It isn’t always easy to understand the hours-long wait that hungry diners endure just to claim their seat at a restaurant. However, there are plenty of eateries in LA with such die-hard cult followings that snaking lines become a fixture outside of the establishment, only to be considered a part of the experience. From the two-hour-plus wait that comes with hot chicken mania to the city’s favorite drunk eats, here are the most popular restaurants in Los Angeles, ranked by peak wait times (by Eater’s estimation).Read More
The Most Popular Restaurants in LA, Ranked by Wait Times
LA’s cult classics
1. Howlin' Ray's — 2+ hours
There is no longer wait in Los Angeles than for Chinatown’s Howlin’ Ray’s. It is difficult to explain the mania that surrounds the masochistically delicious hot chicken until one has tried it for themselves, and likely returns for the afternoon-long wait.
2. Din Tai Fung — 1 hour 30 minutes
Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung has found a killer niche in malls across Los Angeles, as hungry shoppers and xiao long bao addicts will wait well over an hour for their chance to pop juicy pork dumplings.
3. Eggslut — 1 hour
Los Angeles, CA
While there are many terrific options within Grand Central Market, none come close to nearing the hype of Eggslut, where it is nearly impossible to get an admittedly delicious egg sandwich in less than an hour.
4. Pink's Hot Dogs — 1 hour
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the cult status of Pink’s, a major tourist destination thanks to the signed celebrity headshots on the walls and monstrous hot dogs that can only be consumed with a fork and knife.
5. SUGARFISH — 1 hour
Is there a better price to quality ratio in all of Los Angeles than chef Nozawa’s “Trust Me?” Probably not, which explains the unrelenting wait times at all locations of the expanding sushi empire.
6. Sun Nong Dan — 1 hour
David Chang is a leader of the Sun Nong Dan bandwagon, as the founder of the Momofuku empire is known to visit the Koreatown restaurant several times during each stay in Los Angeles. It isn’t hard to understand why, as the bubbling pots of spicy braised beef, or galbi jjim, turns first timers into loyal fans.
7. Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle — 1 hour
Yes, chances are there will be an hour plus wait for the opportunity to slurp LA’s most beloved noodles. But the cult following for Tsujita’s tsukemen, aka dip ramen, is for good reason, as the process of dunking noodles into the sinfully fatty broth becomes a ritual that begs repeating. The wait is equally disheartening at the ANNEX across the street.
8. Daikokuya — 45 minutes
Thankfully there are plenty of cutesy shops in Little Tokyo that help pass the time while ramen fanatics wait for their names to be called off of Daikokuya’s unfortunately long wait list.
9. Hangari Bajirak Kalguksoo — 45 minutes
Los Angeles, CA
The no-longer-under-the-radar Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo currently sports lines that rival its neighbor Sun Nong Dan. Thankfully, the blogger darling recently expanded, taking over the neighboring location to serve its eponymous soup, kalgooksoo, to the masses. The rich chicken broth that surrounds thick knife-cut noodles is denser and starchier than most, making it a hearty meal when you need something to stick to your ribs.
10. Sqirl Kitchen — 45 minutes
Sqirl is no stranger to serious hype, as the Silver Lake eatery has graced the pages of nearly every local and national restaurant publication. Come in any day of the week and expect to wait the larger portion of an hour for Jessica Koslow’s acclaimed brioche toast and sorrel pesto rice bowls.
11. The Griddle Cafe — 45 minutes
There’s little question The Griddle is LA’s king of pancakes. Come for the frisbee-sized flapjacks with a slew of outrageous toppings, but be prepared to wait in the line that stretches a full block of Sunset Boulevard.
12. In-N-Out Burger — 30 minutes
Little needs to be said about the loyal following for Southern California’s very own In-N-Out, which garners at least 30 minute drive-thru waits at every location anytime near lunchtime hours.
13. Saigon Dish — 30 minutes
Drive past this Lawndale strip mall gem around lunchtime, and there will probably be a line out the door for this South Bay cult favorite. While the pho broth boasts clean flavors and the Saturday special shrimp crepe merits a dedicated weekend visit alone, the loyal following is mostly thanks to the extraordinary hospitality by the proprietor John, who greets everyone with warmth and remembers the order of every regular.
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14. Tito's Tacos — 30 minutes
While not everyone understands the love for Westside icon Tito’s Tacos, the dedicated following for its crunchy tacos and hefty bean burritos is undeniable.
15. Uncle Bill's Pancake House — 30 minutes
There’s nothing quite like the quaint beach bungalow-turned pancake house Uncle Bill’s. The Manhattan Beach mainstay is quite the local hangout, with serious weekend lines. But when flapjacks come with ocean views, who can really complain.
16. Donut Friend — 30 minutes
Build-your-own doughnut or selected from signature compilations at beloved Highland Park sweet shop Donut Friend. Just don’t take too long to build each order, as the lines grows hangrier by the minute.
17. The Apple Pan — 30 minutes
This LA icon has been hawking classic diner fare since 1947, and the wait times for the restaurant’s signature hickory burger and old fashioned slices of pie haven’t changed much since then.
18. Luv2eat Thai Bistro — 20 minutes
Breakout strip mall star Luv2eat is busier than ever, with Hollywood denizens lining up for one of the area’s best lunch gems. That’s because Phuket natives Noree Pla and Fern Kaewtathip have been turning out blazing hot, masochistically delicious curries and noodles that have been at the receiving end of much well-deserved praise. Don’t skip the Phuket-style crab curry and ferociously hot papaya salad.
19. Leo's Tacos Truck — 20 minutes
Peak hours for taco truck legend Leo’s Tacos stretch from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., when weekend warriors wait in a snaking line to get some of the best drunk eats in the city thanks to the wallet-friendly al pastor tacos that help soak up a night of excess. Bonus point for quick service despite the less-than-sober masses.