Are These L.A.’s Strictest Restaurants?

At these eateries, “no substitutions” is a way of life
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Last week, Urbanspoon released its national list of “America’s Strictest Restaurants”, which featured 35 establishment from across the country best known for not allowing customers to request changes or substitutions and other restrictions. The list—compiled based on user data, reviews, and “insider knowledge”—contained three L.A.-area restaurants: Father’s Office, Terroni, and The Back Abbey.

The first entry comes as no surprise. Sang Yoon’s popular gastropub is as famous for not offering ketchup with its french fries as it is for its juicy, onion-topped burger (which you can’t modify, by the way). Mid-City Italian favorite Terroni and The Back Abbey, a Belgium beer bar in downtown Claremont, both have similar policies that don’t allow customers to leave the sauce off their pasta or swap the aged gouda on their burger for cheddar. But in an age where countless restaurant menus now sport “no substitutions” policies proudly, is that alone enough to earn the title of strictest restaurant? We don’t think so. In fact, we can think of at least three local restaurants more deserving of the title.

3. Bucato
The fact that you can’t customize your pasta at this slavishly-authentic Culver City Italian restaurant isn’t surprising, considering the energy that chef Evan Funke and team put into rolling each noodle by hand (don’t even ask about gluten-free). But Bucato also discourages diners from photographing their food (it detracts from the immediacy of the experience) and only allows for same-day reservations via telephone (to discourage no-shows).

2. Gjelina
Venice hot spot Gjelina takes it’s seasonal-driven dishes seriously, as well as it’s firm no modifications policy. How seriously? In a well-publicized incident Victoria Beckham and Gordon Ramsay were denied a request to have their smoked trout salad with dressing on the side. In a city where restaurants are often known to bend over backwards for famous clientele, there’s a bit of comfort in knowing that Gjelina’s strict rules apply to everyone equally.

1. Nozawa Bar
L.A.’s popular Sugarfish sushi chain was practically founded on restrictions. Owner Kazunori Nozawa, the city’s original “Sushi Nazi,” developed a reputation at his now-closed Studio City restaurant for tossing out patrons that talked on their phone at the sushi bar, or who insisted on ordering teriyaki or tempura. His “Trust Me” legacy lives on at Nozawa Bar, a small 10-seat sushi bar in the back of Beverly Hills’ Sugarfish which offers an multi-course omakase priced at $150 a head, plus 18% service and 9% tax. Chef Osamu Fujita will treat you to one of the most impressive sushi meals you can experience in L.A., as long as you don’t require any modifications. Oh, and one more thing: If you cancel your reservation without 48 hours notice, you’ll be charged $100. No exceptions.

What L.A. restaurants do you think are the most strict? Tell us in the comments below!

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