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Restaurant surcharges, reservation fees and more dining trends

New smartphone apps allow diners to maker dinner reservations for a fee of up to $30

Going out to dinner isn't as simple as it used to be. Just ask anyone trying to make a last-minute reservation at top restaurants such as Bestia or order tickets to dine at Trois Mec.

We're seeing more smartphone apps for fee-based reservations, surcharges on guest checks all over the city, an increase in prix fixe-only spots and a lottery system that is creating golden restaurant tickets. Here's a look at the new world order of Los Angeles dining and what might be coming in the near future. Pay attention, or you may go hungry.

Apps: In just the last six months, we've seen an influx of reservation apps, including Table 8, Resy and Reserve, that allow diners to purchase restaurant reservations for $5 to $30. As more restaurants partner with pay-to-reserve apps, those looking for an old-fashioned free reservation may be out of luck.

Prix fixe only: More restaurants are adopting prix fixe-only menus, including Le Comptoir, Maude, Orsa & Winston, Trois Mec and Alma. These are highly curated menus by exceptional chefs, asking you to trust them when it comes to your dinner.

Surcharges: A 3% surcharge is appearing on a growing number of guest checks throughout the city. It's meant to help cover the cost of employee healthcare. If customers don't want to pay, they can subtract 3% from their tip percentages or, in some cases, ask to have the charge removed.

Ticketed dinners: Trois Mec, with its lottery-ticketed dinners and the Nice Guy, a new reservation-only spot, are building a sort of members-only, exclusive dining club. And don't expect to be able to pay for a last-minute reservation with one of those handy apps. Will more restaurants follow suit?

Coming up: In the next five years, expect to see more chefs taking a stand with your dinner. Instead of experimenting in the nightly specials, some restaurants will experience a little split personality disorder. Expect chefs hosting their own pop-ups, within their restaurants, to switch things up for extended periods of time. And look out for Roy Choi being the first of many well-regarded chefs to tackle the world of fast food.


Twitter: Jenn_Harris_

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