The Irish goodbye, the French exit, ghosting. Whatever term you prefer to use, the art of leaving a social gathering without saying goodbye is an important life hack - particularly when dinner isn’t going according to plan. Maybe the food is terrible, the service is glacial, or your boss’s second wife keeps showing you her back moles. Either way, it’s time to bounce and there’s no room for adieus. But you can’t just vanish from a restaurant without a game plan, especially when you’re violently hungry. You need a no-nonsense place that’s quick and dependable, with food you’ve been secretly craving all day. Here are 10 spots that always get the job done.
Your friend Alicia’s complaining about her non-existent sciatica again and you just ate a $16 taco with Thousand Island dressing on it. There’s no time for goodbyes. Say you’re going to the bathroom, and haul ass to Leo’s because sometimes the only thing that matters in life is eating tacos by yourself in the parking lot of a discount shoe store. All of Leo’s Mexican options are great, but you’re here for the al pastor.
The waiter just asked if everything “is to your palette’s liking” for the fourth consecutive time and you’re done. Time to take off one of your shoes, put it in your bag, and then tell the rest of table you think you forgot one of your shoes in the car. It works every time and also allows you a clean getaway to In-N-Out. The classic fast food chain is consistently good every single time and even better when you’re alone and barefoot in the drive-through.
About 10 minutes into your hour-long wait at Tatsu Ramen, you realize you don’t have this level of patience for a bowl of noodles. Turn around and scream-run until you’re out of sight from your friends. This is Melrose, so literally no one will be alarmed. Plus, now you can go to Kochi by yourself. The tiny udon shop on La Cienega never has a wait, service is quick, and the mentai cream udon with red caviar is one of our favorite bowls of noodles in West Hollywood.
You’ve always hated Tracy, but she always pays for dinner, so you still show up when you get the invite. But tonight she chose one of those sushi restaurants that has sparklers and bottle service girls, and suddenly a free meal isn’t even worth an entire bottle of vodka hitting the table. Slip out right as the tempura California rolls hit the table and take a Lyft to Fish Eight. The small sushi bar on Melrose has simple and fantastic fish where two pieces of nigiri cost about $5, and the quiet space ideal for deleting dead weight from your contact list.
You agreed to meet your second cousin and her deadbeat boyfriend in Santa Monica for dinner, and suddenly you’re inside a Del Frisco’s Grille and the boyfriend just asked you to follow him on Soundcloud. Is your throat suddenly itchy? Yes, it’s very itchy. Tell them you have to run to the bathroom and then make a sharp right out the back kitchen door. You’re going to Cha Cha Chicken. The Caribbean jerk spot is nothing more than an order-at-the-window situation a block from the beach, but there’s a great side patio that has what is possibly the most lenient BYOB policy in the city. Be sure to pick up a six-pack on the way.
The ironic dinner your friends planned at Island’s Burgers in Pasadena was never going to be a good idea. Now, you’re staring at a dried out beef patty that looks like it was thrown point-blank into a windmill, and you’re pissed. Pick up your phone, act like you got a text, shriek, “Oh god, not Denise!” and get the f*ck out of there. You’re heading to Mason’s in Highland Park. This order-at-the-counter spot has our favorite Asian dumplings outside the SGV. Make sure the pan-fried pork dumplings, angus beef bun, and seaweed salad need to be in your bag.
This is bullsh*t. Your waiter said he was going to course out your meal in three waves, but he failed to mention that there would be a 35-minute break in between each one. Now it’s 10:05pm and the only things in your stomach are a little gem salad and resentment. Duck out and go to Crawford’s, the dive bar in Historic Filipinotown that has cheap beer, a relaxed crowd, and a hot chicken sandwich that will cure any lingering animosity.
Once again, your bro-friends couldn’t get their lives together. Now, guys’ night is officially going down at some awful Staples-adjacent sports bar filled with 100 TVs playing the same game and soaking wet plates of jalapeno poppers. Expert advice: Tell them your tax guy is calling (no one will question it, because no one ever wants to talk about taxes), and hop in a Lyft to Dan Sung Sa. This Koreatown tavern is the kind of place you walk into for a quick beer and end up leaving hours later at close. You’ll drink way too much soju, eat excellent kimchi pancakes and meat skewers, and appreciate the fact that you aren’t at a place where the onion ring tower is the must-order.
It’s not that you dislike extravagant prix-fixe dinners, it’s just that after nine courses of seafoam shooters, your body is screaming to be truly satiated - immediately. Go to Tasty Food To Go. This Thai/Laotian spot in Long Beach is located inside a bungalow house that doubles as a barber shop and has fantastic food across-the-board. Our go-to Thai dishes here are the panang curry and pad see ew, and on the Laotian side of the menu we love the nam tok (sliced beef with mint and chili peppers) and the larb. It’s also to-go only, so you’ll be in and out quickly.