Angelenos have become as accustomed to waiting for a table at a restaurant as they are to sitting in traffic on the freeway. When you're in the mood for that one dish or absolutely have to try that new hot spot before your coworker does, it's something that has to be done. But waiting for a table doesn't always have to be a pull-my-hair-out-I-could-do-something-illegal-I'm-so-hungry time. It can actually be fun, and even a little productive. Especially if you don't spend that time drooling in envy over the plates on seated diners' tables.
Here's a list of things to do while waiting for a table at some restaurants notorious for their wait times.
Newport Seafood: It may seem like no matter what time you show up there are people fillng the indoor waiting area and sitting outside, usually in large families, waiting for a table. It should also be noted that the parking lot is a demolition derby. But sometimes you just have to have that house special lobster. The next time you go, park on the street, put your name down, then cross the street to the Mitsuwa Marketplace. The Japanese market is full of every Calbee brand snack you can dream of -- think shrimp chips, lobster chips and all variety of corn-based crunch balls -- sakes and more. Grab a couple of things for the road and maybe a bag of seaweed to munch on as an appetizer. The market is open daily until 8 p.m.
Newport Seafood, 518 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, (626) 289-5998, newportseafood.com
Mitsuwa Marketplace, 515 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, (626) 457-2899, mitsuwa.com
Connie and Ted's: Michael Cimarusti's new seafood shack is one of the hottest reservations in town. If you show up at the West Hollywood restaurant without one you will be doomed to more than an hour of boredom and a serious susceptibility to the nickname "Grumps" amongst your friends. Instead of standing around hungry, walk down the block to The Hudson. They've got an old-school photo booth perfect for killing some time taking goofy pictures with your friends or a date. They've also got $3 beers and well drinks during happy hour daily from 4 to 7 p.m.
Connie and Ted's, 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-2722, connieandteds.com
The Hudson, 1114 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 654-6686, thehudsonla.com
Daikokuya, Little Tokyo: There is no magic time to get a table at Daikokuya. Whether it's 4:30 in the afternoon or after midnight, there's a wait spilling out the door. But the best part about the Little Tokyo location of the ramen chain is that it's in Little Tokyo, across the street from the Japanese Village Plaza mall, home to some small boutiques, a market, Cafe Dulce bakery and a Mitsuru Cafe where you can pick up some Imagawayaki (Japanese griddle cakes filled with sweet bean paste) to nosh on after your ramen.
Daikokuya, 327 E. 1st St., Los Angeles, (213) 626-1680, daikoku-ten.com
Mitsuru Cafe, 117 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, (213) 613-1028
Casa Bianca: Huddling under the restaurant's neon pizza pie sign while you wait for a table is a necessary ritual. And it's always made worse by the smell of bubbly pizza crust and tomato sauce wafting out of the joint every time someone opens the door. It's enough to make someone angry. For a little sensory relief you can head across the street to Permanent Records store, where you can drown your pizza woes in bins of vinyls. The staff is eager to talk music and make suggestions, and they tend to have a good sense of humor. A "sorry we're drunk" sign has been spotted in place of a "sorry we're closed" in the window.
Casa Bianca, 1650 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 256-9617, casabiancapizza.com
Permanent Records, 1583 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 739-6141, permanentrecords.com
Boiling Crab, Koreatown: This place can only be described as a hot mess. Any night of the week it's packed, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how names are called on the wait list. The only thing you can count on is waiting at least an hour. Regulars know that instead of pacing around in front of the restaurant, tell the hostess you'll be next door at "Home" and she'll know what you're talking about. "Home" refers to Cafe Home, a restaurant located all of two seconds across the plaza from Boiling Crab. They've got free popcorn, TVs, including a giant screen that plays whatever big game is on that day, and a ton of old-school board games and Jenga. You can also grab a beer, glass of wine or boba tea drink. When your table is ready, the host from Boiling Crab will come over to get you. You can also order your food from Boiling Crab to go and bring it over to Cafe Home to eat it.
The Boiling Crab, 3377 Wilshire Blvd., No. 115, Los Angeles, (213) 389-2722, boilingcrab.com
Cafe Home, 3377 Wilshire Blvd., No. 108, Los Angeles, (213) 383-0102
Pink's hot dogs: It's a Los Angeles institution that's as famous for its wraparound lines as it is for its hot dogs. Sure it's packed every day, at all hours of the day, but sometimes another dog won't do. When that happens designate one person willing to take one for the team to wait in line and offer to buy him or her a hot dog. Then walk up the street to Jet Rag clothing store. Try on a bunch of random items for a movie costume montage. Just think that scene with Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate in "The Sweetest Thing" and you're all set. Make sure to take pictures to send to the poor sap waiting back at Pink's for a little in-line entertainment.
Pink's Hot Dogs, 709 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 931-7594 pinkshollywood.com
Jet Rag, 825 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 939-0528
Kang Hodong Baekjeong: If you happen to get a craving for this Korean BBQ spot's samgyeopsal (pork belly) on a weekend, you're in for a two-hour wait. When that craving hits put your name down then head out of the Chapman Market where the restaurant is located, past the glow of the year-round Christmas lights surrounding the plaza, and walk straight to White Cafe & Karaoke across the street. Rent a room for an hour and spend it belting out your own renditions of "Lady Marmalade." "Don't Stop Believin' " and "Billie Jean." If you get thirsty, walk back across the street to the Bohemian restaurant for a couple of bottles of soju to prep your appetite for the meat overload that's about to happen.
Kang Hodong Baekjeong, 3465 W. 6th St., Suite 20, Los Angeles, (213) 384-9678
White Cafe and Karaoke, 3450 W. 6th St. No. 102, Los Angeles, (213) 487-4876
Bohemian Restaurant, 3451 W 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 487-6155