LAGuide

Where To Have Your Birthday In Your 30s

16 great LA restaurants suitable for a birthday party in your 30s.

In your 20s, celebrating your birthday with your friends is usually the best night of the year. In your 30s, things get awkward. Some people are married, some people have kids, and pretty much everybody has a dog. You still want to go out and have a great time, but you have zero interest in guzzling lemon drops with a bunch of college kids. We suggest you focus on two things: great food, and an environment where you can get rowdy if you want to, but within reason. After all, you’ve got a dog to walk when you get home. Here are 16 places that will deliver on both fronts. Happy hangovers. 

THE SPOTS

One of the first things you learn in your 30s is wrangling your friends to a bar on a Friday night isn’t as easy as it was in your 20s. That said, propose having your birthday at Checker Hall, and you’ll still get people to show up. Located on the second floor of an old masonic lodge in Highland Park, Checker Hall is equal parts bar and restaurant, meaning if you have friends who want to chill in a booth all night and reminiscence, and others who are still in the business of flirting at the bar, everyone will be happy. The cocktails are well-made (we love the perfectly-spicy Carmen #6), the music curation is always right, and if you get hungry, seafood-centric pop-up, Little Fish, is currently running the menu. 

Cobi’s is a Southeast Asian restaurant in Santa Monica that toes the line between quirky hangout spot and a full-out party restaurant. A meal here is certainly loud (soul and reggae music will be blasting all night) and you might not be able to hear the person across from you, but who cares? The food is excellent and the kitschy, floral decor makes it feel like you’re throwing a birthday inside a 20th-century parlor room. If you want to keep things outside though, Cobi’s has one of the best back patios in the neighborhood.

If the idea of planning and executing the perfect birthday dinner sounds like a complete nightmare, head to Lasita. At this Filipino rotisserie/wine bar in Chinatown, there’s no pressure to make decisions or a long-standing reservation, and you’re free to hang out as long as you want. Looking to drink biodynamic wine and play catch-up for an hour and then put some food in later? Go right ahead. Maybe someone shows up hungry and with a hard out in exactly 45 minutes. No problem. Head right to the host stand and order all the garlicky chicken, pork belly lechon, dips, and sauces your table has room for. At Lasita, the only rule is there are no rules, (though we do insist that you order the pancit). 

This was a good year for you professionally. You finally got that promotion, the raise was substantial, and you’re ready to celebrate. Head to Damian. This upscale Mexican spot is located in a pristine half-jungle, half-futuristic concrete slab in the Arts District where you’ll be treated to uni tostadas, swiss cheese quesadillas, and the creamiest guacamole we’ve ever had. It’s the perfect spot if you want to keep the party under four people and spend most of your birthday sipping dill and absinthe-infused cocktails and eating hibiscus meringue for dessert.  

In the course of a few years, Anajak has gone from a neighborhood Thai standby in Sherman Oaks to one of the most exciting restaurants in LA—and our highest rated restaurant on the site. This is largely due to the tremendous food coming out of the kitchen, but also because Anajak’s alleyway patio is the perfect place for a birthday dinner. R&B plays over the loudspeaker, tables cast dramatic shadows against a massive brick wall, and everyone’s wine glass will be continually filled with funky stuff that’s been sourced from a commune in central Slovenia. Also, it doesn’t hurt that half your friend group lives in the Valley now anyway. 

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Everson Royce Bar review image
8.9

Everson Royce Bar

$$$$(213) 335-6166
Hours:SATURDAY5:00PM to 2:00AM

If you lived in LA during your 20s, it’s possible you’ve been to  ERB. Guess what? It’s even more fun in your 30s. The classic Arts District spot still has one of the best back patios in the city and is the kind of place where one round turns into three in the blink of an eye. Sure, most people are here to drink, but if there’s a better bar food menu in town, we don’t know it. There are flaky buttermilk biscuits, shrimp buns with dill and celery and perhaps the best single patty burger in existence. Reservations are definitely required, but don’t get stressed about being trapped at a big table all night. Friends will be able to come and go when they please—or when the babysitter texts. 

Mazal is a restaurant that proves big group birthdays aren’t always a monstrous chore. The casual Israeli spot in Lincoln Heights has a charming, string-lit back patio, a biodynamic wine program with most bottles falling in the $30 range, and an all-vegetarian menu full of very shareable dishes. You know a meal is a success here when, at some point, every inch of your table is filled with some sort of dip, salad, and basket of piping hot pita bread. You might even ask your friends how they’re liking it and not even get a response. Don’t stress. They’re all too busy ripping and tearing, dipping and dunking, and ordering bottle after bottle of natural wine. 

If your version of a great birthday dinner is something a bit more subdued, yet still exciting, snag a table at Kensho. This tiny wine bar behind Yamashiro is smack in the middle of all the Hollywood action, but still feels like a total secret. The views of the hills and the Hollywood Sign at sunset are unmatched and the friendly waitstaff will make sure everyone’s glass is filled with biodynamic wines or sake all night long. As far as the food goes, Kensho’s menu changes pretty often, but is always filled with delicious snacks ranging from salmon tartare to inari to perilla bowls—perfect when a full sit-down birthday dinner sounds entirely cumbersome.

If there’s one thing you learn in your 30s, it’s that you no longer have to hang out with people you don’t want to hang out with. And that includes random people in restaurants. A great private dining situation takes a good birthday and makes it even better, and Osteria La Buca’s is one of our favorites. This neighborhood Italian restaurant at Melrose and Western will put you on their second floor, inside a big glass-walled space they call The Pasta Room, where you have a bird’s-eye view of the restaurant and can hook up your own music. If you don’t want to celebrate your birthday inside something called The Pasta Room, we have nothing in common.

You want a little bit of Hollywood this year for your birthday, but you’re also not stepping foot anywhere near a club filled with backpackers who got kicked out of their hostels today. You need Dan Tana’s. The old-school Italian restaurant is one of LA’s most iconic restaurants and also a place where you can still see the real people of Hollywood (the ones with movie deals) in their element. You’re going to eat a lot of chicken parmesan, drink more house red wine than you planned, and flirt with a 68-year-old waiter and feel great about it. The place is definitely cramped, but they always make room for a party. Definitely book far in advance, it books up quickly.

Two years ago you weren't even sure what the stock market was. Now, you've got several investments with excellent returns and you’re ready to eat at a restaurant while not stress-staring at prices for once in your life. Cassia is a modern Vietnamese/Southeast Asian restaurant in downtown Santa Monica, and while the place is certainly on the upscale side of things, it’s also not a graveyard. The lively space is big, with plenty of room for big groups, a cool patio, and a fantastic menu ideal for sharing.

When this modern Korean spot came to town in 2018, it was one of the biggest restaurant openings LA had ever seen. Booking a table required months of planning, strategic internet sleuthing, and possibly even a blood sacrifice. Fast forward today and you can get a table any day you want--even if you're with a big group. The industrial space is massive, with large tables and a great side patio, and while the whole menu is full of very good and very shareable small plates, the best dishes are the ones meant to feed 4-6 people. Get the spicy pork shoulder that's so tender you can pick it apart with ice tongs.

photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto

Guelaguetza imageoverride image
8.1

Guelaguetza

$$$$213-427-0608
Hours:SATURDAY8:00AM to 11:00PM

You’re old enough to know what a three-day hangover feels like, so the last thing you want is to pour sugar-poisoned margaritas down your throat all night. So go to Guelaguetza for an upscale Mexican dinner instead. The classic Oaxacan restaurant in Koreatown is massive, with live mariachi music most nights and some of the best mole you’ll find in town. They have over 150 different kinds of mezcals and tequila, so if you do go that route, at least you can do it right. Bonus: It’s kid-friendly here.

At some point in your 20s, you wandered down into El Cid’s gigantic side patio, drank a lot of beer, and deemed it your favorite bar in the city. You weren’t wrong. But now it’s time to move the party inside to experience what makes this Silver Lake spot truly special - their flamenco shows. The dinner-and-a-show setup runs every Saturday and Sunday night inside the dinner theater, with three reasonably priced pre-fixe menus for everybody to choose from. The food isn’t going to blow anybody’s mind, but you don’t care. That’s what the flamenco dancing is for.

Tar & Roses is a great choice for most group dinners simply because everybody can find something to eat. But it works even better for a birthday dinner because that back patio never fails to turn into a complete party by the end of the night. And here, the party consists of you and your friends going to town on a full wood-fired goat that comes in three courses and only costs $68 per person. If you aren’t eating full animals in public with your friends by now, it's time you started.

“Just do a steakhouse.” You turn 36, and apparently the only place you’re allowed to eat anymore is a boring meat chamber full of people that fell asleep on the way there. Skip all that and go to Taylor’s. This LA staple has been around since the 1950s, serving giant cuts of meats at reasonable prices in an old-school environment (get ready for big red booths). The waitstaff is old and sassy, everyone there is in a big group, and they make some of our favorite Manhattans in town.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

.
The Best LA Restaurants For A Birthday Dinner guide image
Guide
The Best LA Restaurants For A Birthday Dinner

26 places that take the pain out of birthday plotting.

The Best LA Bars For Your Birthday guide image
Guide
The Best LA Bars For Your Birthday

The 16 best LA bars for your birthday.

Great Places For A Big Group Dinner Outside guide image
Guide
Great Places For A Big Group Dinner Outside

When the crew’s rolling deep and you want to head outside, these are the 23 best places to do it.

The Old Hollywood Guide: 11 Classic Places You Actually Need To Try guide image
Guide
The Old Hollywood Guide: 11 Classic Places You Actually Need To Try

LA is full of restaurants that Old Hollywood stars used to frequent. These are the ones you should still be visiting.