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Celebrity-owned restaurants and bars in Los Angeles light up with star power

Whether it's Robert De Niro's Ago, Ryan Gosling's Tagine or Eva Longoria's Beso, these bars, restaurants and night spots owned by stars may be just what you're looking for if you want a Hollywood-style ending to your day.

April 22, 2011|By Matt Donnelly, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Actress Eva Longoria at the bar of her restaurant "Beso" in Hollywood.
Actress Eva Longoria at the bar of her restaurant "Beso" in Hollywood. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

Celebrities spend a lot of time in bars and restaurants, and many of them seem compelled to eventually own one. Drawing a crowd is certainly easier with a big name attached, but why would a famous actor or musician want the hassle? Tax write-off? Vanity project? Most likely, hospitality is in the DNA of any great entertainer.

"For people in the industry, a big part of the draw is working with creative minds, so an obvious perk is enjoying that off the clock. Think back to the Rat Pack — the idea of powerhouses in a protected space at a table for drinks and great food. That's a party," said L.A. night life architect Jason Scoppa, who is now collaborating with powerhouse SBE.

Here's a guide to L.A.'s best-known star-backed restaurants, with a handy map.

[1] Fat Sal's: Fat Sal's is a sandwich joint that has a UCLA clientele but Hell's Kitchen authenticity thanks to "Entourage" star Jerry Ferrara and partner Josh Stone. Far from being a Hollywood hideaway, this storefront kind of turns the "hangout-for-me-and-my-friends" theory on its head, but the franchise opportunities are probably ripe. 972 Gayley Ave., http://www.fatsalsdeli.com.

[2] Ago: This purist Italian venture from actor and longtime restaurateur Robert De Niro has the ideal effect of being unpretentious while drenched in star power. Its tucked-away Melrose Avenue location offers shelter from prying photographers and boasts a humble and devoted staff. Rihanna is a fan of the pasta, and agents and producers are more likely to attend for family dinners rather than power lunches. Historic moment: Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest and Randy Jackson once split the check here — with three American Express Black Cards. 8478 Melrose Ave., (323) 655-6333, http://www.agorestaurant.com.

[3] Tagine: A polished Moroccan theme and menu combined with the luxe Beverly Hills restaurant scene gives partner Ryan Gosling a breather from the Young Hollywood fast lane. While the Academy Award-nominated actor can find comfort in the dark corners of L.A.'s club scene, Tagine offers a grown-up and sexy playground for his famous pals. Jazz music pipes throughout, a passion for the part-time musician, and his artier side shines with black and white photos by celeb chronicler Dan Winters. 132 N. Robertson Blvd., (310) 360-7535, http://www.taginebeverlyhills.com.

[4] Dominick's: A celebrity's affinity for the restaurant biz often includes an impulse common to many transplants to our fair city: to bring some New York glamour to the scene. Rose McGowan's place, Dominick's, is a prime example, angling for that East Coast savvy. It also counts Laura Dern and Ben Harper as partners. 8715 Beverly Blvd., (310) 652-2335, http://www.dominicksrestaurant.com.

[5] Nobu: The legendary sushi joint, another De Niro-backed project, was a storied institution on the Malibu dining scene until West Hollywood got its own version. High-brow fish and sake serve as garnish for canoodling and shop talk at the WeHo location, immortalized as the late-night meeting place of Sean Penn and Lindsay Lohan a few years back. It even spawned a weekly lounge night, DJ'd by the brother of actress Sanaa Lathan. 903 N. La Cienega Blvd., http://www.noburestaurants.com.

[6] House of Blues: A natural business move for an original "Blues Brother," Sunset Boulevard's House of Blues is a playground for investor Dan Aykroyd's big-monied pals and Hollywood peers. The venue also served as a springboard for his boozy pet project, Crystal Head Vodka. 8430 W. Sunset Blvd., (323) 848-5100, http://www.houseofblues.com.

[7] The Happy Ending: A definitively down-to-earth sports joint, complete with a novelty wheel of discount drinks and a grab machine filled with live lobsters, this is a dive bar gone Hollywood. The jeans-and-T-shirts crowd gets the occasional glance at partner Grant Show, whose character Jake in "Melrose Place" would've made the bar a nightly haunt. 7038 Sunset Blvd., (323) 469-7038, http://www.thehappyendingbar.com.

[8] Beacher's Madhouse: The Las Vegas variety attraction was shepherded to Los Angeles by actor David Arquette, who is back in the fold as a partner following a stint in rehab. Featuring flying Oompa Loompas, burlesque girls and giant dancing pandas, the private show has its own parlor at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and also counts Kelly Osbourne as an investor. 7000 Hollywood Blvd., http://www.beachersmadhouse.com.

[9] The Writer's Room: Thanks to his Oscar hosting gig, this effort from James Franco received astounding publicity before it even opened. Attached to the big Hollywood night life venue Supperclub, the Writer's Room is small, dark and heavily guarded. Oriental rugs and a handy exit for smokers lend it that coveted Rat Pack mystique. While Franco famously didn't show for a post-Oscar party at the bar, several soft openings brought the likes of Seth Rogen and Michelle Rodriguez. In one interview, Franco joked he'd be using the space as a platform for his live singing. 6675 Hollywood Blvd.

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