Sunday, October 6, 2013

Historic Hollywood Restaurants

I love food and I love history - and Hollywood history, first and foremost! Naturally, one of my very favourite things to do in Los Angeles is to visit its unique historic restaurants, all of which with strong ties to the film industry, and many that still look the same as they did back when my favourite stars used to wine and dine under their dim lights.
Without further ados, here are my favourite historic Hollywood restaurants.

Musso & Frank Grill

6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California 90028

Katie, myself and Dan at Musso & Frank Grill

There's really no other place to start than with Musso & Frank Grill when it comes to historic Hollywood restaurants. The first and oldest restaurant in Hollywood has been serving the town since 1919 - and it still looks the way it did back when everyone from Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino to Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe dined here. Sitting in the red booths of the otherworldly Musso's is about as close to stepping into another time as I have ever experienced. Even their menu has gone virtually unchanged for nearly 100 years! Alas, for a vegetarian like myself this can be the only drawback of the place but I did find the grilled cheese sandwich yummy.

Photo credit


1999 N. Sycamore Av., Hollywood, California 90068

Yamashiro is quite possibly the most beautiful restaurant that I have ever visited. Overlooking Hollywood, it has a view dazzling enough to leave anyone breathless! And the interiors are just as beautiful. Originally a mansion built between 1911 and 1914, the Japanese gourmet restaurant has been a favourite since it opened in 1948. Since 1920, Yamashiro and its gardens have served as "Japan" in many a film. In the late 20s, the mansion housed the exclusive 400 Club, which was frequented by the Hollywood elite of the day. The food and service are equal to the restaurant's gorgeous setting. Not only were they able to make any sushi vegetarian - but it was the best sushi I've ever had, too! So unique, so beautiful and oh so yummy - Yamashiro is easily in my top 5 list of things to do in LA!

Photo credit

Photo credit

Formosa Cafe 

7156 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California 90046

When the Formosa's first owner, prizefighter Jimmy Bernstein, opened the converted trolley car as a lunch counter in 1925, he called it the Red Spot. Then he tacked on the kitchen and the main room where the bar now sits and decided to name the expanded space the Formosa. Located just east of the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios lot (devastatingly now largely demolished), star after star has slipped out of the studio next door and into the cafe's red booths. Decade upon decade, the Formosa truly is “where the stars dine.” Although the Formosa serve Chinese food, I decided to go for an after-dark cocktail, which the restaurant is best known for. Super atmospheric, the Formosa Cafe is LA noir at the very best!


Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel - 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90028

If you have a drink by the David Hockney-painted pool, it’s easy to picture what it was like to see Marilyn Monroe dancing here. More about the Roosevelt in my previous post.

Frolic Room - 6245 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, California 90028

This dive bar located next to the historic Pantages theatre has been around since Prohibition ended, and is a location in Hollywood set neo noirs like LA Confidential.

More for next time!

I did not have time to visit the following spots - but if you have, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Barney's Beanery, West Hollywood restaurant since 1920
Greenblatt's Deli, since 1926
Clifton's Cafeteria, since 1935. Currently closed and under restoration.
Miceli’s, since 1949


  1. I live in Northern California and go to LA fairly often however I've always wanted to visit places like these but have yet to! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences and seeing the gorgeous photos. I am also a non-meat eater (vegan, actually) and often run into the same problem at restaurants with menus that haven't been updated. However, there's always cocktails! Thanks again for the post, I will DEFINITELY be visiting these places next time Im in LA.


    1. I'm glad to hear this was of help to you! I'd love to hear your thoughts when you do get to visit yourself. :) I was surprised how few of my local friends had visited places like Musso's and Yamashiro - to me they were some of the very highlights of my trip! Musso's might be a challenge for a vegan but I'm sure Yamashiro would still have something yummy to offer. And like you said, there's always cocktails - and they were outstanding at both places! xx

  2. I went to LA a couple years ago and loved the place, though I never got to go to any of these restaurants! I will definitely have to make a trip to the famous Musso & Frank Grill on my next visit, as well as Yamashiro and Formosa (especially as the latter is featured in one of my favourite films - LA Confidential.)

    I've loved seeing your holiday photos as it makes me want to go back to California right now!

    1. Thank you! I do adore Los Angeles and its historic spots. Both the Formosa and Frolic Room are featured in LA Confidential and are well worth a visit. :)

  3. Awesome post! I really love that you partnered vintage images with your modern day ones, it really helps convey a sense of how much history resides in these inviting eateries.

    ♥ Jessica

  4. Greenblatt's is great, but I fear you might have been disappointed in the vegetarian selection. They do have a great selection of wine as well, which is always slightly strange when you walk into a deli. I've not yet been to Musso & Franks, which I need to change soon. And Yamashiro sounds like it was amazing.

  5. Great reviews, thank you for sharing with us! Being half Japanese, I would love to try Yamashiro. Lovely blog, ciao from Italy!