We can brag about the sun and beach all we want, but the fact is, most people visit LA for one reason - to lock eyes with as many famous people as possible. It’s hard to fault them. Even though we see Jon Hamm at Gelson’s on most Tuesdays, we still text our whole contact list every single time like it’s a national emergency.
That said, the longer you live here, the higher the chances are for your roommate to book acting jobs, which means there’s an increasing likelihood that you might actually be friends with famous people. And someday, you might 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 restaurants where both you and your very recognizable friend will feel comfortable and have a great meal too. Gelson’s is not included.
Everybody knows about Chateau Marmont, including plenty of brochure tourists with zero regard for personal space. Go to Hanare instead. Located in a converted bungalow on the Chateau property (the entrance is on Selma), this upscale Japanese kaiseki spot has the high prices of the main restaurant, but the food is much better and you’ll have some privacy. The waitstaff will try to force the chef’s tasting menu on you, but ignore that and order off the regular menu instead, which will end up being slightly less expensive. Famous people care about saving money too, OK? We like the house-made tofu and the rice pot.
After wrapping her 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 lethal martinis. The place is dimly-lit with giant red booths to crawl into, so your friend won’t feel too exposed.
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 deadly 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 drunk with a to-go box of chicken parmesan under your arm, you’ve done it wrong.
You understand 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-heavy restaurant feels like you’re eating dinner at an oil tycoon’s ranch in Wyoming. It’s a popular restaurant, but the crowd is mostly made up of Malibu and Calabasas locals, so nobody cares how long your IMDB page is.
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. Convince them to go to Jinpachi instead. This quiet West Hollywood sushi bar has tremendous sushi across the board, plus plenty of combination platters and a la carte options to keep prices reasonable. If your friend really needs to spend money though, their $150 omakase is also excellent.
When you become famous in LA, there’s a short list of restaurants that you instinctively start going to. Giorgio Baldi is one of them. This tiny Italian restaurant on the border of Santa Monica and Palisades is worth the hassle. The food is solid (get the sweet corn agnolotti) and the wine list is massive, but you’re really here for the crowd. Whether it’s Lily Tomlin polishing off a bottle of Bordeaux in the corner or Robert Duvall talking about botched animal funerals, a dinner at Giorgio Baldi is a show like no other.
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 social 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 for a selfie.
One thing you didn’t realize about your friend becoming famous is that there’s an entire team of insane people who now follow them everywhere. The brief moments when it’s just the two of you should be treasured, which is why you should eat at Papilles. Despite being open since 2011, this tiny French bistro on Franklin in Hollywood is still a relative secret, meaning you can walk in almost every night and find a quiet table. The three-course prix fixe menu runs in the $35 range and has fantastic versions of everything from fried oysters to duck l‘orange.
Your roommate won two new bedroom sets on The Price Is Right last month and now he thinks he’s Shawn Mendes. It was pretty annoying up until the point when he told you he’d take you out to dinner anywhere you want. Obviously, you’re choosing Nobu Malibu. The massive sushi restaurant on the water is one of the most over-the-top dining experiences in LA, but it’s hard to deny the magic of eating high-quality sushi and watching the sunset - particularly when someone else is buying.