Here at The Infatuation we take our “Perfect Fors” pretty seriously. After all, they dictate our lives. A good restaurant could be perfect for a first date, and an all-out disaster when it comes to a big group birthday. It's about knowing where to go on the right 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 ever talked about, and yet it’s every d*mn meal of the week. All you want in a a midweek casual dinner is a place that’s easy to get into, won’t break the bank, and will get you home watching Netflix by 10pm. Oh, 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 to give you just that. Your last-minute Wednesday night dinner will never be sad again.
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 at a last minute get together and have 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.
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 an affordable 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.
Time and time again Plan Check proves itself as one of LA’s best casual restaurants. With Fairfax, Sawtelle, 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.
We’ll be the first to admit that Wurstkuche on a Saturday night is essentially Coachella Sahara Tent, but come midweek and it’s a great place to roll in with a group of friends, drink some beer at a large community table, and eat exotic sausage. The casual, order-at-the-counter spot is fun and a nice change of pace. And whatever you do - order those fries.
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 with an expanded menu that doesn’t miss a beat. If you live Eastside and your old co-worker who’s been Facebooking you to catch up lives Westside, Salt’s Cure is the ideal middle ground.
Few restaurants grasp the essence of their neighborhood more than Little Dom’s does in Los Feliz. The old-school Italian joint on Hillhurst is the kind of authentic meatballs and spaghetti joint you just don’t get a lot of in LA. And though crowds can get intense, Little Dom’s remains easy and casual, and is the perfect last-minute hang spot with that girl you’ve been texting from your on-camera class.
Surprise, a**holes. Your favorite best-affordable-sushi-in-LA made the list because that’s precisely what Sugarfish does so well. Casual, high-end sushi you can walk into on a Wednesday night and not have to mortgage your home to pay for it. Other good news? There’s literally a Sugarfish everywhere now, so you don’t need to haul yourself across town to get it anymore.
You know about Grand Central Market. It’s amazing and delicious and an overcrowded theme park. The nearby Spring Arcade hasn’t quite enjoyed that brand of success yet - but it’s coming. And places like Bierbeisl Imbiss are proof. The Austrian bakery/beer hall is fantastic, with authentic street food at great prices. The vibe both inside and on the patio is fun, and will only get more so as the vacant storefronts continue to fill up.
It’s Monday night, your day was shit, 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 over 150 wines to unravel to 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.
The best Thai food in Los Angeles (and thus America?) is also pretty accessible. Parking can be tough at both its Sunset Strip and Silver Lake locations, but once you’re inside all worries fade away. Because even if you don’t have a reservation (though if the crew’s rolling deep that night, you probably should), you’ll be seated quickly. And then sit back, get a little drunk on a Tuesday, and enjoy the Thai feast of your dreams.
Despite LA’s somewhat troubling lack of good Indian food, there are some definite gems. And 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 standard, with an outdoor patio, and an absolutely fantastic waitstaff. Always check the website for some excellent coupons too. No shame on a Thursday night.
No matter the time or occasion, this modern Montana Ave. spot has your back. The menu is solid, and if you can’t find a seat in the main dining room, there are plenty outside (with nearby heaters) ready for the taking.
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 desperately needed it. The cocktails are excellent, the $14 lardo tacos are absolutely worth it, and those churros are the best we’ve ever had in our life. Seriously.
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.
The Melrose spot has been a neighborhood staple since it opened because of a low-key vibe, a 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. The Melrose spot 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 some of the best in town for the price. The modern space is easy to get in and out, with good service, and a fun vibe for your Wednesday night.
Is there a bigger name in LA pizza than Mozza? Hardly. But for however upscale the majority of the Mozza-plex is (Osteria and Chi Spacca), the Pizzeria is relaxed and affordable. It’s still quite popular, so snagging a reservation would be in your best interest. The pizza is no doubt good, but we always find ourselves gravitating towards the antipasti first. If you’re a night owl, their late-night $20 pizza/wine/dessert Happy Hour is one of the best deals in town.
It’s Tuesday, you’re got a date, you want it to be nice, but also not be 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 also well-priced and excellent. And that sounds like a recipe for a second date to us.
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 had to wait long before you’re eating your weight in free chips and salsa.
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.
It’s important to remember that your favorite restaurant in LA three years ago is still as good as ever. And unlike some of the other higher-end spots infiltrating the area, Baco remains casual, fun, and perfect place for that last-minute group dinner you completely forgot to plan. The Toron baco is as incredible as you remember it.
Italian restaurants on Montana are like actors in Los Angeles - they’re everywhere. And while most claim to be pretty low-key, we find they’re generally stuffy and not all that great. Enter Forma - the 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.