Los Angeles

Photo courtesy Pixel That! Photography

The One Who Keeps the BookLos Angeles

How to Get Into Vibrato, and What to Order Once You’re There

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Tucked in the hills above Bel Air, Beverly Glen is one of those pockets of Los Angeles that most people rarely visit or even pass through, which gives a place like Vibrato Grill & Jazz an air of exclusivity. In truth, it’s open to all, or at least all who appreciate its musical heritage and incredible live performances. 

While primarily a spot for dinner and a show, Vibrato also plays host to a deep bench of regulars, and is poised as an equally ideal pit stop for happy hour or a nightcap. That’s what makes it one of the most unique experiences in town. “We call it Away L.A., because you’re in L.A., but you feel like you’re somewhere else,” says managing partner Eden Alpert, daughter of owner and famed trumpeter Herb Alpert. “It’s like a musical ‘Cheers’ some nights.”

General manager J.J. Weiner runs the day-to-day, ensuring a smooth transition between shows, and making sure everyone can find space to enjoy their evening. It does take some effort — most nights, you’ll need both a reservation and tickets, so booking ahead is key.

And that’s where we come in. Welcome back to The One Who Keeps The Book, a regular series that aims to answer all the most important questions about how to get into a restaurant. The first answer is Resy, of course. But every restaurant manages its tables differently, and there are always tips, tricks, and shortcuts to be discovered. So here, we go straight to the source to get them for you.

At Vibrato, Weiner and Alpert walk us through their favorite dishes and give us all the insider knowledge you need to snag a coveted table.

Photo courtesy Pixel That! Photography
Photo courtesy Pixel That! Photography

How many seats are there at Vibrato?

Weiner: We have four different seating areas. The main dining room seats about 100, then  there’s seating along the balcony rail for up to 40 guests, which is marked as Balcony Preferred Seating on Resy. And our bar area seats approximately 20, with good proximity to the music. There’s also the V Lounge upstairs, which is a nice area for private events. When there isn’t an event, we’ll use it for overflow. But seats there have an obstructed view of the stage.

When do reservations drop on Resy?

One month in advance. On the first of March, April opens up. We try to publish the music calendar at the same time we open reservations on Resy, but it’s a strange time right now. In the past we booked out music two months in advance, but we’ve had to make changes. The full music calendar is always live on the website. 

Do guests need tickets for that night’s entertainment?

Yes, tickets are sold separately. We take advantage of the events portal on Resy for those. So for any night, guests buy tickets for the show, and it automatically includes a dinner reservation. You have the choice of table seating or balcony seating. Prepaid tickets range from $25 to $75, depending on the artist, and all ticket sales go directly to the musicians. Food and beverage is separate, and there’s a $45 minimum required at the tables. If you want preferred seating in the dining room, you always need to buy a ticket. It’s important to note that when you book a table reservation, it defaults to two guests. But to buy tickets, you need to select how many tickets per person first.

Parker House rolls Photo courtesy of Vibrato Grill & Jazz
Parker House rolls Photo courtesy of Vibrato Grill & Jazz

How quickly do seats typically get booked out?

Pretty quickly! But because of the pandemic, we always seem to have seats open up at the last minute. Although most nights tend to fill up. We don’t usually tell guests we’re sold out, we always try to use the Notify list on Resy. We really try to accommodate everyone.

Are any of the seats in the restaurant held for walk-ins?

The bar and the V lounge are our overflow space. The bar is generally for walk-ins, although some nights we can seat people in the lounge. But these can be really limited as it’s pretty much a packed house every night. If we sell everything, even the obstructed view seats, sometimes we can’t keep anything open for walk-ins. But times have changed and we do get cancellations. 

What is the typical wait time for a walk-in?

That’s hard to say because the way we’re structured, we don’t turn the room on most nights. When you book a table for dinner and a show, and it’s only one show, you could come and be here all night. There’s really no waiting for a table, we’re not kicking anybody out. We have two shows on Friday and Saturday nights, so the tables do turn then. But because all of that is reserved, those nights are toughest for walk-ins.

How long is your Notify list on average?

It really varies day to day. When Taylor Dayne performed, our Notify list was well over 100 people. On an average night we might have 20 to 30 guests who want to know if anything opens up. 

Can you book tables for larger groups?

On Resy, we seat our largest table for 12. After that, you need to call the restaurant directly. 

New Bedford scallops Photo courtesy of Vibrato Grill & Jazz
New Bedford scallops Photo courtesy of Vibrato Grill & Jazz

Are there any other ways to snag a table?

Weiner: You can call Eden [laughs]. 

Alpert: It’s true! Too many people have my number. But I’m really trying to direct people to book on Resy.

Weiner: During the week, there are some nights we can get an extra table in. I tell guests who really want to come in, if there’s a will there’s a way. At the very least we can accommodate you at the bar. We’re a destination location. You’re here because you want to experience something special, and you have to put a little effort into it. I also suggest following us on Instagram for upcoming events, and snagging tickets really early. 

In your opinion, what’s the best seat in the house?

Weiner: Our most popular seats are the sweetheart tables, little mini booths where you sit side by side facing the stage. That’s where everyone wants to sit. We’ve been marketing those as VIP preferred seating. We also have a beautiful fireplace area. The owner’s booth, a little off to the side and hidden, is where celebrities like to sit.

Alpert: There’s no bad table! It’s in a horseshoe, every seat in the house is perfect.

Can people request specific tables?

Weiner: They can, and we do our best to accommodate that. We only have so many tables, but we try. 

When is Vibrato least and most busy?

Our business isn’t dictated by day of the week, it’s driven more by the artist and demand to see them. Weekdays are often just as popular as Saturdays. Sometimes it’s harder to snag a table on a Tuesday. 

It’s Friday night at 7 p.m. Can you set the scene?

Shows start at 7 p.m., and we open the doors at 5:30 p.m. Guests can come to the bar first for a pre-dinner martini or glass of wine. Seating starts at 6 p.m., and by then, the lights have been set, there’s music in the background — probably something by Herb Alpert. The stage is all lit up, the piano is glistening in the lights. The early show might be a little more subdued; artists tend to kick things up later in the night. The later seating attracts a younger crowd. It’s not trendy here. It’s timeless. We’re not trying to be the next hot spot in Hollywood. We stay true to our roots.

Strawberry tart Photo courtesy Vibrato Grill & Jazz
Strawberry tart Photo courtesy Vibrato Grill & Jazz

What kind of music do you play inside the restaurant?

Alpert: It’s not just jazz. We’re jazz, big band, pop, R&B, we’ve even had opera sometimes. We’re a spectrum. Recently we had Wayne Brady and Taylor Dayne. One of our most popular bands is Dear Amy, an Amy Winehouse tribute band. Seth MacFarland and his 18-piece band play sometimes. Macy Gray has been calling me to come in. 

What should someone order from the menu?

Alpert: We’ve always been famous for our steaks, but our seafood is also great. The lamb lollipop dish is a staple, and we’ll always keep it on the menu. Our ahi tacos are something I order for friends all the time. Even our wedge salad isn’t basic.

Weiner: We have a wagyu rib eye that just melts in your mouth. It’s very marbled and decadent. Our Feel the Beet salad is a fun twist with chevre, pistachio, and citrus. It’s a piece of art. On our bar menu, our sliders are made with the trimmings from our prime tenderloin and New York steaks. That’s why they taste so great. The pastas are homemade, like the tagliatelle with lobster and shrimp. It’s phenomenal. The scallops, too.

Alpert: And our shrimp cocktail. We also make our own bread in-house—don’t miss our Parker House rolls. 

Weiner: All of our cocktails are named after Herb’s songs. The Lollipop and Roses has Rives pink strawberry gin, prickly pear, and prosecco, with rose crystals on top, is named after one of his hits.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Weiner: People should know how much the artists love performing here. It’s special for the guests, but also for them. You never know who might hop on stage. It’s a special place.