Music and food have long gone together, like Jack and Diane, peanut butter and jelly, or like "rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong." For example, one of SoCal’s newest music festivals, Arroyo Seco Weekend, was as much an experience for music lovers as it was for foodies. And with the food scene in Los Angeles quickly becoming as notable as its music scene, it’s no surprise that several artists and musicians are doubling their business pleasure in music and the restaurant industry.
For some, like guitarist David Gibbs (Augustine Wine Bar, Mirabelle Wine Bar, Sushi Note), a bar or restaurant can create a sense of belonging and community for its patrons much like a concert can.
“[We decided to] just stick with wine, a little beer, no cocktails, and no TVs,” says Gibbs of Augustine. “It forces you to talk to people, to be neighborly, and it kind of creates a community. It’s like the wine version of Cheers.”
Read on for a list of musicians (and music industry professionals) who are fostering communities and offering unique food and drink experiences in Los Angeles.
Donnie Wahlberg and Mark Wahlberg: Wahlburgers
One of Donnie and Mark Wahlberg’s first gigs together was as co-founders of the American boy band New Kids on the Block. Several decades later, in 2015 Donnie and Mark, in collaboration with their brother Paul, opened the first location of their family-run burger joint, aptly titled Wahlburgers, outside of Boston. The chain now has 26 locations throughout the United States, Canada, and the UK, with two in Southern California: at USC Village (835 W. Jefferson Unit 1710, Los Angeles 90007) and in WeHo (8615 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood 90069). The dine-in and take-out restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner featuring a variety of fresh burgers, house-made condiments, crispy haddock, seared chicken, and vegetarian options. Don’t leave without trying their signature thin crispy onion rings, tater tots, or thick creamy frappes and floats.
Hours vary for each location. Check the website for more information.
Peanut Butter Wolf: Gold Line
Japan has become famous for its “vinyl bars,” where customers can enjoy an adult beverage while listening to the bar proprietor’s personal record collection. Now, thanks to musician and Stones Throw Records label owner Chris Manak (aka Peanut Butter Wolf), L.A. has one too with the 2018 opening of Gold Line in Highland Park (5607 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90042). Developed within the Stones Throw Records building in partnership with Jason McGuire, general manager for Stones Throw; and restaurateur Tyler Bell of L&E Oyster Bar and El Condor, the drink menu at Gold Line pays tribute to Japanese drinking culture, with a focus on craft spirits; cocktails such as the Orbit, made with mezcal, sloe gin, Campari, agave, and cassis liquor (named after Manak’s dog); beer; wine; and Japanese whisky highballs straight from a draft machine. What makes the bar extra special is the 7,500 hand-picked albums from Manak’s collection that are displayed and played.
Gold Line is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to late, and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to late. Happy hour goes from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily featuring $8 highballs.
Greg Dulli: The Short Stop
Going from bandleader to barkeeper, Greg Dulli of ’90s alternative rockers Afghan Whigs – along with a group of investors in the entertainment industry like GRAMMY-winning art director Kevin Reagan and entertainment attorney Michael Barnes – purchased longtime Echo Park hideaway The Short Stop (1455 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90026) when it went up for sale in 2001. Dulli and friends used to shoot pool at The Short Stop back when it was primarily a hangout for the LAPD. Today, The Short Stop is equal parts dive bar, pool hall, and dance hall. It gets packed on weekends, so get there early, and make sure you stop in on Dodger game days for drink specials.
The Short Stop is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Moby: little pine
In the welcome message on his Silver Lake restaurant's website, musician and vegan Moby says that little pine exists for two reasons: “as a place in our neighborhood for our friends to have wonderful vegan food,” and “as a way to generate money for the animal rights organizations we love and support."
Supported by an all-female team, little pine offers nightly dinner starting at 5 p.m., weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a selection of wine, beer, and delectable desserts. For dinner, try small plates such as sriracha glazed Brussels sprouts and crispy smashed potatoes, before choosing from a range of large dishes like the macaroni and cheese or shepherdess pie. Don’t leave without trying the s’mores ganache for dessert.
One hundred percent of little pine’s profits benefit animal rights organizations.
Johnny Moezzi: Osteria La Buca
Though Osteria La Buca has been a Hollywood staple since 2004, it came under new ownership in 2014 when General Manager Stephen Sakulsky and friend/local L.A. musician Johnny Moezzi announced they had purchased the Italian restaurant from previous owner Graham Snyder. Having once worked at a restaurant himself (Kings Road Café on Beverly), Moezzi is a blues-inspired singer, songwriter and guitarist originally from Salinas, California.
Located down Melrose from Paramount Studios, Osteria La Buca is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the menu you’ll find a variety of pasta dishes, made by hand daily in-house. Restaurant recommendation website The Infatuation touts La Buca’s Bucatini Carbonara as a “top-five pasta dish in the city.” Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations can be made online.
Travis Barker: Crossroads Kitchen
One of the most popular vegan joints in L.A., Crossroads Kitchen (8284 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles 90046) opened in 2013 under the helm of celebrity vegan chef Tal Ronnen (who’s crafted menus and prepared meals for stars like Oprah and Ellen), with the help of Blink-182 drummer, longtime animal rights activist, and vegan Travis Barker. According to Barker in an interview on the Joe Rogan podcast, Ronnen approached Barker about partnering on the restaurant idea while both were attending a Bad Brains concert. The upscale Mediterranean-themed restaurant is the first plant-based eatery in town to have a full bar with an inspired cocktail program.
Crossroads Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner, but we’d recommend making a trip for their special weekend brunch if you fancy “chicken” and waffles. Check their website for operating hours and more information.
David Gibbs: Augustine Wine Bar, Mirabelle Wine Bar, Sushi Note
Guitarist David Gibbs, best known for co-founding Gigolo Aunts and performing with fellow guitarist/activist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, started collecting wine on the road as a touring musician during the 1980s and ‘90s. Now, he’s part-owner in two popular Valley wine bars and a sushi restaurant.
AUGUSTINE WINE BAR
His first venture was Augustine Wine Bar (13456 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks 91423), which he opened in 2015 with friends Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner of Bar Covell in Los Feliz.
“When [my wife and I] moved to the Valley I would drive back [to Covell in] Los Feliz and lament the fact that there was nothing like that in the Valley,” Gibbs says. “I kept trying to convince [Dustin and Matthew] to open a bar here. … And finally, Dustin said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’” Gibbs plotted out the design and acquired necessary permits for what would become Augustine, with Lancaster and Kaner on board to help him run it. “I just liked it right away,” he says.
If you’re visiting Augustine for the first time, Gibbs recommends ordering something off the vintage board. We also recommend trying the tater tots with house-made spicy aioli and the gnocchi. Open daily from 5 p.m. until late. Hours and more info at the Augustine website.
In addition to Augustine, Gibbs is a part-owner in Mirabelle Wine Bar, a collaboration with wine bar vet Nick Caballero; and Sushi Note, located across the street from Augustine.
MIRABELLE WINE BAR
Located in Valley Village, Mirabelle Wine Bar (12518 Burbank Blvd, Los Angeles 91607) opened in February 2018 and is like a “secret club in the Valley,” says Gibbs. While you're there, you might hear Bob Seger’s Stranger in Town played in its entirety – on cassette tape. Open daily at 5 p.m., specials include daily happy hour until 7 p.m., Grilled Cheese Thursdays, and a $35 three-course prix fixe meal on Sundays.
Opened in July 2018, Sushi Note (13447 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks 91423) is an intimate, 30-seat restaurant with a seven-seat bar that features omakase-style meals from Chef Kiminobu Saito, previously at 4 On 6 Sushi in Encino. Sushi Note opens at 5:30 p.m. daily and hosts a happy hour from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Herb Alpert: Vibrato Grill & Jazz
If you’re looking for fine jazz and equally fine foods, pay a visit to GRAMMY-winning music icon Herb Alpert’s premier jazz restaurant, Vibrato Grill & Jazz. Venture up into the hills between Bel-Air and Sherman Oaks for an evening of world-class music and the best in American cuisine. Alpert’s jazz club and restaurant is a family-run operation, as its managed by Alpert’s daughter/business partner, Eden Alpert. The club/restaurant has earned the praise of actor/singer Seth MacFarlane, who told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016 that the club ranks as one of the best jazz clubs in the country.
The restaurant is open six nights a week (closed on Mondays) with live performances happening every night. From Sunday through Thursday, catch a show from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday showings take place at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. Get there before 8 p.m. if you want to avoid the $20 cover. Dinner reservations can be made online, and the side dish options are enough to make our mouths water (we endorse the mac & cheese and crispy Brussels sprouts).
Sammy Hagar: Cabo Wabo Cantina
Located on the 4th floor of Hollywood & Highland (6801 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles 90028), Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina has all the good vibes necessary to instantly transport you to a beach vacation in Cabo San Lucas, where the so-called “red rocker” (once the frontman for classic rockers Van Halen) opened his first location. On the menu, you’ll find a variety of authentic Margaritas made with Hagar’s own Cabo Wabo Tequila and an assortment of fresh and flavorful Mexican cuisine. We recommend trying the signature “Waborita,” made with the award-winning Cabo Wabo Reposado, and a side of “Super Cabo Nachos.” Enjoy live music and also free comedy every Wednesday night. Cabo Wabo is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Jimmy Buffett: Margaritaville
For more than 30 years Jimmy Buffett has been whisking us away to Margaritaville, and today his chain of eateries has become more than just a restaurant, it’s a destination. Buffett opened his first Margaritaville in the dreamy town of Key West, FL in 1985, and now oversees an international empire of restaurants, cafes, hotels, and casinos. At Universal CityWalk Hollywood - Margaritaville’s only L.A. location - there’s always shrimp on the grill and Margaritas in the blender. Enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise – no flight required, just exit Universal Studios Boulevard from the 101 North. You might just find your long lost shaker of salt.
Margaritaville is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and late-night entertainment, with a happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Check the website for hours and more information.
KISS: Rock & Brews
The idea for Rock & Brews was born at a KISS concert in 2010 when legendary rock concert promoter Dave Furano and his brother, restaurateur extraordinaire Michael Zislis, were hanging out backstage having beers with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley (NBD) when Furano casually asked, “What’s better than rock and brews?” A brainstorming session ensued and two years later the first Rock & Brews officially opened in El Segundo, offering a menu of classic comfort foods, unique craft beers, cocktails inspired by bands, and a rock and roll vibe. We recommend the Fireball burger, which is as hot as it sounds.
There are now five Rock & Brews locations in Southern California, including El Segundo, Downey, Redondo Beach, and two at LAX (where TSA workers ate for free during the recent government shutdown). The restaurants are open daily, hours vary. Check the Rock & Brews website for more information and locations.
Scott Francis: Santa Monica Brew Works
Though not technically a musician, Scott Francis is a music industry veteran, having previously held leadership roles with Warner/Chappell Music, BMG Music Publishing, and Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
He’s now the president, CEO, and owner of Santa Monica Brew Works, to date the first and only craft brewery in Santa Monica. SMBW has five home-crafted signature brews and 15-20 specialty brews also on tap at any time. Opened in October 2016 due to public demand, the tasting room (1920 Colorado Ave. Ste C, Santa Monica 90404) is open seven days a week. Brews can also be found in local Santa Monica and Venice bars, restaurants and hotels, including the Border Grill, The Lobster, Finn McCools, Bar Chloe, Loews Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach, and Casa del Mar, and at iconic venues such as Dodger Stadium, the Hollywood Bowl, and The Forum.