Musso and Frank Grill

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It’s the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, yet it doesn’t seem to be as well-known as, say, Philippe’s; mentions of Musso and Frank to three friends brought blank looks. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Hollywood,” one said. I replied, “Have you been there since 1919?”

Like Philippe’s and Cole’s, Musso and Frank is steeped in L.A. history, numbering among the few holdovers from the era of Bogart and Chandler. Philip Marlowe would have frequented Musso’s, if he weren’t fictional, and Faulkner reportedly did. Musso’s has a reputation for surliness and a menu that hasn’t changed much from 90 years ago, dotted with bygone dishes like welsh rarebit, jellied consumme and diplomat pudding.

I was always intimidated about eating there. Once about 10 years ago a friend and I stopped in for Cokes in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. When we ordered our lowly soft drinks, the waiter snatched the menus out of our hands and banished us to the bar, despite the nearly empty dining room. Yikes.

Finally, after years of working up the nerve, I went in recently for dinner. Service was pleasant and professional, the steaks (from a coal-fired oven) excellent, the ambience thick. By golly, it’s my new favorite L.A. restaurant (this week). Some weekend I’m going back for lunch to sit at the counter and order welsh rarebit.

Photo: Wendy Leung

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  • meg

    People have heard of Philippe’s but not Musso & Frank’s? Inconceivable (I know — “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”).

    It’s a pity you’re not a martini man, because they mix a mean one.

    [I figured everyone knew of M&F’s too until dropping the name and a succession of friends had no idea what I was talking about. — DA]

  • John Clifford

    I’ve been a fan of Musso’s for many years. When I had my own business and/or worked in Hollywood, it was always a treat to go to Musso’s. AND I have to say that Musso’s is the one place where I’ve always seen a celebrity or two when I’ve eaten there (with only one exception and that was a late night dinner).

    The last time I was there, Ray Bradbury was seated in his wheelchair at the next table. I’ve also had Christopher Walken at the next table. Sometimes it’s just a character actor who I recognize, but don’t know the name.

    When friends visit Hollywood, they always want to see stars. Walking down the “Walk of Fame” you won’t see any. But at Musso’s you have a good chance.

    My favorite siting at Musso’s (although I’m sure no one else who reads this blog would appreciate it, or have recognized the participants) was a lunch back in the late ’70s, when I saw the staff of Jay Ward Productions sitting and having a holiday company lunch. Jay Ward, Bill Scott, June Foray (who I know), Skip Young, and all the rest. For this Rocky and Bullwinkle fan, that was a thrill.

    [Hokey smokes! — DA]

  • shirley wofford

    I love to eat at M & F. Knowing its history adds to the enjoyment — the ambiance and crusty, old waiters.

    The first time I went there, I was intimidated by the prices, so I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu — a platter containing a variety of cooked vegetables, a whole cooked tomato, and a mound of mashed potatoes. I loved it, and now that’s what I have every time. I do start first with a cup of creamy tomato soup and their sourdough bread. Delicious!!

    I once read an interview with the bartender, who told about celebrities he has served. He reported that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was his most generous tipper. Who would have thought.

  • Elizabeth

    We love to eat there whenever we get a chance. Not only is the menu “old school,” but it’s enormous! They have something like 12 different kinds of potatoes!!! I love the fact that I can order a side of asparagus with hollandaise, or hollandaise on anything, for that matter. Great bar too!