The Most Fun Dinner Spots In LA guide image


The Most Fun Dinner Spots In LA

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.

Those seeking a polite meal, click away now. This guide is reserved for anyone who’s wondering, “Where’s the place to be?” and might have a penchant for mid-dinner photoshoots and post-dinner bar hopping. Chairs aren’t just for sitting in some of these restaurants and, while food is important, a good time takes priority. They range from new spots flooding your feeds to classics where successful meals are determined by how many martinis you drink with your server. These places may not all be the best new restaurants in town, but you'll always walk out with a story or two. And if you happen to be looking for some fun bars in LA, we know just the ones to prioritize.


Level 8

To be clear, Level 8 is not a restaurant. It’s a nightlife macrocosm on the eighth floor of the Moxy DTLA where you can have a chaotic evening inclusive of both swimming and aerial burlesque. Of all the Vegas-adjacent concepts operating here, we recommend the crowd-pleasing South American steakhouse Qué Bárbaro. There's also an oyster and champagne bar, a teppanyaki spot, a bar in the shape of a carousel, a pool deck open to anyone with a dream, and...we could go on but we won't. Make a reservation at Qué Bárbaro for dinner with friends who love well-cooked, well-seasoned meat. (You'll need a res for many of the individual concepts at Level 8.) Then wander around the rooftop maze asking WTF as you go along.

Đi Đi's main selling point is that it's bumping. This West Hollywood Vietnamese restaurant functions like church for people who want to dress up, listen to Drake, drink coconut-washed rum, and take flash photos with tiger-embossed throw pillows. The walls? Leaf-covered. The seating? Low and curved couches, naturally. The Vietnamese food? Totally fine. If the idea of putting on a bodycon dress and strutting across a dining room delights you, you'll thrive at Đi Đi.

The party at this lesbian wine bar in Silver Lake starts early. By 6pm, every seat is full. By 7pm, the crowd spills onto the sidewalk and even the parking lot. It’s a legitimate block party of first dates, married dates, neighbors, bandmates, and various people talking about podcasts. You could come just for drinks, but the remixed diner classics are great, too. We especially like the grilled chicken sandwiches topped with chili vinegar, some damn good curly fries, and the olive oil cake. Also, you'll notice half the crowd eating hotdogs, which is pure camp and everyone knows it. Don’t worry if you don’t have a table. Food comes to you no matter where you’re standing. 

Spending time at this laidback wine bar on Melrose is not so different than crashing a green room after-party at The Largo. Half of the place fills with people who have Netflix comedy specials in the works, while the rest of the crowd drinks funky French riesling with reckless abandon. The menu skews snacky, with stuff like marinated tomatoes, serrano ham, and a particularly delicious plate of anchovies. So instead of planning a full dinner experience, do as the locals do: go to Stir Crazy for great wine, great music, and the kind of marathon hang that ends with you leaving your car overnight.

During dinner time, this East Hollywood pasta-and-pét-nat spot lures influencers and off-duty A-listers looking to have candlelit catch-ups with friends. But the real fun starts just after 8pm when the bar overflows with groups of art school dropouts who just bought six-packs of wine from the bottle shop around back. It won’t be long before you’re three glasses deep, nibbling on grilled prawns, and chatting with a stranger you’ll never see again. 

Everyone is trying to score a table at Funke in Beverly Hills right now. So if your patience is running thin, head up to the rooftop patio instead that's only available for walk-ins. (We’ve never had a problem snagging a table or seat at the bar up here.) Bar Funke serves snacky Italian dishes like focaccia, burrata, and amberjack sashimi, but we like to concentrate on their classic cocktails like G&T’s, negronis, espresso martinis, and spritzes. In other words, what you want to drink as you watch the sunset over the Hollywood Hills.

Coucou is the new, Frenchier iteration of Chez Tex, a barebones wine bar in Venice where you used to be able to polish off cheeseburgers and rosé. Now, once Thursday rolls around, this gallery-walled bistro gets crowded with Westsiders who want to be out and about but probably couldn't score a table at Dudley Market. With the exception of some excellent steak frites, the food is simply average. Come here to sip on Lillet, listen to electro-pop, and split soft serve with a friend who believes ice cream belongs with a side of wine.

Having fun at Monarch means eating black pepper lobster tails while sitting in a chair upholstered with baby blue cow print. Most of the menu at this dreamy, new-wave Chinese banquet hall in the San Gabriel Valley twists Cantonese classics without any dish feeling gimmicky (egg noodle bolognese and baked pork chop rice are both pumped-up versions of what you’d find at cha chaan tangs). If a fun meal of conversation-starting dishes and fashion crowds in periwinkle banquettes doesn’t scream “big night out,” we don’t know what will.

Checker Hall feels like a bar and a Mediterranean restaurant wrapped in one, which is why a night here always goes late. It’s located on the second floor of an old masonic lodge in Highland Park and will please all your friends who want to chill in a booth and eat branzino and whipped feta. But no one will feel out of place spending the night flirting at the bar and drinking good cocktails (like the spicy, tequila-based Carmen #6). In reality, everybody in your group will probably partake in both approaches.

There are party restaurants, and then there’s this iconic Italian spot in West Hollywood without rules or adherence to personal space. Come any night of the week and there's a good chance you'll do a shot of premium tequila with the maître d’ or Ron Jeremy might spill his martini on your chicken parm. A cramped, sweaty night at Dan Tana’s is an essential LA dining experience. Here, celebrities aren’t just distant entities you stare at—they’re fellow party people. 

Every night of the week, Lingua Franca is a bonafide scene filled with crate-digging Eastsiders who enjoy natural wine and smoked fish dip. This Frogtown restaurant sits right on the LA river (you literally have to walk along the bike path to get there), and serves comforting American-ish dishes like pickle-studded lavash with cured fish, a burger slicked with pepper mayo and caramelized onions, and flaky walnut tarts. You might see Eric Wareheim. It's that kinda place.

This Korean tavern in Ktown is late-night LA canon. It's where one hour turns into three in the blink of an eye. Meats sizzle and knives scrape on the central grill. Smoke hangs over the dark, wooden booths, and groups of friends pound Hite with an exorbitance typically reserved for the end of the world. As for the food, the menu has over 100 different anju designed for snacking while you drink. We recommend loading up on kimchi pancakes, sweet and spicy tteokbokki, and more skewers than you can adequately count. If you don't want to wait an hour (or more), arrive before 8pm.

This Hollywood French restaurant offers the closest thing you’ll get to a steak-tartare-and-cigarette-ash dining experience in LA. (The name translates to “garbage can” in French, and its lack of sheen makes Petit Trois look like a poser.) The sidewalk patio is perfect for people-watching and gets rowdier as the night goes on. You’ll see twenty-somethings in A.P.C. denim eating buttery escargot and possibly even a few D-list celebs using the bathroom in pairs. Mind your business and eat your fries.

The menu at this old-school Mexican restaurant in Venice hasn’t changed much since the place opened 40 years ago, and we consider that one of its best qualities. The signature dish is the calamari steak, but sometimes we deviate and order either a grande burrito or fajitas. And, aside from the solid food, Casablanca is dependably raucous. Expect live music, a tortilla production zone in the main dining room, and a margarita cart that will roll right up to your table. 

If you took a natural wine shop, a retro vinyl store, and a pizza parlor, threw them all in a blender, and dropped them off in Topanga Canyon, you’d get Endless Color. You’ll see wiggly light fixtures, blob-shaped tables, and giant disco balls hanging above the cactus-lined patio. The Malibu restaurant is casual enough to drop by after a day at the beach, but would also work for a cool, low-key birthday dinner. A huge chunk of the menu focuses on Neapolitan pies with puffy, charred, and blistered crusts. But they also serve chicken tenders, natural wine, and a pretty good cheeseburger.

Jones Hollywood has been around for over two decades, but it can still be somewhat difficult to secure a table on the weekends. Our trick is to line up outside ten minutes before they open at 7pm, then grab a seat at the bar. No disrespect to Jones’ sexy, Old Hollywood-era dining room, but the wrap-around bar area is where you want to be. You’re still able to order from the full menu here, the crowd is ready to talk about their Euphoria credit, and most importantly, the martinis arrive much faster than if you were sitting at a table. As for food, get the fried calamari, spaghetti and meatballs served in a skillet, and apple pie for dessert.

Once the most popular restaurant in LA, this entirely outdoor Mexican spot in Frogtown fell off the radar after a series of chef changes over the years. We’re here to tell you it’s time to go back. No, the food is not as great as it was in 2016, but all the tacos, burritos, and plates of grilled hanger steak and whole branzino are exactly what you want to be eating when it’s 80 degrees out and you just ordered your fifth margarita. On the weekends, Salazar’s gravel patio fills with families and kids, dates, birthday parties, and other people whose ACs aren’t working. Be sure to make a reservation or you’re not getting in. 

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photo credit: Jessie Clapp

The Most Fun Dinner Spots In LA guide image