How to Get Into All of LA's Best Restaurants (Without Reservations)
Say it’s Friday night and you want to go to one of the best restaurants in town, but it’s 7pm, and you didn’t make a reservation, and, well, shit. Not so fast: there are at least 21 of LA’s best restaurants that have unreserved, walk-in tables or bars with free seats literally every single night. Here’s how to beat the res system:
This modern Italian restaurant from Ori Menashe and his wife Genevieve Gergis must be a beast for bookkeepers: customers flood Bestia nightly, and there can be a few-week wait, at least. Thankfully, though, the restaurant holds all bar seats for walk-in guests, and two large tables, crafted by District Millworks from reclaimed wood and steel, also hold eight guests apiece. Your best bet to snag a spare seat is to show up right when the restaurant opens, although you may get lucky with a walk-in anytime.
Before a show at the Pantages Theatre or prior to hitting Hollywood clubs, drop into Brendan Collins’ restaurant for international food with bold flavors. Birch gets some mad rushes each night, and it's ready and waiting for walk-ins with two large tables that each seats eight people.
This Mediterranean stalwart from Chef Corina Weibel and Jane Choi helped to pave the way for Atwater Village to become the culinary hub that it is today. The restaurant remains popular for dinner and weekend brunch. Thankfully, the communal table near the window gives you a fighting chance at a seat. The walnut table, which Weibel and Choi designed and stained, holds up to 12 people.
Chef Dakota Weiss is drawing people in droves to this new Sunset Strip hotspot with her eclectic comfort food, particularly at dinner. For some people, the bamboo-framed patio is the place to be. Other diners prefer the lounge-like dining room. A large 12-seat, high-top walnut table strictly for walk-ins resides in the middle of the dining room -- and as an added bonus, that table is equipped with USB and power outlets so people can work on their computers during the day (not recommended at night, during a busy service, unless you want dirty looks/computers).
This rustic, Aussie-owned restaurant on the Sunset Strip used reclaimed barn wood to construct three communal tables in the main dining room, which each seat 8-14 people, depending on how tight you care to squeeze/how big your butt is.
This quintessential SoCal restaurant from Fran Camaj and Chef Travis Lett generally keeps people spilling out the front door onto Abbot Kinney Blvd. Thankfully, the beautiful dining room, which is crafted from reclaimed barn wood, features 26 seats at three long communal wood tables. Better yet, the high-top stools have backs, meaning your back won’t break as you linger over seasonal salads, pizzas, and small plates.
Brian Dunsmoor’s seasonal wood-fired Cal-Southern cooking and Jonathan Strader’s bohemian hospitality both helped ensure that people have embraced Hatchet Hall. Each night, they reserve 40 (!) seats for walk-ins, including 16 seats at the white oak bar, 12 seats at the limestone oyster bar, and 12 seats at a pine communal table.
In 2011, Michael Voltaggio was still on a high from winning season six of Top Chef. At that point, he partnered with longtime Hollywood heavyweight Michael Ovitz on this modern, seasonal restaurant. Ink. has been a hit and remains a tough reservation -- unless you walk in for a seat at the restaurant’s 12 bar seats and eight counter seats.
Suzanne Tracht serves modern American comfort food in the modern Mid-City chophouse she opened with longtime chef de cuisine Preech Narkthong in 2001. Jar remains relevant, meaning it can be tough to score a table beneath lanterns that resemble flying saucers. Thankfully, Tracht saves 12 seats at an L-shaped bar that sometimes has bar-only food specials.
Chef David LeFevre and the Simms brothers started their partnership with this eclectic, share-friendly restaurant in an old Manhattan Beach post office. If it’s hard to get a reservation, that’s because they save 40% of the restaurant for walk-ins, including 44 seats at communal tables and 10 more seats at the bar.
Milo & Olive expanded earlier this year, but the Cal-Italian restaurant from Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan still draws a crowd. In the original space, they still have two eight-person tables that Montalba Architects crafted from Carrara marble and steel.
Longtime friends Chef James Richardson, Jeffrey Stuppler and Brian Frith-Smith debuted in the back corner of a West LA strip mall in 2014. Even though the trio needed an arrow to steer customers to their front door, they’ve built a loyal following -- but walk-ins are welcome at a communal table that seats up to 14 people and nearly spans the compact dining room.
This modern restaurant from Quinn and Karen Hatfield employs a multi-grill attack and serves some of the best desserts in the city. You may have a tough time getting a res thanks to its killer on-bone short ribs -- but you can l still grab them at its 10-seat communal table.
This juggernaut from Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich remains very popular, but 27 seats are available nightly to walk-ins at the mozzarella bar and amaro bar, which is also the only seating area where you can score a $35 prix fixe deal every Sunday through Thursday.
This hotly anticipated restaurant from the Sprout Restaurant Group and the French Laundry veteran Timothy Hollingsworth has been an instant hit right next to The Broad Museum. In the front corner by the bar, you’ll find a communal wood table that seats 10 people on nights when reservations just won’t work.
The pizzeria is another packed outpost in Mozza’s compound, and rezzies are ultra tough, but have no fear: 20 seats are available for walk-ins between the bar by the entrance and bar in front of the wood-fired oven. Bonus: if you’re at the bar on weekdays from noon-5pm or Sunday-Thursday from 10pm-midnight, you’re eligible to order a choice of pizza, dessert, and glass of Bastianich wine for $20. Splitting is not possible in this case, but what a monumental bargain.
This multi-faceted restaurant from the Manzkes and Sprout Restaurant Group is particularly popular at dinner. Thankfully, Republique reserves a wealth of communal seats for customers. It has two high-top communal tables by the bar: one that seats 10 people and another that seats 12. It also has 18 bar seats that aren’t reservable either. In total, you’ll find 40 communal seats that are up for grabs nightly.
At this modern Florida seafood shack from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, they have a massive communal reclaimed-wood table that runs from the front door to the bar, where 20 people can enjoy shrimp toast and lobster rolls.
This subterranean southern Italian restaurant in Beverlywood houses two communal tables that rest side by side near the bar. The Croft House tables are made from reclaimed oak and maple from an old Alabama barn, and they seat 14 people total. Yes, people are bound to gawk at your wood-fired pizzas and grilled pork meatballs. Keep close watch on your tablemates (and their forks).
The first restaurant from Paul Hibler’s growing American Gonzo Food Corp. continues to chug along on Rose Ave, now with Chef Sydney Hunter III. The restaurant features two wood-crafted, nine-seat communal tables in one of LA’s hottest ‘hoods.
This Cal-Italian restaurant is still trending because Casey Lane remains in the kitchen and Justin Pike helms a progressive bar program. It houses two communal tables showcasing heavy, dark-stained wood at the bar area, which seat 10 guests apiece. A seven-seat sidebar runs along the south wall, and the regular bar seats eight people. So, yeah, you’re probably gonna get a seat.