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Hollywood's striking risk aversion is borne out by the mostly static nature of its 1 o'clock meet-up spots. For The Hollywood Reporter's fifth annual Power Lunch survey, 150-plus top industry insiders voted in the usual suspects — most frequently variants on sophisticated comfort-Italian (from La Scala to Toscana), along with two red-sauce newbies: 2-year-old Jon & Vinny's and 32-year veteran Madeo. Meanwhile, after a move to Beverly Hills, the now-more-central Palm has substantially upped its standing, and a boycott over the Sultan of Brunei's ownership is having little effect on the Beverly Hills Hotel's perennial Polo Lounge, now up to No. 5 after falling to No. 22 in 2015. Read on for the inside dish on the menus, personalities and, above all, the diners that define the town's hottest lunch spots.
Written by Seth Abramovitch, Gary Baum, Peter Flax, Andy Lewis, Michael O'Connell, Degen Pener and Bryn Elise Sandberg
Rank: Back on the list
This 7-year-old nestled on the first floor of the Four Seasons Beverly Hills has battled back onto THR's list after a three-year absence, making the most of its hotel's longtime chokehold on the junket business (which the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is trying to break), potent appeal for East Coasters (A+E's Nancy Dubuc, NBCU's Bonnie Hammer) and central location (WME, UTA and Paradigm all are at hand). Multiple run-ins inside or — even more likely — at the valet stand are inevitable, so head elsewhere for job interviews.
South Beverly Grill
Rank: Down from No. 19
The reliable American bistro just south of Wilshire has won many fans with its varied menu (sushi to BBQ ribs), friendly waitstaff and cozy all-booth seating. Says Warner Bros. PR maven Jessica Zacholl, "One of the best daytime options in the city's richest, most famous ZIP code." PMKBNC's Brian Rubin is among those who favor lunch next door at attached sister eatery Honor Bar.
Rank: Down from No. 7
Nine out of 10 pollees cite the chopped salad — $13 for iceberg lettuce, salami, mozzarella and chickpeas drenched in "Leon" dressing (named for late owner Jean Leon, who opened the restaurant in 1956) — as the single most essential draw to this standby that's strolling distance from UTA, Paradigm and Gersh. Talent in tow: Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser, Harry Hamlin and Kristin Chenoweth.
Rank: Up from No. 23
Heavyweights recently spotted grabbing a bite inside the iconic brick temple (built by Charlie Chaplin in 1929) include Netflix's Ted Sarandos, ICM Partners' Chris Silbermann, Sarah Paulson and Moonlight helmer Barry Jenkins. "Directors jam-pack the place," notes one insider. Hot dish: an egg-topped kimchi fried rice bowl ($16), served all day. Other respondents mentioned "young execs" and "more hipster than power." And for producer and manager Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, "the stool seating is for the birds!"
Sugarfish Beverly Hills
Rank: Down from No. 11
"Really clean and easy food: Perfect if your lunch mate is a bore!" cracks Annapurna TV's Sue Naegle of the affordable omakase sushi specialist, whose various outposts — in Beverly Hills' Golden Triangle, along La Brea Boulevard, next to NeueHouse in Hollywood and now in Manhattan — have become the industry's when-in-doubt fail-safe. A no-reservations policy means that arriving before 1 o'clock is key.
The Terrace at Sunset Tower
Rank: Down from No. 16
Sunset Tower managing partner Jeff Klein tells THR he's planning a complete renovation of the hotel's lunch and pool area as soon as this November. "New roof, new bar, while keeping its existing soul and style." Until then, look for the usual mix of talent and execs — NBC's Bob Greenblatt, UTA's Tracey Jacobs, Rooney Mara, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Meyers and Johnny Depp (usually at Table 207 outside) — enjoying the chill scene, amazing views and fare like the Cobb salad ($19) and avocado toast ($14). "You feel like you are getting away from — and above — it all," says UnREAL showrunner Stacy Rukeyser.
Rank: Back on the list
"If you have to cross the 405," says one respondent, head to the trusty Northern Italian that manager Stephen Siebert calls "so consistent and so personable." Whether it's the grilled salmon ($34), risotto ($25) or wood-fired pizza ($18), the ultra-accommodating kitchen keeps the cozy 50-seat dining room packed. Insiders praise Toscana as having the "ultimate lunch scene" with regulars including Bob Iger and Arnold Schwarzenegger and high-profile visits from John Legend, Julie Andrews, and Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen.
Rank: Back on the list
Tom Colicchio's West Coast flagship may have lost its CAA commissary status to Hinoki & the Bird but, as it turns 10 on July 13, it remains a draw. CAA president Richard Lovett met here last fall with Cheryl Boone Isaacs; Kate Hudson, Shirley MacLaine and Tim Robbins also have been spotted. Splurge on a dry-aged rib-eye for the table ($65), or abstain from carne with a baby beet salad ($17). Craft also offers a lunch menu rarity — a $39 prix fixe. You can check your decision-making out front with your Tesla.
Rank: Down from No. 12
"The ghost of the legendary Orso's lives on," says Anonymous Content's Alex Goldstone of this spot (opened four years ago by chef Suzanne Goin and business partner Caroline Styne) that draws stars (Bill Hader, Dev Patel), reps (CAA's Bryan Lourd) and directors (Kenneth Lonergan). Regulars prize the Med-Cal cuisine (the bacon-wrapped dates come highly recommended), shady courtyard and casual elegance. "Staff is top-notch, food amazing, vibe is energetic, but not too loud and not so slick," says Shelter PR partner Christine Tripicchio.
Rank: Up from No. 24
Wolfgang Puck is the man behind the grand dame of Cali cuisine, which at 35 remains "the ultimate" power lunch spot for the likes of Paramount's Jim Gianopulos, Sidney Poitier or even video game genius Hideo Kojima (creator of Metal Gear Solid). Though one dissenter calls it a "snore," Amblin's Sue Fleishman says, "It still has cachet, a great atmosphere and excellent food and service."
"Old school" was the most common comment about this Italian standby — making its debut on THR's list at the ripe age of 32 — where such traditional dishes as eggplant parmigiana ($18) and veal milanese ($46) dominate ("This place gives everyone gout," says screenwriter Jonathan Herman). The crowd spans generations of Hollywood power: When Michael Ovitz and Bob Evans dined recently, Sophia Loren popped over to say hello. And Woody Allen, on a rare visit to L.A., joined ICM Partners' John Burnham here.
Hinoki & the Bird
Rank: Down from No. 10
While founding chef David Myers has moved on, his Asian eclecticism is intact at "one of the only restaurants in Century City you can rely on," which is to say, as Select Management Group's Adam Wescott puts it, a "great spot as long as you don't mind running into every CAA agent and their brother!" Fox's Stacey Snider also is a regular.
Jon & Vinny's
"This is how people want to eat in 2017," says PR exec Todd Beck. A favorite with young execs (STX president Sophie Watts is a regular) and ascending talent, "it's casual but powerful," says Principato Young's Kevin Parker. The energy is as robust as the fist-sized meatballs and the spot's conspicuous success has sealed Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's position as mayors of the trendy Fairfax corridor. "Snagging a table here is the ultimate power move," says one respondent of the tiny room where Jay Z, Jimmy Kimmel and Charlize Theron have twirled bucatini.
Rank: Up from No. 13
"Close to all the agencies and nice to do a little window shopping after lunch," says Sony Pictures vp Matthew Milam. Though some miss the old Barneys Greengrass (service especially), the views, the post-lunch browsing opportunity and the food (salads especially) have lured Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, Ryan Murphy, rapper Kid Cudi and Josh Gad.
Rank: Down from No. 2
"You feel like you are a world away," says DKC's Joe Quenqua of Thomas Keller's second-floor French bistro, whose dining room — even when packed with names like Amazon's Roy Price, Woody Allen, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Wolf, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Pine and ICM Partners' Toni Howard — is so spacious that guests always feel like they have plenty of room to breathe. "Popular enough that you'll run into people you like and quiet enough that you won't have to talk to people you don't," says a fan. It's not clear whether one key source of Bouchon's heat — the CAA Emmy party — will remain in the wake of Keller's defection to UTA last year.
Rank: Up from No. 14
Serving up new California cuisine that skews heavy on the veg but appeals to nearly every variety of foodie, this is where Westside and Hollywood powwow with Venice Beach tech execs over a $16 tuna conserva sandwich or one of the 16 wood-fired pizzas. Dennis Quaid, Gordon Ramsay and former L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are all recent diners. But novices be warned: Long and often misleading wait times can make it a washout for walk-ins.
Rank: Up from No. 15
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Melissa McCarthy, and Beyonce and Jay Z — on repeat. They all break wood-fired bread at Nancy Silverton's mid-city nexus (Osteria plus Pizzeria), which has grown even more crucial for Westside-Valley confabs with the 2015 closure of Ammo just up Highland. "Best pizza in L.A.!" says Entertainment Tonight's Carly Steel.
Rank: Down from No. 5
Though some respondents find the tables "so cramped you have to crawl over another patron to get up," partisans of the Beverly Hills Tuscan love it for the very same reason — though WME's Richard Weitz warns, "Don't say anything you wouldn't want repeated." UTA's Jay Sures (who favors the artichoke salad, $14) says the best spots are by the windows, but the only spacious banquette is Table 1, a favorite of Jerry Bruckheimer and Bob Iger (who has powwowed there with Michael Eisner). And success has its downsides: More stars at lunch (Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, Goldie Hawn, Mark Wahlberg, Rob Lowe) have drawn more paparazzi. "So I ask, 'Do you want me to put the blinds down?' " says chef-owner Edoardo Baldi. "Ninety percent of the people say, 'No, it's OK,' but I always offer."
Rank: Up from No. 18
"When The People v. O.J. Simpson needed to have Robert Shapiro introduced as a character," the show's producer Brad Simpson tells THR, "Mr Chow was chosen as the location." In other words, at this point, it's iconic shorthand for a power lunch spot. The black-and-white-tiled room, which business manager John McIlwee notes "still wows with its eccentric decor," is where on any given weekday you'll find producers Avi Lerner and Brian Grazer dining on Beijing specialties.
Grill on the Alley
Rank: Down from No. 4
Maitre dame Pamela Gonyea rules the roost at this dark-wood mecca first colonized more than three decades ago by William Morris agents. (Now WME co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell regularly swing by from their offices mere yards away.) She's responsible for allotting the horseshoe power booths to the likes of David Geffen, Ron Meyer and Dick Wolf, who's told THR the competitive placement is "a little bit like the Wimbledon ladder."
Rank: Up from No. 6
"Are we allowed back?" asks Gersh's Leslie Siebert of the famed Beverly Hills Hotel dining room and patio, the target of a well-publicized — if half-heartedly followed — boycott for the past three years (targeting its owner, the Sultan of Brunei). The answer appears to be yes, with the pink eatery climbing a spot in THR's rankings (and nearly back to its 2011 high of No. 4). Further proof of its resurgence? A 60 percent price hike for the McCarthy Salad — from $24 in 2011 to $38 in 2017 — hasn't dissuaded hordes of tourists from invading the sacred dining space of such A-listers as Lorne Michaels, Dolly Parton, Al Pacino and Harvey Weinstein.
Rank: Up from No. 8
"He's a star," says Irena Medavoy of Bruce Bozzi, the fourth-generation co-owner of The Palm restaurant group and its executive vp marketing, who knows when to sit and chat with customers, when to hang back, who's getting promoted and switching companies, and which customers never want to see a bill. "We have about 15 clients who have credit cards on file. At the end of the meal, they want everything to be seamless." Bozzi, who married his longtime partner, CAA's Bryan Lourd, in October, oversaw the 42-year-old restaurant's move from West Hollywood two and a half years ago, putting the chophouse back into the top ranks with a prominent location and five always-in-demand booths that overlook the room. Recent lunch pairings have included Lourd with Warren Beatty, CAA's Richard Lovett with Irving Azoff, Sherry Lansing with Diane Keaton and Bob Daly with Ted Sarandos. Adds Roar manager Will Ward, "Every booth is filled with someone in the business who would be recognized by someone who wasn't in the business."
Offering Soho House vibes without the private club's inherent affectation, Cecconi's (also owned by Soho House founder Nick Jones) is generally considered West Hollywood's next best option — the menu outperforms other Italian spots with its surplus of lighter options, such as the red quinoa salad with avocado, artichokes and chia seeds, and it's always a safe bet for star sightings. (Gigi Hadid, Sam Smith, The Weeknd, Kris Jenner, Jay Z and Beyonce have been spotted during the past six months.) "It's where I take 99 percent of my lunch meetings," says Select Management Group partner Adam Wescott. "Love the half-indoor, half-outdoor setup for brunch and lunch."
Rank: Up from No. 9
A hotbed of who's who since 1929, the storied Sunset Strip hotel was designed to withstand earthquakes — and has so far outlasted five. It's "the history and the chic" (with truffle parmesan fries, $12, on the side) that make it a power perennial, coos one respondent of Chateau's time-capsule appeal. The secluded patio can draw a "too cool for school" clientele, says one regular. ICM Partners' Lorrie Bartlett raves, "There's always someone you need there." Case in point: On a single afternoon in January, the terrace hosted Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Amy Adams, Kenneth Lonergan, Garrett Hedlund and Chloe Sevigny.
"The creative industry's living room," is how Vox Media creative director Chad Mumm describes the private club, which continues its unchecked run atop THR's survey with help from its year-old Malibu outpost. (Jason Statham sits a few tables from Orlando Bloom one recent day; on another it's Kendall Jenner a breadstick's toss from Brett Ratner.) At the West Hollywood flagship, with new Middle Eastern concept Nava drawing crowds a floor below, the rooftop garden is no longer the end-all-be-all — although you'll still have to squish past Helen Mirren and La La Land producer Fred Berger to get to the Garden Table (aka the salad bar, $32).
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