The Los Angeles Restaurant Where You Party in Your Seat

Head to Theía restaurant for Greek food, magic tricks, and Mykonos nightclub vibes.

The Restaurant food
Photo: Courtesy of Theia

You're seated at your al fresco table by 8 p.m. and order charred octopus, spanakopita, and mezze. As you sip Sancerre, the lights dim and the DJ raises the volume, blasting French house music that rolls out of the speakers with a bass thump. A bottle of Dom Perignon stuffed with sparklers seems to float out of the kitchen but it's buoyed by two servers cutting their way through the dark, headed directly for your table. Dry ice spills out of the bucket. As a frequent diner, you might be tempted to feel jaded but instead, you start grinning.

Your eyes widen when, suddenly, the people who work the upscale nightclubs and restaurants of Los Angeles as hosts and dancers begin whirling napkins and LED glow disks around their heads, dancing inside a window that opens onto the patio.

Theía restaurant isn't your typical L.A. dining experience. Greek food and Mediterranean-inspired cocktails are paired with nightly entertainment (think fire dancers and live drummers) and an atmosphere that resembles more of a nightclub than a supper club. The interactive concept makes perfect sense when you consider the restaurant opened in 2020. When every bar in the city was closed, Theía offered a socially distanced alternative to the dance floor, leading to 150 covers every Saturday and Sunday evening. Angelenos still flock here to party in their seats every weekend.

Owner Max Simon drew inspiration for Theía from the fabled party scene of Mykonos, as well as legendary restaurant Bagatelle in St. Tropez, famous for its Champagne-spraying servers. Simon sees dining as a performance. He felt that L.A.'s pre-pandemic dining scene was overly serious, especially for an entertainment center.

"I didn't want to go out — everywhere is too quiet," he said. The food at Theía is therefore self-consciously performative, giving up the pretense that food is a higher art and positioning it as a show. Smoke everywhere? Yes, please. Shaved truffles? Bring them on. Pea flower drinks? Of course.

Theía's most popular drink is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Purple, a tequila lime cocktail designed by bar manager Sean Leopold. To present it, a server bestows two glasses upon the table — a test tube bearing the pea flower and a rocks glass with the tequila, lime, syrup, Angostura bitters, and a Tajín rim. They instruct the guest to pour the test tube into the rocks glass, which floods the glass with a vivid violet hue.

A Colorado rack of lamb is a choose-your-own-adventure dinner, served with chimichurri, bearnaise, or red wine sauce. All paths lead to a mystical trail of oregano smoke pouring over your table when you pull the dome off your lamb. The baba ghanoush also comes in a smoked dome.

Is it too much smoke? Simon thinks not.

"The younger generation really loves when we do the smoky lamb," he said. "People bring in photos of the smoky lamb and the Mr. Purple cocktail and ask for them."

Smoke also flows from buckets full of dry ice and hot water every Friday and Saturday night, when Simon cues "Zorba the Greek" and emerges with a stack of plates to perform a bit of magic for his guests. Using one plate, he breaks all the plates in the stack, much to the surprise of his guests — but the trick plates break neatly into just a few pieces, which are easily swept away.

Soon thereafter, the servers start twirling their napkins in the air in rhythm with the DJ's house beats. "The guests stop talking and twirl their napkins in the air with us," Simon said. If there's a birthday, the DJ plays Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" and an individual birthday cake made by the pastry chef, studded with candles, is whooshed out to the table.

Simon worked with Tracy Hutson Design to create the Old Hollywood-inspired interiors, including a glamorous horseshoe bar in the center of the space, flanked by navy velvet banquettes and verdant vegetation.

His next step is opening Theía's backyard since his front patio can only host 44 seats. Simon plans to create a backyard space that larger parties can rent for the evening, spreading out on a cabana, and laze the night away. And, of course, the backyard diners will still get the full napkin-spinning, plate-breaking, dancing-in-their-seat show.

"We give people entertainment, which is one of the most desirable things right now," Simon said. "We want to give them an experience where they can escape from reality for just an hour."

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