Los Angeles’ rapidly evolving dining scene allows for plenty of satisfied palates, but if you dig a little deeper than the current trends, you’ll find quite a few time-honored eateries that seem a touch familiar. A terrible shootout was filmed in an unassuming bakery in the Valley, while a key scene in Pretty Woman was filmed in a downtown gem that also served as inspiration for the world’s most horrifying hotel in American Horror Story. Here are 10 restaurants where famous tales have unfolded in film and television.
Restaurant, Asian, Fusion, $$$
The Formosa Cafe was opened by prize-fighter Jimmy Bernstein in 1925 as the Red Spot. The restaurant was renamed the Formosa Cafe – given its location on Santa Monica Boulevard at Formosa Avenue – in the 1930s, serving up cocktails and Cantonese and American food to its celebrity clientele. In a hilarious scene from L.A. Confidential (1997), Detective Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) accuses Lana Turner of being a prostitute dressed up like Lana Turner while his partner, played by Kevin Spacey, wryly observes. The fate of the Formosa Cafe is presently unclear as it shuttered in January of 2017. The building is currently up for lease.
Little Dom’s in Los Feliz is a favorite hangout for many locals, who flock to the casual neighborhood spot for its Italian cuisine and smart cocktails. Yet in the 2011 film We Bought a Zoo, Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) avoids it as it reminds him of his late wife, Katherine. At the end of the film, he takes his children to Little Dom’s and tells them the story of how he met their mother: she was seated at a table near the window as he walked by and convinced himself to go inside and meet her.
Foo-Chow in Chinatown is very proud of being featured in action-comedy Rush Hour (1998), starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. So proud, in fact, that they’ve painted the credit on the side of the building. The scene features the pair eating Chinese food out of takeout boxes as they banter about whose father was the bigger hero.
Stick around after the credits of The Avengers (2012) and see the gang goes out for shawarma – some of them still in their suits – and eats in silence as the staff cleans up the joint. The restaurant is played by Elat Burger, which, in fact, serves shawarma.
Dating back to the 1920s, the scarlet-hued and gorgeous Prince restaurant serves plenty of Korean fried chicken and cold beer while guests enjoy live piano music multiple nights a week. It may be recognizable from 1974’s Chinatown, in which The Prince plays the Brown Derby, or perhaps from sitcom New Girl, where The Prince acts as the interior of the bar where Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) works.
Rat and Stacy go on a date | Courtesy of Universal Pictures
In Fast Times at Ridgemont High(1982), students Rat (Brian Backer) and Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) finally go on their first date. He takes her to a German restaurant called The Atlantis, where they are seated at a candlelit table. As Stacy decides what she’ll have to eat, Rat realizes he’s forgotten his wallet. The restaurant has gone through a number of changes over the years, but it’s easy to track down today as Barone’s Famous Italian Restaurant, known for serving up rectangular thin-crust Neapolitan pies.
Legendary Hollywood restaurant Musso & Frank plays itself in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994), a biopic about the notoriously terrible filmmaker. It is at Musso & Frank where Wood (Johnny Depp) meets Orson Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio); this is a significant scene as Welles’ Citizen Kane is considered one of the greatest films of all time, while Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space is believed to be one of the worst. Swing by Musso & Frank today for a steak and a martini.
In the 1996 film Swingers, aspiring comedian Mike (Jon Favreau) and aspiring actor Trent (Vince Vaughn) banter at a diner. Their frequent hangout spot is known to locals at the 101 Coffee Shop, located in Hollywood. Get a sandwich, a milkshake, or breakfast any time – it opens bright and early at 7am and stays open until 3am for post-bar coffee and pie.
Buck just wanted a dozen doughnuts | Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Boogie Nights (1997) follows the exploits of dishwasher-turned-porn-star “Dirk Diggler,” portrayed by Mark Wahlberg. A particularly graphic scene occurs when fellow porn star Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) stops at a doughnut shop to buy a dozen pastries. As he prepares to pay, a robber storms in, and a violent shootout follows. Check out the shop today – it still has the bright yellow booths and serves a variety of doughnuts, pastries, cupcakes, brownies, and cakes.
The Cicada restaurant, located inside the James Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles, has played a role in numerous films and TV shows, including Mad Men and Scandal. Its stunning Art Deco design was also the inspiration for the Hotel Cortez in American Horror Story: Hotel. Perhaps its most notable scene occurred in Pretty Woman (1990), in which Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) accidentally flings an escargot shell across the room. Book a table there today and find they serve Italian fare, not French.