Where To Be Seen And Not Eat In LA
14 restaurants where the scene is the top priority.
Every major city has sceney restaurants—those over-the-top places where the rich, the famous, and the people trying to be rich and famous gather to be seen, take photos, and appear to look important. In LA, this is an entire restaurant genre. For better or worse (OK, worse), this city is overflowing with beautiful restaurants that attract a certain crowd of people who definitely didn’t do much today and definitely don't care about the food.
If you live here long enough, or you regularly have to plan meals with people in the industry, or you have a friend in town whose only knowledge of LA is what’s shown on Bravo, chances are you’re going to end up at one of these spots. Here’s what to expect.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
If you took the saddest restaurant in Downtown Disney, filled it with A-list celebrities, and served food that hasn’t been seen since your aunt went on that cruise to Myrtle Beach in 1998, you’d get Craig’s. This seminal West Hollywood restaurant is arguably the most celebrity-packed place in the city, and yet somehow, it’s a complete bore. No one’s talking, no one’s having any fun - it’s just a handful of quiet booths joylessly picking at their spaghetti squash and whitefish piccata hoping their ex-wife’s lawyer doesn’t walk through the door. The best thing here is the free table bread, which is useless in a crowd that’d rather knowingly contract shingles than touch a carbohydrate.
photo credit: Holly Liss
Gracias Madre is that vegan Mexican restaurant you recognize from every unemployed makeup influencer’s explore page. It’s a place that has successfully made a profit by selling edible cardboard to its patrons, but also one with an objectively beautiful side patio, good cocktails, and food that looks pretty after editing it in post. Just be sure you don’t actually eat it - a completely acceptable behavior given that no one here would be caught dead chewing food in public.
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Much like the club-travesty that is Tao and the bitter guy who still shows up at all our house parties to talk about “real art,” Catch is a place we wish New York had kept to itself. That’s not to say this ridiculously overpriced seafood restaurant is terrible, it’s just that this town already has plenty of rooftop restaurants full of people who pay for their Instagram followers. The food isn’t a total disappointment, but if you came here with the intention of taking down a seafood tower, the long line of Louboutins click-clacking down Melrose to come here should be your first indication that you got the wrong memo.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a spot with a scene like Capri Club. You won’t find any stilettos or BMW key fobs here, instead this Eagle Rock apertivo bar is filled up with podcasters, Redditors, and other dudes who base their entire personalities around knowing more about a useless topic than you. Everybody’s ordering frozen negronis and martinis, and you should follow their lead—and then head outside because two minutes trying to hold a conversation in the bar area is two minutes too long. Nobody’s really eating either, but if you get the munchies, there’s some pancetta-wrapped dates and suppli, which are deep-fried risotto bites covered in cheese.
We’re fine eating lackluster food at clubstaurants—we expect it, actually—but Toca Madera, the corporate-y “modern Mexican steakhouse in Beverly Grove” isn’t a clubstaurant. It’s a generic regular restaurant with bland food and a DJ in the corner playing Top 40 radio. If you do attempt to eat, you’ll be saddled with the fact that you just spent $16 on one scoop of soured guacamole or $22 on an al pastor taco with a tortilla that crumbled in half the second you picked it up. If you want to come here for a quick margarita at the bar with a coworker—or please a client who wants to feel hot—Toca Madera will suffice. Otherwise, there’s no reason to come here.
photo credit: Michael Mundy
From the thatched tunnel entrance and the ethereal club music to every server repeatedly reminding you that it’s “Tulum-themed,” there’s a lot going on at Ka’Teen. If you’re looking to get dressed up and have a messy, over-the-top night out in Hollywood, Ka’Teen is where to do it. The sprawling, mostly-outdoor space is great for big groups, there’s a $495 bottle of Dom Perignon on the menu, and as for the food, the Yucatan-style menu has plenty of bright spots. The ceviches and aguachiles are fresh and citrusy, the mushrooms in mole verde have a rich, spicy kick, and the lamb barbacoa is the perfect thing to put on the table—even if you’re the only one who's actually eating tonight.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Here’s the thing about Giorgio E. Baldi—the food at this iconic Italian restaurant in the Palisades is actually pretty good. This issue is that no one seems to be eating much of it. With a tiny, cramped dining room where space between tables is measured by the inch, a meal at Giorgio is truly a night swim with the sharks. But instead of great whites, it’s studio execs, raging publicists, and Dustin Hoffman pouring sambuca shots under the table. It’s a wild time from start to finish, and if you’re worried about drowning, you should probably stay on land.
Since opening in 2016, Delilah has maintained an impressive air of exclusivity, despite the fact that it’s pretty easy to get a table here. The crowd on any given night is a mix of agents, contract Wilhelmina models, and skeezy guys at the bar with one too many buttons undone. All that aside, dinner here is pleasant. The food—including what might be the best chicken tenders in the world—is solid, the waitstaff is genuine and attentive, and there’s a jazz singer crooning in the corner. The only problem is everyone’s here solely to stand around and make sure they’re hotter than the person next to them. After 10pm, the vibe turns quickly, so if you don’t consider yourself part of the bottle service and extra-curriculars-in-the-bathroom crowd, it’s probably time to grab the check.
Whether you’re just visiting LA and want to see some celebs screaming into cell phones, or you’ve been here for years and also want to see celebs screaming into cell phones, the Tower Bar is a must-visit. Located in the heart of The Strip, Tower Bar is an iconic LA establishment where young people who haven't booked since 2019 hang out and pretend to eat tuna tartare. The outdoor patio is a certifiable scene, so bring your best pair of sunglasses and sharpen up that side-eye. You’ve got some eavesdropping to do.
Ardor is one of the wildest nights you can have at an LA restaurant—and considering there’s a Cheesecake Factory in MDR with its own beach, that’s saying something. It’s technically the ground-floor restaurant at The West Hollywood Edition hotel, but walking into the sprawling dining room on The Sunset Strip feels like you’ve stepped onto some Miami mega-yacht that’s been completely suspended from all time and space. Staff greets you in floor-length white satin sheath gowns, accent lights jut out from tropical plants like you’re walking a knock-off Fenty runway, and everyone else will either be watching TikTok or recording something for TikTok. In the event you tire of international gazillionaires being monsters to anyone refilling their water glasses, the good news is there’s solid food at Ardor. Standouts include pillowy milk bread topped with dried tomatoes, shrimp plancha in a creamy scampi sauce, and some of the best onion rings we’ve ever eaten.
There are a handful of abysmal steakhouses in West Hollywood, but none really compare to BOA. Come to this sprawling restaurant on the Sunset Strip and encounter greasy, middle-aged men making shady deals, a waitstaff trying desperately to get sent home early, and overpriced plates of meat that, no matter what, will always come out well-done. If you come here thinking you’re going to eat good food, you’ve been misinformed. If you come here to try to raise your own status, then please delete our number.
The Polo Lounge
This list wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from the seminal Beverly Hills spot and one of the lowest rated restaurant on our website, the Polo Lounge. Located deep inside the Beverly Hills Hotel, this catatonic patio is certainly classic, but that doesn’t excuse how completely inedible and offensively overpriced the food is here. The fact that the most well-known dish is a $52 bowl of linguine that can only be the result of somebody dumping chardonnay over pre-heated noodles should tell you everything. So just stick to the scene, which is mostly fading Hollywood wannabees, and then maybe ask for the rest of that bottle of chardonnay.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Avra is a gaudy, over-the-top restaurant in Beverly Hills that’s trying its best to fit in with the neighborhood. Considering the crowd of screeching executives, lost tourists, and over-medicated locals desperately showing off which tax bracket they fell into this year, it appears as if they’re succeeding. On paper, Avra is a Greek restaurant, but aside from some mediocre saganaki and a $35 octopus appetizer, it’s really just a seafood spot for people who don’t like flavor. So save some money by skipping the food entirely, and then snag a table on the patio next to the valet line - it’s the cheapest circus in town.
Ysabel West Hollywood
Ysabel has one of the most beautiful hidden patios in the city and food that we wouldn’t force upon our worst enemies. If you’re into fashion/lifestyle/that sort of thing, this Fairfax spot is your sanctuary, where no matter what time of day it is, it’s somehow always golden hour. And really, what’s more important than that? It’s certainly not the $36 lobster ravioli that tastes like it was sauced by a five-year-old.