Los Angeles, the city of angels, and home to the golden age of glitz and glam. While the iconic ‘Hollywood lifestyle’ isn’t really what it used to be, you can catch glimpses of what it once was at its famous, classic restaurants. The best of the best restaurant that have stood the test of time and have seen their share of iconic diners (and many still do). Many of these restaurants have made movie cameos and many you can even catch an IRL celeb, making them must-see destinations when visiting LA.
Dan Tana’s is a legend in itself. The Italian-American restaurant has been serving up mouth-watering meals and classic cocktails since the 1960s and has served everyone from old-school Hollywood legends to current A-listers. and is truly a taste of Hollywood glamour and history. The vintage vibe is so unique, decked out in memorabilia, red leather banquettes, red and white tablecloths and classic dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, veal parm and chicken cacciatore – all made with fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection.
Musso & Frank Grill
Right on Hollywood Blvd in between the stars and the tourist shops is legendary restaurant Musso & Frank. This restaurant has been around since 1919 and is the real deal, with classic Hollywood charm and delicious food that will transport you back in time. The waiters still wear jackets and bow-ties, crab louie is still on the menu, and there’s a vintage phone booth in a corner that you’ll absolutely want to take a photo in. A fun fact is they even invented the Caesar Salad (allegedly).
The Ivy has been a celebrity hotspot for decades, and it’s not hard to see why. The Beverly Hills spot has a charming outdoor patio covered in flowers, elegant decor, and delicious California cuisine like the famous chopped salad, mouth-watering seafood and pastas. It’s the perfect spot for a fancy date night or a special occasion with friends, but make a reso as it’s always packed.
New Girl fans rejoice, this LA staple is actually the interior of Nick’s bar, The Griffin. The Prince is actually home to a ton of films and shows like Roman Polanski’s 1974 classic Chinatown with Jack Nicholson, Mad Men and Thank You For Smoking. The Prince has been around since the 1920s, serving up classic Korean dishes like spicy pork belly and kimchi fried rice. The Tudor-style and NY steakhouse feeling hot spot dawned in everything scarlet red, with a baby grand piano and a horseshoe-shaped bar where you can imagine tuxedoed Old Hollywood playboys sipping Manhattans.
The Polo Lounge
Hidden inside the Beverly Hills Hotel, The Polo Lounge is a powerhouse restaurant of Hollywood stars, business moguls and socialites since it opened in 1941. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe to Lindsay Lohan, it’s the go-to hot spot, with its spectacular array of palm trees and flowers and piano man music playing for lunch and dinner. This patio is one of Los Angeles’ premier and prettiest outdoor dining settings that’s equally wonderful for a sunny breakfast or a twinkling night. The restaurant has a classic American menu with everything from lobster thermidor to their famous McCarthy salad, and their signature cocktails are a must-try.
Located in the heart of West Hollywood, the Formosa Cafe has been a cultural icon in Los Angeles for over 80 years. The restaurant, which first opened its doors in 1939, has been a favorite haunt of Hollywood stars, musicians, and artists like Elvis Presley, James Dean, and Frank Sinatra sipping on scotch and snacking on some crispy egg rolls and spicy Kung Pao chicken (celebs are just like us). You can imagine the wild late nights that were spent there. The most iconic feature is its train booths that were originally built in the 1930s to resemble the passenger cars of a train, complete with plush seating and brass luggage racks, that’s like time traveling back to that era.
El Coyote Mexican Cafe
El Coyote has been around for 90 years and has always been a destination for actors, musicians, out-of-town visitors, and everyday Angelenos looking for good mexican and a fabulous margarita, but it was one particular night that really put it on the map. The night that Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski ate their last meal in 1969, before they were later murdered by three members of the Manson Family. The movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood recreated the scene, using the same booth Tate sat in when she dined there. Nothing has really changed inside the famous spot since, so it’s definitely a must-see for a bit of LA history.
You might recognize Malibu’s ocean-side restaurant Neptune’s Net from Point Break, Fast and the Furious, The Hills and even Gossip Girl’s LA episode. The old-timey biker restaurant has gone through many owners, but has always remained that chill seafood, burgers and coffee spot right on the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway that’s become a destination for some casual fare, while taking in stunning ocean views. This spot has been around since the 1950s, and it’s become a go-to for local surfers and cruisers. It’s got a laid-back vibe and some of the best fish and chips, clam chowder, and shrimp cocktails around.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles
Roscoe’s is a pop culture phenomenon in itself. Not only has it been the location of tons of movies and shows, it’s also named as the icon it is in movies like Jackie Brown, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Swingers, Rush Hour and Be Cool, and in songs by Ludacris and Snoop Dogg. It was even visited by President Barack Obama during his campaign trail. So why all the mentions? It’s the best chicken and waffles, hands down.
‘Yamashiro’ in Japanese means ‘Mountain Palace’ and that couldn’t be more true. Yamashiro is high up in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking the city and is nothing short of an architectural masterpiece with many different chapters. It started out in 1914 as a place to house an art collection, with a courtyard filled with plants and trees, waterfalls, goldfish, a private zoo of exotic birds and monkeys and a miniature Japanese village, replicated after a palace in Kyoto. When it was sold, it was turned into the 400 Club, an A-listers meeting spot, then covered up and turned into apartments, then restored into a member’s club and then finally was turned into the Yamashiro restaurant, tea room and Pagoda bar that we love now.
The Magic Castle
This members only spot is actually a castle with magic shows, yes, but all angelenos know and have seen the inside of The Magic Castle at some point in their lives. Since its inception in 1963, the century-old Victorian mansion has served as the sort-of-secretive home base for the Academy of Magical Arts with performance parlors, secret doors, mysterious illusions and lots more surprises. If you can find someone who’s a member, then definitely check out this uniquely wondrous LA spot.
Rainbow Bar + Grill
Rainbow Bar + Grill was and still is a legendary centre in the rock n’ roll community. At its peak, when rock n’ roll was everything, it was the hot spot for all the rockstars, groupies, fans and basically anyone wanting to spot a celebrity. It’s legacy lives on through the memorabilia, a Lemmy from Motorhead statue, all the ghosts of crazy parties (if walls could only talk) and through the family that has passed it down for generations. You can still spot some celebs wanting to feel the nostalgia and surprisingly they have a great menu of cheesy pizzas, including above average vegan options.
Considering the long history of the Sunset Tower Hotel, its rooftop indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar has only been open since 2005. The hotel used to be a residence, where Hollywood legends used to call home, like John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Howard Hughes and LA mobster Bugsy Siegel. Since it’s conversion into a glitzy Sunset Strip hotel, the celebs keeping coming to be part of the Hollywood history. On any night, you can catch some celebs or business people sitting pool-side or fire-side, sipping on classic cocktails or pretending to chow down on a sundae from the sundae bar.
The Chateau Marmont has seen more action that a Bruce Willis film. The legendary boutique hotel that sits right above Sunset Blvd, was coined with the nickname “no-tell hotel” for its uber strict privacy policies and then therefore raunchiness from parties and drugs to hookups and deaths that goes down there. The stories never to be heard since that staff have all signed NDAs. On the classier side, many film and music people go there for “Lunch at the Chateau” business meetings to seal the deals in style.