Working in an office has its perks - better benefits, employee of the month parking spots, and a near-constant supply of birthday cake. But then there are the forced bonding exercises with people you’d, frankly, rather not bond with at all... also known as “work dinners.”
Of course, if you pick the right restaurant, work dinners don’t have to be horrifying. Which is why we’ve made this guide. Broken up into eight different categories catering to different company teams, these 24 spots can turn any work dinner into a success. Just wait until your boss goes to the bathroom before you start sh*t-talking.
It’s been a long month of hiring and firing, and the HR team needs some place to decompress, drink wine, and eat a bunch of comfort food. Make it Brazilian, and go to Wood Spoon. The Downtown neighborhood spot has fantastic food across-the-board (including the best chicken pot pie we’ve ever eaten) and a colorful space that looks like the Parisian flat everybody dreams about during recruiting meetings.
Marvin is one of those places you walk into and immediately wonder why you haven’t been hanging out here since you moved to LA. The casual French restaurant in Beverly Grove looks like a wine cellar inside a Provence farmhouse, and the rustic dining room is filled with people from the neighborhood who just want to drink some wine before bed. That said, it’s a great place to come with a group, because the fantastic bistro-style food is easily shareable (load up on the toasts and rigatoni) and it never gets so crowded that you feel like you’re sitting on top of your boss. You like Carol, but not that much.
Don Cuco certainly doesn’t serve the best Mexican food in LA, but it benefits greatly from having a location adjacent to every major studio in The Valley, and margaritas that’ll put even the most seasoned of office drinkers under the table. Frankly, you go to this classic Mexican spot simply because it’s a great time - and that’s exactly what you want when you’re in a room full of casting directors.
Craft is the rare restaurant that’s consistently much better than it needs to be. Located in the restaurant desert people refer to as Century City, Craft has a huge space, food that everybody wants to eat (read: pasta and vegetables), and an easy location that even Mike with the bad knee can’t complain about… even though he probably will. Just make sure you get several warm chocolate tarts for dessert.
Connie and Ted’s is ideal for a team dinner because the gigantic dining room can handle any group, and there’s enough general commotion to drown out Sheryl, who has some thoughts about the lack of talent brought into the room today. This crowded West Hollywood spot specializes in New England-style seafood, which means you should stick to the chowder sampler, crab cakes, and New England boiled dinner (mussels, steamers, lobster, pork sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob). That said, they also have one of our favorite burgers in town.
The product team doesn’t go on as many client dinners as the rest of the team - so when it’s time to go out, do it big. Majordomo is a great place for team bonding, mostly because of the $200 plate of bone-in short ribs, which you have to order 24 hours before your meal. This plate of meat is sort of Korean, sort of Southern, and entirely great. Beyond that, focus on the small plates - especially the bing, which are flatbreads served with things like egg and smoked roe, spicy lamb, and cave-aged butter and caviar. Your team will also undoubtedly appreciate that some of the cocktails come in cat-shaped mugs.
After staring at a screen all day, the last thing the product and engineering team would want to do is go play video games, right? Wrong. Button Mash has old-school arcade games that will remind you why arcades used to be such a big deal - games like Rampage and NBA Jam - plus a whole bunch of pinball machines, too. They’ve also got a great tap list, and Thai food that we’d seek out even if it wasn’t served in an adult arcade. Get the crispy tofu balls, the fried ginger wings, and the double cheeseburger, which is one of our favorites in town.
Located on a hilltop overlooking Hollywood, Yamashiro is a straight-up classic, with views of LA most restaurants only dream about. The 100-year-old Japanese restaurant is massive and admittedly a bit over the top, but the team won’t care... especially after one (or five) of those kamikaze martinis. If things get too wild, slip down to Kensho, the decidedly chill sake-and-small-plates spot located on the premises.
It’s a fact that people who deal with money love to eat big pieces of meat, and that’s why you’re taking the accounting/finance team to Lawry’s. The classic steakhouse is a Beverly Hills original and eating inside its cavernous dining room is a rite of passage in this town. There’s a full menu here, but you don’t need it, because you’re getting the prime rib dinner - a giant slab of prime rib, plus mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and their famous spinning salad made tableside. Just be sure to throw in a side of creamed spinach - it’s our favorite in town.
Maybe it’s the giant belly-on pork chop or the floor-to-ceiling wall mural that looks like a colorful Roman chariot collision, but a meal at Rossoblu always feels a bit epic. And let’s face it, accountants need something epic in their lives. Located inside the City Market South development in the Fashion District, Rossoblu is one of our favorite Italian restaurants in LA and a place that will impress even the snootiest of eaters. From the charcuterie to the bolognese to the Swiss chard tart, this is food you’ll talk about at the table, on the way home, and the next day at the office.
Since opening in early 2018, Bavel has basically been booked solid. And with very good reason. The space is impressive and the menu is full of amazing dishes. Plus, everything is ideal for sharing, from the duck ’nduja hummus, to the oyster mushroom kebabs, to the lamb neck shawarma - so plan a few weeks ahead, and make sure to bring the entire team. The next time you have the chance to celebrate closing a big deal, this is the place to do it.
A place that serves great food in a beautiful space should be a no-brainer for a team dinner - but Dama is even better. Because this place feels like a colonial mansion in the Caribbean, complete with rum cocktails and an entirely open-air dining room. Focus on the small plates (especially the calamari bocadillo, the oxtail tacos, and the whipped beans), and don’t be afraid to order a few rounds of those cocktails - they’re some of the best tiki-style drinks in town. It’s on the corporate card, after all.
This Santa Monica spot has been a special occasion go-to for Westsiders since it opened in 2011. Their food is excellent, and everyone from the globe-trekking CEO to the intern who only eats chicken nuggets will find something they like. Think things like oxtail dumplings that look like ravioli, octopus skewers, and a shellfish pot with curry broth. It can also be as casual or as fancy as you want, so if you’re all coming from a sales meeting that required suit jackets, you won’t feel weird in here.
Two things we know about writers: They’re very good at talking about private things in public, and they’re very bad at voice modulation. So Sichuan Impression’s crowded, buzzing dining room is ideal for dinner with an editorial team or writers’ room. It also doesn’t hurt that the food is fantastic. So order some mapo tofu, tea-smoked ribs, and toothpick lamb, then get to yelling about who’s hooking up with whom.
Like your office, Sun Nong Dan is chaotic and lit entirely by fluorescent light. So your team should feel right at home walking into this excellent Korean restaurant in the heart of Ktown. Your first (and only) order of business here is to get the incredible galbi jjim - a huge, cast iron pan full of ribs, rice cakes, and vegetables. Make sure you order it with cheese on top, because the server will come over with a blowtorch and melt it on top for you. They’re open 24 hours, which is perfect for when you’re staying late to hit a deadline and are all hungry afterward. You can usually walk right in on weekdays - just call ahead to make sure there’s no line.
A team dinner at Madre! is bound to get a little rowdy - and that’s what you’re looking for after a stressful week in the office. This Oaxacan spot in Torrance (there’s also a location in Culver City) has one of the best mezcal selections in LA, and a great cocktail menu to match. There’s plenty of space, and they’re very good at handling big parties at the last minute. Order a whole bunch of queso fundido and guacamole to split, get the mole sampler and some goat barbacoa, and you’ve got a great night ahead of you.
This seminal Venice restaurant might not be as exciting as it was a decade ago, but there’s still something magical about sitting out on Gjelina’s always-crowded back patio and pretending your marketing salary will allow you to buy a house in Venice one day. The menu is a borderline encyclopedia (there’s almost 70 different dishes), but concentrate on the mushroom toast, pizza, and any vegetable that looks good.
There can never be enough good upscale dinner options in Hollywood, and the tourist-swarmed neighborhood just got another one in L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. Located on a quiet side street a few blocks from Hollywood and Highland, L’Antica is the first U.S. location of an Italian pizzeria that’s been cranking out Neapolitan-style pies since 1870. And while the pizzas are why you come here (the margherita and bianca are our early favorites), it’s the space - complete with a full fireplace and giant back patio - that’ll make you stay and hang out every night this summer.
Rosaliné has been open for a few years now, but its flexible space, good Peruvian food, and central location (Melrose and La Cienega) still make it one of the most useful restaurants in Los Angeles. There’s a full raw bar up front, a big dining room that looks like you’re eating inside a greenhouse, and a private dining area in the back where you can take team selfies in peace. As far as the food goes, stick to the ceviches, family style paellas, and any seafood that looks good. Save the rest of the space in your stomach for pisco sours.
The average legal team in Los Angeles is roughly 50% residents of Pasadena, so even if you aren’t one of them, make it easy for the rest of the team and have dinner at Union. They’ll be happy because they won’t have to drive across the city, and you’ll be happy because you’re eating excellent housemade pasta, and drinking bottle after bottle of Italian wine. The partners probably aren’t used to “shared plates,” but they’ll be happy to do it here - that way, you can all try the squid ink lumache with lobster, the tonnarelli cacio e pepe, and the saffron linguini with uni.
Otium isn’t the best restaurant in Downtown LA, but it’s very conveniently located near the stretch of Flower Street where so many legal teams are headquartered (which probably explains why everyone in here dresses like an attorney). This massive, art-filled restaurant by The Broad fills up every night, and while the service is a little spotty - make sure you tell the waiter when you’re ready to order, otherwise, you might never get to - the food is generally good. Get the duck confit pot pie and the fish curry, and be sure to take advantage of their huge wine list.
Sometimes, it’s OK to indulge a little bit. Maybe you just won a big settlement, or successfully avoided fines for leaking all of your company’s user data. When that’s the case, it’s time for a meal at Chi Spacca. This place specializes in Italian steaks, and has everything from a $200 dry-aged New York strip to a beef-cheek pie with a big bone full of marrow sticking out of the top. Wear something a bit stretchy, and make sure you get a ride there - there is an entire section of Italian reds that there’s no way your boss will be able to resist.