The Most Fun Dinner Spots In LA

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.
The Most Fun Dinner Spots In LA image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

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.


photo credit: Sal's Place


West Hollywood

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate Night
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There's a moment during dinner at Sal’s Place when you completely forget you’re at a restaurant. Adjacent tables—people you didn’t know a half-hour ago—merge conversations with yours, while Siobhan, the linen-wearing host, drops off complimentary tiramisu and explains if you don’t have enough money (it’s cash-only), just pay her back next time. That's the disarming charm of this Provincetown-based bistro, which officially relocated to West Hollywood through June. You’ll eat big bowls of pasta and pepper-crusted steak while giddily discussing the Weho Pride line-up with your server. Is there anything on Sal’s handwritten menu that wouldn't be found down the block? No. But you’re at this cozy queer space to experience the room—eating a well-dressed caesar and spicy orecchiette is the bonus.

At this neighborhood izakaya in Virgil Village, the energy in the dining room is so infectious you'll feel like you just hopped off a flight to Vegas. Friends crowd into dimly lit booths passing dishes like fermented Thai sausage and wagyu yakisoba. A glowing Orion beer sign casts a pink sheen over dates ordering shochu cocktails at the walk-in-only bar. Lauryn Hill and '90s Kylie blast over the speakers. We love that drinks arrive in adorable little penguin mugs, and servers will pull up a chair to discuss the restaurant’s Spotify playlist like it’s a family heirloom (it’s that good). It’s rare to find a legitimate party restaurant, let alone one with great food. Budonoki pulls off both.

Justine’s is a campy wine bar, listening party, and (vegan) Italian restaurant rolled into one. On busy nights, this Frogtown spot is packed with fashionable people holding tiny designer bags in one hand and a glass of Austrian orange in the other. Still, it’s more of a hangout spot than a “chug pet-nat and be seen” kind of place. Dates and friends sink into velvet booths, dream pop trickles from the vintage sound system, and everyone blurs away in this colorful, dimly lit room. Great ambiance aside, the plant-based red sauce Italian menu is why we'd gladly spend a night here eating crispy mushroom calamari and the saucy Sunday-only lasagna.

Dudley Market isn’t a restaurant for hushed tones and whispered catch-ups. No, it’s somewhere to drink a bottle of chardonnay that tastes like peaches, eat tempura-battered fish tacos next to a DJ booth, and shout over the hum of dinner conversation. This overachieving seafood spot in Venice combines extroverted energy with exceptional food. And although steady streams of mollusk-loving regulars flood the dining room every night, the tuna crudo is always silky and their wagyu cheeseburger never overdoes the bacon jam.

You’ve done dinner at the hot fancy restaurant. You’ve done drinks at the cool new bar. Now what? The Baked Potato, that’s what. This legendary jazz club in Studio City is one of the strangest and most objectively delightful spots for a night out. On any given night, the grungy, one-room bar on Cahuenga is packed with tatted octogenarians, burly musicians, and someone’s nephew getting his mind blown by the power of improvisation. As the name suggests, the menu is comprised almost entirely of baked potatoes. There are 24 different topping options, and you should definitely order one—even if it’s just to take a picture of how big it is. Be sure to grab tickets well in advance.

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Arguably one of the best red sauce joints around, Donna’s in Echo Park doesn’t make you choose between a good time and a great meal. Groups crowd into leather booths and use their outdoor voices to discuss friend-group gossip. Complimentary limoncello shots flow like water. And the Italian American comfort food is just as considered as the nostalgia-core backdrop. So if you’re in the mood to take down a plate of chicken parm in a loud room covered in teal floral wallpaper, a night at Donna’s will make you very happy.

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.

photo credit: Cara Harman



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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.

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. 

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.

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 Goldie Hawn might spill her 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. 

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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.

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