Hollywood and celebrity are almost synonymous, and now with the addition of many new restaurants to old favorites, it’s also becoming known for its eclectic blend of restaurants. Chef Betty Fraser and business partner Chef Denise DeCarlo were at the advent of the new wave when their opened their restaurant, Grub, secreted in Hollywood’s Media District. Situated around the corner from Hollywood Center Studios, it wasn’t long before it began drawing a dedicated clientele of industry professionals.
Betty fit right in. She was an actress and, after leaving her native San Francisco, soon learned that the reality of Los Angeles’ acting scene left a lot to be desired. She and DeCarlo started a catering business “As You Like It” before opening the small restaurant initially serving only lunch to the studio and industry types in the district before expanding to dinner service.
It didn’t hurt that she was “discovered” and tapped to appear on Food Network’s “Top Chef”. In an interview with Modern Restaurant Management Magazine, Betty said “I had pretty much given up the idea being in front of the camera or an audience so when I was approached by the show, I saw it as a fun opportunity to do something different. It opened many doors for me. I started to see the value in media and live event exposure. I find it interesting how life can give you what you need if you let it. I gave up acting to pursue a career in the culinary field and the culinary field put me on TV.”
Grub is in its 15th year as one of Hollywood’s favorite spots, serving up delicious and innovative comfort food in their homey Hollywood bungalow.
Betty Fraser is among an array of notable culinary personalities that have opened eateries in the central Hollywood area including Mario Battali and Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza at Melrose and Highland. Also Chef Susan Fineger who just recently closed Mud Hen on Highland Avenue.
The Michelin Guide, with its highly lauded “Star” rating, rewarded two Hollywood area restaurants with stars: Osteria Mozza with one and the venerable Providence on Melrose with two.
Our restaurants come in all sizes and descriptions. Don’t overlook two that are tucked into nondescript strip malls. Papilles (“tastebuds” in French) opened five years ago on Franklin at Argyle. It offers a three-course fixed price menu that changes almost daily, attracting a loyal clientele who enjoy food using the same techniques and attention to detail as in a Michelin-starred restaurant, but in a casual setting without the fuss.
In another strip mall on Highland near Melrose, Chef Lefebvre and partners opened Trois Mec in 2013 in a former pizza shop. It features an ever-changing five-course tasting menu. Seats are at a premium and tickets sold well in advance to secure a reservation. Do not despair, however, as next door Petit Trois—its companion bistro—serves classic French fare with no reservations.
Included in our area’s finest are Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard since 1919 and the Tam O’Shanter in nearby Atwater, established in 1922 and a favorite of Walt Disney. For lovers of all things Italian there’s Palermo’s in Los Feliz and Miceli’s on Las Palmas, just steps away from our famed thoroughfare and a Hollywood favorite since 1949. Also in Los Feliz, take a trip back to the 1960s at The Dresden, complete with piano bar and the beloved Marty and Elaine performing. If its Mexican food you crave, you can’t do better than Casita del Campo on Hyperion Avenue which serves the best margarita this side of Guadalajara.
With new restaurants opening, such as Paley’s at Columbia Square and Rao, Hollywood’s version of the famed New York eatery in the heart of the media district, the choices for fine dining grows.
There’s literally something for every taste and budget. You can do no better than to eat local. DH