Food & Drink

How You Can Support LA Restaurants Right Now

chao krung interior
Courtesy of Chao Krung

Well, if you weren’t taking COVID-19 all that seriously a few weeks ago, it’s likely that you are now, along with practicing social distancing, self-quarantining, and working remotely. While the economy is in free-fall and industries of all types are suffering, few have been as immediately and significantly impacted as the hospitality industry.

As the government ordered shutdowns of all sit-down service out of safety concerns, many bars and restaurants have had to slash staff after being forced to close up shop. The majority, however, are doing their best to both survive and support their servers, cooks, bartenders, and dishwashers by staying open for business via takeout, pickup, delivery, and retail options. It’s going to be a long road. We’ve only called out a handful of spots by name here, but know that just about every bar and restaurant in town could use a little extra love (and revenue) right now. Here’s what many of them are doing to keep the community fed, their employees paid, and their doors open, and everything you can do to support them while still staying safe.

Order your dinner delivered

App-based delivery services like Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats, have exploded in recent years, but given the current unprecedented circumstances, we need them – and they need us – more than ever. In addition to supporting restaurants big and small around the city, ordering from one of these services also supports the thousands of gig economy drivers who only get paid if they work. (Tipping extra generously is also a nice thing to do if you can.) Bonus: Uber Eats has announced it will waive delivery fees for orders from independently owned restaurants. Keep an eye out for the EAT LOCAL banner in the app. And Postmates has followed suit with a “Support Local Restaurants” section with many venues offering free delivery.

Don’t see your go-to neighborhood joint on the above apps? Give them a call. Many are offering their own delivery to locals by phone. And keep in mind that policies are changing on a dime right now and many venues may be rolling out their delivery options soon if they haven’t already. In the meantime, check out our list of delivery-focused restaurants also happy to take your order.

Take advantage of takeout first-timers

Hundreds of LA restaurants have always offered and continue to offer food for takeout even as dine-in service has come to a Corona virus-induced halt. So, you should definitely keep your favorites busy -- and your stomach full -- by continuing to patronize them while you’re holed up. That said, many acclaimed eateries that have never provided the option before are getting in on the to-go game, too.

This week, Los Feliz’s modern American Atrium rolled out inaugural take-out and delivery (through Grubhub and Caviar) with updated lunch and dinner menus including hearty portions of pork schnitzel and a grilled flat iron that serve two in addition to a kids’ menu. In a statement to Thrillist, Atrium said the move was a way to allow loyal patrons to “lend their part in supporting independent restaurants like Atrium while they wait out ‘the storm’ and look for ways to add color and flavor to their at-home dining experiences.” Some of the city's most acclaimed restaurants -- like N/Naka, Vespertine, and Bavel -- are now using reservation platforms like Tock to sell curated meals and family-feasts to go for a fraction of their usual sky-high prices. 

Rustic Canyon Group’s Birdie G’s in Santa Monica is also doing take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery through ChowNow and Postmates for the first time, offering a limited dinner menu along with comfort food-heavy family-size offerings of matzah ball soup, noodle kugel, and meatloaf.  Curtis Stone’s Hollywood meat palace Gwen just announced home delivery (through Caviar) for both its butcher shop -- offerings include vacuum-sealed stuff like hangar steak and housemade charcuterie -- and restaurant with lunch and dinner entrees of sandwiches, roast chicken, and lamb ribs. While Malibu’s Broad Street Oyster Co. has been doing limited takeout since it opened last year, the New England-style seafood spot has expanded its menu with dishes from pastas to burgers, launched a delivery service, and a new drive-through. And big news from one of LA’s best-known burger joints: The Westside’s Apple Pan just announced its offering delivery (through Postmates) for the first time in its 73 years.

chao krung
Courtesy of Chao Krung

Keep it curbside and contact-free

If running into an empty restaurant to grab your packed-up meal is still too public-placey for you, plenty of places are now rolling out various types of “no-contact” service from curbside pickup to delivery on your doorstep.

Westlake Village’s 101 North Eatery & Bar is touting no-contact take-out and curbside pickup for its menu of salads, wood-fire pizzas, and mains, as well as a variety of new take-home cocktail kits. “We allow the guest to tell us what would make them more comfortable. During our normal business closure, our door remains unlocked, so a guest can come in and grab their food from a table in the front, fill out the payment paperwork and be on their way without any physical contact,” says chef Anthony Alaimo. “That being said, if they prefer, we also have staff equipped with latex gloves that can bring their food out to them when they pull up.”

Other operations that have launched new curbside pickup options to meet demand include the wine shop VinoVore; Adam Perry Lang’s steakhouse APL, which has amped up its specials to include comfort-focused fare of matzah ball soup and braised oxtail and is offering contact-free delivery for locals within a mile radius in addition to curbside service; and Thai eatery Chao Krung, which is adding in a 10-percent discount as part of the service. There's also Angelini Osteria sister restaurant Angelini Alimenatri, which is selling pans of lasagna and jars of sauce in addition to its regular menu; and Santa Monica Mexican eatery Tallula's, now offering family-style stuff including heat-and-serve enchiladas and quarts of red rice and pinto beans, along with the rest of its menu, all available for pickup out front.

Do some of your shopping at restaurants instead of grocery chains

Many area eateries have decided to offer pantry items, fresh produce, meal kits, and other supplies to make things a little easier for locals during these days of endless empty store shelves. Zinc Cafe & Market in the Arts District just announced it's now stocking common grocery items from burger buns to butter to, yes, that elusive toilet paper that can be purchased on site. “Our role is to keep our staff employed and support our community by coming up with new ideas, pivoting where necessary, and responding in ways that keep everyone afloat,” says Zinc’s president John Secretan.

The newly opened Hollywood outpost of Bay Area-based coffee roastery Sightglass is pivoting too, transforming part of its massive space into a neighborhood bodega with goods like bread, dried pasta, bags of coffee, and wine and beer. And since Beverly Hills’ Maude might not be doing its elaborate tasting menus right now, it’s temporarily morphed into the Maude Marketplace, offering house-made baked goods, prepared soups, and salads, as well as staples like milk, eggs, and seasonal veggies.  

Buy gift cards 

Spending your dollars at restaurant now via gift card purchases can help boost businesses battling the slowdown. While many places offer gift-card purchasing online, some smaller establishments may not, so it’s worth calling or emailing your venue of choice to find out if you can buy one now and have them place either mail it or hold it, so that you can support them financially today and dine well when this whole nightmare finally blows over.

To provide a little extra incentive, restaurants around the country have joined a newly formed national Dining Bonds Initiative, which -- in the spirit of old wartime bonds -- allows future diners to buy gift cards online at a discounted price. Several area restaurants, including 1933 Hospitality’s Highland Park Bowl, Formosa Cafe, and Oldfield’s Liquor Room are doing $100 gift cards for $80. Downtown’s Mexican restaurant Veranda and E.P. & L.P. on Melrose are doing $100 bonds for $75, More LA venues are likely to follow suit, so keep checking the site. Neal Fraser’s Downtown stalwart Redbird, meanwhile, just announced that 100% of all gift card proceeds this month will go directly to an employee relief fund to support staff members. 

Purchase official merch 

Even if you can’t buy food and drink from them, now is the time to show your support for a local restaurant or bar by ordering up a T-shirt, hat, and any other branded merchandise the place has for sale. You may even find you’re able to snag something not usually available. Kris Yenbamroong, the chef behind trio of Northern Thai street food restaurants Night + Market recently announced that, in addition to gift cards and the usual merch, he’ll be selling signed copies of his cookbook online soon, too. 

Be patient 

Online menus might not be updated in real-time, some of your favorite dishes may be 86’d at the last minute, and deliveries could be delayed. Everyone’s doing their best in an unprecedented situation, so have a little extra patience. We’ll get through this -- with good food and plenty of booze -- together.

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Lizbeth Scordo is a food and lifestyle writer who ran out of hummus less than five hours into this whole thing. Follow her accidentally stepping on her dog while doing yoga in her living room on Instagram @modlizbeth and Twitter @lalizbeth.