This Mojito Hot Toddy Is the Destroyer of Colds
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Roy Choi’s K-Town hot-pot haven has an ever-changing menu, but two things are constant: everything is made to share, and everyone looks totally great in floral bibs. In addition to at least one of the restaurant’s namesake pots, you’ll also want the house poke and, if it's available, the hickory-smoked duck breast.
This Italian-style shared-plate barstaurant in the middle of Little Tokyo serves up excellent bites and cocktails at a slew of group-friendly long tables, with definitely-gonna-inspire-conversation pizzas like charred octopus, or BBQ chicken with strawberries (!?!?!?!), that are obviously shareable, and great small-plates dishes, like pistachio-crusted grapes, as well.
Your crew requires pizza better than Domino’s, yet you’re stuck in Bestia-or-Mozza-reservation purgatory. Don’t sweat it -- instead, hit DeSano, a Neapolitan-style spot with four wood-burning ovens, ingredients imported from Italy, and copious amounts of seating, including a private room. DeSano also has a decent beer selection and, for any non-gluten friends, salad. Just in case.
There might not be a cuisine better suited for sharing between friends than KBBQ, since literally everything is in the middle of the table, and there are basically refills on all of it. Soowon Galbi is high quality, but won’t break the bank like Park’s, which means you can load up the grill with bulgogi and brisket without sweating the bill at the end.
The beloved New York spot just got its own Culver City brick-and-mortar, and if you’re dining with a group of meat eaters, this is for you. In addition to tons of space and a private dining area, Cannibal does a large-format nose-to-tail animal feast (which you must book at least a week in advance) that starts with a charcuterie spread before an entire roasted animal is brought out and carved tableside (plus dessert!). Oh, and there’s a selection of 400 different beers.
Every Thursday, for the still-insanely-insane price of $25 per person, you can get in on Papa Cristo’s “Big Fat Greek Family Style Dinner," which includes wine tasting, belly dancing, live music, and more food than you can shake a stick at. Papa C’s will accommodate your party no matter the size, so get excited (which of course comes from the Greek word “erethisménos”, meaning to get FIRED UP).
Button Mash has the group dinner thing down, with big tables, a killer beer list, share-friendly dishes (dan dan noodles, double-fried gochujang/Korean pepper wings, and those signature fried tofu balls), and the restaurant’s main sell: old-school video games, so you can pass the time actually doing something with your friends other than talking.
The tables are long, the beers are strong, and the sausages are bomb. Grab a seat along one of the many huge, communal tables, and toast some German and Belgian ales while you take a crack at one of the big W’s not-so-run-of-the-mill sausages, like rattlesnake & rabbit.
If a big night out is what your birthday/soon-to-be-turnt-up office party is looking for, you won’t need to set foot in a single building besides Abigaile. Start your group off with dinner downstairs (with a solid mix of entrées and shared plates, like the pao de queijo, which are basically Brazilian Cheesy Poofs), wash it down with one of the beers brewed on-site (because Abigaile is also a brewery), and then head upstairs to the venue’s rooftop bar to get weird and dance your faces off.
If you’re wondering where Rambutan went, don’t fret, it’s still there. But now it’s cooler. Same Same is a brand-new wine bar -- but one fully loaded with some of the OG Rambutan food. Load your crew into one of those large booths and get down on Same Same’s snacks and street food menu, including spring rolls, shrimp balls, mussel pancakes, and barbecue pork jade noodles with yau choy, scallions, cilantro, and roasted garlic -- all perfect for sharing.
Hit up ROKU's multi-person teppanyaki for an extremely special experience (with options ranging from Maine scallops to 40-day dry-aged prime NY steak to lobster tail with uni butter), only made better when you sip one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails, like the “Matcha Mule," with green tea-infused Beluga Vodka, ginger root, lemon, and honey. Your friends will be all like, “Wowwwww,” which is not the reaction when you go to Benihana (except when they light that onion volcano).
This decades-old standby is still one of the best inexpensive celebration spots in LA: the outdoor patio is loaded with tons of long tables, the pasta selection is massive (and the serving sizes gigantic, meaning plenty to share and take home), wine is on the honor system, and every hour, everyone sings “That’s Amore” with the servers, which -- if you have a long meal there -- gets more and more rambunctious as the night goes on. Also, the garlic knots are both free for everyone and totally, insanely great.
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1. POT3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
2. Baldoria243 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles
3. DeSano Pizza Bakery4959 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles
4. Soowon Galbi856 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
5. The Cannibal8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City
6. Papa Cristo's2771 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
7. Button Mash1391 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
8. Wurstküche800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles
9. Abigaile1301 Manhattan Ave, Hermosa Beach
10. Same Same2835 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
11. ROKU9201 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
12. C&O Trattoria31 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey
POT is a group-meal spot for sure. Try as many of the pots as you can but the dirty secret of Roy Choi's excellent Korean menu is that the best stuff is actually NOT in the pots -- rather its side dishes like this gooey, savory, creamy uni-and-rice dish.
From Mozza alum David King, Baldoria is an Italian bar-slash-restaurant in downtown LA. The food menu is all about sharing, whether it's one of many meat and vegetarian small plates or thin-crust pizzas. The highlight of the drink menu is the changing selection of pre-bottled cocktails (sealed with nitrogen for freshness) concoted by guest bartenders, but craft beer, global wines, and spirits are also available.
It’s nuts that DeSano isn’t a thousand times more famous: the casual East Hollywood pizza shop imports its ingredients straight from Italy, and you can clearly taste the difference when you bite into any of the its cheesy masterpieces. The industrial space includes an open kitchen with a few pizza ovens, communal wood tables, and flat screen TVs, so it’s great for groups. And don’t think DeSano is just about pizza, the menu includes calzones, meatballs, and cannoli.
Soowon Galbi serves high-quality Korean BBQ that won't break the bank, which means you can load up your individual grill with bulgogi and brisket without sweating the bill at the end. The speciality meat is house-marinated short rib, but there are plenty of beef options, with or without seasoning, to choose from. Aside from grilled meats, the menu includes buckwheat noodle dishes, bimimpap, and tofu stews. The space is clean and filled with large booths, so it's perfect for group dinners.
An offshoot of the New York original, this self-declared butcher's restaurant in Culver City is a must for anyone obsessed with meat. Needless to say, the menu revolves around carnivorous specialities, with separate categories for raw plates, terrine & patés, cured meats, and sausages. Aside from à la carte service, The Cannibal serves a large format nose-to-tail feast that starts with a charcuterie spread and ends with an entire roasted animal carved tableside. Because nothing pairs with meat better than beer, there's a selection of 400 different beers.
Papa Cristo's in West Adams is a Greek food destination. The massive blue-and-white space takes up more than half a block on West Pico Blvd, and includes a market, bakery, and sit-down restaurant that extends onto an enclosed patio. The traditional menu runs the gamut from pita pizzas and gyro platters to spanakopita and full racks of lamb, but everything you order is guaranteed to be a) good, b) cheap. The "Big Fat Greek Family-Style Dinner," a weekly five-course meal that includes a wine tasting and baklava, is a must for groups.
This Silverlake bar-arcade-restaurant nails it three ways with food, drink, and games. The Asian-leaning menu, crafted by the critically acclaimed Starry Kitchen duo, features double-fried chicken wings, rice and noodles dishes, and veggie small plates. The throwback games include Donkey Kong, pinball, and the old-school like.
This DTLA beer hall (with another location in Venice) specializes in three great things: sausage, fries, and beer. In addition to uber-niche tubed-meats whose fillings vary from pork and veal to rabbit and pheasant, Wurstküche doles out Belgian fries with gourmet dipping sauces. The beer list is mostly German and Belgian, but there is PBR for the hipster in you. The space is furnished with long, communal tables, so come with a large group and an appetite for sausage.
Built on the site of a church-turned-punk rock venue, Abigaile is a restaurant and brewery located a few blocks from the ocean in Hermosa Beach. The menu changes daily, but the kitchen's commitment to global influences and domestic ingredients means you'll find anything from braised lamb belly poutine to a pho chicken salad. With five or so house-brewed beers on tap, it's hard to tell if Abigaile is a brewery that serves really great food, or a restaurant that makes its own beer. Either way, it's a no-fail spot for good food, drink, and ambience, especially if you're dining with a large group.
Same Same is a reincarnation of the beloved but shuttered Rambutan Thai in Silverlake. The name is different, the location is the same, and the menu is updated to emphasize wine and beer as much as it does food. All the Rambutan faves (pad thai, jade noodles, spicy laab) are still on the menu.
In Japanese cuisine, a teppanyaki dinner means food is cooked on a grill in front of you. At Roku, teppanyaki means a four-course dinner in a sophisticated, 8,000sqft space whose grilled options include Chilean sea bass, Japanese Wagyu beef, and Maine scallops. Roku is far from the Benihana experience, but if tableside grilling isn't for you, the space includes a sushi bar with an omakase menu and patio dining with à la carte service.
A block from the beach, C&O Trattoria is a beachside institution in Venice for classic Italian food. Not only are the portions huge, but the complimentary garlic rolls are something of a local legend. The heated outdoor patio is a must, as is the "Help Yourself" wine bar that operates on an honor system. One more thing: if sing-alongs to "That's Amore" aren't for you, then you might want to go elsewhere.