Your birthday is supposed to be the best time of the year. People treat you like star-powered royalty for a day during which you generally do nothing more than stay alive. So why then does it always end up being so goddamn stressful? You don’t know where to go, your friends can’t commit to anything, and you hate planning.
While we can’t sort out your entire life, we can give you some hard advice on where to plan that crucial birthday dinner. What’s important? For starters, a space that will accommodate a group. And unless your name is Kristen Stewart, you probably want a place thats fun, festive, and where people are happy. Oh and drinks. Lots of drinks. It’s a simple formula, but one that’s not always easy to crack. Here is your (new and improved) guide to the best birthday dinners in Los Angeles.
If you want to get all your friends together for a meal, but the idea of a planning an official sit-down dinner terrifies you, Button Mash is the answer to your prayers. The Echo Park hotspot is an arcade bar (and an excellent one at that), but the real secret lies in the food menu. Opened by the Chinese-fusion masters from the old Starry Kitchen, this is the drunk bar food of your dreams, and the eat-a-little, pinball-a-little setup is ideal for your casual birthday experience.
E.R.B. is where you take the birthday crew when drinking is the focus, food is necessary, and bocce ball is welcomed. The new Arts District spot is definitely a bar, but reserving a table on the fantastic back patio and eating and drinking the night away is as strong a birthday situation as you can. Think of the menu as worldly drunk food. Pork belly baos, taquitos, buttermilk biscuits. YES TO EVERYTHING. The vibe is fun and relaxed, and in the heart of everything cool, if the party moves elsewhere.
It’s your birthday and you’re going to eat pasta if you want to. The trattoria right on Melrose is the casual pasta spot the area has been craving for years. And also, the solution to your birthday dinner blues. The location is as central as it gets, easy to get to, and half your friend group no doubt lives up the block. While the interior is great, save that vibe for date night. Your move is the front patio, with all the room in the world for you and your friends to spread out, grab some bottles of wine and beer, and get a little rowdy.
If you’re looking to eat, drink, and dance the night away in one spot for your birthday, Abigaile is your best bet. But don’t fear – Abigaile is definitely not a club. It’s a well-constructed shrine to birthday needs. The welcoming, first-floor dining room serves fantastic American food and great craft beer, while upstairs things loosen up with a full-fledged rooftop bar and the dance floor debauchery that goes with it.
Scopa might be on the fancier side for a birthday dinner, but sometimes that’s just what the doctor prescribed. Its brick-walled, industrial aesthetic is welcoming, and the long community tables running down the center of the restaurant are ideal for your big group’s Italian feast.
This Westside institution epitomizes old-school Angeleno Mexican cuisine and that means crowd-pleasing food for your entire birthday group. La Cabana is also downright fun, with a live mariachi band (ON THE ROOF) and a raucous back patio for all your drunken birthday needs. The pitchers of margs seemingly never end and next thing you know you’ll be stumbling out at 3am like a true birthday champ.
El Coyote is not where you go to eat good Mexican food. It’s where you go to eat passable Mexican food and drink the stiffest Margaritas in town in an atmosphere that encourages it. The historic joint is also gigantic, with big dining rooms that will give you and your party crew the room to spread out and celebrate to your fullest potential.
Cleo hails from the trendiest of Hollywood nightlife families (SBE), which means it was basically made for all your birthday needs. Located inside the Roxbury Hotel, Cleo’s delicious mediterranean tapas menu will also give everybody the necessary sustenance to dance the Hollywood night away.
Bludso’s is a perfect birthday dinner spot because it’s big, well-priced, and if someone in your group isn’t keen on eating delicious BBQ, it makes for a good time to realize that your friendship was never going to work out anyways. Also, the Large Party Tray for $100 feeds up to eight meat-hungry adults and we’re fairly certain you won’t find a better birthday deal than that.
Two words: Beer towers. OK, and Thai food. Really amazing Thai food. Night+Market might be one of the most-hyped Thai spots in the city (for good reason), but it’s also a fantastic place to get rowdy with your close friends. The Weho location is large and lively, with an open-air back patio that has birthday success written all over it.
The best Mexican restaurant in Hollywood is also one of the best places to celebrate yourself. El Compadre is small-ish and usually quite crowded, but all that means to you and your party is one of the most authentic atmospheres in town. Everyone at El Compadre is there to eat great Mexican food, have fun, and to keep slamming those flaming margaritas.
Not a name you’re going to shut down a rap battle with, but certainly the best place to get Korean BBQ on your birthday. The place not only has top-notch meats, but they also don’t give two sh*ts how “festive” you and your group get. This is Ktown though – nobody stays in one place the whole night. And Kang Ho-Dong is mere blocks from Normandie Club, the Line Hotel and lots of other birthday-worthy spots.
Roy Choi’s restaurant at The Line Hotel recently underwent a menu overhaul and came out tasting better than ever. The hipster/hip-hop vibes inside POT remain the same, as does the shared-plate experience that’s perfect for your big birthday celebration.
The South Bay’s favorite spot to get drunk during breakfast is now in Burbank. Forget your claustrophobic memories of the Manhattan Beach space, because in Burbank you can reserve the entire FLOOR for you and your closest comrades. The same tasty food and retro beach vibes await.
If you’re looking to publicly swan dive off a table into the arms of a Korean woman or cry openly during a Britney Spears lip sync, Tokyo Delve’s is your spot. It’s true insanity, and a place every Angeleno needs to experience once. Open only on weekends, the entire restaurant is seated at the same time and then promptly whisked off on a two hour dancing/singing/sake-bomb extravaganza you simply have to see to believe.
Because pizza always wins on birthdays. And at Masa, you are getting some of the best Chicago deep dish outside the Windy City. (And I’m from Chicago.) Save room for everything else, too, because the rest of Masa’s menu is also fantastic, from apps to desserts. The place is super-casual and only a few blocks away from some of the best nightlife on the Eastside.
Messhall is an Eastside birthday dinner go-to purely because of how big it is. There’s the sleek interior with large tables, or the beautiful outdoor patio if you want to keep things more intimate. Either way, no one is complaining about the comfort-food laden menu and free shuttles to the nearby Greek Theater for whatever concert you have planned after.
Bäco Mercat pretty much gets everything right, and helping you celebrate the day of your birth is no exception. Its casual vibe is well-suited for groups, but trendy enough to remind everyone of the importance of the Event they’re all gathered to celebrate. It’s also perfectly situated to take DTLA by storm after you finish housing that oxtail bäco.
If you’re looking to completely blow it out this year, Mrs. Fish is the way to do it. The DTLA subterranean club is a massive three-story nightlife megacity and way cooler than most clubs you’ve been to recently. Live music is a key entertainment component here, as is THE 5,5000 GALLON FLOATING AQUARIUM above you. The food is good and will put something in your stomach before you head straight for those fantastic cocktails. Let’s get dancey.
A-Frame is well-known for being the place you always wished was slightly better. Not any more. With a completely overhauled menu and look, it’s now the perfect spot for a casual birthday dinner. The Hawaiian-themed menu is easily accessible and shareable, and the side patio has big tables ideal for large groups.