The Toughest Reservations In LA Right Now (And How To Get Them) guide image


The Toughest Reservations In LA Right Now (And How To Get Them)

Our thoughts on the most exclusive restaurants in Los Angeles and advice on how to get a table.

At any given time, there are a handful of LA restaurants where trying to get a table is like trying to get on the 101 at Highland and exiting at Barham—you just can’t. Right now, these are those restaurants. The spots on this list aren’t necessarily the best restaurants in the city, but they are the hardest places to book a reservation. We think you should know if they’re actually worth the effort, and if so, the best way to go about getting in. Below, you’ll find our verdicts, along with info that’ll help you snag that table (or bar seat). Check back for regular updates.


Le Great Outdoor

Verdict: The name may sound like an REI surplus store, but Le Great Outdoor is a fantastic restaurant where you order all your food at a grill in a Santa Monica parking lot. The kitchen crew cooks all the meat, fish, and vegetables right next to you in the entirely outdoor set-up. Everybody hangs out at picnic tables and drinks chilled wine while they pick at goat cheese-topped tartines and blistered lamb chops. It’s as if you stumbled onto a neighborhood block party, but with people who know what they’re doing at the grill.

How To Get In: The days of wandering into LGO at 6:30pm without a reservation are gone. This place has been found by the Westside masses. Your best bet is to set up a reservation alert or book a table several weeks in advance (LGO’s reservations go online three months in advance and anything over three weeks away is completely open.) They’re also open for lunch where walk-ins are readily accepted.

Verdict: It’s rare for a restaurant to feel like an easy-going neighborhood hangout and a destination you cross town to experience, but Queen St. is that girl. This latest spot from the Found Oyster team excels in the art of the “what’s the rush?” dinner. Picture a casual raw bar inside an old mechanic shop in Eagle Rock that will make you forget about your to-do list with Charleston-style dishes like chargrilled oysters, fried flounder, and smothered pork chops.

How To Get In: The inside bar (20 seats in total) is walk-in only, and considering that’s where you get to watch all the shucking and slicing going on in the kitchen, it’s the best seat in the house anyway. If a table is a must, reservations are sporadically available, as long as you’re cool with eating at 4pm or after 9pm.

Verdict: Going to Donna’s is a pure serotonin play. This red sauce Italian joint from the people behind Bar Flores and Lowboy will make you—and the other diners having friend hangs and tiramisu dates—fall into a deep nostalgic trance. Bask in the room’s dinner-party energy, slosh back icy martinis in a booth, and down chicken parm and lasagna bolognese like a person with a medical degree told you they’d cure a bad day (they will).

How To Get In: Walk in right when they open at 5:30pm. Reservations are released daily, 14 days in advance at 10am, and are generally snatched up within minutes. We love Donna’s, but putting that much energy towards a neighborhood red sauce spot feels counterintuitive—especially since they reserve a portion of the dining room for walk-ins every night. Just get there early or expect to wait an hour.

Verdict: Considering it's the third restaurant from the chef behind Felix and Mother Wolf, Funke’s perfectly al dente pasta should come as no surprise. While we ultimately prefer those other restaurants, this three-story Beverly Hills spot is still a good place to have a baller Italian meal, especially when someone else is paying. Stick to pasta, some salt-studded focaccia, and zucchini blossoms, and watch your agnolotti being formed in a 20-foot lab in the middle of the restaurant.

How To Get In: Reservations for the dining room are released online seven days in advance at 9am. Fortunately, Funke’s rooftop bar is reserved for walk-ins, and has about 20 tables in addition to some bar seats. They don’t serve the full restaurant menu up there, but you can get cocktails and snacks without much of a wait. 

Verdict: This reopened—and completely revitalized—Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills is a maximalist Old Hollywood fantasy set in a tiny, windowless room that feels like a winners-only Oscars’ afterparty. There’s a lot to take in, but between the exemplary service, a delicious menu filled with dishes like a tableside caesar and bone-in veal parm, and the best-made martini we’ve ever had, La Dolce Vita delivers glamorous, over-the-top escapism. 

How To Get In: Own an Oscar. Just kidding, but not really. Given how small it is, La Dolce Vita will likely be one of the most exclusive restaurants in LA for a while. Reservations are released a month in advance on Resy, but we’ve never had much luck with that. Instead, just sign up for every “Notify” alert and pray. If you don’t mind eating late though, try walking in after 9pm. There are usually a few tables in the lounge available.

Verdict: This seafood-focused tasting menu spot is run by a chef who cooked in a bunch of award-winning kitchens before starting his own pop-up inside Kobawoo House, an iconic Koreatown restaurant run by his parents. Now he's on the second floor of Far East Plaza serving eight or nine courses of Korean-Japanese dishes like a spot prawn and caviar tartlet, seared skipjack tuna with some very good pesto spaghetti, all for $275 per person. The tiny space is about as bare-bones as it gets, but if inventive cooking with stunning seafood gets you excited, Corridor 109 is worth the splurge.

How To Get In: On either the first or second Friday of each month, pre-paid reservations for the following month are released on Tock (check the restaurant's Instagram for an announcement ahead of time). It's possible to book a seat right when tickets drop, but be quick—Corridor 109 offers one or two seatings per night, with only eight seats per seating. And forget about a group: reservations are limited to parties of two.

Verdict: If you’ve been on the internet recently, you likely already know about this one-of-a-kind Indian-Italian sports bar in Silver Lake. Everyone and their cousins have a hot take on it, and we’re no exception (we love it). With a slick mid-century modern aesthetic, an early 2000s R&B playlist blasting through the TV-filled dining room, and delicious, unique bar food like dosa onion rings, malai rigatoni, and pizzas slathered in green chutney, we can say with complete confidence there isn’t another restaurant in LA like Pijja.

How To Get In: Reservations are released seven days in advance at midnight and they’re infamously gone within seconds. If you’re not the type to chase a reservation, just borrow our move and show up at 5pm when they open. You’ll almost certainly walk right in. Unless of course there’s a Dodger or Lakers or Rams game, in which case, circle back a different night.

Verdict: Pizzeria Bianco serves excellent pizza that truly lives up to the hype, but the struggle to get a dinner reservation here is mostly a byproduct of chef/owner Chris Bianco’s celebrity status (and recent Chef’s Table appearance). Unlike other tough reservations in town, this DTLA spot isn’t flashy or scene-y but fairly casual, with a minimalist concrete-wall dining room and soft jazz playing in the evenings. Leave your fancy dinner clothes at home, you’re just coming here for great pizza and a glass of wine.

How To Get In: If you don’t have a dinner reservation (which you’ll need to make weeks in advance), Pizzeria Bianco still takes walk-ins, but there’s a catch. Dinner only runs Tuesday to Saturday, with Tuesday and Wednesday being the easiest nights to nab a table. Expect a 30-ish minute wait on these nights, as opposed to Fridays and Saturdays, when you’ll wait an average of two hours. If you want to increase your chances, email a few days in advance to see if they can squeeze you in. If you just want a slice at lunchtime, head to Pane Bianco nearby—it's run by the same team.

Verdict: Mother Wolf’s sprawling Hollywood dining room feels part Las Vegas, part Carbone, and part Roman banquet hall—all crammed inside the Madonna Inn. It can be an overwhelming setting for some people—and certainly not our pick for an intimate dinner—but if you’re in the mood for a pasta-centric evening with lots of negronis and A-list celebrity sightings, Mother Wolf can’t be beaten.

How To Get In: Reservations are released seven days in advance at 9am. The bar area is reserved for walk-ins, however. If you can get there close to opening time (5:30pm on Monday through Thursday, 5pm on weekends), you’ll most likely find an empty seat or two.

Verdict: Saffy’s is the newest spot from the Bestia/Bavel team, and the Middle Eastern-leaning menu is stacked with standout dishes like creamy hummus ful, red snapper tagine, and assorted meat skewers—plus lots of excellent natural wine. We love it.

How To Get In: Saffy’s does take reservations, but they also hold a good portion of seats for walk-ins. We recommend taking them up on the latter. You might wait 20 minutes for a table when you get there, but time will likely fly by as you sit on the sidewalk with a glass of wine. Note: they also have a giant front patio that nearly doubles the restaurant’s seating capacity.

Verdict: Anajak isn’t the highest-rated restaurant on our website by accident. This boundary-pushing Thai restaurant in Sherman Oaks serves some of the best food in LA and is a place everyone should experience in person.

How To Get In: Anajak's regular dinner service is booked out months in advance and getting a seat at the 14-course omakase is even more competitive. Cancellations are not uncommon though, so sign up for notifications and say a few prayers—or try calling. We've had lots of last-minute success that way. You can also show up on Tuesdays for their guest chef taco nights (which are walk-up only), but we recommend getting there before service starts at 6pm, since lines often stretch down the block.

Verdict: Despite international accolades and attention from culinary filmmakers, fame hasn’t really gotten to this quiet Japanese tasting menu spot in Palms. It’s still one of the premiere—and profoundly personal—fine dining experiences in LA that serves a flawless 13-course modern kaiseki menu.

How To Get In: N/Naka releases a week's worth of reservations, a month ahead of time, every Sunday at 10am on Tock. You have about .5 seconds to snap up a table before they sell out, so come prepared, warm up your fingers, and give your favorite good luck charm an extra rub.

Verdict: Anyone who says the food at Dan Tana’s is bad is wrong. Anyone who says the food at Dan Tana’s is incredible is also wrong. At this quintessential Old Hollywood spot, the red sauce Italian dishes are only part of the experience—you’re here to schmooze with friends, drink too many martinis, and pay tribute to one of LA’s iconic dining institutions. 

How To Get In: Dan Tana’s is the kind of place where regulars and familiar faces always get preferential treatment, which isn't exactly surprising at a place where the reservation book dates back to the Johnson administration. Calling last minute almost never works. Calling six to ten days in advance—and building a rapport with the hosting staff—will usually result in a table.

Verdict: This high-end omakase spot hidden in the basement of a Little Tokyo office building is the stuff of dreams for sushi geeks. You'll pay $300+ for about 20 courses of appetizers, sashimi, and nigiri, all prepared behind an elegant wood sushi counter that seats 12. A meal here is serious but not stuffy, even if you don't know your chutoro from your otoro. So if eating some of the best sushi in LA is on your bucket list, consider Kaneyoshi a worthwhile investment.

How To Get In: Crystals? Magic? A flesh sacrifice? Reservations for the following month typically are made available on the first of every month at 3 p.m., but they tend to disappear in a matter of minutes. You can also try scoring a seat at their adjacent cocktail and omakase bar, Sawa, but since it only sits ten people per night, you'll still have to hustle.

Verdict: Bestia is one of the most recognizable restaurants in LA, and although a lot of other great Italian spots have opened in the decade since Bestia did, it remains in the very top tier. The salumi plate is still one of the best charcuterie boards in town. 

How To Get In: Reservations can be made up to two months in advance—if you look ahead you’ll generally find plenty of tables on the calendar. If you’re more of the impromptu type, just do what we do and walk in to the bar after 9pm on the weekends for some late-night pizza and pasta. You can also copy and paste this strategy for Bavel, Bestia’s pita and hummus-filled sibling restaurant a few blocks away.

Verdict: You’re here for the stunning ocean views, you’re here for celebrities in sunglasses, you’re here to eat expensive sushi that tastes great. Nobu is one of the best—and most consistent—splurge meals in LA.

How To Get In: Reservations are available up to 30 days in advance, though we rarely have luck making them online. If you call and speak with a host, however, your chances go up exponentially. Walk-ins during weekday lunch are also usually accepted.

Verdict: In most ways, Melisse is pretty much what you’d expect from a tasting menu-only spot that’s been open in Santa Monica for over 20 years. There are foams, intricate presentations, and servers who have spent a lot of time learning dish placement choreography. And yet, it doesn’t feel stale. If you're down to spend, it's a good option.

How To Get In: Patience. Melisse releases reservations about a month in advance, and while those slots don’t immediately sell out, it’s best to keep a watchful eye—and plan to book about two or three weeks before your dinner. Warning: There’s a strict no-cancellation or rescheduling policy, and if either occurs, you’ll be charged the full price of dinner ($295). 

Verdict: One of the OG tasting menu restaurants in town and a place that put LA fine dining on the map. Almost two decades since it open, this fancy seafood spot remains the epitome of high-class, high-quality dining.

How To Get In: Reservations can be made up to two months in advance, so if you don't mind planning that far ahead, we recommend snagging a table online, then following up over the phone if you'd like to move it sooner. You can also roll the dice and call the day of—sometimes a chair or two will be available at the bar.

Verdict: While we’ve never had a bad meal at Hayato, the overall experience at this high-end kaiseki counter is serious and a little stiff. There’s no music and only scattered conversation from the chefs, making the whole meal feel like a three-hour whisper session. If your focus is solely on elegantly prepared Japanese food, consider it a destination, but there are also other options for exciting omakase meals in town.

How To Get In: Reservations for the kaiseki menu are released on the first of the month at 10am on Tock and disappear almost instantly, since the restaurant only offers one seating of seven people each night. A $100 per person deposit is required before booking.

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photo credit: Queen Street

The Toughest Reservations In LA Right Now (And How To Get Them) guide image