Where To Eat And Drink Near SF’s Music Venues

Making pre-show plans is complicated. You have to figure out a dinner that won’t take so long you’re late to your show, you have to find a place with a menu that will make everyone in your group happy, and you have to make sure there are enough drink options to save you from needing too many $16 beers at the venue. And you’re probably looking for someplace relatively cool. Or at least deserving of that jacket you only break out for shows at The Fillmore and The Mezzanine.

With all that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to the best places to eat before or after a show at eight of SF’s most popular music venues, from the The Independent to The Greek Theater in Berkeley.

The Greek Theater

Comal

Berkeley
2020 Shattuck Ave.

Comal is one of our favorite restaurants in Berkeley, and if you don’t live in the area, you can get a two-for-one trip in by going here before a concert. Everything on the menu is good for sharing, and if it’s nice outside, the back patio is ideal. Make sure to get a few mezcal cocktails in too, so you’re not stuck paying concert prices for drinks that aren’t half as good.

Comal Next Door

2024 Shattuck Avenue

If you don’t have time for a full sit-down meal, but still want to eat some Mexican food, Comal Next Door is, as you may have guessed, next door to Comal. The menu is more geared to people eating on a time crunch, and features options like burritos, tortas, and tacos. Order the achiote grilled chicken if you go the taco or burrito route.

Photo: Emily Joan Greene

Jupiter

Berkeley
2181 Shattuck Ave

This is another spot with a great patio. Come here with a few friends, drink a few local beers, and eat some woodfired pizzas before heading to The Greek. They also stay open until 1:30am, so if you’re hungry after the show or just want to discuss how much better the band was two years ago before anyone had really heard of them, you can do that too.

Photo: Emily Joan Greene

Make no mistake, you’re going to be standing at the theater for a few hours while the bands are playing, so it’s important to eat something that will stick with you. Head to Angeline’s, order some fried chicken, and mentally prepare to hold your spot down all night.

Photo: Virginia Mae Rollinson

Gather

Berkeley
2200 Oxford St

Gather has a more upscale feel, so maybe come here on a double date before a show. The pizzas are more like flatbreads with vegetable and meat toppings, but they’re really good. They also have a solid by-the-glass wine list.

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You can get a lot of good Italian food for cheap at Gypsy’s Trattoria Italiana. The calzones are the size of your head and one pasta can easily be split between two people. There will most likely be a line, and it can be tough to get a table, so split your group up, and play table frogger until you’re finally all sitting in the same place. Also, there’s no alcohol here, so plan accordingly.

Photo: Emily Joan Greene

This is in the same shopping center as Gypsy’s, so you can go with friends and split between the two, get some basil fried rice, and then meet up to eat at one of the tables outside. They’re open until 11:45pm, so if you want something to eat after the show, but before you bar hop around Berkeley, this is a good call.

Triple Rock Brewing Co.

1920 Shattuck Ave

If you have friends trickling in at random times and don’t feel like waiting for everyone before you start drinking, go to Triple Rock Brewing Co. This place is massive, with two giant rooms and a second story patio. Grab a table early, start drinking, and scoot over whenever Carl shows up from work. They also have a solid menu of bar food with things like their blue rock burger with blue cheese and caramelized onions.

The Fillmore

Hit up Gardenias before a concert if it’s more of a date situation than a hang out. This place feels a little hidden and is a great spot to unwind from whatever kind of day you had in preparation for the show. Eat some light French food and split a bottle of wine while you’re trying to not act too excited about seeing Macy Gray.

If you have a group going to The Fillmore, book a room at Izakaya Kou. Everything from the yakitori to tempura to sushi is well-executed, and nothing on the food menu is over $20. Pair that with their reasonably priced sake selection, and you may have a good enough time to skip the show – but probably not.

This place feels more like a jazz club, but if that’s what you’re seeing at The Fillmore anyway, then this could be the perfect post-concert bar. Just know up front that the cover is steep, but when you need more music, you need more music.

When you need a big, fast food-style burger before a show at The Fillmore, head to Roam Artisan Burgers. Our favorite is the French and Fries burger that has truffle fries and avocado directly on the burger, but if you want to share your sides, you can order the Fry-fecta with french fries, sweet potato fries, and the zucchini onion haystack all together. Take this down with some wine or one of the beers they have on tap, and make your way to the show.

If you don’t want to go full-burger mode, but can’t sit forever, try La Mediterranee on Fillmore. This is one of our favorite places to get takeout, but it’s also great for a quick dinner pre-show. We love the pomegranate chicken, but the rest of the menu is great, too. They also have a solid (and reasonably priced) beverage list with beer and wine from Greece.

Tacobar

2401 California St

Tacobar hits a good balance between cheap, enjoyable, and quick if you’re trying to eat before heading to The Fillmore. You can get tacos, burritos, tortas, or quesadillas here, and we’re big believers in the carne asada. The Baja fish is much better than you’d expect, too. They also have margarita pitchers, sangria, micheladas, and beers.

The Great American Music Hall

YamaSho

1161 Post St

Yamasho is essentially a party restaurant, which makes it ideal for eating with a group before a concert. The menu is as big as the space and has everything from noodles to chicken wings. There’s also sushi, but you’re really here to drink and have fun. If you really want to take it to the next level, you can rent a karaoke room and see just how bad you and your friends’ voices are before seeing someone who gets paid real money to sing in front of crowds.

Brenda’s French Soul Food is typically a brunch stop for us, but it can work well before a concert, too. Get a plate of fried chicken and some crawfish beignets, and get ready for the long night ahead of you. While you’re there, you might as well drink Louisiana beer to pregame with.

We love all the Lers Ros locations, and this one is no exception. The menu is gigantic with curries, rice plates, noodles, and meat plates. Everything here is good for sharing, too, and they’re open until midnight. Go for the stir-fried pork.

Liholiho Yacht Club is great for a lot of occasions, but it’s fun enough on its own that you may miss your concert. For a similar feel and to get some drinks and a light bite before heading to the Great American Music Hall, get a reservation at Louie’s Gen Gen Room downstairs. The cocktails are all great, and the food is some of the best to ever come out of a waffle iron. If you’re not in the mood for a waffle, go for the pigs in a blanket with housemade spam or the beef tartare.

Whitechapel has a limited menu of bar bites, and works best if you’re looking to get a cocktail before or after a show. The place feels like you’re drinking in an old subway tunnel – in a good way – and they have the largest selection of gin in North America.

Soda Popinski’s

Nob Hill
1548 California Street

If you leave the concert feeling electrified and don’t know what to do with your newfound Thor-like mentality, head to Soda Popinski’s and test your luck against the spinning wheel of drinks. If you have the right touch, you can walk away with a bottle of champagne – but you’ll most likely win a double shot of whatever whipped cream-flavored vodka the distributor pawned off on them eight months ago. Have fun.

Bill Graham Auditorium

RT Rotisserie feels like a fast-casual restaurant that serves upscale food, which makes it ideal if you’re trying to eat well before a show, but the ticket price is still hurting your wallet (half a chicken is $10). If you’re not in the mood for chicken, we like the pork belly, too, and skipping the cauliflower at all is a bad idea. Wash everything down with their well-priced beer and wines by the glass before you head to Bill Graham.

Getting a group in one place can be tough, and if you’re already together for the concert, you might as well finish the night out strong. Head to Smuggler’s Cove. It’s one of our favorite bars in the city, which has a lot to do with the incredible tiki rum drinks they serve.

You’ve been looking forward to seeing Lenny Kravitz at Bill Graham Auditorium for the better part of the year, and there’s no way you’re going to treat this like anything but your birthday. Grab a few friends and get a table at Kaya for Jamaican food and fun rum drinks before heading to the concert. A few plates is enough to split between four people, and we’re big fans of the jerk chicken.

Lers Ros if one of our favorite places to go with groups of people. The menu is huge, everything is sharable, and there’s a lot of seating in the restaurant. You can get standards like pad see ew, but if the concert you’re seeing is not something you’d typically go for, you can make it the theme of the night and order something similarly unusual, like rabbit or gator.

The Warfield and Mezzanine

Zero Zero

Soma
826 Folsom St.

Zero Zero is a big restaurant with two floors, so getting a table for your group before a show shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. You’re mainly here for pizza, but the pastas are also solid, like the saffron farfalle and gnocchi.. They also have an absurdly long spirits list to make whatever cocktail you think will help you be a better concert attendee (but don’t bet on them serving you a vodka Redbull).

You had to stay at the office and finish up some spreadsheets correlating holiday party attendance with reverse negative profitizations from inbound sales. You still need food before the show, but you’re running late. Head to Flying Falafel and get a pita stuffed with falafel to eat while you speed walk to meet your friends.

You’re so excited about finally seeing Garbage live that you want to be as close to The Warfield as you possibly can be for as long as possible. Popsons is right next to the venue and they have one of the best burgers in the city with the fries to match.

Bimbo’s 365 Club

The Italian Homemade Co. gets crowded, but the line moves fast and your food comes pretty quick. Order whatever pasta and sauce combination your heart desires, stake out a table, and pass your plates around the table to see whose combination is the best. It’s tough to go wrong with the nightly specials, but if they still have lasagna, it should be on your table.

Don Pisto’s is kind of like a pre-concert concert. Not that there’s a band playing inside, but the people eating there get rowdy enough to make you think someone is about to come on some hidden stage. Get a table for you and a bunch of friends and order as many tacos as you can stand – we like the al pastor – and some beers. They don’t have a liquor license, but they do have things like sangria and cheap Mexican beers.

Maggie McGarry’s

1353 Grant Ave

This bar is where you go when you leave Bimbo’s and still want to listen to music. Every night they’re open (except Wednesday which is karaoke night), live bands play 80s classics and every other song you could ever want to hear in a bar. It gets crowded on weekends, but if you play it right, you can watch the bands perform from a booth and give your legs a break. Stick to standard well drinks and maybe a shot or two and you might just have more fun than you did at the actual concert you went to.

You could come here before a show and get cheap slices and pints of beer, but the real time to come here is late night. Golden Boy is one of those places that is somehow even better when there’s a big crowd and a long line, which gives you plenty of time to discuss what your favorite part of the show was with your friends. Just be patient and know that some $3.75 spongy, cheesy goodness is in your near future.

The Independent

Nopa

Nopa
560 Divisadero St.

Nopa is where you should go late-night if the concert is a date scenario. This is one of our favorite restaurants in the city, and while it’s often tough to get in, they’re open until 1am on Saturdays, so a late night walk-in is worth a shot. Make sure to get the burger.

Ragazza

Nopa
311 Divisadero St

If you’re sick of cold pizza showing up at a friend’s place right before you have to leave for a show, but still want that feeling of hanging out casually with friends, go to Ragazza. It feels a lot like you’re at that friend’s house – if your friend had a great backyard. Plus, the pizzas are the ones that you’ll want to eat quickly because they’re good, not because an Uber XL is about to cancel on you if you don’t wolf it down.

Grabbing a picnic table outside at 4505 Burgers and BBQ has its advantages. For one, you’re sitting outside, so no one can judge you for wearing that maroon Adidas tracksuit that you only bust out for concerts. For another, you get to enjoy some fresh air before you lock yourself in a room for a few hours with a bunch of people “secretly” Juul-ing. Aside from that, 4505 makes some of our favorite BBQ in the city. Go for the brisket, and if you’re not in the mood, the burger is pretty great, too.

Nopalito

Nopa
306 Broderick St

Nopalito is a good spot to grab dinner before a concert if you’re also using this meal as a catch-up session before not being able to hear your friends for three hours. It’s upscale without being stuffy and lively enough to get a few rounds of margaritas without feeling bad for the people dining around your table. Get some topopos con chile to split while you drink a cocktail and wait for your food.

This content was originally published here.

Great London Restaurants For Dining Solo

Most people see eating alone as a bit of a sad thing to do. If you’re sitting in a square alone feeding the pigeons the crusts of your BLT then yes, that is deeply depressing. But if you’re getting into otherwise packed restaurants without a wait or reservation, ordering whatever you want and you eating it all yourself, well that sounds pretty good every now and again doesn’t it?

Eating solo doesn’t have to be an occasional necessity, it can be an absolute bloody luxury. So whether you find yourself flying solo after a last-minute cancellation, or just want somewhere to relax on your day off, here’s where to go to spend a few hours with nothing but some good food, good wine, and your own excellent company.

THE SPOTS

Londrino

Bermondsey
36 Snowfields Yard

The warehouse vibe in Bermondsey makes it feel like the sort of place you can easily get stranded in, but once you’ve set yourself up at the bar in Londrino it’s very easy to get comfortable. There’s lots of natural light, some lovely staff, and an excellent choice of food and drink. The “Tribute to Gazela” Portuguese hot dog is an absolute must, as is the toasted rice ice cream and, to be honest, you’ll probably find yourself ordering a majority of the bar menu once one hour slips into two.

The are few situations that Song Que doesn’t fit for and this is yet another. The restaurant and room are perfect for when you’re looking to get something quick and tasty on your lonesome. It gets pretty busy at night, but it’s the sort of environment that doesn’t make you feel like the end bit on a loaf of bread. The pho is a go-to, as are the bun (rice vermicelli salads) and they’re perfect slurpers to enjoy whilst the horrors of Kingsland Road unfold outside.

There’s nothing more nourishing than family cooking, especially when you’re eating alone, and that’s what it feels like you’re getting when you’re at Monty’s. The vibe is diner-ish, but it’s a bit like if your friends and family owned a diner. Everyone is just so bloody nice. It’s Jewish family cooking – so expect enormous reubens, matzo soups, latkes and a chat about the barman’s relationship. Once you go once, you’ll find yourself back on a daily basis. Even if it’s just for a catch-up.

The savviest way to come to Padella is definitely on your own. How many people do you see queuing just for little old them? Not many. Padella is the ideal solo spot: it’s delicious, cheap, and has a bar area to sit at and keep you entertained. Best of all though, is those pastas you usually share when you come here. Now they’re all for you. Cacio e pepe: all for you. Beef shin ragu: all for you. Spinach ravioli: all for you. You probably don’t need them all. But you do.

One of the main worries people have when eating alone is wondering what they should do with themselves. The great thing about Temper is that they’ve got that covered. The bar area is genuinely enthralling: you get to see chefs hunk enormous bits of meat about, break them down, and then stick them on the barby. It’s hot, it’s smelly, and it’s great fun. Pitch up here, get a few starters – or a curry if you’re really hungry – a drink and get a bit messy. No one you know can see you, after all.

The interior may feel a little bit smart but the second Hoppers isn’t formal at all, and its choice of window seats make it excellent for a solo Sri Lankan session. Get yourself an egg hopper, a prawn kari (or whatever you’re feeling), roll up your sleeves (if you have any), and get mopping. It’s just as delicious as the original and just as good as on your own. Plus, there’s nothing quite like stuffing your face at a window seat and awkwardly staring someone out. After all, it’s much better to be on the inside looking out than the outside looking in.

Kiln

Soho
58 Brewer Street

Like most of the best Soho restaurants, Kiln has both fantastic food (in this case, Thai) and waits that make it a logistical ballache, especially if your friends are at all impatient people. Coming here by yourself is a good way to get around all that. If you grab a seat at the bar, you’ll also get the benefit of watching as your food is cooked in front of you. The portions here are perfect for solo diners – get the lamb skewer and crab noodles.

If there’s an experience that confirms that restaurants are, in fact, better dates than people, it is a solo dinner at Barrafina – because there’s nothing awkward about tapas when you don’t have to share them with anyone. Go straight in, sit at the bar, and get whatever you fancy. The classics are always good, but let the staff guide you on what your best bets might be on the day you’re there. Get a cold glass of Albarino while you watch your food being prepped, and be glad that you won’t need to count the bites of your prawn to make sure you’re splitting it evenly with this person you met on the internet.

Spuntino

Soho
61 Rupert St

Most restaurants close between lunch and dinner, annoyingly right at that time in the late afternoon that’s perfect for hanging out with a drink and doing nothing else. Spuntino in Soho is one of the few places that stays open all afternoon (and then, later, into the very early hours), making it a perfect place to drop in and hang out with a cold beer and a cheeseburger. The bar-oriented setup is also ideal for either meeting new people or having some quality time alone.

You’re meeting your mate for a drink in Soho later, but in the meantime you’re already in the neighbourhood and wandering around thinking about pasta like a hungry Italian raccoon. Now’s your chance to hit Bocca di Lupo for a spontaneous dinner. This is one of London’s best Italian restaurants, so an impromptu meal for more than one is usually impossible. But it’s relatively easy to walk in and grab a solo seat at the bar in the middle of the action. If you don’t want a main, they serve the majority of their regional Italian menu in starter/tasting size portions. Regardless, there should be a pasta in front of you, and probably also the langoustines.

If you’re one of those Londoners who likes to slap labels on things and needs to know whether a place is a pub, a bar, or a proper restaurant, Bergen House is going to be confusing. It’s a Newington Green local, but it’s not a pub. It has a fully stocked bar, but it doesn’t do cocktails. It serves one of the best steaks we’ve had in a while, but it’s not open for weekday lunch. Before you scream “Bergen House, what are you?” at nobody in particular and run, alone, to your nearest gastropub, go and check it out. Take a seat at the bar, order a beer and that steak we mentioned, and get talking to your neighbour. Before you know it you’ll be sharing food like you’re old friends. It’s just that kind of a place. And we’re jealous of anyone who lives within staggering distance of it.

This content was originally published here.

The Dinner & A Movie Guide: Where To Eat Near 12 Theaters

Eating food and seeing a movie immediately afterwards (or vice versa) is a time-honored tradition. Whether you’re on a date, catching a matinee with your roommate, or seeing a movie by yourself because your AC broke again, it’s important that you don’t end up starving and having to resort to under-buttered popcorn that cost $16.

Below, we’ve selected 12 major movie theaters in Los Angeles and a great restaurant nearby where you should eat before or after the show, ensuring that even if the movie is terrible, the night is still salvageable.

Arclight hollywood

Stout

Hollywood
1544 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

At this point, Stout is a mini-chain, but that’s because good burgers and beer always win out, and Stout has both. In the thick of Cahuenga Blvd., Stout’s space is refreshingly low-key, with a front wraparound patio ideal for people watching. The brie and fig jam-covered Six Weeker burger is our usual go-to, but if you’re feeling like being a little healthy today, their Bollywood veggie burger is a nice compromise.

Pacific Theaters at The grove

The goal is always to spend as little time inside The Grove as possible. Go to Escuela Taqueria. The tiny Mexican spot on Beverly has a relaxed atmosphere, good tacos across-the-board, and the only true BYOB policy in the neighborhood. If there’s a preferred way to enter The Grove on a Saturday night, it’s with half a bottle of chardonnay in your bag and a few pork rib tacos in your stomach.

The vista

Ma’am Sir is a modern Filipino restaurant with a bright space, hanging vines from the ceiling, and leafy wallpaper that all combine to make you feel like you’re on vacation. It’s hard to go wrong with anything here, but the longganisa sandwich, uni lumpia, and mango verrine dessert should all hit the table at some point. Despite the Silver Lake address, Ma’am Sir is only about a five-minute walk down Sunset from The Vista in Los Feliz. Make a reservation, as this place gets pretty crowded.

Arclight Culver city

Pasta Sisters’ second location in Culver City is similar to the original in that you have to order at the counter – but this place is pretty different otherwise. The space is massive (with two separate dining rooms and patios), there’s an expanded menu (you’re going to want that beef stew with polenta), and they even have a liquor license. Which is especially important right now, since you’re about to see your ninth superhero film of the year and the first eight didn’t entertain you.

Amc Cinemas at citywalk Hollywood

Daichan

Studio City
11288 Ventura Blvd

Daichan is a tiny stripmall spot in Studio City that specializes in Japanese soul food like spicy curry udon, Japanese-style fried chicken, cold soba, and gigantic tempura rice bowls. But the main draw at this family-run cafe is the “original poki bowl” – Daichan was cranking out giant portions of fresh fish on top of rice and lettuce decades before chopped raw fish in plastic bowls became part of the LA food pyramid. It’s huge and tastes incredible.

Arclight Beach Cities

In a stripmall in downtown El Segundo, Workshop Enoteca looks a bit like a suburban chain restaurant on the inside, but don’t let that deter you. This tiny Italian spot makes some incredible pasta. The beef cheek scarpinocc is our favorite right now, but the mandilli (handkerchief pasta with pesto) and the bavette with rock shrimp ragu should also hit the table. You’re going to walk out very full, but what’s a Steven Soderbergh film without a little cat nap in the middle?

Regal cinemas l.a. live

Breva Restaurant

Downtown LA
939 S Figueroa St #300

For a city that didn’t previously care much about hotel restaurants, we suddenly have a whole lot of them. Breva is inside the renovated Hotel Figueroa and its LA Live-adjacent location makes it convenient before a lot of different activities, like a date night dinner before catching a movie at Regal Cinemas down the street. This Spanish-inspired spot has good ham and cheese croquettes, great fried chicken, and a standout burger.

landmark theater

Open since 1947, this tiny counter inside a bungalow on Pico still makes the kind of lettuce-tomato-pickle topped burgers that are growing extinct in Los Angeles. It’s not our favorite burger of all time, but it is one we want to eat before sitting through another Oscar contender that’s an hour longer than it needs to be. Get a slice of apple pie too.

arclight sherman oaks

We’re not saying you shouldn’t go to The Cheesecake Factory in the same complex as the Sherman Oaks Arclight, but we do acknowledge that shrimp scampi and enormous barbecue chicken “salads” aren’t for everyone. Little Izakaya is the kind of place that will please both your purist sushi friend and your other friend who always orders the teriyaki. The food here comes out quickly, and you can get miso black cod that rivals Nobu’s for $10 instead of $38.

Pacific Theaters at The Americana

Glendale is a city that lives and dies by its neighborhood staples, and Raffi’s is one of the very best. The Middle Eastern restaurant’s specialty is kabobs, and you’ll be thinking about the barg (thinly-sliced filet mignon) weeks after consumption. Most dishes run over the $20 mark, which might seem high until you realize Raffi’s portion are big enough to feed you and your roommates for a whole week. The space itself is big, festive, and only one block away from the theaters at The Americana.

arclight santa monica

Tumbi Indian

Santa Monica
115 Santa Monica Blvd

If you’re going to brave downtown Santa Monica to see a movie, the good news is that you can eat at Tumbi. The modern Indian spot on Santa Monica Blvd. is only a block from The Promenade, but feels a world away from the manic chaos. The cheese dosa, patiala chicken and toothfish curry are some of our favorites, but don’t leave without getting the saffron panna cotta either.

amc century city

Eataly

Century City
10250 Santa Monica Blvd

This sprawling Italian food emporium is the ideal pre-movie spot when you aren’t exactly sure what you want to eat. There are three sit-down restaurants as well as a bunch of stalls specializing in everything from pizza by-the-slice and roast meats to salads, pastries, and some of the best bombolone we’ve ever had. We aren’t telling you to sneak some into the movie theater, but we aren’t not, either.

This content was originally published here.

Where To Go On A Date When Your Haven’t Met This Person Yet

Yes, we’re talking about blind dates here. But no one says that anymore, and in the age of swiping right and sliding into DMs, going on a date with someone you’ve never actually met before is no longer a novelty. It’s just called dating. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right way to do it. You need places that are comfortable, with good (strong) drinks, and an easy out if things go awry. Also, good food if things go well. Here are 11 spots that get the job done.

the spots

The Edmon is a place that everybody forgets about. But this ground floor bar/restaurant inside the Hollywood Historic Hotel is a great spot to have a well-made cocktail and figure out how many of your date’s profile photos are actually retouched headshots. The big, art deco-designed space feels like you’re drinking in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s mansion, and its quieter (but not dull) atmosphere will ensure you hear everything they have to say about why it’s so hard to break into voiceover.

Photo: The Edmon / Facebook

Located in the heart of Playa Del Rey, The Tripel is one of our favorite restaurants on the Westside. The tiny beer and burger bar works for any situation, and that includes a date with a person who messaged you on LinkedIn. The place is small, with only five or so tables and a row of stools at the bar, but since you’re coming in midweek (no one gives up weekend real estate for a blind date), you should be able to find a seat. Their craft beer list is stocked, and if you do get hungry, the Tripel burger will ease the pain of him asking you to proofread his resume.

So far the only tangible common ground you and this person have is a love for queso, so you might as well lean into it. This casual Tex-Mex spot downtown has been around for a few years, but is still a great spot to grab some cocktails and eat the best queso in Los Angeles. The modern space gets crowded, so make a reservation. You don’t want to get stuck hovering around the bar with a guy who won’t stop combing his hair anyways. Order the off-menu puffy tacos as well.

You know damn well it’s a red flag that this person has their dog in all of their photos, but you don’t care. The dog is cute, and you want to meet it. Pull the “day dates are better than night dates” card, and meet them at The Morrison. The neighborhood restaurant and bar in Atwater Village has a great front patio, as well as an actual dog menu that involves bones being served on a silver platter. As for you and your date, the burger is the way to go. But who’s really your date here?

Photo: The Morrison / Facebook

It’s unclear at this point whether this person wants to date you or work for your company or both. Petty Cash is the perfect place to find out the answer. The modern taqueria on Beverly doesn’t have the best Mexican food in town, but its colorful space and party-like atmosphere makes it an ideal place to go when you aren’t totally sure why the other person is even here. Focus on the ceviches, the spicy margarita, and their cauliflower nachos.

This person looks entirely different in every one of their profile photos, and you frankly have no idea which version is going to show up. Keep it to a Happy Hour. Like the one at Saint & Second in Long Beach. Located in Belmont Shore, Saint & Second’s Happy Hour runs weekdays from 3-6pm and with deals on beer, cocktails, and wine, along with a $12 charcuterie board you should get involved with. Skip the downstairs dining room and head to the second-floor patio instead, where a full food menu is also available in case you are into the version they showed up as.

Checker Hall is a massive restaurant/bar on the second floor of an old Masonic Lodge in Highland Park. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, we’ll make it quite clear – Checker Hall is fantastic. The crowd is local and probably listens to better music than you, the cocktails are tremendous (get the Carmen #Six), and there’s also a full Mediterranean-leaning food menu. Which is good news for you, because your date’s been in the bathroom for 20 minutes, and you wanted your own hummus appetizer anyways.

Accomplice is one of the more underrated bars on the Westside, and its Mar Vista location is an ideal middle ground when neither of you really want drive more than 15 minutes outside Venice and Santa Monica for this. The cocktails at this modern bar are great, and when you get hungry, you can order from Little Fatty, the solid Taiwanese spot next door. They’ll serve you right at the bar.

Is it weird taking someone you direct messaged on Instagram to a dive bar? Probably not any weirder than any other bar. But when you simply want to make things more comfortable, go to Crawfords. The tiny dive in Historic Filipino has been around for a few years, and has become one of the most reliable bars in the city. You always know what you’re going to get here – good beer, affordable prices, a few games of Buck Hunter in the corner, and a hot chicken sandwich you’re absolutely finishing in front of your date.

Photo: Crawfords / Facebook

The guy you’ve been chatting with all week is definitely funny, but he’s also very over-eager, and you just aren’t sure if a full meal is the move or not. Go to Bar Angeles and figure it out there. You order everything at the bar, avoiding that awkward conversation around what you’re going to order. They serve a solid burger, and the brussels sprouts with burrata is really good. There’s also live music on the weekends.

Plan + Check is one of LA’s ultimate first date spots, for several reasons – starting with the food. Their pickle plate gets you four different housemade pickles for $7, and if you’re looking for an ice breaker because the other person hasn’t talked yet, ordering a pickle plate out loud with confidence will likely do the trick. Also, they have one of our favorite burgers in the city. Couple that with good drinks and a modern space right on Ocean Avenue, and you’ll have a nice solo stroll down Palisades Park afterwards.

This content was originally published here.

Where To Get Dinner For Around $30 In San Francisco

There are a lot of one-liners about living in San Francisco. Within a month of moving here, if someone brings up that fake Mark Twain quote, your gut reaction will be to find a fax machine and throw it from the top of a building. Another one that gets tossed out a lot is how we live in the most expensive city in the country, and that line stings a little more because it’s got a lot of truth. Luckily, though, there are a lot of places around SF where you can have a very good, sit-down dinner for about $30 (here, we’ve defined “dinner” as an entree with either an appetizer or a drink). Whether you want Burmese, sushi, or Italian, use this guide to find the best places to eat affordably around the city.

The Mission

Mr. Pollo isn’t like the other prix fixe places in SF. It kind of feels like you’re eating at a friend’s place who just really likes to cook rather than a real restaurant. It’s $30 for a four-course meal that typically includes a salad, an arepa, a main course, and a dessert. The arepa is huge and would probably cost half the meal at another spot in SF, but you’re not at another spot, you’re in a tiny eight-seat place that looks like a stove fell into a college dorm room, eating one of the most interesting meals in the city.

San Francisco might be the American capital of fancy pasta with places like SPQR, Flour + Water, and Che Fico, but the price tag on those places is pretty steep. That’s why Barzotto is great. It’s a counter-service spot in the Mission that makes delicious (and affordable) pastas, each of which is around $15. Get the extra long noodles and a glass of wine and you’ll still have money left over to grab some soft serve for the inherent post-pasta walk around the block after you leave.

Beretta has the noise and crowd of a Spin Doctors concert, so it’s not an ideal spot for a date, but if you’re out in the Mission and get hungry, it comes through in a pinch and won’t slow down the night. You can get a couple of appetizers, like their walnut bread with burrata, or skip straight to pizzas. Either way, you’ll leave happy and ready to go back out.

Aside from the absurdly long menu, we love Lers Ros because you get a good amount of food for your money. Everything here is served family-style (usually enough for three to four people if everyone orders one thing), and at about $15 per large plate, it’s a great deal. Plus, there are a lot of tables, so you can show up last minute with a group and still be fine.

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The Marina/Cow Hollow

You wouldn’t go to Delarosa by yourself for the same reason that you didn’t want to sit alone at lunch in your high school cafeteria – it’s a social place with a lot going on. Also, eating an entire pizza solo isn’t as funny of a work story as you think it is. But if you’re dead set, you can come to Delarosa and get a pizza and a few cocktails without spending too much money. Coming with another person or two though does give you the ability to try more. Plus, you have someone to talk to while you people watch in the Marina.

We like Causwells for brunch, but it’s also a great utility restaurant for dinner. You can come here on any given night with a few friends, a date, or wander in alone and be fine sitting at the bar. They have a substantial craft beer and by-the-glass wine list to choose from while you wait for your food, and pretty much everything on the menu is good. That said, the burger is what you should order.

Flores is a good spot for impromptu weeknight get togethers. A big reason to go here is for margaritas, but the food is solid as well. We like the duck enchiladas both because they’re good and because they’re small enough that you won’t have to share if you don’t want to. Maybe split some guacamole, too.

North Beach/Russian Hill

Comstock is mainly a bar, but it’s a bar with great food. Start with some white cheddar chexx, skip the rainbow unicorn tartare that mostly exists for pictures, and order some lo mein cacio e pepe or the burger. Get a daiquiri or a manhattan, too.

Chubby Noodle is infamous for its brunch, but the food is better at dinner. Plus, you can choose what you want to eat instead of being stuck with the set brunch menu, which is substantial, but leaves off some of the hits like the Korean pork tacos. The large dishes are served family style, but there’s not much stopping you from taking down the crispy garlic noodles on your own. Just make sure to add fried chicken to them.

Cocotte is a great neighborhood restaurant in Russian Hill. The place is small and can get a little noisy, but it’s the kind of volume that’s a good thing on a date or if you want to sit at the bar alone. They serve French food here, and have classics like mussels and beef tartare. The coq au vin is more than enough for a whole meal and at $23, you should get a glass of wine to go with it, too.

Far from the best Italian in the city, but also very far from the worst, The Italian Homemade is a go-to for a last-second dinner. Choose your pasta and sauce, and start scouting for open tables. This location doesn’t have beer or wine, so you could double up on pasta or get a few bombolino for dessert. If you must drink wine with your pasta, though, the Union Street location has you covered.

Fillmore/Japantown/Nopa/Pac Heights

Iza is one of our favorite ramen shops in San Francisco. It’s not huge, and there’s no crazy schtick to get you here, they just make really good food. As you internally debate what to order, get a beer or some sake, and while a bowl of ramen will cover you for the night (we like the Iza Ramen), their fried chicken is a good thing to split with someone as well.

It’s tough to find affordable seafood in SF, but Woodhouse Fish Co. on Fillmore does the job. Most of the sandwiches and entrees are around $20, and we especially like the fish tacos, clam roll, and crab cakes.

If you want to go on a nice date without blowing all of your money for the weekend, you can game the system at Nopa. Eating here alone can be expensive, but the portions are also huge, so if you go there with someone else, you can split an appetizer and an entree and make it out fine. The burger is a little small to cut in half, but if you get stood up, take yourself on a date and get that and a cocktail.

Much like golf or arbitrage, eating sushi omakase regularly is an expensive hobby to pick up. Fortunately, there are public courses for the former, and Oma San Francisco Station exists for the latter. This eight-seat counter is located in the middle of the Japan Center and has a $30, five-course option that includes soup and a hand roll, which is more than enough for dinner. For the quality of the fish, it’s a pretty great deal.

Fidi/Soma/Union Square

When you get out of work too late to go to the grocery store, Ippudo is a solid option for a not too expensive dinner. All of the ramen is around $15 and is more than enough to fill you up, but if you’re still hungry, you can get a chicken bun or two to round everything out. And if you need to take the edge off from work, they have a good list of Japanese beers, too.

This is a good spot to come after work with a few friends. The main thing to get here are the sliders – we like the Black and Blue with blue cheese and bacon. Cocktails are $11 and sliders are all under $5, so you can mix and match as you see fit, and still come in under budget.

Maybe it’s been a bad day or maybe you’ve decided to save your diet for next year’s resolutions, but you could really go for some bar food right now. If that’s the case, walk over to Hogwash. They have a ton of beers on tap, good german sausages, and our favorite, fries covered in curry.

If you work near Union Square, go to B44 for a quick date after work or a meal with a few of your officemates. It’s a tapas restaurant that has all the usual suspects on the menu, like patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo, and the portions are actually substantial. It’s not too hard to get a table if you walk in on a weeknight, and everyone you’re with will be able to get a small plate and a glass of wine without sweating their bill later.

Hayes Valley

Souvla may technically be SF’s answer to fast casual, but that doesn’t stop this place from making really delicious Greek food. It’s a good spot to catch up with a few friends or go on a very casual date. Order the chicken salad or the lamb sandwich, skip the fries and opt for the juicy potatoes that are cooked in the rotisserie drippings instead, and get some frozen Greek Yogurt, which is good enough to merit a trip alone.

RT Rotisserie may be our ideal casual weeknight dinner. Almost everything on the menu – from the chicken to the pork belly to the cauliflower – is great, you can get in and out pretty quickly if you need to, and at $8 for half a chicken, it’s a steal. With the extra money you have, get some fries or the charred cabbage salad.

Domo is a small, casual sushi spot in Hayes Valley that mostly has bar seating. The main reason we like this place is their specialty rolls, which hover around $10 per roll. If you show up with a few people, the wait won’t be too long, and you wouldn’t want to sit at a bar with more people than that anyway, so it all works out.

The Richmond

There are perfect date restaurants, but Fiorella may be our only favorite restaurant for double dates. It has a buzzy atmosphere and the walls are covered in pictures of famous SF figures, so you can get away with gaps in conversation or fill them in with, “Oh look, is that Dharma from Dharma and Greg?” (it’s not by the way). The pizzas have thin, crispy crusts, the octopus is great, and the food is pretty affordable so you won’t leave fuming that you had to endure that awful human interaction and spend a fortune.

This place in the Richmond feels a little like you’re eating in a Top Golf or a chain sports bar, but they also serve solid Korean BBQ. Come here with a group and do the $25 all-you-can-eat option. Load up on pork cheek and lemongrass chicken thighs, and maybe get some bacon-wrapped asparagus so you’re not just eating meat the whole night.

If you want to avoid a wait at Burma Superstar, head to BStar Cafe instead. The menu has good crossover including our favorite, the tea leaf salad, and we even like some things better here. Plus, the back room is a solid spot to hang out.

This content was originally published here.

Where To Eat When You’re Trying To Not Spend Money

Maybe you got a little too excited with one-click ordering on Amazon. Maybe you’re still at the beck and call of Sallie Mae. Or, maybe you just watched with awe and slight horror as your 22-year-old friend with an amazing job purchased a condo. Whatever the reason, you’d rather not spend a ton of money on a meal out right now. Luckily, Seattle has many inexpensive restaurants with enough variety to keep things interesting and enough value to keep your wallet full. So you can spend your cash on the important things, like footie pajamas for your dog in three different patterns. Or, you know, actually have enough money to retire.

the spots

Curbside

Queen Anne
3 W. Nickerson Street

This truck on the side of the road in Queen Anne serves quality Vietnamese street food at reasonable prices. There’s tasty pho, banh mi, vermicelli bowls, spring rolls, and Vietnamese coffee – and nothing costs more than $8.50 (except for the $10 short ribs, if you’re a high roller). Which means that getting an appetizer, a sandwich, and a strawberry bubble tea is within reach here for $12. Sign us up for that.

Supreme

West Seattle
4521 California Ave SW

If you’re going to shell out a lot on drinks in West Seattle later and want to go easy on dinner, splitting a pizza with friends is a solid plan. At Supreme, where the slices are giant, you’ll pay less than 10 bucks per person and still head home with a box full of leftovers. The awesome New York-style pies here range from classic pepperoni to our favorite, the “Ono” pie with American cheese and fried chicken. Share a round of scallion garlic knots, too.

The herby falafel at Aviv Hummus Bar is fried to-order, and for $11 you get seven pieces on top of hummus or stuffed in a pita with cucumber, cabbage, pickles, tomato, and tahini. (French fries are $4 more.) Bask in your good decision-making among the colorful bar stools and garbanzo bean wall decor.

Eating at a bar is a convenient ploy to save money, but some bar food is straight-up bad. Not at Star Brass Lounge, where, for instance, the soft pretzel is housemade and comes with lots of other good stuff: cheese sauce, bratwurst, apples, and grapes. Pull up a barstool for other things like breaded cod bites, the delicious tavern burger, and deep-fried grilled cheese with spicy ranch for dipping. Probably not the best choice if you want something kind of healthy, but at least you’ll have more money to spend on cycling classes tomorrow.

Fremont Bowl

Fremont
4258 Fremont Ave N

Bowls are economical, especially when they’re big and they can fit a lot of food. Fremont Bowl takes this concept and really runs with it – for around $15, they sell excellent donburi bowls filled to the brim with sushi rice and sashimi, teriyaki, or other toppings. It’s a very good value, particularly considering the high quality of the fish here. Make sure to use the (free) smoky housemade soy sauce.

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Pair

5501 30th Ave NE

We get it. Most of these places aren’t upscale enough for an “I am in love with you and I’d like you to be aware” date night. Which is where Pair comes in. It’s a little French bistro in Ravenna that looks like the set of an indie rom-com, and serves delicious entrees like steak frites with blue cheese butter and wild salmon with roasted potatoes and olive vinaigrette – all of which cost under $20. (If you really want to keep the bill low, get the fontina mac and cheese or the rosemary-braised gigante beans with feta.) You’ll be very happy here, and so will your wallet. Assuming your wallet has feelings.

There’s a lot to love about Kamei. The staff is friendly, it’s a nice, relaxed place to eat with friends (or alone), and the sushi is very reasonably-priced – for example, the massive Rock Star Roll stuffed with fresh spicy lobster and avocado is less than $10. Service can be a bit slow when things are busy on the weekends, but as long as you’re not in a hurry, it’s a very good option for dinner in West Seattle.

Il Corvo is one of the greatest places for pasta in Seattle, period. Incredibly, it’s also among the least expensive. Get here early to avoid the ever-present snake of people waiting in line, and prepare yourself to enjoy some truly awesome lunch-only housemade pasta – for $9.95 per massive steaming bowl. The focaccia bread, garlicky kale salad, and caramel sandwich cookies are amazing, too, but when you’re on a budget, the pasta alone will easily hold you over until dinner.

A solid neighborhood spot for some burgers and fries with your kids (if you have kids) or your friends (if you have friends). The beer selection is great, as are the burgers. They do corn dogs and grilled cheese, too, and the excellently crispy french fries with hoppy garlic mayo must be in your order. Good thing you can get a gigantic basket of them for five bucks. Grab a quarter-pound classic burger with American cheese, the aforementioned fries, and a homemade lemonade for under $15.

You can get some of the city’s best pho at Pho Bac Sup Shop, where a giant bowl of noodle soup with incredible slow-poached chicken or dinosaur-sized short ribs costs less than $15. And that’s if you’re starving. Most of the bowls are $10 for a small (which, to be honest, is not small), and they’re all delicious, whether you’re going for some meatballs or keeping things vegetarian. Split some of the great bar snacks (like french fries with cilantro aioli or Vietnamese sausage sliders) with friends to start.

For around $15 (give or take), here are some things you can get at Tacos Chukis: six delicious house tacos with spiced pork, cheese, guacamole, and grilled pineapple, or three baby burritos filled with carne asada, or four quesadillas, or two house tacos, an agua fresca, a baby burrito, and an entire chicken torta. There’s no wrong choice unless you don’t do your taco-eating here.

In the back corner of Rachel’s Ginger Beer at University Village is a little counter serving a condensed version of Ma’ono Fried Chicken’s menu – spicy chicken sandwiches, chicken fingers, salads, fries, and macaroni with a kimchi-infused cheese sauce. Not only is it a quick dinner situation, but it’s also quite affordable. You need this chicken sandwich – now go get it.

Mamnoon Street is the fast-casual version of Mamnoon, which is our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in the city. And everything on the menu is under $12. They have the same awesome mezze as their fancier sister restaurant, as well as chicken shawarma, falafel wraps on homemade pita, and spicy cilantro french fries with za’atar mayo. The inside is pretty plain, but this place is great for a quick lunch or low-key dinner in South Lake Union.

Tu Cantinas

Georgetown
6031 Airport Way S

Tu Cantinas is a tiny little corner bar that serves some delicious tacos. Their very good pulled pork is piled onto thick tortillas that are pressed and grilled in front of you. You can get three tacos with housemade avocado sauce and spicy salsa, as well as a stiff margarita, for about $15. This isn’t the place to expect blood orange sangria and guacamole mixed tableside – this is the place to slap an Andrew Jackson onto the bar and get an authentic taqueria experience (and some change) in return.

Musashi’s is cash-only. It’s small. There’s often a line to get in, and the interior is not fancy. But none of that matters, because you can get 12 pieces of spicy tuna roll for under $7, and it’s not coming from a gas station refrigerator case. If you’re looking for a sushi bargain, you’ll find it here.

You already know about Il Corvo. But here’s another spot where you can get serious fresh pasta served in a real bowl for under $10. At this casual Pike Place restaurant, your delicious plate of carbs will taste like it’s actually from Italy, you won’t have to wait forever in line, and you’ll have money left over for some dessert crostata. Which you’re definitely going to want.

Entrees at Manao are mostly in the $10-$15 range, but one order of anything – from crispy, creamy lime chicken to scallop and shrimp fried rice or drunken noodles – will last you for at least two meals. Plus, the way-better-than-average pad thai is only nine bucks.

If you head to Woodshop BBQ and get a smoked jalapeño mac and cheese bowl topped with pulled pork, pickled onion, and homemade barbecue sauce, and then your apartment building’s elevator breaks down, you probably won’t start wheezing in panic, because hunger is not going to be an immediate concern. The massive smoked meat sandwiches are also a great deal at $10, but the loaded macaroni bowl is definitely the best value here.

Little Ting’s is so far north that it’s barely within Seattle city limits – good luck with the bus route on this one. The beauty of this place, though, is that you can get 15 homemade potstickers for under $10, and they’re really good. For a dollar less, you can get six humongous steamed pork buns that are just as filling – because there’s a dumpling food baby for every budget.

Let’s say you need to tear into a double cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake, but you don’t hate yourself enough to eat at Dick’s. Pick-Quick Drive In is an old-school fast food experience where you can get most things on the menu with only the rumpled bills you find in your pants pockets while doing laundry. These burgers are much better than the ones at Dick’s, and you don’t even have to stand up while eating them. Pile your friends inside your car at lunch or dinner and get a round of root beer floats made with actual soft serve ice cream.

You could go somewhere and spend about $11 on four slices of floppy “New York-style” pizza chased with an entire bottle of two-buck chuck. Or, you could have a whole Neapolitan wood-fired pie to yourself in the dimly-lit Via Tribunali, as well as a generous glass of good prosecco – all for the same price. You just have to show up between 4 and 6 for Happy Hour, and your fancy affordable pizza meal is within reach.

At Bok A Bok Fried Chicken, you can get a Korean fried chicken thigh with four different dipping sauces, kimchi mac and cheese, a homemade biscuit with spiced honey, and a can of beer for around $15. Trekking to White Center may feel like exploring uncharted territory, but if you’re looking for an interesting fried chicken dinner with minimal damage to that pie chart on your Mint app, then by all means, borrow a friend’s car and do it – or head to their second location in Capitol Hill.

Paying less than $8 for about a gallon of Vietnamese broth and a pound of rice noodles is a great move when you’re trying to save money – and at Pho Than Brothers, that’s exactly what you can do. Get some very fast takeout if you’re in a hurry. Oh, and cream puffs come free with every order.

You only have $15 to burn, but you (and all your friends) still want a sit-down meal. La Cocina Oaxaquena is always the fun answer, and it happens to have some of the best Mexican food in the city. Tortilla chips here aren’t free, but they’re unlimited, as are the excellent salsas – so bring on that eighth bowl. With the 12 bucks you have left, a great majority of the menu is yours for the taking – from tostadas to quesadillas to tacos to tamales. Or, you can just get your chips with a pint-glass-sized margarita and call it a day.

Cycle Dogs

Ballard
1514 NW Leary Way

Even though vegan food is made of things that grow in the dirt, it can get pretty pricey in a restaurant setting. For something delicious and reasonable, head to Peddler Brewing Company and grab dinner from the Cycle Dogs food truck. The dogs themselves – made with wheat gluten and lots of spices – are from Field Roast, so they’re basically local meatless gold, and they come loaded with toppings like grilled corn, mayo, green onion, and lime. Get a breakfast dog with an entire hash brown patty, vegan chorizo, chipotle mayo, and grilled onions, along with a side of addicting crinkle fries for about 11 bucks. You’ll like these things even if you’re an omnivore (especially after an IPA or two).

Photo: Table Manners Aside

Marination Ma Kai is like a choose-your-own-adventure game, but for reasonably-priced Hawaiian-Korean-Mexican fusion street food on a beachside patio. Spam sliders and tacos with proteins like miso ginger chicken and “sexy tofu” (our favorite) are $3 each, or you can go for something heartier like spicy kimchi fried rice with an over-easy egg (around eight bucks) or the pork katsu sandwich ($12.75 – spring for it). No matter what, add the macaroni salad for $2.50 and compensate with free office drip coffee the next day.

This content was originally published here.

Where To Have Your Birthday In Your 30s

In your 20s, celebrating your birthday with your friends is usually the best night of the year. In your 30s, it gets 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 who definitely don’t have money for their Uber home. We suggest you focus on two things: great food, and an environment where you can get rowdy if you want to, but still be able to walk the dog drunk later tonight. Here are 11 places that will deliver on both fronts. Happy hangovers.

the spots

After blacking out at Skybar and drunk dialing your grandma’s pharmacist in 2011, you swore off the Sunset Strip for good. But it’s time to go back. Skip the atrocious clubs and rooftop bars, and take the crew to Night + Market. The modern Thai spot has become one of the best-known restaurants in the entire city, but its original Sunset Strip location is still always what you need for a birthday – a big space, easy reservations, a fantastic back patio you can rent out, and beer towers. Also, this is some of our favorite Thai food in LA.

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 underrated 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.

Getting people out of their houses, let alone their own neighborhood, is an uphill battle. But if there’s a restaurant you should force people to drive to, it’s this one. Frogtown might not be the most convenient location for most people, but when the destination is Salazar, it’s worth it. The entirely-outdoor Mexican restaurant has plenty of long tables for big groups, fantastic housemade tacos, and a relaxed environment that won’t make you feel embarrassed when you get a little too sloshed on the boozy horchatas.

Dan Tana’s

West Hollywood
9071 Santa Monica Blvd

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 Australian 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.

That promotion you’ve been waiting for finally came this year, and you’re ready to celebrate and not stress-stare 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 space is big, with plenty of room for big groups, a cool patio, and a fantastic menu ideal for sharing.

Belle Vie

Brentwood
11916 Wilshire Blvd

From the outside, Belle Vie looks like a place you take your grandparents for a 4pm Sunday dinner after a day at The Getty. But then you walk into this casual French restaurant next to a McDonald’s in Brentwood and realize it’s hardly some sleepy wine and cheese bar. The people running Belle Vie will make you feel like you’re the guest of honor at their house party, the food is great and not what you typically see at French restaurants (get the beef burgundy tacos), and everyone is here to hang out and drink a bunch of wine. There’s a big, semi-private table in the back that’s perfect for birthdays.

Yes, this modern Korean spot in Chinatown (from the people behind NYC’s Momofuku empire) is a blockbuster. Yes, it’ll take you several months and a possible child sacrifice to secure a table. But once you do, you’ll find not just one of the best new restaurants in LA, but one that is tailor-made for big groups. The industrial space is massive, with big 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.

Guelaguetza

Koreatown
3014 W. Olympic Blvd.

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.

El Cid

Silver Lake
4212 W Sunset Blvd

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.

Photo: El Cid / Facebook

Tar & Roses

Santa Monica
602 Santa Monica Blvd.

Tar & Roses works for just about any group dinner 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 that party will consist of you and your friends going to town on a full wood-fired goat that comes in three courses and only costs $58 per person. If you aren’t eating full animals in public with your friends by now, it’s time you started.

Oriel

Chinatown
1135 North Alameda Street

You’re 33, not dead. Rally the crew and go discover something new. Like Oriel. The French restaurant/wine bar under the elevated train tracks in Chinatown feels like you’re closer to Brooklyn than West Hollywood, the crowd is full of interesting people who dress better than you, and their patio is the perfect size for your crew to take over. The menu covers all the bases of things you like to eat while drinking wine. Namely a lot of bread and cheese.

“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 1950’s, 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 the best Manhattans in town.

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The Best Places To Eat In Tribeca

Here are some things you’ll find in Tribeca: baby clothing stores, the fire station where they shot Ghostbusters, men with very well-manicured facial hair. You’ll also find some great places to eat. While there are several tasting menu/special occasion spots, there are plenty of everyday restaurants, too, and they’re the main focus here.

The spots

Locanda Verde

Tribeca
377 Greenwich St.

Locanda Verde is no longer the newest, hottest restaurant in the neighborhood, but it’s still one of the very best. And you still have roughly a 25% chance of seeing a celebrity here. Come for a dinner full of things like blue crab crostini and pasta and roasted fish, or for a nicer brunch. They’re also open for breakfast, so you can come then too.

If you are looking for the new, hot restaurant in the neighborhood, that’d be Frenchette. This place is like if The Odeon and Balthazar had a child born in 2018, and that child was really good at cooking. Considering the number of people you’ll see wearing skin-tight leather pants here, you might not expect the food to be as good (or as buttery) as it is. But dishes from fried blowfish tails to duck frites are excellent. Frenchette is also very focused on its wine, and you should know that the list is made up of exclusively natural (and regularly kind of obscure) wines from small producers. In other words, don’t expect to find your favorite Napa Chardonnay here and know that your red wine will probably come chilled, and you’ll have a great time.

Racines

Tribeca
94 Chambers St.

If you’re somewhat nerdy about wine but can’t get into Frenchette, check out Racines. This restaurant is related to a spot in Paris, and they’re also very serious about wine. To be fair, they’re pretty serious about their food, too, and you can expect to find some pretty impressive, artfully plated dishes here. You can definitely use Racines for a nice dinner, but we also like to sit at the bar and have a few small bites and glasses of wine. Likely due to the fact that it’s somewhat inconspicuously located across the street from a Checkers on a dingy stretch of Chambers, you can always get a table here.

For a way more laid-back wine-drinking experience, try Terroir. Terroir used to be a chain of wine bars, but this one and a seasonal High Line location are the only two left. That’s a shame, because more neighborhoods could use a Terroir. The food is better than it needs to be (get the meatballs) and the whole place is incredibly friendly and unpretentious. They also project sports games regularly on a big screen in the back, if you’re into watching sports in a non-sports-bar environment.

The brick-walled space at Marc Forgione is ideal for a special-but-not-too-fancy occasion, like a quarter birthday or a shih tzu’s graduation from training school. Hey, it’s Tribeca. Whatever you’re celebrating, make sure it includes the chili lobster on Texas toast.

Do you have out-of-towners coming to visit who would very much appreciate sitting in a comfortable booth? Do you work in Battery Park and have to plan a fancy breakfast meeting? Are you simply meeting up with someone who would be really excited by the idea of eating Beetroot Tartare With Smoked Trout Roe? In all of these situations, Little Park is perfect. The menu is a home run for vegetarians, but also works well if someone wants to eat a lamb porterhouse.

Gotan

Tribeca
130 Franklin St

Gotan is your one-stop shop for eating, meeting, and working. There’s WiFi, plus really good breakfast and lunch food – mostly sandwiches and salads with a slight Mediterranean twist. You order at the counter, but a server brings you the food on a real plate, which is nice.

American Cut

Tribeca
363 Greenwich St.

Have a situation in which you need to eat steak in a place the size of a Costco, but below Canal Street? It could happen. Plan this large steak gathering at American Cut, the area’s best steakhouse. It’s owned by Marc Forgione and does good non-steak dishes as well, in a large and accommodating space.

Belle Reve is a restaurant, bar, and place where weird things occasionally happen. And by weird we mean, there’s a good chance you could walk in here on a Wednesday night at 10pm and find a bunch of people in their 50s dancing on tables. There’s also a good chance you could walk in here at the same time and find a bunch of CitiBank employees casually hanging out. You never know at Belle Reve. The food also happens to be surprisingly solid, so if you’re looking for a casual spot to mostly drink and eat some stuff that isn’t bar food, head to Belle Reve.

Holy Ground serves barbecue in a subterranean space that neither looks like it belongs in New York nor looks like it would serve barbecue. But that’s the fun of this place. Order a whiskey drink, eat some smoked chicken and beef rib, and completely forget about the fact that you’re actually just about 20 feet below West Broadway.

Located in a carriage house right across from Locanda Verde, Smith & Mills is a cool little bar/restaurant that looks like the inspiration for a Restoration Hardware catalog. Come on a first date and say yes when your date asks, “Hmm, should we share the burrata? And maybe the salmon crudo?” They also serve lunch every day, and are open until 2am most nights, and 3am on Saturdays.

This is the place to get a bagel and lox in Tribeca. It’s a small takeout operation, and on Saturday mornings you can expect to see an equal mix of hungover people and children carrying scooters.

Edward’s is not the MVP of anything, but it’s one of Tribeca’s utility spots: a bistro that’s useful for a casual weeknight dinner, or a brunch where you likely won’t have to wait. We recommend the burger, fish tacos, and the grilled salmon.

Walker’s

Tribeca
16 N. Moore St.

A big, juicy tavern burger and a beer are the reasons you come to Walker’s. There are sports on TV, too.

Takahachi

145 Duane St

Takahachi is the neighborhood’s go-to sushi place for high-quality but reasonably-priced fish. Although they’re not on delivery sites, they do deliver. You just have to use this new piece of technology called the telephone.

Like Ethan Hawke’s career or the city of Pittsburgh, Puffy’s Tavern doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but there’s a lot to it when you look deeper. See, to the average passerby, Puffy’s looks like a small dive bar on Hudson Street. And it is. But during lunch hours (until 5pm), they serve food from the excellent Italian sandwich shop Alidoro. The menu is shorter than that of the Soho and Midtown Alidoro locations, but you can still get a really great prosciutto and mozzarella and hot peppers concoction. These are the best sandwiches in the neighborhood, and you can eat them here or take them to go.

Tetsu

Tribeca
78 Leonard St

Nobu was once one of Tribeca’s key restaurants, but then it moved down to FiDi. Now there’s Tetsu for your pricey, sceney, dimly-lit Japanese restaurant needs. Tetsu is owned by the people behind the super-expensive Masa, and while it’s still expensive here, it costs more like $100 a person, not $600. Come here for a few drinks at the bar (they make great cocktails) and a few pieces of sushi and small plates.

Arcade Bakery is located in an office building lobby on Church Street, which doesn’t sound very appealing. But Arcade Bakery is actually extremely appealing. This bakery makes New York City’s best croissants (please don’t argue with us on this until you’ve tried one), and also makes great pizzas at lunchtime. They have excellent bread, too, and these fun tables that come out of the wall like Murphy beds. Please do not underestimate Arcade Bakery.

The Odeon

Tribeca
145 W. Broadway

The Odeon is legendary – for being a place where people like Andy Warhol and Basquiat used to hang out, and where celebrities and SNL cast members used to do a lot of cocaine in the basement. The food here is fine, but you’re mainly here to hang out over a martini and some oysters and reminisce about how much cooler New York used to be.

China Blue would be a great place to film a movie. It’s huge, and decorated in a sort of Jazz Age style, with lamps that have hanging crystals and other assorted vintage accessories. This place is owned by the same people as Midtown’s Cafe China and Williamsburg’s Birds Of A Feather, and focuses on Shanghai-style food. Get any of the dumplings, the crispy eel, and the noodles with scallion sauce and dried shrimp. If you’re not into filming movies, it’s a great option for a big group dinner or private event.

Terra

Tribeca
222 W. Broadway

If you’re familiar with Aria in the West Village, Terra has essentially the same menu of Italian small plates. You can always get in, and it’s a useful place for a light dinner or Saturday afternoon glass of wine.

Owned by the same people behind Soho’s City Winery, this is the best place to drink while staring out at New Jersey. The food is good enough, with oysters, a solid crab roll, and a totally decent burger. But wine is the standout: the 30-page wine list at City Vineyard would be worth a trip even without the ’80s hip-hop on the speakers and the sunsets over the water.

The Greek

Tribeca
458 Greenwich St

This is a surprisingly lively, surprisingly sort of elegant Greek restaurant with excellent food, but it doesn’t get all that much attention, perhaps because it’s located in a very quiet area by the river. Use it for a date night or a group dinner. Just know that it’s a bit pricey.

Saluggi’s

325 Church St

Saluggi’s feels sort of like a casual suburban Italian restaurant where you would have eaten with your middle school soccer team, and it’s the best place around to get a quality takeout pizza. There are plenty of dollar slice places on Broadway, but they’re all pretty awful, unlike the very-good coal-fired pies here. While we use it mostly as a takeout operation, there are also plenty of booths, and it’s a pretty pleasant place to sit. Salads, pastas, and sandwiches are available, too.

This kind-of-healthy Australian cafe is the place to come for an acai bowl or a mushroom toast that involves both “cashew cream” and arugula pesto. Before you roll your eyes, know that Two Hands is actually quite laid-back, especially during weekday lunch and breakfast. It does get packed here come Saturday at 11:30, though, and unfortunately, they’re no longer open for dinner.

Maman Tribeca

211 W Broadway

Maman is part bakery/takeout spot, part all-day restaurant. The takeout area up front is good for picking up a coffee and pastry, but we prefer the daytime restaurant in the back, which is a solid pick for a weekday lunch or brunch. They make really great chocolate chip cookies.

Pepolino

281 W Broadway

A bit like the fact that you’re alive and just one of 7 billion people wandering the Earth each day, you might forget about Pepolino. But once you get to this homey Italian spot, you won’t need to be existential. You can just order some pappardelle with tomato sauce without thinking too hard about the meaning of life. Use this as your semi-casual Italian go-to in the area, and make use of their sidewalk seating when it’s nice out.

Grandaisy Bakery

250 W Broadway

Come to Grandaisy for one thing in particular: a slice of Roman-style pomodoro pizza. This bakery also makes sandwiches and various pastries, but the square pomodoro slice is one of the best pieces of carb below Canal Street.

Gigino Trattoria

323 Greenwich St

You know that neighborhood Italian place that has white tablecloths covered in paper, where they might give kids crayons to draw with? But it’s still sort of a nice place? Where you’d bring grandparents? That’s Gigino, a handy, always tasty and always accessible Italian restaurant. As previously stated, this is a great place to come with kids.

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The Brunch Hit List

Weekends are a great time for trying new things. Like learning to surf. Or making dumplings. Or finding someone you like, taking a dance lesson together, and going to Griffith Park at sunset to recreate that scene from La La Land. Those all sound fun, but if you’re looking for something a little easier, you could go eat brunch somewhere from our Brunch Hit List. All of the places on this guide recently opened or just started serving brunch, and it’s sorted chronologically, so you’ll find the newest entries at the top.

There are a couple of Capital Seafoods in the SGV, and now this dim sum place has opened another location in Beverly Hills. The prices are a bit higher than at the original locations, but the service is great and the food is fantastic. They take reservations for any size group, but it’s best to come here with at least a few friends. You order off a checklist menu, and the boxes next to the shrimp and pork shiu mai, shrimp har gow, and barbecue pork bones might as well be permanently filled in. There are usually lots of families in the big dining room, mostly trying to decide if three orders of buns are enough for everyone to have leftovers to take home.

This Filipino spot in Silver Lake feels like a very well-designed jungle, complete with leafy wallpaper and vines hanging from the ceiling. The food is excellent, and if you for some reason drank a lot of chartreuse last night, Ma’am Sir is a great spot to recover. Rice porridge, sizzling pork sisig, and coconut pancakes might not fix your headache, but the never-ending coffee refills just might.

If you need some motivation to get out of bed on a Sunday, you might like to know about Rappahannock’s $1.50 oyster deal. And even if oysters aren’t your thing, there’s plenty of other reasons to like this place, like the lobster benedict and the very good shrimp and grits. For those adult people who are allergic to or inexplicably scared of seafood, the burrata and berries are fantastic as well. No matter what you’re eating, sit on the patio. It’s shaded by a couple of big trees that make you feel more like you’re on a movie set than in Downtown LA.

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During brunch, Little Prince is filled with people who probably live down the street. It’s calm but not too quiet in here (the cocktails are pretty strong, after all), so it’s a nice place to come and catch up with friends over salmon hash and boozy horchata. You could even bring that one picky vegan friend who stopped coming to brunch months ago because there are plenty of healthy, egg-free options he’ll be happy with.

Cosa Buona in Echo Park isn’t a new restaurant, but they just started serving brunch, and they do it very well. The menu has all the pizzas from dinner, plus a brunch-only pie that comes with the healing properties of bacon, egg, and potatoes. It’s much easier to get a table during the day, but this place still feels like a party even without the crowd of people who tend to wait by the door at night. And to answer your most important questions: yes, the mozzarella sticks are available at brunch, and yes, they taste just as good at 11am.

The second location of Petit Trois is way bigger than the Hollywood original, and has something the first one doesn’t – brunch. And while this place feels a little corporate at night, mornings are a very pleasant time to hang out in the bright, bistro-style dining room. The croissants are textbook perfect, the Mec Muffin is approximately 1000 times better than anything you’ve had from a drive-thru, and the goat cheese-filled omelette is going to make you think twice about calling what you make at home an omelette.

Esters has been open for a few years now, but they only recently started serving brunch. Brunch here feels a bit like your designer sister’s wedding shower, with nice flower arrangements everywhere and people taking full advantage of the mimosas. There’s also a massive wine selection, which the servers will help you navigate to figure out what goes best with your smoked trout on a bagel.

A great option for a laid-back brunch, Highly Likely is an all-day cafe with truly interesting food. The menu doesn’t sound all that different from other coffee shops with real kitchens, but the vegetable sandwich has pickled eggs in it, there’s yuzu slaw on the fish sandwich, and while the breakfast burrito is pretty typical, it’s delicious. Whatever you order, sprinkle the hot sauce on everything. Weekends are pretty busy here, so come with a friend and let one person order while the other hovers near almost-done tables. This is called strategizing.

If the fact that Rob Reiner directed both This Is Spinal Tap and Stand By Me taught us anything, it’s that you can be good at two very different things. Orsa & Winston is sort of like that, because it has a fancy tasting menu at dinner and a casual brunch in the daytime. And the weekend menu is all over the place, but in a good way. There are pancakes, Japanese breakfasts, and eggs and bacon that come with a fantastic potato rosti. You might want to order the smoked fish plate too, considering how well it goes with the sake Bloody Marys you’ve already had two of.

Not all brunches have to end with you sending mimosa-fueled drunk texts to your landlord. If you want to have a relaxed morning outside with coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and no alcohol in sight, go to Doubting Thomas. The menu is pretty long and you’ll want to try a few things, so you should probably get a burrata and tomato toast plus a few of the excellent pastries on top of whatever you order for yourself.

Brunch at All Time feels like eating breakfast at that friend’s house who has their life figured out. Which means fantastic wine you haven’t heard of, freshly-baked bread, and salads made out of stuff from their own garden. All Time doesn’t tart serving wine until noon, so don’t be too early if you want some Gruner Veltliner to go with your crispy rice and pork belly.

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Where To Have Dinner For Around $30 In Silver Lake

The days when Silver Lake was a low-key neighborhood full of affordable local hangout spots are long gone. Sunset Blvd. is now lined with high-end restaurants, Italian eyeware stores, and a bunch of places trying to sell you $16 hibiscus tea with restorative properties. And while plenty of those places are worth going to, some nights you just aren’t in the mood to drop half of your paycheck on artisanal charcoal pizza.

Good news – finding a legitimate dinner for $30 in Silver Lake is possible, you just need to know where to look. Here we’ve defined “dinner” as an entree with either an appetizer or a drink, because is it really considered a dinner without either of those? Whether it’s modern Burmese food, a walk-up taco window, or one of our favorite all-around restaurants in the city, this guide will help you know where to eat affordably in Silver Lake.

The spots

When Mh Zh opened in 2017, it seemed like another overpriced sidewalk cafe in Sunset Junction that nobody needed. We were all very wrong. Mh Zh serves some of the most flavorful Mediterranean food in the city at prices that hover around $10 a plate. The mostly-outdoor spot certainly brings in the crowds, but there’s still nothing better than sitting on wooden crates along Sunset with your friends, ordering literally everything on the menu, and getting an $85 check at the end. Also, if the wait’s really bad, you can always put your name down and walk next door to Cliff’s Edge for drinks.

Pine & Crane is one of those order-at-the-counter spots that you always forget is order-at-the-counter. And that’s because this modern Taiwanese place has such a welcoming and bright space that all you really want to do is hang out there all night. This place is good for anything from a quiet night with a sick roommate and some mapo tofu to a reunion with five friends and loud conversation around the communal table. The most expensive thing on the menu is $13.

You and your ex-coworker finally found a night you both can do dinner, but you woke up this morning with a scratchy throat and you can’t tell if you’re getting sick or not. Don’t cancel – go to Fat Dragon instead. The modern Chinese comfort food here is great, and our favorite dishes like spicy wontons, dragon fried rice, and spicy eggplant hover around the $15 mark. The quiet space is exactly where you want to be when you’re not up for yelling over the people next to you all night.

If you roll into this French/Mexican fusion spot with a friend and order every shared plate on the menu, things will get expensive. But Trois Familia recently started serving a new dinner menu (it used to be brunch only) full of bigger plates that don’t get more expensive than a $17 steak frites, and you can easily share a few dishes and walk out for under $30 a person. The dinner menu tends to skew more on the French side of things, but whether you go for the mussels, charcuterie, or foie gras burger, know that it’s all going to be very good.

You got yelled at three times today at work. Twice by your boss for messing up an assignment and once by your hall security guard for reheating brussel sprouts in the microwave at lunch. You need some comfort food. Go to We Have Noodles. As the name suggests, this place serves noodles in all sorts of forms (khao soi, ramen, dan dan, and pho), and everything is pretty good. The order-at-the-counter operation has a bright space that’s easy to hang out in with friends, and a well-oiled take-out situation for those nights when you just want to hide in your couch cushions.

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When this Moby-owned vegan restaurant – where 100% of profits go to animal rights organizations – opened in 2015, it quickly became the most Silver Lake restaurant in all of Silver Lake. And after a few years of operation, it still owns that title. But it also owns the title of being a very solid and unpretentious vegan restaurant. The all-white space feels like your roommate’s Etsy page, but in a way that’s tolerable and actually nice to look at. Everything on the menu falls under $17.

Including a place that closes at 7pm on this guide might seem like a stretch, but this is LA – you leave work every day at 5:30pm, and your crystal doctor told you to eat dinner before 6:30pm for a fulfilled lifestyle. So Scout works. This tiny order-at-the-counter spot right at Sunset Junction has a menu full of salads, grain bowls, and sandwiches, and everything is very good. The most expensive dish is $14 and their efficient to-go situation will get you home with plenty of time before 6:45pm rainbow reiki.

At its core, Same Same is a wine bar. It also happens to be a wine bar that serves our favorite Thai food in Silver Lake that’s not named Night + Market. This casual spot inside a strip mall is the ideal place for when you want to drink some wine with a friend, but not get stuck eating a pre-packaged salami and cheddar cheese tray all night. Their menu is stacked with every Thai staple in the book, and everything falls in the $10-$15 range. Get the khao soi.

Daw Yee Myanmar is a modern Burmese restaurant right next door to Same Same. The tea leaf salad, the platha (flaky bread), and the ohnoh noodles (Burmese coconut soup) are all things that need to hit the table, and its casual atmosphere is a perfect spot to grab a last-minute dinner with your roommate. Everything on the menu is under $14. No alcohol.

One glance at the line curling around the parking lot of Silver Lake Ramen and you’ll ask yourself if you really want to spend your entire night waiting to get in here. The answer should always be yes. This is far and away the best ramen on the Eastside, and on those bitter cold LA nights when the temperature dips below 60 degrees, nothing beats a bowl of their spicy tonkotsu ramen and a fried gyoza plate.

Blossom has four locations (Silver Lake, Chinatown, Santa Monica, and downtown), and while you can get good pho at any of them, their Sunset junction spot is our favorite space to eat hot Vietnamese soup. Skip the bare bones upstairs and head to the basement instead to eat your pho in a giant wine cellar. This is a warm, welcoming place for a date night when you don’t want to drop a bunch of money on someone who has a lizard in four of their profile pictures.

2861 Sunset Blvd.

The casual Neapolitan pizza joint right on Sunset is one of the most underrated restaurants in all of Silver Lake. Wood is technically an order-at-the-counter operation, but don’t let that fool you. It’s the kind of place you can roll in with a big group of friends, order a bunch of pizza (the rapini and sausage is our favorite), and post up all night on their excellent outdoor patio. Their 12-inch personal pizzas run $13-$18.

LA

Guide:

The Best Restaurants In Silver Lake

Tacos Delta is a flat-out Silver Lake classic. While we respect and endorse waking up on a weekend morning and stumbling down to the tiny taco stand for a breakfast burrito, hitting up this walk-up window for dinner is equally enjoyable. Order a few fish tacos or a chile relleno burrito, set up shop on the quiet side patio, and enjoy a rare night when you aren’t cooking yourself dried-out chicken and vegetables. Everything on the menu is under $10.

Tonight was supposed to be just you and your old roommates, but then your new roommates asked what you were doing, you panicked, and now everybody is invited. Scrap your original plan and head to Diablo Taco. The big order-at-the-counter spot has a solid taco menu that everybody will be happy with. Each taco runs about $4-$5, but they’re a good size, so you only need two or three to fill you up. There are also plenty of board games lying around for when conversation dies down between the roommates.

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