Originally published here
Musso & Frank Grill shouldn't be Hollywood’s favorite place, but it is. Aging, faded, and steadfastly behind the times, it’s an anomaly in the capital of youth, serving nourishment to dreamers for nearly a century: everyone from Chaplin to Valentino, Chandler to McQueen, the Bohemians of the ’20s, the screenwriters of the ’30s, Noir authors to stars of ’70s New Hollywood cinema. This is where they made deals and drowned sorrows, attended by gray-haired servers in bow-ties. The same as it ever was.
Look for the sign at 6667 Hollywood Boulevard that reads, “OLDEST RESTAURANT IN HOLLYWOOD SINCE 1919.” Inside, the original pink-and-green pastoral wallpaper remains tinted by the cigarette smoke of countless Golden-Age starlets. Something about the place, with its dark wood booths, stoic bartenders, and swiveling bar chairs causes typical L.A. hierarchies to disintegrate. It’s one of the few places in town where tourists, politicians, ingenues and A-listers can eat side-by-side, equals in the pews.
The Old Room hasn’t changed since the ’30s, when people were still allowed to park their horses in the back. The New Room is where you’ll find the bar. The list of writers who drank there is like “required reading for a sophomore survey of the mid-20th century American novel,” according to the late, great California historian, Kevin Starr. Some say it’s the most-mentioned restaurant in West Coast literature. Bukowski was known to order too many Heinekens, and often had to be driven home to his apartment on Carlton Way in his Ford 200 by the legendary bartender Ruben Reuda, master of the Musso’s overpour since 1967.