In theory, birthdays should be fun and easy. You’ve done the hard work of staying sane and likable for another trip around the sun, and in turn, your friends and family are supposed to treat you like the angel goddess that you are. So why does planning your birthday dinner always end up being so stressful? You don’t know where to go, your friends are incapable of committing to anything more than two days in advance, and you inevitably wind up completely exhausted.
While we can’t sort out your entire life (or your friends’ lives, for that matter), we can at least provide some options for your celebratory dinner. These are places with enough space to accommodate a group, enough ambiance to feel like a party, and enough drinks to make you forget about the inexorable march of time. It sounds like a simple formula, but trust us, it’s one that’s not always easy to crack. So rifle through your closet, grab your crown, and pat yourself on the back for being great - here is our updated guide to the best birthday dinners in Los Angeles.
You’re getting dressed up for your birthday this week and no one’s telling you otherwise. Make the most of your night and head to Gigi’s. The French bistro in Hollywood is a tough reservation, but if you manage to snag a table, you’ll be rewarded with a night of fantastic wine, snacks like steak tartare and oysters, and some of the best people-watching in town. Sure, the table of CAA agents next to you will be talking about how to get ayahuasca to Tulum next week, but after 12 months of laying face down on your sofa every night, that’s the exact kind of entertainment you’re in the market for.
From the second you round the corner and spot Anajak’s alleyway patio, you’re hit with sensory overload. There’s a row of white-clothed tables reflecting dramatic shadows on the massive brick wall. You’ll hear R&B blasting over the loudspeaker, and spot chef Justin Pichetrungsi at the far end preparing his 14-course Thai omakase experience. It’s one of the most objectively cool dining setups in town right now, and that’s the kind of superlative you want on your birthday. Whether you snagged the coveted omakase reservation (they only do three seatings a week) or you simply rolled up with some friends to drink natural wine and eat curry, Anajak’s assorted menus are all filled with big flavors and textures. There’s perfectly crunchy fried chicken with a sweet and spicy side sauce we’d buy in bulk, Chinese sausage tostadas topped with mint, and haw mok, a creamy fish curry custard that tastes like a spicy dessert. There are multiple ways a birthday dinner can go at this Sherman Oaks staple, and they’re all the correct one.
Between the spinning salads, meat and potato martinis, and decor that looks straight out of a deleted scene from Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire (we’re thinking around when Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are being introduced), Lawry’s The Prime Rib is your one-stop-shop for feeling like royalty on your big day. They’ve reopened for both indoor and outdoor dining (reservations are highly required), with a portion of their parking lot now transformed into a fenced-in, string-lit patio called The Silver Cart Terrace. There, you’ll find glorious carts of prime rib, bread pudding, mashed potatoes, and creamed vegetables that come right to your table - because dinner at Lawry’s is a show from start to finish, and one you always want a ticket to.
Needle is an excellent to-go only Cantonese restaurant in Silver Lake, but a place that doesn’t immediately scream “birthday dinner spot!!!” That’s why it’s important to know about their secret Siu Yeh tasting menu. Running Wednesday through Saturday each week on their patio, this multi-course, dine-in experience features a menu filled with skewers and snacks inspired by Hong Kong hawker stalls. The entire night costs $98 per person, but includes over 15 plates of food, and depending on how many people are in your party, a night that could be just you, your friends, and the chef. All available reservations can be found here.
It’s only natural to want to feel like a celebrity on your birthday, and at Cha Cha Cha, you will. The Mexican rooftop restaurant in the Arts District has a massive patio with lush vegetation and panoramic views of Downtown. It kind of feels like a garden party for the rich and famous, but a cool one that Lena Waithe might show up at. The tuna tostada and steak pa’taquear are both standouts, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything on the menu that won’t appease the varying tastes of your friend group.
The idea of having a birthday dinner inside the room where Osteria La Buca stores its pasta-making equipment might seem a bit odd, but as soon as your music gets playing (there’s an iPhone hook-up) and the wine starts flowing (it’s $25 per person for unlimited house wine and beer), all doubts quickly evaporate. The room is located on the second floor and provides a perfect vantage point of this casual Italian spot’s always-lively main dining room. For food, you hand-pick your own multi-course, family-style meal prior to arrival, meaning no decisions have to be made the night of. And that’s the greatest gift anyone could get on their birthday. For details and availability, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Little Ethiopia is lined with restaurants catering to big groups, but one of our favorites is Messob. This family-run operation hits that sweet spot of being fun and casual, but still nice enough that you feel special on your birthday. If you know the night will just be easier if everything is ordered a la carte, that’s certainly an option, but the best way to enjoy a meal here is to get a few Super Messob Exclusives for the table. For $33, it’s a massive plate filled with nine dishes from all sections of the menu, ranging from collards to spicy lamb stew. There’s also a semi-private dining area if you’re b-day group gets above six people.
You already know you’re doing a beach birthday this year, the tricky thing is finding a place to hang out afterward. Go to Golden Bull. This long-standing Santa Monica chophouse is just a quick walk under the tunnel from Will Rogers and has a massive new patio in their side parking lot. It does get pretty crowded on the weekends, so a reservation wouldn’t be the worst idea. But that said, if you show up before 4pm in flip flops and a swimsuit, you’ll still probably find a table. Get the burger and several rounds of martinis.
Open since 1981, this Westwood landmark is one of the oldest restaurants in Persian Square with a sprawling, lively dining room that can accommodate any size birthday dinner imaginable. We’d rank their tahchin, a baked basmati rice cake layered with yogurt, saffron, and barberries, as an essential dish of the neighborhood, and their curry stew isn’t far behind. It’s earthy, spicy, and perfect for passing around the table. From there, load up with tahdig appetizers, kabob platters, and steaming plates of sabzi polo. At Shamshiri, the party doesn’t stop until you do.
Rosaliné feels like it should be the place to go when you want to see a Kardashian - it’s on Melrose, its sign is neon, and it’s full of beautiful people wearing flowy things. Except Rosaliné also happens to have excellent Peruvian food. And while it’s not going to be a real-life E! News segment, eating here still feels like an event - especially if you get a table in the greenhouse-ish back room. Bring a lot of people so you can try every ceviche and paella on the menu.
If your version of a great birthday dinner is something a bit more subdued, yet still exciting, snag a table at Kensho. This tiny wine bar behind Yamashiro is smack in the middle of all the Hollywood action, but still feels like a total secret. The views of the hills and the Hollywood Sign at sunset are unmatched and the friendly waitstaff will make sure everyone’s glass is filled with funky biodynamic wines or sake all night long. As far as the food goes, Kensho’s menu changes pretty often, but is always filled with delicious snacks ranging from salmon tartare to inari to perilla bowls - perfect when a full sit-down birthday dinner sounds entirely cumbersome.
Located on the southern edge of Koreatown, Guelaguetza is a legendary Oaxacan restaurant and one of the biggest parties in the neighborhood. Everything on the menu is phenomenal - from the giant plates of meat to the excellent tlayudas - but it’s not an official celebration without getting their signature moles (just go big and order them all on the Festival De Moles platter). With a massive space including a new parking lot patio and more than 150 different kinds of tequila and mezcal, it’s almost like Guelaguetza was designed to be a foolproof birthday spot.
If you’re looking for all the charm and hospitality of a birthday dinner in the South, but don’t particularly feel like leaving the Pacific Time Zone, head to Alta Adams. Their versions of Southern classics are great - specifically, the black-eyed pea fritters and the shrimp and grits - and the staff is very friendly and attentive. So book a table on one of the best backyard patios in LA and make sure to some of their signature cocktails. They’re that perfect mix of sweet and refreshing, not to mention strong enough to make you forget about that white hair you found this morning.
If you’ve missed Casita’s warm, neighborhood atmosphere and strong margaritas as much as we have, the historic Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake is back open with not one, but three new outdoor patios. All the tables are meticulously spaced out, there are string lights hanging everywhere, and tons of umbrellas for shade. In other words, the ideal place for one too many birthday margaritas with your friends. Make a reservation here.
We’ve been fans of this Filipino spot since its very first iteration as Lasa - a BYOB pop-up in 2017. While the interior, the management, and the menu have all changed a little over the years, many of the same bright and spicy flavors (the electric orange spicy salsita is a non-negotiable) and friendly faces are still there in its current iteration to welcome you for a fun, family-style meal. For birthday dinners, our move is to put as many rotisserie chickens on the table that’ll fit, load up on every sauce and side, and make our way through their excellent and affordable (most bottles fall under $40) biodynamic wine list.
This is the gold standard of Korean BBQ in LA. While it might not have the party-like atmosphere of other nearby spots, and you’re definitely going to spend some money here, the quality of meat at Parks BBQ simply cannot be topped. Make sure to concentrate on the combo platters (listed as P1-P3), so you’ll get a meaty parade of all the bulgogi, short rib, ribeye, and banchan your heart could possibly desire. They’re also currently open for patio dining, with an outdoor tent complete with gleaming, silver grills. Call (213) 380-1717 to make a reservation.
This iconic Levantine restaurant is a certified Hollywood legend, on par with Fred Astaire, the Griffith Observatory, and that list of celebrities Lindsay Lohan has apparently hooked up with. It’s also an ideal birthday spot simply because their mezze plates are the stuff of wonder. Bright-red muhammara dip is flavored with peppers and pomegranate seeds; the falafel is cooked extra crispy and pairs perfectly with their creamy hummus; and the sugok - a slightly sweet Armenian sausage - is lemon-y, properly oily, and we tend to eat it like candy. Every dish is meant to be shared and also quite large, meaning even if your one friend who never responded to your invite shows up at the last minute, they’ll frankly be helping your cause.
It’s your former East Coast friend’s first birthday in LA, and she’s been missing NYC. The best plan of action? Buy her a big ol’ bag of bagels, jump on the Metro, and head to Majordomo. From the people behind all things Momofuku, Majordomo is massive, and the best dishes made to be shared. Focus on the sausage-stuffed peppers, bing (Chinese flatbread), and, since you’re celebrating, the giant plate of bone-in short ribs (just make sure to place your order for that one at least 24 hours in advance).
One could argue that this entirely outdoor Mexican barbecue restaurant in Frogtown was created solely with birthday dinners in mind. Long communal tables, a family-style shared menu, and excellent cocktails guarantee that no matter what sized group you roll in with, you’re in for a good time. Plus, the fact that it’s all outdoors also guarantees that you won’t be stuck in some sweaty booth all night. Order everything that comes with housemade tortillas.
This chaotic Italian spot is one of the loudest and most popular restaurants on the Westside. The cocktails are good - there’s one that looks like an Italian flag icee - and there’s always a rowdy crowd of people eating one of their baseball-sized arancini. Even your pickiest b-day guests (who you forgive because they actually showed up) will be happy with the menu, and you’ll be happy because there’s now a big outdoor side patio affording you even more room to spread out and get a little buzzed.
El Compadre, another classic spot right in Hollywood with a second location in Echo Park, is where you go for massive enchilada platters and margaritas that arrive at the table literally on fire. The expanded back patio is still somewhat limited on seats and given that it’s walk-ins only right now, definitely plan to wait a bit on the weekends. That said, you can always order a few rounds of flaming margaritas while you wait for your name to be called.