Is it possible that everyone in L.A. is vacationing in Tulum right now, or are they all just dining at Ka’teen? Opened at the tail end of 2021, this Yucatan-inspired hideaway is a partnership between chef Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos, Angry Egrett Dinette) and Ten Five Hospitality, whose other two restaurants, Mother Wolf and Mes Amis, have turned a single block in Hollywood into arguably L.A.’s hottest dining district.
Ka’teen’s lush, jungle-esque outdoor dining room, coastal Mexican-style menu, and abundance of festive cocktails means that snagging a spot for dinner can be a challenge. The good news? For this installment of The One Who Keeps The Book, we talk to Ten Five’s managing partner of food and beverage, Giancarlo Pagani, who gives some all-important tips, like the best time to book, and what to order once you’re there.
Resy: When do reservations drop on Resy?
Pagani: They drop at midnight and book 14 days out.
How many seats does Ka’teen have?
About 120 seats. The restaurant is primarily outdoors. Our main dining area is covered, but it’s open to the elements on the sides. We also have a palapa-style bar in the outdoor area, which adds an additional 12 seats.
Can larger tables book a reservation?
We’ll book parties for up to eight online. After that, guests need to call or email through the website. Our reservations team is very quick to respond to any request.
What are your busiest and least busy times?
We’re busy all the time, thankfully, but most busy Thursday through Saturday nights. The dining area is pretty much always full. On the weekends we get a larger bar crowd.
Are there certain days where there’s a better chance to get a reservation?
We just added Sundays, which aren’t as busy yet. If someone can’t get in on the other days, that’s what I’d aim for.
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Are any seats held for walk-ins? If so, what’s the typical wait time?
We have about 20 seats in the lounge reserved for walk-ins. Those are busy on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and we often have a queue at the entrance. The wait could be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Of course, anyone can walk in any day of the week, and we’ll do our best to accommodate them. If you’re going to walk in, I’d be here by 6 p.m. when we open.
How long is your Notify list?
The Notify list goes into the hundreds pretty much every single night. But the chances are high to get a table from that; we do get cancellations. The team starts looking at that night’s list around 2 p.m. day of. If you’re calling in, call around that time to check for a cancellation.
Any other tricks to getting a table/seat?
Really, just walk in. We’ll always be able to get you into the lounge, it just depends on the wait. The wait is minimal on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Can you wait at the other Ten Five restaurants?
Yes! The benefit of having all three restaurants on the same block is you can wait at any of our bars and you’ll get a text through Resy that your table is ready. We also have two beautiful rooftops open for cocktails in the neighborhood, Bar Lis and Desert 5 Spot.
What’s the best seat in the house?
My favorites are the tables next to the fireplace that separates the dining area and lounge, so you can access it from either room. On the dining room side, it’s cozy, with great sightlines into the restaurant. In the lounge, it just adds a certain element that’s so inviting.
Can guests request a specific table?
They can request, and we do our best to accommodate. But it’s difficult for us to guarantee tables.
It’s Friday night at 7 p.m. Set the scene for me.
It’s busy, vibrant. You truly feel like you’ve been transported to the jungles of Tulum. We play a lot of very cool deep house music in the background. The crowd is a mix of fans of chef Avila’s cooking and people just going out for a good time in Hollywood, and it all meshes well. It’s difficult not to have a good time here, I think.
How would you describe the menu?
Yucatan and coastal Mexican cuisine that’s really centered around a communal experience where things are meant to be shared. All of our entrees are served with tortillas and different salsas. You’re building your tacos throughout the night, and it really becomes a conversation starter. We wanted to design an experience that’s just comfortable and relaxed, with great food and cocktails.
What are some popular dishes? What should I order?
I’d say the sleeper menu item that you shouldn’t miss out on is the quesadilla. It’s served open-faced with vegetables from the farmers market, crisp Oaxacan cheese, and topped with an egg. It’s so flavor-packed. One of my personal favorite dishes to share is the lamb neck barbacoa. It falls off the bone and is served with this fantastic carrot habanero salsa. And I think we have spectacular Baja-style fish tacos with beer-battered cod, chipotle cream, and pico de gallo. They’re as good if not better than what you’d get in Baja.
Does the menu change at all?
We do run specials, and we are making seasonal updates. Right now, we’re working on adding a grilled blue prawns dish for summer.
Any other tips or tricks for making the most out of a night at Ka’teen?
Ka’teen is one of those places that’s just more fun if you come with a large group and order a bunch of food and cocktails. It feels like a family dinner at home where the conversation is fun, the energy is great, and you get to try as much food as possible.
Lesley Balla writes about restaurants, travel, wine, and more. You’ll find her work in publications including Los Angeles Magazine, Angeleno, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Seattle Times. In a previous life she was the L.A. editor for Zagat and Eater. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Resy, too.