Ètra details
All photos courtesy of Ètra

The One Who Keeps the BookLos Angeles

How to Snag a Table at Ètra, the Coolest Restaurant in Melrose Hill


Dimly lit shots of split-open langoustines, garlic chip-topped steak tartare, and a chicory salad with wisps of parm have been taking over Instagram feeds ever since Ètra opened in early December. The cozy, 65-seat restaurant from front-of-house vet Andrew Lawson and chef Evan Algorri is the after-hours companion to another social media darling, Café Telegrama, just next door. In the rapidly changing corridor known as Melrose Hill (which also includes newish daytime spots like Ggiata, Le Coupé, and Kuya Lord), Ètra is the first new dinner destination to make waves in the area in some time (shoutout to nearby date-night stalwarts like Osteria La Buca, however, which opened in 2005).  

The hype surrounding Ètra has only grown in the months since its opening, with an array of influencers and celebrities posting from the Italian-inspired enclave. Accordingly, it’s one of the toughest reservations in L.A. right now. The dining room is small, and outdoor seating is currently limited. And it’s open for dinner only, which means only two table turns per night (usually). But don’t give up hope just yet — we spoke to assistant general manager Rebecca Henderson on the best strategies for landing a coveted table.

Ètra space
Seating is not abundant but it is quite charming.
Ètra space

How many seats are in the house? 

GM Rebecca Henderson: 63 seats total — we have 40 inside at tables and 11 seats between the bar and the counter that looks out the window. There’s 12 seats outside. Some of those tables can flex up to five. So it’s actually closer to 65 seats total. 

How many seats are bookable on Resy versus walk-ins? 

We save the bar and counter for walk-ins as well as one table on the patio. Most of our tables are bookable on Resy. We love to fit in walks-ins if we can. Weeknights are definitely easier for that than weekends.

When do reservations go live on Resy? 

One month in advance at midnight. We’ve been seeing people booking very far in advance. 

How quickly do primetime weekend reservations get snatched up? 

Basically as soon as the books open, within an hour. Although there is always movement!

How long is your Notify list? 

Depends on the night, but typically on weekends, it can be over 300, weeknights more like 150 or so. Sometimes we wonder if the algorithm is wrong because we can’t believe that so many people want to come dine here. It’s flattering! 

When is a guest most likely to get a Notify alert? 

One of my favorite tips is that the confirmations usually go out around 4 p.m. and we do calls at the same time. There’s a lot of movement between 4-5 p.m. for the next day. Put yourself on the Notify list, and keep your phone nearby. This can even work day-of as well.

What is your most popular time?

6:30 to 8 p.m. Those get snapped up first.

Are there certain days where there’s a better chance to get a prime-time reservation?

Weeknights and Sundays. Sundays are one of my favorite nights at the restaurant. We see a lot of industry people and a lot of families. I love working Sunday nights. There’s something a little quieter about service as people get ready for the week. Although on Tuesday-Wednesday you’re more likely to get those prime times.

Can guests have a cocktail while they wait for their table?

Yes, we highly encourage it! 

Is the full menu available at the bar?

Yes, although we try to limit people waiting for tables indoors. Because the space is so small, we want to make sure people dining at the bar have a good experience, too. We prefer people to wait outside. There’s this beautiful bench under a tree where people can wait and have a glass of wine. It’s one of the biggest compliments for a restaurant that people show up and wait to eat here. We don’t take that lightly. We want to make sure everyone has a good time. We’re also talking about expanding our patio space as the weather gets warmer and we’re hoping to have more of a waiting area, designed by Hot Cactus and inspired by different regions of California. 

Every night is a different party.  — Rebecca Henderson, GM at Ètra

Are there any other tricks to getting seated? (What if we DM you?)

We sometimes do take reservations over the DM, but a better way is to call. It’s great to email us, too, at hello@etra.la. We’re always checking all the avenues just to answer any questions. Also, get to know us! We love being a part of the neighborhood and the L.A. food scene and we’re never going to turn a walk-in away. We’re going to do whatever we can to get people seated.

Since it’s such a small restaurant, what is the maximum party size you can book?

Six people is the largest bookable on Resy and then for parties of 7-10, we offer a pre-fixe menu. The largest party possible is 10 people. For parties over six, you should call or email.

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

I love to dine at bars and be in the action, so bar 7 and bar 8 for me are great because you can look through the kitchen pass window and see what’s going on. And then I’m really excited about the counter seats as well. As it gets warmer, we’ll put our awnings up and there’s a great view from those seats into the gallery next door. I also love the two circular tables in the middle of the room. They’re parallel to the pendant lights, they mimic that, and you’re really in the middle of it. Since they’re so close together, it’s fun to watch through service. One table will have been sitting for like an hour and I see the other table leaning over to make suggestions. I love to see those moments happen in restaurants. To see strangers come together and exchange numbers and make plans to go for hikes, etc. I really love how a restaurant can foster community.

Can guests request specific tables?

It can be tricky but we do our best to accommodate those requests. I love when people have been there before and they want to sit in a certain spot. I had someone call the other day and request the table on the patio. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure they sit in that specific spot. 

Rigatoni at Ètra
Rigatoni at Ètra.
Rigatoni at Ètra
Rigatoni at Ètra.

If I were here on a date or with a friend, how would you suggest ordering for two people? 

I would do a couple starters, definitely the chicory salad. Probably the carne cruda, and then probably one pasta, a main, and a side. 

If it’s someone’s first time at Ètra, what should they definitely order?

The scampi, the chicory salad, and the pork ribeye. You can’t really go wrong though. That’s the beauty of having a smaller menu as well. Everything is there because it has a purpose.

It’s Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Ètra. Can you set the scene?

It’s going to be loud and energetic and the dining room has a palpable energy to it when it’s busy like that. The lights are low, lots of candlelight, everyone looks really good [laughs]. It feels like a party, there’s a socialness to it. People are becoming friends at the small tables. There’s a large party at the banquet having a magnum of wine. There’s people waiting outside for tables. The team is small but moves fast. There’s an energy to the space but a smallness and intimacy at your table. There’s a sense of excitement — who’s going to be there, what are we going to have. Our team doesn’t do the traditional tableside spiel. There’s an authenticity to it and a lot of personality to it, which I love. There’s nothing cookie-cutter about it — every night is a different party. 

What do you love about working here?

I love our team. Our team is wonderful and caring and thoughtful, and they want people to come in and have the best time possible. We talk a lot about taking care of each other in order to take care of our guests in the best way possible. I think that really comes out. When you’re dining somewhere, that the team actually likes each other, it really elevates the whole experience. I love the food, and the wine list is fun and always changing. I love our guests, too. The neighborhood has been really welcoming. We’ve made so many regulars in just a few months of being open. That all comes back to the team. I’m so grateful for them and proud of them everyday. They make this place what it is. 


Kelly Dobkin is an L.A.-based writer/editor and former New Yorker. She has contributed to Bon Appétit, Grub Street, Michelin, Here Magazine, and is a former editor at Thrillist, Zagat, and Eater. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.