Where To Eat When One Of Your Friends Is Kind Of Famous
photo credit: Jakob Layman
LA newcomers love the idea of seeing a famous person (maybe even at the grocery store!), but for seasoned vets, there’s a decent chance you’re actually friends with some of them, like that former roommate who finally booked a series after years of rejection. And sometimes, you need to go to dinner with them. This isn’t a list of celebrity hotspots—nobody needs to be reminded that the Chateau, Craig’s, or the rooftop seafood hellscape that is Catch exists. This is a list of sceney-but-low-key restaurants where both you and your newly recognizable friend can be comfortable and have a great meal, but also maybe get noticed, too. Because we all crave a little attention.
Sure, your friend went full-frontal on Euphoria last season, but that doesn’t mean they want to spend all night deflecting unsolicited selfies. Suggest dinner at Monarch. With tie-dye chairs, wavy blue wallpaper, and a waterfall mosaic created from thousands of glass beads, this maximalist Hong Kong-style cafe in Arcadia feels like a psilocybin-induced fever dream. And while this place pulls a heavy fashionista crowd (it’s owned by Opening Ceremony co-founder, Humberto Leon), folks here will generally leave you alone. That’s partially because they know someone else on Euphoria and also because they’re too busy eating the delicious, family-style food.
Somehow your chaotic roommate made it to the final four of a reality dating show, and now, she wants to go out every night. Let her ride the wave of fame and snag a table at Bari. The Southern Italian spot on West Third Street in Beverly Grove is an ideal sexy dinner spot before going out. There are whitewashed walls, earth-tone tableware, and wind-swept greenery doing its best coastal fauna impression. Come Friday and Saturday, the dining room is rocking with playlists of all the current bangers, dates sipping negronis and olive oil-washed martinis, and tables of friends eating tiramisu and figuring out what spot they're hitting next. And oh my god, your roommate just got invited to hang out with The Love Is Blind cast.
One thing you didn’t realize about your friend becoming famous is that there’s now an entire team of emotionally unstable people who follow them around. The brief moments when it’s just the two of you should be treasured, which is why you should get dinner at Damian. The upscale Mexican spot in the Arts District is from the same chef as Pujol in Mexico City, meaning you should expect modern, beautiful-plated food, service that moves like a choreographed dance, and an intimate setting that feels like you’re eating inside a botanical garden from the future.
You get that being a lead on a network TV show means strangers might ask you to take photos with them, but did your friend really have to show up to dinner last week in aviators and a Party City wig? Time to escape to Malibu. Deep in the mountains, this meat-centric saloon dates back to the 18th century and is the perfect escape from people who think celebrities are zoo exhibits. The Old Place is certainly a popular restaurant, but the crowd is mostly made up of Malibu and Calabasas locals, so nobody cares how many credits you have on your IMDB.
After wrapping their first international press tour, your old college roommate keeps saying all she wants to do is feel like a normal person again. Since crying into room-temperature chicken nuggets while dreaming about how much fun an international press tour would be is off the table, take her to Jones. The casual Italian restaurant in West Hollywood looks like it should be one of those sceney nightmare places, but it’s actually full of regular people who just want some pizza and martinis. The place is also dimly-lit with giant red booths to crawl into, so your friend won’t feel too exposed.
Your friend with a three-picture deal at Netflix just suggested Sushi Park for dinner, but your annual birthday check from your aunt hasn’t come through yet, and you don’t feel like dropping $200 on forgettable sushi. Convince them to go to Mezzanine instead. Located on the loungey second floor of Palihouse West Hollywood, this place is really more of a small plates izakaya than a sushi bar, but the food is good (go for the seafood pancake and wood-fired tomatoes), there’s a large range of sake, and while it’s not cheap, you won’t have to transfer money from your savings account in order to cover the bill.
The truth is that you lied through your teeth when you said you couldn’t believe the crazy season finale of your friend’s TBS show. You stopped watching three episodes in. Go eat your guilt at Casa Vega. The classic Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks has been in operation since 1952 and is one of those rare places in LA where A-list celebrities and completely random locals commingle on a nightly basis. The margaritas are some of the strongest in town and the lobster quesadilla is a must.
Aside from their unironic desire to try out sensory deprivation chambers, the most concerning thing about your now-famous friend is their need to eat at really boring restaurants. Take them to Dan Tana’s for a real party. The classic Italian restaurant in West Hollywood is proof that you can be as famous as you want without sequestering yourself in private dining rooms to eat scallops all night. It’s loud, crowded, and the waiters will flirt with you like it’s a job requirement. If you aren’t stumbling out of Dan Tana’s at 11pm a little too tipsy with a to-go box of chicken parmesan under your arm, you’ve done it wrong.
Contrary to popular belief, famous people do sometimes eat food during the day. It just gets tricky in this town because pretty much any brunch/lunch spot that has decent food will also have a line out the door. Mustard Seed is the exception. This tiny sidewalk cafe in Los Feliz is directly across the street from the influencer apocalypse that is Alcove, but might as well be in a different city. You’re always able to find a table, no one stands on chairs to take photos of their food, and your friend who just wrapped their first season on HBO won’t be asked to perform in a stranger's TikTok.
Your roommate won two new bedroom sets on The Price Is Right last month and now he thinks he’s Maluma. The act was pretty annoying up until the point when he told you he’d take you out to dinner anywhere you want. Instead of doing the obvious (Nobu Malibu), go to 715 instead. This sleek, 10-seat omakase bar in the Arts District has exceptional sushi, but what makes a meal here stand out is the atmosphere—it’s fun. All the staff are young, good-looking, and clearly enjoying themselves, delivering an experience that feels less like a high-end omakase temple and more like hanging with a group of friends who happen to make fantastic sushi. Sure, it’s $300 per person, but that number’s easier to digest when Drew Carey is paying.