Your family and friends are liars. They’ll visit LA and act excited as you walk them around the Griffith Observatory. They’ll feign interest when you show them to the taco stand with the best barbacoa in town. But at the end of the day, all they really want to see is a celebrity. And it’s your job to make that happen.
Contrary to what their hotel brochures say, no famous person will ever be spotted walking down Hollywood Blvd. or wave to you from their front yard while you’re on one of those celebrity-home bus tours. They do, however, occasionally need to eat - so you will find them in restaurants. These 12 restaurants, in particular. Plus, a grocery store.
When it comes to the sheer statistical probability of actually seeing someone famous, Craig’s has the highest odds of any restaurant in the city. The bread may be the best thing at this West Hollywood spot, but when the only thing that matters is making sure your mom locks eyes with someone she can brag about to her Zumba class, put Craig’s near the top of the list. Call far in advance for reservations - they fill up fast.
The most surprising aspect of this classic Italian restaurant in the Palisades is not that you’ll probably spot Rihanna dining in a see-through kaftan - it’s that the food is actually good. They serve a fantastic plate of burrata and their famous sweet corn agnolotti is the kind of thing you’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about. That and Rihanna’s kaftan.
You aren’t going to see a Kardashian or a Real Housewife here - this is where Aubrey Plaza goes to drink natural wine and John C. Reilly wears fedoras with confidence. If your Portland friend has been obsessing over some up-and-coming comedian who finally landed a Netflix special, it’s a solid bet they’re at All Time right now, eating burrata-doused foccacia and a Good Ass Salad.
Wolfgang Puck’s flagship Beverly Hills restaurant is one of those places that seems like it couldn’t possibly still be good - but it is. And it’s also still packed with famous people. Want to fit in? Order the salmon pizza, spicy tuna cones, and wiener schnitzel from the bar bites menu. Your cousin might just poke at the smoked-fish pizza, but she’ll get over it once she spots Rachel Brosnahan drinking wine at a corner table.
There are celebrity restaurants, and then there’s Dan Tana’s - the iconic Italian spot in West Hollywood where the only rule is that there are no rules. Come any night of the week and you’ll probably do a shot of premium tequila with the maître d’, and Ron Jeremy might spill his martini on your chicken parm. A night at Dan Tana’s is an essential LA dining experience, one where the celebrities aren’t just distant entities you stare at, they’re people you get down and party with.
You don’t come to Tower Bar to eat, you come to suck down dirty martinis and watch celebrities scream into their phones. Located in the heart of The Strip, Tower Bar is an iconic LA establishment where celebutants still want to hang out and pretend to eat tuna tartare. The poolside patio is a certifiable scene, so bring your best pair of sunglasses and sharpen up that side-eye. And please be on the lookout for flying phones.
Lost amongst the giant black and white banners hanging from the ceiling, the chaotic dining room, and Scott Caan eating Peking duck with his hands is the fact that this Beverly Hills landmark is basically an actual landmark, entirely devoted to opulent, over-the-top dining since 1974. And though the food isn’t anything to write home about these days, it’s still an all-out party every night of the week, with some of the best people-watching in town. You’re going to want several rounds of their famous lychee martinis.
Your old college roommate wants to drive up the Malibu coast, see a celebrity, and eat on the water while the sun sets. And she’s here for one night. Go to Nobu Malibu and knock out all three at once. The flagship restaurant of the Nobu empire is one of the most recognizable restaurants in LA, and despite the exorbitant prices and swarms of paparazzi literally sitting outside, it’s a place that’s always worth the hassle of getting in. Classic dishes like the sashimi tacos, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and black cod miso are still fantastic, and as long as they keep packing their patio with A-list celebrities, there’ll never be a dull moment.
In a town full of high-profile patios, Chateau Marmont’s is arguably the most famous. It feels like a movie set, is full of people who never take their sunglasses off, and even though we should hate it, we definitely don’t. There’s almost always an Olsen twin or someone from The OC present and the food is much better than it needs to be at a place where no one goes to actually eat. Just don’t try stealing a quick photo op with a celebrity - you’ll be asked to leave faster than that time Led Zeppelin’s drummer drove a motorcycle through the lobby.
Celebrities tend to stay hidden when the sun’s up in LA, but one place they’re always out in full force is The Ivy. This classic Beverly Hills power-lunch spot is where every movie star goes to death-stare their agent until the deal gets done, haphazardly pick at a Cobb salad, and guzzle house gimlets before getting picked up in an Escalade. The food is wildly expensive and not that great, so just choose the least expensive salad you can find and don’t eat it.
No matter what Nobu Malibu means to you, Sushi Park is the antithesis. But this small strip mall spot is also home to the best sushi in Los Angeles, often being eaten by Oscar-winning actors who come in during lunch wearing flip flops. Their omakase will set you back a few hundred dollars, but that’s the price you pay for this level of sushi - and the off-chance that Beyoncé walks in with Blue Ivy after school gets out.
It’s no secret that celebrities tend to congregate in certain neighborhoods, and Brentwood is one of them. While you aren’t going to spot Reese Witherspoon walking out of Wahoo’s on Wilshire any time soon, the Brentwood Country Mart is ground zero for celebrities shopping for luxury stationery and filling up on Goop merchandise - so keep your eyes peeled. Once you snag that blurry picture of Jennifer Garner walking to her car, head to Reddi-Chick for some solid rotisserie chicken and malt shakes.
You can spend years sitting in every restaurant from Malibu to Beverly Hills, but your best shot at actually seeing a famous person in LA might be at a grocery store in Franklin Village. It’s here where locking eyes with Alison Brie at the deli counter or reaching for almond milk at the same time as Jon Hamm aren’t just outtakes from your bedtime fantasies, they’re real things that happen regularly. Prepare your sister from Dallas accordingly.