Dine in seclusion amid Old Hollywood elegance in the courtyard garden at… (Christine Cotter / Los Angeles…)
Los Angeles enjoys a surfeit of beautiful restaurants, bars and clubs where even someone who's not the biggest fish in the bouillabaisse might share a random encounter with a celebrity or Hollywood power player any night of the week. But even the strangely democratic nature of fame still engenders its own aristocracy, and some places just require a lot more than credit cards and air kisses to get in the door. We've compiled a list of our favorite power tables — the specific spots where moguls, movie stars and the like break their bread.
Real estate: The Tower Bar, Sunset Tower Hotel, 8358 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.
Power table: four-top, far right corner. This table offers a slice of the breathtaking city views available from the Tower's terrace, and also comes equipped with an optional Japanese screen that obscures the diners from the rest of the patrons. Filled by famous Tower Bar maitre d' Dimitri Dimitrov, the table also comes with a rate perk — Dimitri mixes his signature Chopin martini for you.
Occupied by: publishing magnates, mega-star actresses (the Tower is a longtime favorite of Jennifer Aniston).
Real estate: Inside Bar, Soho House Los Angeles, 9200 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.
Power table: last club booth in a row of three. Any seating in Soho House is hard won, given that membership or a reference from a member is the only way to gain access. But within the sexy ecosystem of the club's seating there is a clear winner. Let's call it "The Bachelor Booth." While the north-facing outdoor patio hosts Hollywood royalty by koi ponds and exotic fruit trees and the inside dining room has the lush strokes of an old-money drawing room, the club booths by the bar, all brown leather and brass studs, is where the boys are. The last of the booths offers full vantage point of the standing traffic (read: single young ladies with connections for a barstool but not a proper table), and a 5-foot walk to the south patio for chain-smoking Marlboro lights and discussing one's latest audition.
Occupied by: single actors and musicians in various combinations and across age groups, such as Ryan Phillippe, Dylan McDermott, Lukas Haas and Kellan Lutz.
Real estate: Ammo, 1155 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood.
Power table: Ammo is such a fixture now that the entire lunch crowd is likely to be agents and actors, but it's not some kind of Hollywood mess hall serving Cobb salads and Diet Coke. The food is swank, made with locally sourced ingredients, which makes it a perfect spot for industry types to eat well while being seen by just the right folks. A stone's throw from Paramount Pictures, proprietors maintain equal opportunity seating but have been known to close the large-party room for the right name.
Occupied by: Anna Wintour, who is said to be a longtime fan of their cheeseburger on her rare trips to town.
Real estate: Library in the Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.
Power table: For star-gazers and social climbers, the patio of Andre Balazs' legendary hotel is the strike zone when it comes to seating. It's a French country fishbowl with wicker furniture, dim lights and perfect vantage points for fellow diners. But inside, a step down to the left of the lobby, sits the real power table — an arrangement of benches around a glass-top, capped with the only high-backed wing chair in the joint, its occupant invisible to the pedestrians above or outside.
Occupied by: film world players such as Ron Meyer, Brad Grey and Donna Langley. Also a favorite of broadcast personality Ryan Seacrest.
Real estate: Church & State Bistro, 1850 Industrial St., #100, downtown L.A.
Power table: For bold-named foodies and the lifestyle-obsessed, the trek to downtown Los Angeles is worthwhile even though this space is not designed with private hideaway tables. The marketplace-style layout provides little sanctuary from the storefront windows, but seats closest to the back wall and to the kitchen's service window are most coveted. Back there, the haute cuisine comes faster and rubber-necking is not as easily done.
Occupied by: celebrity chefs looking to break from their own culinary efforts, like Bobby Flay and Hubert Keller, not to mention celebrity disciples such as Gwyneth Paltrow, who blogged about the spot on her site, Goop.com.
Real estate: Dan Tana's, 9071 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.
Power table: The cramped but casual chic of Dan Tana's has made it an industry staple with one common denominator — everyone waits their turn for a table. But do they? Well, you might catch a TV actress and her lawyer husband sipping drinks at the bar while their checkered table cloth and kitschy Chianti bottle is being reset, but some folks have earned the right to breeze through. Executive extraordinaire Lew Wasserman passed in 2002, but his named booth is still reserved for his family at a moment's notice. They'll even lend it to heavyweight stars who have shown the joint longtime love.
Occupied by: hot young directors getting meals with mentors, unofficial spokesman George Clooney and the rare surfacing of Jack Nicholson.