What is the deal with the lack of great service in LA?

So I went to Birch a couple of weeks ago and had a great experience there. The food was on point and my party of 8 had a great time. What stood out though were the exemplary attention to detail and recommendations by our server Paul who performed wonderfully and really enhanced the experience.

I know I’m generalizing but great service isn’t the norm here like it is in other culinary meccas esepcially like in Chicago, NYC and New Orleans. The chains here tend to hire young energetic servers/hostesses but are vastly inexperienced. The trendy upscale restaurants tend to hire between work writers and actresses who tend to view waitering/waitressing/hostessing as more of a side or temporary gig. Even most of the sushi restaurants here tend to hire young students who have no clue what they are doing and although I’m generally very patient, I yearn for the days when service was a craft and a true vocation.

Now my question is why isn’t great service mandatory and common in LA? You rarely see lifers who are truly dedicated as if it were a craft. Is it the restaurants fault for hiring eye candy merely for the possibility of a restaurant romance hoping that their patrons would turn a blind eye to their ineptness because they are attractive. The lack of a livable wage? I’m just curious to what everyone’s thoughts are so that we can convey this to the GM/owners of these restaurants and hopefully find a remedy to a big problem I see in LA dining.

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Most servers are doing that on the side while their main goal is to make it as comedians / actors / pop singers / script writers / etc.?

The upside I found is that you can get really good tips on where to go see comedy etc.


I didn’t find the service in Chicago or NO to be any better than LA when comparing hipster restaurant to hipster restaurant and high end to high end.

In fact the service at Tru was maybe a notch down from Providence. Herbsaint was spotty. Good on one visit and really slow and borderline negligent on a more recent visit. Service at Redbird has been better on every visit.

NYC is the the only one where I find the service a cut above them all on the high end (eg Per Se> TFL)

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Probably because NY has a deeply entrenched professional cum career waiter scene.

And yes LA is still the land of the waiter/wannabe actor except for a couple scattered joints.

Best service I’ve had in LA were at both Craft and Maude.

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I have had really good service at most of the Craft empire restaurants.

On a related story, my brother is a complimentary bread aficionado, and while eating at Babbo, the bread guy delivered a piece of bread to him 11 times during our tasting meal. :joy: A true sign of great service.


Christina @ Redbird is TOP NOTCH.

I’ve also received impeccable service at Scarpetta in BH from everyone there.

One thing I’ve noticed, and appreciated at Scarpetta, is in the dozen or so times I’ve been over the years the faces are always recognizable. There appears to be very little, if any, ‘turn-over’. To me that says a lot. That tells me the staff are making good money and the restaurant is taking care of them. They genuinely seem to enjoy what they do. I can get behind that.

I can go in and point out each server that served me on each visit. The sevice was THAT good and memorable.

+1 on retention.

You need to go to Chinese restaurants.

They have the best service.

Trained by Shaolin kung-fu monks.


Don’t need to worry about the clam chowder with them

i’m agreeing with porthos here. i don’t notice any difference in general
in service between cities.
i’m not speaking necessarily of the ultra high end.

It’s very true. Like they can’t be bothered and are annoyed to be there. I love good food and will forgive ok food if the service is exemplary. I’ve had some bizarre service in LA (Bucato, Bestia).

And then there’s the:
“Have you been here before” (does it matter?)
“Let me explain the menu to you” (do I look like I’ve never eaten in a restaurant?)
“We suggest you order 3-4 plates per person” (I’m not THAT chunky, but thanks)
“The chef will course this out for you” (I’d like my salad before my entree but you’re not going to do that, are you?)

Maude had the best service anywhere in LA, Scarpetta a very close second. Osteria Mozza amazing. Redbird was good but when it came time to argue the 3% service charge, it got not so good.

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Had this asked at Publican in Chicago, The Progress in SF, Momofuku Ssam Bar, etc. so it’s not unique to LA. It has to do with the genre of the restaurant.

Probably because the waiters don’t make that decision. Not sure what you expected them to do. Waive it just for you?


We were working with the managers at Redbird on this. The waiter was outstanding and compensated in kind.

I sometimes wish waiters would ask this more often.

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This covers all of the above: Dropout - Independent, ad-free, uncensored comedy.

I dont see the problem usually. Most places I frequent have very good service, perhaps thats why I go back. That said:

Chi Spacca
Dan Tana’s
and most other places I treat the servers warmly provide good to exceptional service. This in not to say there are not others: Fig & Olive that are horrible and can ruin a meal, but I dont find it a major issues in LA.

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Tanas ??? Great fucking service ???

Really ???

I love the service at Tana’s. Almost always the same waiter. While they have an attitude its part of the shtickt.

And that aint no fucking joke.

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And impeccable work at the bar.