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Where to Eat When You Don’t Want to Wait in Line: 5 Handy Restaurant Substitutions
Forget waiting an hour-plus at L.A.’s most popular restaurants. We’ve got substitutes
Let’s face it: Angelenos don’t like waiting in lines—especially when it comes time to eat. At crowded restaurants that don’t accept resrvations this can be a problem. Some days you can bear an hourlong wait for dim sum, but some days you just can’t.
If you don’t have hours to spare, we’ve provided underated alternatives to perpetually-packed restaurants which will allow you indulge your craving in a more reasonable time span. We’re not suggesting these swaps are superior, of course. As with most things in life, patience still has its rewards. But hey, it may end up saving your night.
Have any other hot tips? Feel free to share them in the comments.
Long wait at: The Boiling Crab
Why not try: The Shrimp Lover
Steamy bags of Cajun-seasoned seafood are a big draw at the Koreatown location of Boiling Crab, where waits of up to 90 minutes are common on weekends. At The Shrimp Lover—which boasts two locations in East Hollywood and one on Redondo Beach Pier—the waits are far lessing taxing, and you can still enjoy plastic bags of hot sauce-garlic-lemon-doused shrimp, crab, and crawfish by the pound. Plus, there’s Thai food and Phuket beer on the menu. It’s an unabashed knock-off of Boiling Crab, sure, but a worthy one at that.
Long wait at: Sushi Gen
Why not try: Hama Sushi
If you’ve spend much time in Little Tokyo during lunch (or dinner), you’ll be familiar with the sight of sushi fans queuing up for bargain-priced chirashi bowls at this iconic sushi bar. If the wait for a seat seems to intimidating, sneak down to 2nd St. where the much more sedate Hama Sushi offers comparable-quality sashimi combo specials, fat spicy tuna hand rolls, and plates of seared albacore with green onion in ponzu. Not bad for a power lunch.
Long wait at: Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Why not try: Ahgassi Gopchang
Korean comedian-turned-restaurateur Kang Ho Dong has been packing them at his Koreatown BBQ restaurant, where you can find thick cuts of pork belly and well-marbled galbi cooked over a tableside grills. With no reservations, hour-long waits seem to be the standard here at night. But here’s a secret: Aghassi Gopchang, a mere four blocks away, is owned by the same company as Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. They specialize in grilled intestine (gopchang), but also offer the same standard pork and beef cuts as their sister restaurants. If you’re not too intimidated by offal cuts, you can save an hour or two in wait time.
Long wait at: Chengdu Taste
Why not try: Chongqing Restaurant
The lengthy lines for a table at this Sichuan specialist in Alhambra are legendary. On occasion, staff has been know to hand out water bottles and snacks to those enduring the wait. If that doesn’t sound too appealing, don't fret. There are plenty of options for stellar Sichuan cooking nearby. One is the brand new Chongqing Restaurant in nearby San Gabriel, where you’ll find flavorful dishes like “boiled fish” with pepper sauce and cumin-dusted mutton. In a morally questionable (yet enticing) move, they’ll give you a free bowl of spicy mung bean noodles if you submit a 5-star review on their Yelp page.
Long wait at: Tsujita L.A./Tsujita Annex
Why not try: Tatsu Ramen
There are no shortage of ramen options along Sawtelle Boulevard in West L.A.’s Little Osaka neighborhood. Casting over a shadow over all of them, though, is the formidable duo of Tsujita and Tsujita Annex, both which serve a distinct style of ramen to hungry crowds. If you’re in a hurry, though, there are far worse options than Tatsu, located one block over. The non-traditional ground beef and chashu-topped “Soul Ramen” is extremely hearty, many toppings are offered gratis, and ordering is down via an iPad, which speeds up the process quite nicely.
The Shrimp Lover, 5112 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood, 323-668-9113
Hama Sushi, 347 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo, 213-680-3454
Ahgassi Gopchang, 3744 W. 6th St., Koreatown, 213-249-9678
Chongqing Restaurant, 227 W. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel, 626-281-1898
Tatsu Ramen, 2123 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A., 310-684-2889