Want to catch a glimpse of the stars? You can rub shoulders with the rich and famous at these Los Angeles restaurants.
The Polo Lounge
The Pink Palace has been THE place for celebrity spotting for about a century now, and you may bump into Nicole Kidman, Steve Martin, the Osbournes or the Kardashians. Do as Marilyn Monroe often did in the ’50s, request a booth overlooking the terrace (pictured above), order the McCarthy salad (similar to a Cobb) and sip Dom Pérignon.
Beverly Hills Hotel; 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Spago Beverly Hills
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s stable of restaurants is synonymous with high-profile west coast dining. Nab a table in the cozy, fairy-lit terracotta courtyard at Spago to experience Puck’s legendary modern Californian fare – think lemon-herb blinis with caviar, sour cream and egg-yolk jam or first-of-the-season white corn soup. There are a staggering 30,000 wines to choose from, but beware that many come with a celebrity price-tag. Spago is a favourite of Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sharon Stone, Gwen Stefani and Tom Hanks.
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
This oh-so exclusive West Hollywood hotel and restaurant is a no-brainer when it comes to celebrity spotting, since the suites and bungalows here have long been a favourite place for stars to hide away. Like the architecture, the food is European influenced, including favourites like steak tartare. While you may be dining beside anyone from Lady Gaga to Lana Del Rey, don’t expect to snap a picture to prove it, as there’s a strict no-photography policy.
8221 Sunset Boulevard
Curtis Stone has come a long way since his Surfing the Menu days. His brand-new Hollywood restaurant and specialty butcher shop Gwen is a joint venture with his brother Luke; it specialises in meat cooked asador-style over the fire pit. Already spotted in booths of the beautiful art-deco dining room are Dave Grohl, Michael Klim and Ross Mathews. Stone’s wife Lindsay Price is a sure bet and, of course, you'll see Stone manning the pass.
6600 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles
Image credit: Clay Larsen
Julia Roberts, Jessica Simpson, Hilary Swank and Steven Tyler don’t have too much trouble getting a table, but the rest of us can expect to wait to enter the rustic, dimly-lit interior. There’s also a charming patio with tables set around a fire pit. It serves an eclectic array of American nouveau fare – and the gnocchi with brown butter and truffle honey is well worth the wait.
1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice
The menu of omelettes, pastas and salads won’t set any hearts racing, but if you’ve managed to secure a garden table behind the white-picket-fenced A-list haunt, you’re probably not paying too much attention to what’s on your plate. The paparazzi are perpetually present outside this kitschy-cute, country cottage waiting to snap shots of Paris Hilton, Kylie Jenner, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and anyone who’s anyone in LA.
113 North Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles
Noted restaurateur Robert de Niro (he’s a co-founder of Nobu, too) is a part-owner of AGO, assuring the casual Italian diner immediate celebrity status. It’s not just ol’ Travis Bickle hanging out here, though; Brad Pitt has been spotted. The menu deals in the classics – veal scaloppine, gnocchi with prawns (ahem, shrimp) and eggplant parmigiana.
8478 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood
Cookbook author and arbiter of unproven herbal remedies Gwyneth Paltrow has been spotted at Bestia, and if it’s good enough for Goop, it’s good enough for us. And Bestia’s not resting on its celebrity endorsement: the menu is seriously good. It’s an LA take on Italian with antipasti such as Lobster Crostino with pickled chillies and squid-ink aioli, and gnocchi with house-made buttermilk ricotta.
2121 7th Place, Los Angeles
This Taylor Swift-approved restaurant in West Hollywood is so high on the celebrity hit-list that paparazzi are positioned outside on any given day. The menu is fresh, flavourful vegan Mexican; the décor is bright and Instagram-friendly and the cocktails are potent.
8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
A real institution, the family-owned Casa Vega has been operating since 1956 and its signature Mexico-by-way-of-LA style remains in favour with the A-list. Miley Cyrus frequents the dimly-lit dining room for classics such as Guacamole Fresco, and Selena Gomez is also a fan. Hot tip: the dining room is really dark – make sure you do a recce if you’re in it for the celebs rather than the quesadillas.
13301 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks
Beauty & Essex
An enormous, glitzy dining room with a 20-foot oval skylight draws crowds of young Hollywood mates, who order share plates such as Chile Relleno Empanadas and Grilled Cheese, Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings. Rapper Cardi B had her birthday at Beauty & Essex in 2018; America Ferrera held her baby shower here too.
1615 Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles
Sure, it sounds like it could also be referring to a barbie in your mate Craig’s backyard, but this Melrose Avenue dining room is a little more glitzy. Shiny-haired Hollywood types have been spotted enjoying owner Craig Susser’s Italo-American cuisine, including a truly American invention: Buffalo Wing Pizza. In fact, it’s such a sure thing on the celebrity front that the paparazzi generally park themselves out the front to catch a shot of patrons such as Kim Kardashian, Martin Scorsese and Chrissy Teigan.
8826 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
You might come across a model, Negroni in hand, or perhaps wind up at a table adjacent to a Kardashian, picking at pappardelle. But it’s unlikely you’ll be paying much attention to them: the pasta – think delicate whorls of orecchiette and tendrils of tagliatelle – being handmade in the custom glassed-in space is too mesmerising.
1023 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
This tiny French bistro is a favourite of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who comes for the steak frites and stays for the convivial atmosphere. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, it’s a strictly first come, first served operation. The bad news? The dining room seats only 22 and Petit Trois’s popularity shows no sign of waning. Still, imagine getting a table ahead of self-professed fan Justin Timberlake?
718 Highland Avenue, Los Angeles
This rooftop space overlooking Melrose Avenue is the West Coast outpost of a New York seafood restaurant. Since it opened in 2016, it’s drawn celebrities from all walks: you may see Cindy Crawford munching on the same Truffle Sashimi as Drake. That is, of course, if you’re lucky enough to nab a booking.
8715 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
This breezy rooftop bar and restaurant offers a Southern-Italian menu and ocean views. It’s part-owned by DJ Steve Aoki and frequented by a hip young crowd.
1332 Second Street, Santa Monica
Image credit: Jakob Layman