Whether you have a small but insanely picky family, or you get mistaken for the cast of Cheaper by the Dozen every time you go out to eat, eating with all of your relatives is never an easy task.
As UCLA’s graduation slowly approaches (it’s already week 8, people!), those receiving their degrees and moving out into the “real world” are already trying to plan the rest of their lives, never mind their graduation day. To help them cross one more thing off their insanely long to-do lists, I’ve created a guide to the best graduation restaurants at which to eat on their graduation day.
Start booking now, seniors; these restaurants are amazing, and with so many families coming into town, they’re sure to fill up faster than usual (which isn’t saying much).
Possibly my favorite restaurant in LA, Farmshop is everything you would expect of a healthy, up(per)scale Los Angeles restaurant. Their menu is long enough to cater to any picky eater (my sister, the vegetarian who eats nothing but pasta with butter and french-fries, loves it), but not so long that it’s overwhelming.
The wait staff is friendly and cordial without being too in your face, and the atmosphere is always upbeat. They cater to large parties, too, with their community table that you can reserve, so long as you do so well enough in advance.
Conveniently located only four miles from campus in the Brentwood Country Mart, you can walk around outside before or after your meal and window shop (or star-spot—you regularly see some of Hollywood’s biggest names with their families around the fire pit right outside the Farmshop entrance or seated towards the back of the restaurant).
This decadent meal is one for the books. As you check-in with your reservation, you are greeted with complementary Champagne (or lemonade, for those under 21) and offered a seat on one of their extremely confortable couches next to the bar if your table is not ready.
Known for their seafood, the menu is extremely extensive, but can also cater to pretty much any diet. Their oysters taste so fresh you’d think they were caught that day (and may very well could have been), and their lobster tacos are something you cannot miss.
If you’re up to the challenge (or just a big eater like me, no shame), try the fried seafood medley dish A fried-food fiend’s heaven, it’s gigantic and can easily be split between two people. For dessert, order their ice cream sandwiches—they come in three different cookie and ice cream combinations, so everyone will enjoy a bite.
The best part of the meal comes with the check: after (probably) cringing at the price, each diner will receive their own box of six homemade chocolate chip-nut cookies to go, the perfect late night snack.
Known as a hotspot for celebs such as George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio, Craig’s is not only a fun people-watching restaurant, but the food is also killer. Its upscale-pub-meets-Italian feel is immediately relaxing.
While it’s not always easy to ensure a reservation for larger parties, if you plan in advance and call now, you should be fine. Expect to wait a little before you’re seated, too. With so many A-listers, there is a clear pecking order, but also ample star spotting for your out-of-town and celebrity-crazed family members.
The food is no-frills but amazing, and you can easily find something that everyone will like. My recommendation: the steak. It’s rich and decadent, but then again, you are celebrating.
A more casual and less expensive restaurant than the others on my list, Duke’s Malibu is the prefect place to congratulate your recent graduate with the entire family in tow.
With ample indoor and outdoor seating, it’s not too difficult to get a table (though for large parties it’s always wise to call in advance), and no matter where you’re sitting, the restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Southern California coastline.
Duke’s has a sports bar meets nice surf shack feel with food that matches. You can’t go wrong with ordering any of their fish dishes, but always add fries—while not exactly good for you, they’re fried to perfection. You can’t leave without trying a slice of their chocolate cake for dessert. It’s huge, so perfect for sharing (or taking home to reheat for yourself later).
Want to take your family out for other food-related activities while they’re in town? Check these fun food to-do’s out: