High profile actors, athletes, singers, models, and media personalities are often drawn to the spotlight. That means seeking out the trendiest new spots, or sticking with tried and true places like The Ivy, Mr. Chow and Matsuhisa, which are likely to land them in tabloids. Of course, some celebrities prefer low-key, low-lit venues with more privacy, and L.A.’s got those too. Discover 17 restaurants where celebrities have been known to dine.
Adam Perry Lang first built a following in Hollywood by serving “Serious Barbecue” on Jimmy Kimmel’s backlot. He switched from smoked meats to house-aged steak and opened APL Restaurant down Hollywood Boulevard in 2018 (1680 Vine St., Los Angeles 90028). Celebrities have followed, including actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Bateman and A-list directors such as Jon Favreau and Alfonso Cuaron. They pile into booths beneath blue walls to enjoy wedge salads draped with house-smoked bacon, signature short ribs, and dry-aged steaks that have been known to spend over 400 days in an environmentally controlled chamber.
Beauty & Essex
TAO Group built on success in cities like New York and Las Vegas by dropping a multi-faceted Hollywood project in 2017. This compound includes their signature Tao Asian bistro, Dream Hotel, Luchini pizzeria and bar, an upscale bar and lounge called Avenue, a rooftop lounge called The Highlight Room, and a grand restaurant and lounge called Beauty & Essex (1615 Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles 90028) that features a 20-foot oval skylight. Megawatt stars like Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner and Cardi B - who celebrated her birthday here in 2018 - have been known to frequent Beauty & Essex. Chef Chris Santos holds their interest with share-friendly plates like Caesar toast with crispy chicken skin and 24-ounce bone-in ribeye served with truffle Hollandaise and roasted garlic & bacon sauce to take the meat over the top.
Catch LA (8715 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood 90069) is a sprawling 340-seat restaurant that Manhattan nightclub mavens Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm debuted on a prime West Hollywood rooftop in 2016. They’ve attracted A-listers like Michael B. Jordan, Mariah Carey and David Beckham to the airy restaurant and plant-lined patio, which delivers delectable city views. Popular choices from Daniel Ye’s massive menu include chilled seafood towers, salmon belly carpaccio, and luxurious A5 Japanese Miyazaki Wagyu seared tableside on a hot stone. Of course, many guests are content just to sip Champagne or cocktails and soak up views.
Casa Vega (13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks 91423), the Sherman Oaks institution that Rafael “Ray” Garcia founded in 1956, maintains its celebrity magnetism thanks to second-generation proprietor Christina “Christy” Vega Fowler. As she said, “We’ve always respected their privacy as well as any special requests including entering and exiting the restaurant discretely, so I think celebrities feel comfortable coming to Casa Vega. Also, the restaurant is so dark that regular guests could be dining next to a big-time A-list celebrity and have no idea.” As always, portions remain massive, whether it’s classics like crab & shrimp empanadas, the Vega rib eye, or newer offerings like the multi-protein molcajete. The cantina dispenses a multitude of margaritas and Mexican beers to celebs and civilians alike.
The Soho House Group has created one of L.A.’s most exclusive hospitality experiences by installing a branch of their members-only club high above the Sunset Strip. Down the hill, one of L.A.'s most famous restaurants, Cecconi’s (8764 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood 90069) is still glamorous and more democratic. Anybody can occupy the plant-lined patio, marble-floored dining room, or the semi-private Butterfly Room with the bright orange heart. According to GM & Sommelier Marino Monferrato, “We feel that celebrities enjoy dining at Cecconi’s for the very same reason that all our guests enjoy dining here – it’s a safe haven where they can come in any time of day for a great, relaxing meal…we treat all our guests like VIPs, and take care to ensure that nothing interferes with their dining experience.” Chef Andrea Cavaliere’s seasonal all-day Italian menu could include pastas like plin agnolotti with black truffles, wood roasted salmon with rapini, and Italy’s answer to tapas, cicchetti.
Reika Alexander from New York City’s EN Japanese Brasserie expanded west in 2018, opening Chateau Hanare (8097 Selma Ave., Los Angeles 90046) in Chateau Marmont’s shadow. She built a loyal following – celebrity and otherwise – in New York, and many fans have now experienced her food in both cities. Famous L.A. supporters include Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Amy Adams. Chateau Hanare specializes in kaiseki, a style of multi-course Japanese service that incorporates many cooking methods. Selections might include chawanmushi, a savory custard starring sea urchin; and Washugyu beef grilled with seasonal vegetables. They even offer vegan kaiseki, which might include house-made tofu showered with shaved truffles.
Longtime Dan Tana’s maître d’ Craig Susser opened his own nearby restaurant, Craig's (8826 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood 90069) in 2011, drawing celebrities to his dark cushioned booths like Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with singer/wife Ciara. Chef Kursten Kizer keeps pace with an eclectic “American” menu that ranges from pricey pigs in a blanket and meatloaf to more adventurous Buffalo wing pizza and Meldman’s honey truffle fried chicken served on a corn pancake. Yes, they devoted an entire menu section to vegans.
Culina, Modern Italian
Since Culina, Modern Italian replaced the Gardens in 2010, the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills (300 S. Doheny Dr, Los Angeles 90048) has built momentum while retaining its celebrity clientele, and not just during awards season. The sprawling indoor-outdoor space occupies the luxurious property’s southwest corner. Former chef Meredith Manee said, “Celebrities are comfortable dining at Culina as they know they will be treated with the best service, and given privacy without paparazzi around. Many celebrities have their favorite tables, so we work to accommodate specific requests, and also dietary needs. We can accommodate special dietary needs such as vegan and gluten-free.” Culina’s got vegan, gluten-free and juice-driven options. Crudo Bar chefs craft combinations like salmon with blood orange, caviar, and chives. Yes, people (even celebrities) have been known to indulge in heartier fare like lasagne verdi and lamb chops. Hustler provocateur and frequent Culina guest Larry Flynt has a salad on the menu.
Long before restaurants like The Ivy and Mr. Chow drew paparazzi in droves, an old school Italian restaurant with red booths and red sauce called Dan Tana’s (9071 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood 90069) started attracting rock stars, movie legends, starlets and wannabes in 1963. Bartender Mike Gotovac has manned the menu-free bar since 1968, and served cocktails to people like the Eagles and Elton John, who long ago played the Troubadour, nearby on Santa Monica Boulevard. Wine bottles hang from the ceiling in baskets, and celebrities both young and old pop plenty of bottles to pair with Shrimp Scampi a la Jerry Buss, which honors the late Lakers owner; and Chicken Parmigiana a la Ted Demme, which credits the dearly departed movie director. Other diners keep matters simpler with spaghetti and meatballs.
The h.wood Group has taken Hollywood and West Hollywood by storm. Longtime bar owners and business partners John Terzian, Brian Toll, Markus Molinari and Adam Koral have created several safe spaces for celebrities to eat and drink in the area, starting with The Nice Guy. Delilah (7969 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood 90069) is the h.wood venue that currently has the most buzz, drawing stars like Drake, Kanye West, and Shay Mitchell, who know that any photos of them will only take place outside, allowing them to stay off-guard indoors.
Fig & Olive
Laurent Halasz imported his Manhattan-born Mediterranean concept to Melrose Place, showcasing food from his French homeland, Italy, and Spain, which all rely on olive oil. His 8,000 square-foot space includes a 50-seat marble bar, a dining room with cushioned booths and a central olive tree, an upstairs lounge with overhead views of fashionable diners, and an airy terrace. Fig & Olive (8490 Melrose Pl., West Hollywood) even incorporated a celeb-friendly private entrance that allows A-listers to outmaneuver the occasional lurking photog. This is not to say that diners either famous or forgettable are in any rush to leave, considering chef Pascal Lorange’s sprawling menu, which includes crudo, crostini, soups, salads, French Riviera salmon with Picholine olive oil, a chicken tagine with both figs and olives, and a dessert menu that includes marzipan cake with olive oil gelato.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Michael Ovitz struck fear into the hearts of studio heads while helming Creative Artists Agency. These days, the avid art collector and restaurateur honors entertainment heavyweights who frequent his Japanese restaurant in the back corner of a West LA strip mall. Celebrities who’ve had a sushi roll named for them include Sarah Michelle [Gellar], who prefers tuna with spicy tuna, avocado and jalapeño. Yoya Takahashi, a Kyoto native, now helms the sushi bar, and celebrities still flow to Hamasaku (11043 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90025). Why? According to Ovitz, “The food obviously has to be good, and our hospitality needs to exceed expectations. There's no pretense so that our guests can relax or do business without any distractions. Our regulars are exactly that because they can feel at home and well-taken care of.”
Demand is so high for high-end Italian restaurant Madeo (362 N. Camden Dr., Beverly Hills 90210) that Gianni Vietina and brother Nicola couldn’t wait for reconstruction to finish in their original building, so they temporarily moved to central Beverly Hills. The space should be recognizable to people who frequented the family-run institution thanks to the same sumptuous striped booths. Celebrities who have entered past Madeo’s green awning have included Kate Hudson, Drake, and Ryan Reynolds. The owners have leaned into luxury – this is Beverly Hills, after all – serving grilled baby lamb chops, grilled langoustines, and veal Milanese.
Since 1987, chef Nobu Matsuhisa has shown he knows how to draw a crowd. His restaurant empire now spans the globe, but his L.A. restaurants remain vital. Of course, it helps to be located right next to the Pacific Ocean. Visitors to Nobu Malibu (22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu 90265) will find floor-to-ceiling wood, cushioned lounge chairs, and crashing waves. Power couples like Kim Kardashian & Kanye West, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley & Jason Statham, and Chrissy Teigen & John Legend have all graced the airy restaurant. Notable bites include monkfish pate with caviar, black cod with miso, and roasted King crab with uni.
Spago & Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air
No story about celebrity hotspots would be complete without mentioning Wolfgang Puck, one of the most famous restauranters in Los Angeles. In 2012, he was instrumental in two revamps that generated serious wattage. At Spago (176 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills 90210), the action still centers on the airy courtyard. Puck’s longtime culinary lieutenant Lee Hefter works with Chef de Cuisine Tetsu Yahagi to change the menu with the seasons and could include precious vegetables from Del Mar’s Chino Farm; steamed Casco Bay cod “Hong Kong” style; or Snake River Farm’s American “Wagyu” ribeye with pee wee potatoes and morel mushrooms. Sommelier Christopher Miller has 30,000 wine bottles at his disposal. This evolution is helping to ensure Puck keeps footing with high profile diners.
The swans never left their secluded Hotel Bel-Air sanctuary (701 Stone Canyon Rd, Los Angeles 90077), but the dining room went dark until Wolfgang Puck and crew had the chance to revamp the legendary restaurant. The gambit paid off, as Puck and market-driven chef de cuisine Hugo Bolanos have drawn celebrities back to Stone Canyon by the score. What’s the draw? According to Hotel Bel-Air Food and Beverage Director Stephane Lacroix, "The exclusivity and tranquility of Hotel Bel-Air has always appealed to the likes of celebrities, and we have been known as a true hideaway for well-known personalities for the past 67 years. This is still the case today, and the addition of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air offers another reason for celebrities to want to dine with us. We appreciate their need for discretion and privacy, and we deliver product and service excellence on a consistent basis."
A stately rooster greets diners at Tavern (11648 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles 90049), the multi-faceted restaurant and bakery from chef Suzanne Goin and front of house partner Caroline Styne. Unlike at some of the more scrutinized restaurants in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, celebrities are able to blend in with other Brentwood residents. According to Styne, "Suzanne and I have always tried to create an environment where everyone feels at home but also where their privacy is respected. There's a fine line in hospitality between being familiar and warm but never intrusive. Our staff is extremely sensitive to our guests' needs, whether they are famous or not. And we've never been the kind of place that informs the paparazzi about a celebrity's presence." That means celebrities can enjoy their seasonal American cuisine in peace in the bakery/café or luxuriate over rack of lamb in the airy dining room.