photo credit: Jakob Layman
Celebrity restaurants were invented and perfected in LA. The best ones are cramped, rowdy spaces where very famous people like to eat and pretend to lead normal lives for a few martini-drenched hours. You get the feeling that anything could happen at any time. Maybe a TV star will frisbee-toss his fedora across the dining room, or an older lady at the bar with a pink boa will wink at you. But what makes these celebrity restaurants truly special is the camaraderie inside them. No one will blink if you stand up and grab the fedora out of the air and blow a kiss back to the lady at the bar.
Craig’s in West Hollywood is one of the most celebrity-packed restaurants in Los Angeles. But unlike the ones where it feels like everyone’s at the same party, Craig’s has created an atmosphere where there are really only two things to do - be a celebrity or stare at one.
Walking into Craig’s is not at all what you would expect from a restaurant where the Kardashians fight for Thursday night reservations with the Carters. The sterile, dimly-lit room has a vague NYC-in-the-’50s aesthetic that feels both forced and tacky. There’s a bar where you’ll find two flat-screen TVs inexplicably playing Sportscenter. The booths are filled, but there’s an eerie silence in the air, as if everyone’s waiting for their ex-wife’s lawyer to walk in the door. And there’s so much space between each booth, you feel like you’re eating in your own little cubicle. Craig’s feels more like a celebrity funeral than a celebrity restaurant - and the food tastes like it came from one too.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
You might be able to look past the tasteless chopped salad if you saw a man in a tie-dye bowler hat blow a fistful of glitter at the bartender, or you overheard Martha Stewart talking to your waiter about side boob. And you’d probably be fine with the cruise ship-inspired whitefish piccata if you spotted someone with a rhinestone cane ripping shots of premium tequila with the maître d’. But instead, the cast of characters at Craig’s is brooding TV execs, children trying to keep themselves busy while their parents eat in silence, and visibly uncomfortable famous people. Everyone is isolated in their own cubicle-booths, which leaves you with your $32 plate of chicken parmesan, wildly aware of how little you want to finish it.
If you come to Craig’s with the sole purpose of spotting someone you recognize, you’ll get what you came for. But if you want to experience something truly unique to LA, where celebrities are just people having a great time eating dinner like you and your friends, turn around and go to Dan Tana’s - it’s one block away.
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This is the free bread that comes to your table, and it’s easily the best thing at Craig’s. It’s perfectly-seasoned and the right kind of chewy, and you shouldn’t feel any amount of guilt if you fill up on it.
For $16, you basically you get one cup of shredded lettuce with a couple of garbanzo beans and a hand full of corn kernels thrown on top. Skip this.
This isn’t world-class pizza, but it is something you should order considering there isn’t much else on the menu worth getting excited about.
It’s hard not to compare this dish to a very famous chicken parm at a certain other celebrity restaurant around the corner (Dan Tana’s). When we do, we’re reminded that Craig’s version is just bland and completely forgettable.
Holy mid-’90s cruise ship, this is bad. It’s basically a wet piece of mystery fish doused in lemon sauce and a helping of your great-great aunt’s expired capers. Donate its $41 price tag to your favorite charity instead.