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

Guide

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.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Saltie Girl review image
7.7

Saltie Girl

$$$$

8615 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood
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Verdict: Saltie Girl comes to LA via Boston, where it’s been one of that city’s most popular restaurants since opening in 2016. While the menu at Saltie Girl is entirely too large, and filled with a few mediocre “California-inspired” dishes (you can find better sashimi, toasts, and salads elsewhere), the things you expect to be good from a Boston restaurant are incredible. Think buttery clam chowder, thick bar burgers, and lobster rolls overflowing with tender meat. The Sunset Strip location is certainly touristy, but if you’re looking for a fun group dinner spot before a night on the town, this is where to do it. 

How To Get In: Reservations are released 14 days in advance at midnight, and unless you’re cool with eating dinner at 5:15pm or 10:15pm, we suggest setting an alarm. The 12-stool bar area is reserved for walk-ins though, so if you’re in the area, it’s fairly painless to pop in for a tinned fish board and martini.

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 has 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 onions 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 Dodgers or Lakers or Rams game, in which case, circle back a different night.

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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.

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 beat.

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: The food at this French/Californian spot in Hollywood is very good, but the reason getting a table at Horses is essential these days is to witness the liquored up industry scene inside. 80s music is blasting, red and yellow booths are filled to the brim with scowling agents, and there’s a weird cloudscape painted on part of the ceiling—it’s edgy, grungy, and feels like the invite-only afterparty of a Roxy show. 

How To Get In: Reservations are released four weeks in advance at midnight. The bar area isn’t technically reserved for walk-ins, but if you can get there within a half hour of opening or arrive after 9pm (they’re open from 5:30pm-1am), you’ll have a much better shot at getting a seat there.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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Verdict: Saffy’s is the newest spot from the Bestia/Bavel team and home to one of our favorite meals this year. 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. 

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 just opened 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: There’s a ton of great pasta in LA these days, but Cento is one of our clear  favorites. The former DTLA pop-up has new digs in West Adams complete with a wrap-around bar (our preference for seating) and a beautiful front patio ideal for date night. Get the spicy pomodoro. 

How To Get In: It’s a little easier to get a reservation at Cento than it used to be, but tables are still slim pickings unless you want to eat pasta after 9pm. We prefer to show up earlier—usually around 6pm—and head straight for the bar.

Verdict:  If you even remotely care about bagels, you’ve probably heard of Courage and have definitely heard an East Coaster’s endless rant about them. Don’t pay them any mind, this place serves exceptional bagels with crispy, crackly exteriors that come topped with seasonal  ingredients only found in a place that doesn’t transform into a frozen hellscape for four months out of the year.

How To Get In: Courage is a walk-up window, so reservations aren’t part of the deal. The line, however, is the stuff of legend—and nightmares—so if you’re planning to show up on the weekend, do yourself a favor and don’t. Come during the week though and you’ll find a line that’s takes about as much time as a medium-difficult Wordle.

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: Full disclosure: We haven’t been to Kaneyoshi, simply because we haven’t scored a table yet (though we've loved their takeout). This tiny omakase bar inside a Little Tokyo parking structure is easily the most talked about sushi spot in LA, and we have a hunch it delivers on the hype.

How To Get In: Crystals? Magic? A flesh sacrifice? Reservations are technically made on Tock, but they are perpetually sold out without any indication of when more will become available. Occasionally takeout is available through Tock as well, but even that’s sporadic. You can also try scoring a seat at their new cocktail and omakase bar, Sawa, but since it only sits six people per night, don’t hold your breath.

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: After closing their original space in a West LA strip mall, this Taiwanese tasting menu spot has reopened in an impressive (if slightly generic) space at Row DTLA. You’ll eat some great food here—the sea urchin donut with iberico ham is fantastic—but overall, the experience can be a little uneven. Come here if you have a friend in town who’s obsessed with fancy tasting menus. 

How To Get In: Despite the large space, tables still get snatched up quickly at Kato. Plan ahead by a few weeks though, and midweek tables will usually be available. You can also order from a smaller a la carte menu at the walk-in bar that seats eight, or starting in August, partake in a shorter, six-course tasting menu there with one seating between 5:30-6pm. Reservations and walk-ins are accepted for the bar, pending availability.

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: This Venice Italian spot is home to some of the best pasta in LA and that alone should be motivation to seek out a table. Everyone’s eating the cacio e pepe and all’amatriciana, but don’t even think about leaving without getting an order of focaccia. 

How To Get In: It's not exactly a secret, but Felix's best hack is that the bar area's walk-in only. You might have to hover for a little, but a seat usually opens up within 15-20 minutes. If you want to go the reservation route, just know that dining time limits are assigned depending on how many people are in your group. We suggest just checking back on their reservation page often: Tables are released seven days in advance at midnight.

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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