Where To Eat When No One Can Make A F*cking Decision
No one likes making decisions. But no one likes searching the Internet for an hour, either. Here’s where to go when no one can decide about dinner.
Nobody likes making decisions - that’s why you routinely spend so long scanning Netflix for a movie, only to end up restarting The Office for the 37th time, or how Wednesday-night dinner usually ends being chips and salsa. And while it’s OK to be indecisive when you’re alone, in a group, it’s downright infuriating.
So rather than spending 45 minutes weighing the pros and cons of one place or another, here are places in 16 neighborhoods where there are too many good choices. They’re not necessarily the absolute best restaurants in their respective neighborhoods, but they can usually handle a group of four or five at the last minute, and they all have enough great choices to please even your pickiest friend. So the next time you’re with a group and no one can make a f*cking decision, we’re making one for you - you’re going to whichever place we picked for you below.
In a neighborhood like Ktown, trying to narrow down your choices is like trying to pick your favorite episode of Veep: You’ve got a lot of options, and none of them are wrong. But when push comes to shove, head to Jeon Ju. They’ve got a huge menu, but we can make your decision on that front pretty easy, too: Get the galbi bibimbap. It’s a short rib bibimbap served in a hot-as-hell stone bowl, with a massive selection of banchan on the side. It’s big enough to feed a small group, but if you have to get something else, go for the kimchi bibimbap, which is spicy, fragrant, and light enough to balance out the hearty short rib platter.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Geoff claims to hate order-at-the-counter spots, so he’s shot down your last 16 ideas in the neighborhood. But Joy isn’t just any counter-order place - this fantastic Taiwanese restaurant is used to handling groups. The food arrives quickly, but it’s coursed out well enough that you don’t end up with all nine dishes on your table at the same time. Joy’s beer and wine list is surprisingly good, and they’ve got a menu full of can’t-miss dishes like thousand layer pancakes, minced pork over rice, and vegan mapo tofu.
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In a land as full of mediocre Italian restaurants as Santa Monica, it’s hard to believe the line at Colapasta doesn’t extend past The Promenade and into the Pacific Ocean. But this low-key spot has plenty of space for you and your indecisive friends, and a menu small enough that your group of three can split everything. Alternatively, you can each just order the ragu lasagna, and keep it all to yourself - because it’s one of the best versions of the dish in town. It’s cheesy, aromatic, and the best thing here.
Capital Seafood Beverly Hills
No, Cheryl, you’re not “Cool with anything” if you’re going to shoot down 20 places for being too expensive, too crowded, and “Not having enough round tables.” But what you will be cool with is Capital Seafood, the Cantonese spot on La Cienega that balances all those things perfectly. In addition to a selection of dumplings from the daytime dim sum menu, at night, they’ve got excellent entrees like roast duck and Cantonese roast pork. They can also handle huge groups at the last minute, so if everyone’s planning on bringing their significant others, this is the place to do it.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Same Same Thai
Maybe some people want Thai, and other people want to drink good wine. The problem is no one wants to wait in line at Night + Market. So head to Same Same. This spot on Sunset never has a wait, and has Thai food that holds up to their much more crowded Thai neighbor. Same Same’s pad kee mao packs a serious punch, and their khao soi is among the best in the city. Pair those with a Chilean pinot noir, and everyone will go home happy.
Ostrich Farm is permanently closed
Ostrich Farm is LA’s essential back-up restaurant. It feels like a big-deal spot - the kind of dark, loud place you make plans to eat at weeks in advance - but you don’t actually have to plan ahead at all. The food is also excellent - the grilled ribeye with caramelized onions is a must-order, and the mushroom gnocchi with ricotta is smoky, earthy, and very good. It’s also a fun place to come with out-of-towners - you’ll occasionally see celebrities eating with their moms, and even if you don’t, the restaurant is always buzzy enough that it feels like the person next to you could be Shawn Mendes.
You and all your work friends have spent the entire day rejecting each other’s ideas about where to get dinner tonight. Cut the bullsh*t, and just go to Laurel Tavern. This neighborhood spot is a great place for an after-work meal, both because they have one of LA’s best burgers, and because they’ve got an excellent beer list. It’s close enough to CBS Radford that it’s always busy, but never so crowded that you’ll be wedged in uncomfortably close to the lit department CE that you hate.
This French spot is perfect when you want to shut up anyone who complains about restaurant prices in Los Feliz. It’s calm, and you’ll be able to get a table immediately (even when you’re in a group), but there’s always enough of a crowd that you won’t feel bad getting a bit loud if you have a few too many glasses of Beaujolais. The menu isn’t huge, but there’s enough stuff that anyone will find something they like - they’ve got a fantastic seasonal risotto, polenta, and a remarkably good salmon with fingerling potatoes.
The Original Hoy-Ka Hollywood
People tend to forget about this Hollywood Thai spot, most likely because of its extremely inconvenient Sunset location. But this place is excellent - the massive menu doesn’t have many weak spots, so if your friends can’t find something they like, then it’s time to find some new friends. Our favorites, though are the crispy pork, doused in lime sauce with some great Chinese broccoli on the side, and the beef ka prao, spicy, fragrant ground beef, stir-fried with peppers and basil. Next time you’re at your friend’s place in Hollywood and no one can decide where to go, this is the spot.
photo credit: Jayme Burrows
A casual spot in the heart of Downtown LA, Wood Spoon is the ideal place when indecision hits, and everyone is getting pissed off. Because in addition to serving great Brazilian food, Wood Spoon is a place where stress melts away - presumably, directly into their perfectly flaky chicken pot pie, stuffed with olives, hearts of palm, and roasted corn. You’ll also want to order multiple croquettes, if you don’t want another fight to break out.
This casual Chinese spot in Filipinotown is an ideal place for a quick, excellent group meal. It’s also perfect for indecisive people, because the menu’s short - about 10 items - so you won’t have to listen to Daniel spend 45 minutes figuring out what he wants. What he wants (and you should, too) are the beef noodles, the pork belly bao, and the fried rice. They also have a small-but-great list of natural wines and draft beers, so be sure to take advantage of that, too.
It’s close enough to the beach that you can’t blame your friends for being skeptical of it - but Dudley Market is the ultimate neighborhood restaurant in Venice. This seafood spot sources all their fish locally (and even catches much of it on their restaurant-owned boat), and has a killer list of natural wines. You’ll drink those at alarming rates at one of their communal tables, along with clam and pork belly toast, whole-fried snapper, and a great burger. And for the quality of food that you’re getting, the prices are shockingly good. Get ready for this place to become a regular in your group dinner rotation.
photo credit: Jakob Layman .
This Valley institution is our go-to spot when we want sushi without a wait in The Valley. They’ve got massive hand rolls that we fill ourselves up on - especially the baked scallop one - and the off-the-menu Rufus Roll, which comes wrapped in cucumber and topped with scallop, lobster, crab, and shrimp. This is a super-popular neighborhood spot, but the space is big enough that you’ll all still be able to sit.
Banadir Somali Restaurant
Our favorite spot for a group meal in Inglewood is Banadir, the Somali spot that feels like you’re hanging out in your best friend’s basement. But unlike your best friend’s basement, this place serves fantastic stewed goat that’s so rich, tender, and flavorful it will change the way you think about goat. The ful (stewed fava beans) is creamy, but not overly rich or oily, and packs a great punch of spice. No matter what you order, be sure to get the thick, bready anjero to go with your stew.