Every major city has a place where you could drop $1,000 on dinner for two, no problem. In L.A., it’s Urasawa, the exquisite sushi restaurant from Masa Takayama protégé Hiro Urasawa. But it would be more fun to stretch the money out over several newer spots.
(Urasawa 218 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills (310-247-8939).
$400 At John Sedlar’s smashing new Latin restaurant, Rivera, we’d start with Margaritas and handmade tortillas with flowers pressed into the surface, served with velvety avocado “butter.” Then a plate of hand-cut jamón ibérico, followed by a short-rib and hedgehog-mushroom tamale, a chilaca chile and orange salad, a stunning duck confit in a Rioja reduction, the Kurobuta pork chop with an intricate black mole, and a bottle of Finca Dofi. To cap off the evening: cachaça-drenched baba and a glass of pink-peppercorn-and-pummelo-infused tequila. 1050 S. Flower St., #102, Los Angeles (213-749-1460; Rivera)
$370 For a giddy night out, we’d head to The Bazaar by José Andrés, where I love to let the chef send out a surprise array of contemporary and traditional little dishes (go for the most extravagant, at $95 per person). It’s all good, from cigalas wearing a bread crust and tiny wrinkled potatoes cooked in seawater to a definitive gazpacho and Philly cheesesteaks of Kobe beef on “air bread.” For dessert, adjourn to The Patisserie for beautiful bonbons in a fantasy set straight out of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles (310-246-5555; The Bazaar by José Andrés)
$50 At the very hip Lamill Coffee Boutique, in Silver Lake, you can choose the type of bean and the method of brewing—French press, Chemex, $11,000 Clover machine, or my choice, the Japanese siphon. The freshly made doughnuts are swell; so are the hens’ eggs with crab or wild mushrooms served in a cast-iron skillet. 1636 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles (323-663-4441; Lamill Coffee Boutique)
$140 The last bit of cash would go for lunch at Pizzeria Mozza: a tricolore salad, plus two of Nancy Silverton’s glorious pizzas—maybe her fennel sausage pie with fennel pollen or one covered with squash blossoms and Burrata, delicious with a bottle of Cannonau from Sardinia. A wedge of Meyer lemon gelato pie, an espresso, and we’re done. 641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles (323-297-0101; Pizzeria Mozza)