10 Restaurants Marilyn Monroe Loved In California

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Marilyn Monroe was known for her films, her charm, and as the epitome of glamour and sensuality. But beyond her iconic status as a Hollywood starlet, Monroe possessed a lesser-known passion for food that drew her to some of California's finest restaurants, ice cream parlors, and delis, where she rubbed shoulders with stars, politicians, and literary figures. Behind the shimmering facade of Tinseltown, she likely found solace and joy in culinary delights, embracing the pleasures of the table with gusto.

So we've put together a list of the restaurants she liked to frequent in and around Los Angeles, most of which are still alive and kicking today. If they were good enough to attract the rich and famous, they might just be good enough to stand the test of time. As to what Monroe may have eaten at these establishments, we can only speculate. We do know that she preferred her breakfast eggs almost raw and her dinners packed with protein. Steak, lamb chops, or liver were go-to ingredients for her at home, along with some raw carrots, but we can only imagine that her restaurant choices were a little more involved. So, let's take a look at those places and try to guess what a meal with Marylin Monroe might have been like.

Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood

Musso & Frank Grill, an iconic Los Angeles restaurant that is still open today, has long been a magnet for famous people of all industries. Frank Sinatra was a regular there, as were literary greats like William Faulkner and T.S. Elliot. Marilyn Monroe also frequented the joint and often sat at booth three near the front.

But what is so special about this one particular place? Sure, the food is good, and the bartenders can make a mean martini, but so can a lot of other places in Los Angeles. Perhaps it was the fact that Musso & Frank began life as a "writer's hangout," as fourth-generation owner Mark Echeverria told NPR, which suggests people might be attracted by the intense air of intellectualism that hangs in the air. Or perhaps it's because the place specializes in comfort foods favored by older generations, like calf liver or lamb kidneys. This may be especially appealing in a town where a lot of people are transiting in and out of hotels as they participate in the movie industry, and hotels are not the kinds of places where you can get anything resembling a home-cooked meal. All the glitz and glamor of Hollywood can get tiring, even for A-list stars like Marilyn Monroe.


(323) 467-7788

6667 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

The Original Pantry Cafe in Los Angeles

A 24-hour diner might not seem like the first place you would have looked for Marilyn Monroe. These types of establishments are not often associated with the glamorous lifestyles of rich and famous movie stars. But you'd have to make an exception for The Original Pantry Cafe in Los Angeles, because by all accounts, it was a favorite of Monroe's — although, to be fair, it is no longer open 24-hours a day and only serves breakfast and lunch.

If you've ever been there, you might understand why. This old-school dining spot in L.A. has been operating continuously since it opened in 1924 — it didn't even close on the day in 1950 when it moved locations to make way for a new freeway. It also continues to serve good food, including a generous portion of sourdough French toast and other classic American comfort food like country-fried steaks and hamburgers.


(213) 972-9279

877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Tropicana in Los Angeles

Marilyn Monroe was often pictured posing in a bathing suit, so one can only assume that she also spent a lot of time by the poolside. To back up this assumption are reports that she liked to dine at the Tropicana, the pool bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where she also lived for a spell. Its website describes this place as a "classic Hollywood pool experience," and Monroe's erstwhile presence and lingering charisma probably help solidify this notion.

The menu serves up exactly what you'd expect in terms of food and cocktails, but everything is executed well and made with care and attention. In other words, this place may be mostly about the image, but it also offers some substance. For instance, cocktail names reference current Hollywood trends, such as the "Everything Everywhere All at Once." Made with vodka, gin, herradura blanco, diplomatico silver, yuzu, citrus, and Coca-Cola, this drink packs a punch.


(323) 466-7000

7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Rainbow Bar and Grill in West Hollywood

Blind dates can be a little nerve-wracking. Who knows what kind of crazy person your friend set you up with this time? On the other hand, you might really luck out, as Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio did when they met at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in 1952, which was then known as the Villa Nova. According to "Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon," by Charles Castillo, this first date was marked by men repeatedly "approaching the table: DiMaggio was a baseball legend, and they threw their personalities around, try to impress him. Marilyn was amused — usually, it was she whom men were wooing." Whatever may have happened in their subsequent marriage, one can't deny that both those characters would have been a catch, at least for a single blind date.

As the story goes, the pair enjoyed some spaghetti at a booth that is still standing today and where patrons can request to be seated, perhaps for an equally propitious blind date. Or maybe it's better not to follow in those particular footsteps. If that's your inclination, there are plenty of other delicious items to order off the menu besides the spaghetti.


(310) 278-4232

9015 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

The Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood

The Formosa Cafe, which opened in 1939, is one of Hollywood's oldest eateries and has been hosting well-known figures for generations, including the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe. This Chinese restaurant is named after a short-lived republic that ruled over modern-day Taiwan, which was itself named by Portuguese occupiers who referred to it as "ilha formosa," meaning the fair or beautiful island. The restaurant is located in close proximity to several important film studios, which partially explains its appeal among celebrities and film appeareances, such as in "L.A. Confidential."

Another reason may be its charming interior. After a 2015 remodel stripped the restaurant of its iconic interior, the backlash was so overwhelming the restaurant had to remodel it. Alas, this did not save it from the harsh world of the restaurant business. Luckily, it has since reopened with many of its original looks, represented, for one, by a Pacific Electric red car trolley from 1904. The food, comprised of good dim sum, noodles, and other Chinese dishes, is another main draw.


(323) 794-1106

7156 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

Barney's Beanery in Los Angeles

Barney's Beanery has been specializing in chili ever since it opened in 1920, and that was exactly the dish Marilyn Monroe would order when she'd stop in for lunch or dinner while filming "Some Like It Hot." Perhaps this was a form of method acting, but it's more likely that she enjoyed the taste of the food.

The best way to investigate is to stop by this joint yourself and try one or more of these famous chilis. You can choose from the classic dish, which has been on the menu since 1920 and is made with beef and tortilla chips and served with mixed cheeses, sour cream, and onions. Or you can go all out with the beans in the three-bean chili, which includes red beans, black beans, and pinto beans. There is also a fireman's chili for those who really do like it hot and a turkey chili for anyone not in the mood for or abstaining from red meat.


Multiple locations in California.

Canter's Deli in Los Angeles

Marilyn Monroe might never have graced the threshold of Canter's Deli had it not been for her third husband, Arthur Miller, who reportedly introduced her to the joint. And not only is the place still open today in multiple locations across Los Angeles, but it also serves some of the best sandwiches in the U.S., with a few especially good Reuben selections, including turkey and veggie varieties.

Other strong menu items include anything breakfast-related, especially since this meal is served every day, 24-hours a day. Back in the aughts, Los Angeles Magazine named Canter's Belgian waffle the best in town, while the huevos rancheros with corn tortillas and pico de gallo will always provide a filling meal. Be sure to also order something that will allow you to sample the deli's house-made pickles. This is a Jewish deli after all.


Multiple locations in Los Angeles

Melvyn's Restaurant in Palm Springs

According to the restaurant's website, Melvyn's was once patronized by Marilyn Monroe, along with a number of other celebrities of the day, the foremost of which was Frank Sinatra. As far as we know, she may have even dined there with her lover, none other than JFK himself, as the two were rumored to have stayed at the nearby Monkey Tree Hotel.

Whether you're in town for a romantic tryst or a regular old tourist experience, it's worth visiting Melvyn's for a meal. The Hollywood history gives it a certain charm, and the menu boasts a respectable raw bar, whose items can be enjoyed with a good classic martini, as Frank Sinatra might have done. Other options include classic American fare like the prime burger, or French-inspired dishes like steak tartare and French onion soup.


(760) 325-2323

200 W Ramon Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264, United States

Wil Wright's

Marilyn Monroe was a big fan of ice cream sundaes, especially the ones served up at Wil Wright's. This was made clear to us all in an interview the actress gave with Pageant, a now-defunct magazine, where she detailed some aspects of her diet, including her enjoyment of ice cream. In particular, as Women's Health Australia reports, she told the magazine that "It's a good thing, I suppose, that I eat simply during the day, for in recent months, I have developed the habit of stopping off at Wil Wright's ice cream parlor for a hot fudge sundae on my way home from my evening drama classes."

If that sounds like your idea of heaven, you're out of luck, since Wil Wright's is now closed. However, you can try a pastry from Pascal's, a perfectly good bakery that now sits in one of the old Wil Wright's locations in Beverly Hills.


(424) 777-0033

200 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212


When you're a global celebrity like Frank Sinatra or Marilyn Monroe, it's understandable that you would want to be able to dine in private, away from the glare of the spotlight and the flashing cameras. This is especially true today, where those flashing cameras have turned into something worse — surreptitious phone cameras that can snap away at you in your intimate moments without you even knowing about it until the picture appears in some tabloid. To get away from all that, celebrities like Monroe liked to dine at Dominick's, which practiced the utmost exclusivity.

Sadly, this hideaway is no longer an option. The restaurant, which served Italian-American comfort food, closed in 2015 after 67 years in business. Another restaurant that took over shortly thereafter, Verlaine, also closed its doors, but there is one remnant of Dominick's that lingers on, tucked away in Los Feliz. Little Dom, which opened in 2008, is still serving Italian comfort food. However, the exclusivity prized by celebrities of yore has nothing to do with a place like this. In fact, it embodies the concept of a neighborhood restaurant, though a few retro Hollywood decor items can be seen here and there.


(323) 661-0055

2128 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027