There’s a scene in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho when Patrick Bateman calls and tries to get a reservation at Dorsia, a prestigious, haute-elite restaurant in New York. There’s a pause… and then the maître d begins to laugh. He laughs and laughs. The only way Bateman can deal with the scorn and ridicule of being denied access to the exclusive restaurant is to moonlight as a serial killer. That’s life in the soulless, status-seeking world of 1980’s New York.
Dorsia didn’t really exist. It’s a mythological restaurant, a metaphor in a novel that name drops more restaurants –The Harvard Club, Flutie’s, Arcadia, Espace, Hubert’s -than you’ll find in a NYC travel guide. In other words, it doesn’t matter how rich, famous, powerful, and well connected you are… there are places that even the most slavishly fashionable tribe can’t get into. It doesn’t matter how well tailored your suit is, or how good the watermark is on your business card.
Celebrity sighting is different today than in the world of American Psycho, but getting the coveted res at a buzzed-about restaurant like Dorsia still feels like acceptance into a secret society. Fashionable restaurants come and go like food trends. Spago is yesterday’s quinoa. Michael’s is the kimchi of yesteryear… or is it kale? Seaweed? Matcha? Trying to keep up with where the rich and famous dine is like trying to find Waldo; there are just too many hyped and trendy restaurants in an all-you-can-eat-buffet of hyped and trendy cities. Still, even celebs and A-listers have their go-to joints.
10. The Roger Room
Located in West Hollywood, the Roger Room exists somewhere on the intersection of dive and swank. The 900-square foot bar features rust-colored mohair booths, mirrored ceilings, red-gold lighting, circus-themed photos, and neon Tarot cards as signage; it’s a look that’s best described as ’60s Wild Wild West meets David Lynch’s Lost Highway. The extensive drinks menu features noirish names like the Thug, the Cad, and the Dame. On weekends the Roger Room sets up a $10 valet service, and the line to get in snakes down the street. Still, unlike other popular celebrity haunts the place cultivates reverse snobbery –there are no red velvet ropes or pompous door policies. Locals include Fiona Apple and Cameron Diaz.
9. Mamo Le Michelangelo/Mamo
Located in the French Riviera, the 23-year old restaurant Mamo Le Michelangelo is a hotspot for celebs, especially during the Cannes Film Festival. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Pattinson, Rihanna, and Harvey Weinstein have all been spotted enjoying the restaurant’s iconic Provencal/Italian cuisine. In 2015, Mike “Mamo” Mammoliti opened his first stateside restaurant, Mamo, on Grand Street in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Mamo’s rustic wooden beams, hand-painted tiles, and pale yellow walls evoke the gilded sophistication of the South of France, and the new restaurant has attracted just as many A-listers as the flagship eatery in the Cote d’ Azur.
8. The Chateau Marmont
Modeled after a royal residence in France’s Loire Valley, the Chateau Marmont opened in Los Angeles in 1927. The hotel has long been synonymous with Hollywood glamour and debauched celebrity revelry, a sort of West Coast version of New York’s famed Chelsea hotel. Lindsay Lohan lived at the Chateau, and director Sofia Coppola directed her film Somewhere at the hotel. While the hotel boasts an eccentric list of celebrity guests, its palm-tree ringed patio restaurant regularly draws A-listers for lunch and dinner. Scarlett Johannsson and Robert Pattinson frequently dine at the Chateau, as does Lady Gaga.
7. Cheeseburger Baby
Cheeseburger Baby is the oldest cheeseburger joint on South Beach, and the late-night favorite has long been popular with celebrities, proving that a good greasy-spoon can go toe-to-toe with any white-linen restaurant. Hip-hop royalty Jay-Z and Beyonce go to Cheeseburger Baby every time they’re in town; Jay-Z even gave the joint a shout out on 96.5, calling it his “favorite place in Miami.”
The burgers at Cheeseburger Baby are so good, in fact, that rapper Busta Rhymes threw a temper tantrum when his party wasn’t allowed to cut in line. According to Stephanie Vitori, owner of Cheeseburger Baby, the restaurant was slammed after the SoBe clubs let out, and Busta and his entourage wanted to be served first, saying “We’re very important people.” When the employees declined, Rhymes hurled homophobic slurs.
6. Minetta Tavern
Keith McNally, otherwise known as “the restaurateur who invented downtown,” creates buzzy hotspots that become exclusive pop culture touchstones. McNally is responsible for bringing New York City popular restaurants like Odeon and Nell’s in the ’80s, and Pravda and Pastis in the ‘90s. In 2009, McNally reopened (and reimagined) the Minetta Tavern, a former 1920s speakeasy, and it was coined the first iconic restaurant of postmillennial recession New York. The restored dining room has a hint of New York’s famous 21 Club, and the dimly-lit back room is a celebrity hangout. Jerry Seinfeld, Brooke Shields, and George Stephanopoulos have all been spotted biting into the coveted Black Label burger.
5. The Forge Restaurant/Wine Bar
The Forge Restaurant has been a sanctuary for celebrities and organized crime figures since it opened in the 1920s. A shooting, a fire, damage from Hurricane Andrew, a well publicized legal battle –Miami Beach’s favorite nightclub and restaurant has the sort of strange and checkered past that would make Carl Hiaasen proud. The famed restaurant reopened in 2010, and Chef Dewey LoSasso whips up a variety of avant-garde lobster dishes such as Lobster Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches and a sirloin burger topped with lobster marmalade. The Forge is popular with sports celebs –it’s one of A-Rod’s favorite restaurants -and is one of Diddy’s go-to haunts.
4. ABC Kitchen
ABC Kitchen opened in New York in the summer of 2010 and quickly became a go-to restaurant for celebrities. In fact, the restaurant is so popular with the rich and famous that People magazine said that ABC really stands for “Always Bursting with Celebrities.” ABC Kitchen is run by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and specializes in locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine. Or, as the New York Times suggests: “the notion of the place is haute organic and Hamptons sustainable.” Notable A-listers who frequent ABC Kitchen include Katy Perry, Meg Ryan, Russell Brand, and Kayne West. Who knew Yeezus would be down for a plate of crab toast and rhubarb pie?
3. C London
On any given night a gaggle of starry-eyed paparazzi surround C London hoping to snap a picture of Simon Cowell or David Beckham. It’s like a scene from Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, only there’s no sign of busty bombshell Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Trevi fountain. Located in the heart of Mayfair, C London is the sister restaurant of Harry’s Bar in Venice, the birthplace of the Bellini and another restaurant that’s no stranger to celebrities (Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and Orson Wells all ate at Harry’s Bar, and Woody Allen still frequents it when he’s in town). C London serves traditional Italian cuisine and caters to an eclectic international crowd.
2. The Spotted Pig
The Spotted Pig is a modest operation, with annual revenues, according to Manta, of less than $500,000. In other words, it’s a dive bar with three-dollar PBRs and a Thursday pool league… for celebrities. The Spotted Pig is co-owned by Jay-Z, Bono, and Mario Batali. Run by celebrated British chef April Bloomfield, the unpretentious gastro pub in the West Village has attracted Jude Law, Luke Wilson, Courtney Love, Michael Stipe, and LeBron James. The Spotted Pig was recently awarded a prestigious Michelin star, which is just another layer of pedigree for an already well pedigreed watering hole.
1. Fig & Olive
Who eats at Fig & Olive, Chef Pascal Lorange’s valentine to Mediterranean cuisine on the corner of Melrose and La Cienega? The question is… who doesn’t? The 8,000 square foot open-concept restaurant is like a red carpet packed with foodies and celebrities; Amanda Seyfried, Robert Downey Jr., Halle Berry, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston, Elizabeth Banks, Ryan Gosling, Sir Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen have all been seen at Fig & Olive. And it’s easy to understand why. Fig & Olive’s Mediterranean atmosphere -cool white walls, lofty ceiling, and a tree in the center of the dining area- makes it easy to forget you’re actually dining in LA. The restaurant even has its own signature brand of olive oils. Bellissimo.