Here at The Infatuation we take our “Perfect Fors” pretty seriously. A good restaurant could be perfect for a first date, but an all-out disaster when it comes to a big group birthday. It's about knowing where to go for the specific occasion.
But what about all the times there isn’t necessarily an occasion? You know the night. It’s 7:30pm, you’re still in your work clothes, and you completely forgot you said you'd grab a bite to eat with your friend. It's the casual midweek dinner.
Rarely talked about, and yet it’s every damn meal of the week: all you want is a place that’s easy to get into, won’t break the bank, and will get you home watching Netflix by 10pm. Oh, and with good food too. It’s a harder combination to nail than you think, but we’ve rounded up a collection of LA’s best spots for it. Your last-minute Wednesday night dinner will never be mediocre again.
You’re craving tacos, but it’s Thursday and you live on the Westside, so heading east is a fate worse than death. But that’s fine because you have Loqui in Culver City, and their tacos give the Eastsiders a run for their money. Loqui is very low-key (see what we did there?) - you order at the counter and there aren’t a lot of seats - but they also have beer and some of the best flour tortillas in existence, so the whole place is a net win.
There are neighborhood spots you go to because the food is acceptable and you can wear pajamas, and then there are neighborhood spots you go to because the food is actually great. And that’s what’s happening at Local Kitchen + Wine Bar in the Ocean Park section of Santa Monica. You’ll be able to get a reservation the night of or walk right in, but there are also plenty of people around. The food is simple and easy to share, although you might want to keep the thin and crispy pizzas to yourself.
You’ve had a terrible day at work, but you also promised your sister you’d have dinner with her tonight after rescheduling three times. Belle Vie makes everything better. The place feels like it was airlifted here from the middle of Paris, and the French staff will not only soothe you with their accents, but also tell you what to order - meaning you can dedicate all your mental energy to hearing about your sister’s latest life drama.
If there’s anything you’d rather eat on a Wednesday than sweet potato tots and one of the best burgers in town, then we’ll leave you to your cabbage soup. Because there’s nowhere we’d rather be on Wednesday right than The Tripel. This Playa Del Rey spot is the neighborhood hangout everyone else in the city is jealous of.
No matter the time or occasion, this modern American spot on Montana Ave. spot has your back. This place is one of our old reliables. If you can’t find a seat in the main dining room, there are plenty outside (with nearby heaters) ready for the taking.
Located on a strip of Sepulveda in Culver City best known for carpet cleaning outlets, Maple Block is the cool and affordable BBQ spot of your midweek dreams. The brisket is tremendous, but it’s everything else on the menu that keeps us coming back: the pimento sandwich, the mac and cheese, and whatever dessert they easily convince us to order. We want it all.
If Plan Check has the first date game on lock, Milo and Olive has the second. The Santa Monica pizza joint is excellent and casual and the right kind of sloppy for a second date. Because if they still can’t eat a slice of pizza in front of you, just leave now. Especially Milo and Olive’s pizza, which is some of the best on the Westside. Just don’t forget to order those garlic knots.
Italian restaurants on Montana are like actors in Los Angeles - they’re everywhere. And for the most part, we find they’re generally stuffy and not all that great. Not Forma. This is a bright, modern trattoria that brought a much-needed breath fresh air to the sleepy neighborhood. Everything from the pizza to the pasta to the banana tart is good here and all well-priced for your Tuesday night dinner.
While you could make the case for just about any Thai Town joint for a casual midweek dinner outing, our choice is always Hoy-Ka. The modern space has a great vibe, plenty of TVs if you want to catch a game, and of course, excellent Thai food. You can’t go wrong with any of the traditional staples, but if you’re in the mood to break the routine, the fish curry is worth your time.
There are very few things Stout doesn’t get right. The casual burger bar in Hollywood (and now pretty much everywhere else) has a reasonably-priced menu with consistently delicious burgers and a concise beer list that’s just as good. You can always find a table and the vibe is low-key and relaxed, an astounding feat considering you’re eating dinner on Cahuenga.
Jones Hollywood is one of LA’s great restaurants for the simple fact they do casual better than anybody else. Jones is easy to get into, affordable, and full of beautiful people who actually don’t suck. We love the pizza, the skillet-served spaghetti, and an apple pie that rivals any dessert in LA. If you’re in need of a casual work dinner, Jones is where you go.
The Hollywood relocation of one of Weho’s favorite brunch spots was, on paper, an odd one. But good lord did it pay off. The new digs on Highland are twice the size, far more functional, and serving an expanded menu that doesn’t miss a beat. If you live on the Eastside and your old co-worker who’s been Facebooking you to catch up lives on the Westside, Salt’s Cure is the ideal middle ground.
Time and time again Plan Check proves itself as one of LA’s best casual restaurants. With Fairfax, Sawtelle, Santa Monica, and DTLA locations now, the trendy-but-not-too-trendy spot has a strong beer list, good food, and the kind of low-key, sexy vibe that generally works for everything. And if you’re hunting for a solid first date spot on a Tuesday night, your search ends here.
Since most of us can’t get to Lawndale to scarf down some Al-Noor on a Wednesday night, East India Grill on La Brea is our midweek move for Indian food. The centrally-located neighborhood spot has great versions of all the hits, an outdoor patio, and an absolutely fantastic waitstaff. Always check the website for some excellent coupons too. No shame on a Thursday night.
This Melrose spot has been a neighborhood staple since it opened thanks to its low-key vibe, good crowd, excellent drinks, and English pub food that’s way better than it needs to be. If you’re in the market to catch up with your college roommate over some IPAs, but know you’ll get hungry at some point, nothing beats a night at Village Idiot.
Not EVERY casual sushi night has to end in the word Sugarfish. Murakami on Melrose has good regular sushi, but you really come here for one thing - the sushi bowls. Either from their “favorites” menu or build-your-own, Murakami’s sushi bowls are one of the best deals in town. And the modern space is easy and efficient, ensuring you leave with plenty of time to get home and watch that boring documentary on Netflix you've been looking forward to all week.
Only you get to decide what days of the week you drink flaming margaritas on. We love El Compadre for the cheesy, festive, and downright delicious place that it is. And, of course, for those margaritas. The Hollywood spot can get crowded, but the secret move is the first-come-first-serve back patio where you never have to wait long before you’re eating your weight in free chips and salsa.
This particular corner of East Hollywood has a lot in the way of casual options, but we find it hard to go past DeSano. The space is huge, the Neapolitan pizzas are some of the best in town, there’s plenty of wine, and there are lots of Italians screaming at soccer on the TVs. If you’re keeping things casual, might as well drink one too many glasses of Chianti and learn some Italian swear words.
Daw Yee isn’t just our go-to Silver Lake casual midweek spot. It’s also our weekend spot, start of the week spot, and end of the week spot. If it was socially acceptable we’d eat here every night. The Burmese food is fantastic, and if you’ve never tried it before, this is the perfect place to start.
It’s Monday night, your day was sh*t, and you need wine. A lot of wine. But you also told Lauren you’d grab a quick dinner with her. Easy fix - go to Bar Covell. This casual wine bar has a huge number of glasses and bottles to check out, and an accompanying food menu that’s surprisingly strong. You’re obviously getting the cheese and charcuterie, but the mac and cheese is not to be missed.
The popular Mediterranean street food spot has expanded rapidly throughout LA, but it remains a solid spot to grab a drink, a doner kebab, and play some Connect Four with friends in the middle of the week. No reservations needed at this order-at-the-counter joint, so planning is minimal. But the food is good, the vibe is fun and relaxed, and trivia night is taken very seriously.
It’s Tuesday, you’re got a date, you want it to be nice, but also not that big of a deal. Say hello to Bowery Bungalow. The Sunset Junction spot (in an actual bungalow house) perfectly rides that line between casual/cool and sexy/I really like you. The North African-tinged menu is also well-priced and excellent.
Maybe everyone you know is about to go on vacation and you used up all your vacation days going to your cousin’s wedding in Florida. Barcito’s aggressive Buenos Aires theme will make you forget that you’re stuck in LA for the foreseeable future. The food is occasionally hit or miss, but if you get the pulpo and churros, you’ll leave happy. The vibe is laid-back, something we’re very appreciative to find downtown.
If you turn down queso on a Thursday, you are not to be trusted. If you accept it, you go to Bar Ama. The downtown spot is the ideal place to roll in with some friends for a last-minute dinner and have a fantastic, affordable Tex-Mex fiesta. It can get crowded, so a reservation might be a good idea, but even if you walk in, you won’t wait long at this casual downtown spot.
Before Broken Spanish took over the city, its older brother B.S. Taqueria had opened nearby and delivered a bright, casual taco joint to an area that needed it. The cocktails are excellent, the lardo tacos are worth every bit of hype, and those churros are the best we’ve ever had in our life. Seriously.
If you’re in the South Bay looking for a casual dinner with friends where you won’t be forced into buying rounds of Fireball on a Monday night, Abigaile is your spot. The Hermosa Beach microbrewery/nightclub can get a bit rowdy upstairs on the weekends, but midweek there’s not a better place to drink good beer, eat delicious comfort food, and make plans to come back on the weekend.