eyes to a bigger world of good food.
For The Foodie Parents Who Foot the Bill ...
Culver City, $$$
This is the spot to impress parents who pride themselves on being “real” foodies. Hatchet Hall pumps out incredible craft cocktails, a carefully curated wine list and a seasonal menu with really unique dishes cooked to perfection. The decor can only be described as country grandma chic (you’ll understand when you’re there). Start with oysters, try the roasted peanuts and, if it’s on the menu that night, the chicken liver is to die for. The beef fat potatoes are also a very worthwhile indulgence as a side. If you’re in the mood for a nightcap there is a hidden spirits bar (Old Man Bar) tucked in the back of the restaurant that makes an old fashioned that will knock your socks off.
For The Foodie Parents Who Don't Foot the Bill...
Silver Lake Ramen
If you come from a foodie family and you’re the one treating for dinner, Silverlake Ramen will tickle your palate with a warm, unctuous bowl of ramen—and save your wallet. Ramen is one of the ‘it’ foods currently on the rise in cities so your parents will be thrilled to get in on the trend. Share edamame and some pork buns and then dive into the 16-hour simmered ramen of your dreams. This ain’t your college ramen. The beer and sake is cheap so a full dinner with the ‘rents won’t break the bank.
For The Mom Who Loves Bravo
PUMP Restaurant Lounge
West Hollywood, $$$$
Owned by Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Lisa Vanderpump and the site for spin-off Vanderpump Rules, you’re likely to see cast members from the Bravo shows at this “sexy garden restaurant.” The food is pretty good (go for the lobster and asparagus fiori) but the ambiance feels delightfully uppercrust-LA with a ritzy, beautiful and fully heated garden. The only thing that could make your mom happier would be dining with Andy Cohen instead of you.
For The Dad Who Loves the Rat Pack
Musso & Frank Grill
You will feel immediately swept back in time the minute you walk into Musso and Frank. The eatery is the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles and they’ve maintained that old Hollywood vibe that your dad will eat right up. The food options might seem dated since the menu hasn’t changed it 90 years but it adds to the authentic charm here (they’ve kept things like lamb kidneys - a favorite of Charlie Chaplin - on the menu.) The history alone will keep your dad satiated as you load up on cold martini’s served by waiters bedecked in classic red blazers.
The See-And-Be-Seen Duo
Brentwood, $$$ (Also Hollywood)
If you’re with parents who want to get the full LA experience, Katsuya will give you two Los Angeles staples: great food and paparazzi. The menu is in line with most upscale Japanese joints so expect jazzy tempuras, and one of the best iterations of crispy rice and spicy tuna. They have a bunch of locations but for the “scene” you want Brentwood or Hollywood. The Brentwood spot is a known favorite of Tom Hanks and everyone’s parents freaking love Tom Hanks.
For The Parents Who Want to Try Something Fun...
Quarters Korean BBQ or Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong
Korean BBQ is by far the most fun way to dine. Sure, you have to technically cook the food yourself but that really adds to the whole experience. Tucked away in a hard to find cobblestone alley of restaurants and shops, both Kang Ho-Dong Baekjeong and Quarters are quintessential options for Korean BBQ in K-town. If this is your parents' first time putting meat to grill and trying out the mulitple banchan options, Quarters is a bit more Americanized and therefore better for first-timers. At Baekjeong across the way, most fellow diners are Korean and finding a server who speaks English is always a crapshoot. At both options, the meat quality is spot on and the everyone is super friendly.
Scopa Italian Roots
Top Chef alum and frequent Cutthroat Kitchen judge, Antonia Lofaso’s Italian eatery lies right on the border of Venice and Marina del Rey. The celebrity chef can usually be found walking through the dimly lit, trendy restaurant which is a great experience for anyone obsessed with food tv. Regardless of her reality show fame, literally everything at Scopa is incredible. The mains are great but the smaller plates and pasta are so good skip them entrees and share instead. The Amberjack crudo and the creste rigate will make your soul sing.
For The “Happy With a Good Burger” Crowd
Eagle Rock, $$ (Also Hollywood)
You really can’t go wrong with a good burger. There are plenty of parents, nay people, out there who would gladly skip the fanciest, trendiest dining experiences for a really good burger and LA has no shortage of places. The Oinkster provides you with a meaty, beefy, carby dinner in a casual atmosphere tipping it’s nostalgic hat to old school burger joints. The burgers are juicy and tender and the reuben is good enough to rival any Jewish deli. Be smart, get both and go halfsies with one of your parents.
Caitlyn is a beauty, lifestyle and entertainment guru who has appeared on shows like The Insider, The Wendy Williams Show and The Today Show. She’s hosted digital shows on beauty, fashion, food and celebrities at HuffPost Live and WhoSay and has written for places like Yahoo! Beauty and The Huffington Post.