Where To Eat In LA When You Just Want Appetizers

Sometimes finger food is the main attraction.
Where To Eat In LA When You Just Want Appetizers image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Committing to a full meal at a restaurant can be overbearing. Maybe you just want to feast on some light tasty snacks, sip a quick drink, and be on your way before it’s suddenly 10pm and your bill is in the triple digits. These are the spots where you can do just that. 



Beverly Grove

$$$$Perfect For:Small PlatesDrinks & A Light Bite


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Located on the loungey second floor of Palihouse West Hollywood, Mezzanine might have “sushi” in its name, but the small izakaya plates are what you should concentrate on. The seafood pancake is plump and juicy, the grilled yellowtail collar flakes beautifully under a pair of chopsticks, and the wood-fired tomatoes are tiny smoke explosions in your mouth. If you’re looking for a fun pre-going-out spot in Beverly Grove, Mezzanine is one of the best options in the neighborhood. 

There are certain things that probably come to mind when you hear the term dive bar—dated wood paneling on the walls, old chipped-up swivel stools, crusty locals, and cheap drinks. Oy Bar in Studio City has all those things, but it also has a bar food menu that’s worth braving rush hour on the 101 to eat. The house burger, topped with Toma cheese, hoisin ketchup, and a heap of cilantro, is a massive standout, but don’t skip the gooey pastrami quesadilla and matzo ball ramen during the winter months.  

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

$$$$Perfect For:Eating At The Bar

When it comes to drinking food, Dwit Gol Mok (or DGM, as it’s commonly referred to) can feel like the center of the universe in Koreatown. This semi-hidden, sprawling pub has endless nooks and crannies full of friends drinking soju, sharing snacks, and drawing on the graffiti-covered walls. The whole place feels more like an open-air night market than an indoor bar on Wilshire. When it comes time to line your stomach with some food, be sure to get a seafood pancake, corn cheese, spicy chicken wings, and any other small plate that you spy stacked on the table next to you.

Jones Hollywood is a restaurant you could use for all sorts of things—intimate first dates, late-night meals with people from your improv class—but we love heading right to the bar at 7pm (when they open and you can still find a seat). That’s when you should order a classic martini in peace and go all-out on appetizers. The crunchy calamari are the best you’ll find in Weho, the steamed artichokes have a perfectly soft, meaty center, and any remaining stomach room should be saved for the warm crispy flatbread that gets brought out for free. 

Set in a spacious Hermosa Beach shopping center, Barsha is the kind of unpretentious restaurant that South Bay residents don’t want anyone outside of their zip code to know about. But sorry to them, it’s too charming not to share: The food at this indoor-outdoor spot leans North African, with fantastic small plates like falafel sliders and roasted cauliflower that are perfect for a breezy day on the beach. And since the owners also run a bottle shop nearby, you’ll find a wine list that offers various-sized pours to suit how long you want your meal to be.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

This spot is Permanently Closed.

Bar Moruno is an upscale Spanish restaurant in Silver Lake that feels as close to a Barcelona tapas bar as you'll find in LA. We recommend filling your table with the menu’s smaller dishes, including the chorizo-filled Scotch egg and the sizzling hen of the woods mushrooms served with fried bread. Drinks are also a highlight at Bar Moruno, including an entire menu section dedicated to some very creative gin martinis (try the one with salmon-infused gin.) 

One might expect a “globally-inspired” small plates restaurant that’s been open since 2011 to feel somewhat tired at this point, but not Tar & Roses. There’s still a genuine sense of excitement at this popular Santa Monica spot, and it’s because the food is better than ever. While they do offer several excellent family-style dining experiences featuring things like wood-fired goat and standing rib racks, the best stuff on the menu can be found among the small plates. That includes octopus skewers in a spicy chorizo vinaigrette, marinated lamb kabobs, and oxtail dumplings we pray is served at our wedding. 

Having a full dinner inside Dunsmoor’s warm, rustic dining room is an experience we absolutely approve of, but if you’re looking for a more no-strings-attached kind of night, head to the tiny wine bar in the back instead. The semi-hidden space is saved for walk-ins, with a long wooden bar, a full beer and wine list, and a concise food menu filled with the best stuff from the regular menu, a.k.a. the appetizers and raw dishes. That includes seared albacore with ginger relish, the lamb tartare, and a life-altering green chile and cheddar cornbread. 

Savida is a little seafood spot on Montana in Santa Monica that has quite a few delicious small plates. While nearby Crudo E Nudo is a Westside destination, Savida is more of a locals-only type spot and a great choice for a fancy little lunch (or dinner) involving alarmingly fresh vegetables and tasty crudos, oysters, tostadas, and salads. The octopus tostada is your must-order—it bites back with preserved lemon and garlicky tzatziki—and we love that they have a $9 lobster roll slider that involves lemongrass and crispy shallots.

There’s a reason that Margot continues to be so popular—it’s one of the best places on the Westside to snack with coworkers and catch the sunset after a long day. No, you’re not by the beach, but you are on the roof of Culver City’s Platform complex with excellent views of the adjacent train junction—something we promise is more aesthetically pleasing than it sounds on paper. There’s also a wide-ranging menu filled with solid tapas like potato bravas, housemade focaccia, and tons of salads—basically all the things you want to be eating while sipping well-made gin and tonics. And watching the sunset, of course. 

At its core, Everson Royce Bar in the Arts District is really just a bar with food. But if you come to ERB and only drink, you’re doing it wrong. Whether it’s the house-made biscuits, the pork belly steamed buns, or one of the best burgers in LA, this is the kind of bar food you’ll be talking about all week with your friends. Their back patio is definitely the place to be.

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