When Avish Naran was gearing up to open Pijja Palace, his exceedingly popular Indian sports bar in Silver Lake, he faced a lot of pushback. As he was pitching the concept and trying to find a chef (eventually finding an excellent match in Miles Shorey), many people didn’t get it. They thought it was too ambitious and experimental.
Now, everyone who’s visited raves about the malai rigatoni, the spirited game-day atmosphere, and the creative cocktail list. Nabbing a Resy for a prime-time table has become a sport in and of itself.
But the last thing Naran and his team want is for Pijja Palace to feel exclusive or pretentious. They say they want everyone to enjoy the space, from Dodgers and Knicks fans to L.A.’s Indian community. The food here is unique yet comforting, with a distinct point of view. There are wings, sliders, tenders, thin-crust pizzas, pasta, and soft serve, all done with an Indian spin — and the kitchen doesn’t shy away from spice. Haven’t been yet? Don’t let rumors of long waits and tough tables scare you off.
In this installment of The One Who Keeps The Book, we sat down with Naran to get the intel you need to experience Pijja Palace palace in all its glory, starting with the most important step: how to get in.
Resy: When do reservations go online?
Avish Naran: We’re closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but hypothetically speaking, if you wanted to get a reservation for next Tuesday, at 12 a.m. on the previous Tuesday is when you would get that reservation.
So a week out.
Yeah. And the reason we do that is just that there’s not really a sports bar that takes reservations. We had to start calibrating our Resy times because people want to stay and watch their whole game.
How quickly are they usually snatched up?
I wake up and the books are full, so usually overnight they’re gone.
How many seats does Pijja Palace have in total?
We have around 80. We’re not a huge restaurant.
Are all of those seats bookable on Resy? Do you leave the bar open for walk-ins?
The bar is first come, first served. And then we do also save a couple of tables for walk-ins.
If someone was planning to walk in, what time and day of the week would they have the most luck?
Probably Wednesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. If you come right at 5 we’ll seat you because we have space. Also, nobody will be at the bar yet.
When people show up at 7 p.m. to put their names down, what is the average wait time?
It depends on the day. We’ve seen people wait around for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. We’re not like a lot of restaurants where they impose a fee if you bail on your reservation. We haven’t started doing that yet. So it varies. We’ll have a ton of people cancel on Resy on Sundays. A reservation that does have that fee usually tends to get everybody to show up. I’m trying not to be that restaurant, but if people keep bailing, I’m going to do it. The easiest thing you can do is just go on your Resy app, and say you’re not coming. When Resy sends [a confirmation text], just reply 1 or 9.
How long is your Notify list?
We’ve seen up to 500. We only take reservations on a weekly basis, so it doesn’t get to like Horses level.
Are there certain nights that someone would be most likely to get a Notify alert?
Maybe Friday or Saturday, because we are open an hour later and we are able to accommodate those extra couple of tables.
Are there any other tricks or behavioral tips for getting a table?
Get to know the staff. We’re trying to be that family, neighborhood joint. That’s what we’ve been trying to be from the start. If you consistently come here, if you become our homie, we’ll get you in. Talk to us, and don’t be some little TikTok b-tch. We’re real folks.
What do you think is the best seat in the house?
If I’m with a group of four, table 22. It’s one of our green tops in the center of the restaurant and near a bunch of TVs. But if it’s a table of two, 44, which is by the host stand on its own solo island.
It’s Friday night at Pijja Palace. Set the scene: what music are you playing, what game might be on, and what dish is on every table?
We’re always playing hip-hop. There’s always a malai rigatoni on the table. A lot of people go to restaurants because the food is great, and I like to think the food is good at Pijja Palace, but also people are coming to watch the game. There are not a lot of Indian restaurants that are doing wacky s–t in L.A., so a lot of the Indian crowd comes here. A lot of people who have seen the press, and a younger crowd comes here because the food’s approachable. The flavors are different. There are so many groups of people that are coming here for different reasons, and I feel like that’s why we’re so busy.
For games, we’ll play anything. Basketball, football. If we have the channel we’ll play it. We had a request to play women’s lacrosse once because it was the championship. If there’s something you want to watch, send us an email, and we’ll get the package.
Is there diversity in terms of people coming in to watch certain games, or have you amassed a strong Dodgers crowd, for example?
The two days where I felt like holy s–t, this is a real sports bar, was during the NBA Finals during the whole Warriors run. And when people came to watch Serena [Williams during her final U.S. Open match]. I didn’t even know we were going to have that tennis crowd. She lost but I mean, hey, they showed up for her.
How do you suggest people approach your fairly large menu?
Just go with your gut. We’re trying to cross a bunch of Venn diagrams at Pijja Palace. What is going to taste good for our peers, for cooks? But also what’s going to taste good for people who don’t cook, or for people who don’t have a ton of money to spend? If you’re coming in here for the first time, our best-selling items are dosa onion rings, malai rigatoni, and green chutney pijja. We recently added a couple of things. Our new green tikka pijja is doing well, our new Nihari lamb dish is doing really well.
Are there any dishes that people are sleeping on?
Definitely. I think our kesar [shells & cheese] is really good. And our sliders are great.
What else about the Pijja Palace experience should people know about?
We’ll grow and change the menu all of the time. It’s just a huge fun art project. We’re planning on opening up brunch with a different menu, and we’re thinking about doing a Monday/Tuesday speakeasy. We made a different delivery program just because we wanted to.
Emily Wilson is a Los Angeles-based food writer from New York. She has contributed to Bon Appétit, Eater, TASTE, The Los Angeles Times, Punch, Atlas Obscura, and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Resy, too.