Despite the fact that I live and work in the Valley, and therefore spend most of my time there, I do sometimes venture over the hill. A recent trip to Hollywood brought me to the old-school Hollywood Boulevard institution, Musso & Frank Grill.
Located a few blocks east of Hollywood and Highland, Musso & Frank has been serving loyal customers since 1919. So it is no surprise that a visit to Musso & Frank is like taking a step back in time. With its dark wood interior, comfy leather booths and waiters in red jackets, you can feel the Old Hollywood history swirling around you.
The restaurant is fairly large, with two spacious dining rooms lined with deep red booths. Counter service is offered in one dining room, while a large bar lines the other. As you wait to be seated, gaze around at the high ceilings and fading painted walls or venture a guess as to which corner booth was the favorite of Charlie Chaplin. According to the restaurant’s history, Chaplin wasn’t the only celeb: Greta Garbo, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe were among the big names to regularly dine at Musso & Frank Grill throughout the years.
The menu, featuring standard steakhouse fare, also calls back to days gone by with “Classics” such as Grenadine of Beef, Calf’s Liver with Onions or Bacon, and Welsh Rarebit. Seafood options include Fried Scallops, Lobster Thermidor, and Swordfish. On my visit I ordered the Salmon Filet, which while adequately prepared, was nothing to write home about. Your best bet is to order one of their juicy steaks and toss in a twice-baked potato and some of their a la carte vegetable options.
But without a doubt, make sure someone in your party orders the “The Original Fettuccini Alfredo” so you all can taste the legendary pasta dish. The backstory alone makes it a worthy choice: according to the menu, movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford dined at the original Alfredo’s restaurant in Rome during their honeymoon and begged Chef Alfredo for this recipe. After finally convincing him to share the secret behind the dish, Mary and Douglas brought it back to Musso’s chef, Jean Rue, who recreated it for them on request.
Now, after nearly a hundred years, it is finally on Musso & Frank’s menu for all of us common folks to enjoy. And man, is it delicious! Cheesier than most Alfredo sauces you may order elsewhere, the pasta was rich and flavorful but still somehow light. Some may scoff at the $22 price tag, especially considering there’s no meat involved, but it is well worth it.
The host and servers at Musso & Frank Grill are friendly, but service can be a little slow at times. It seems to fit in well with the whole throwback vibe, so just be prepared for a leisurely meal. There is valet parking in the back, but the narrow area can get really packed, making it difficult to pull in and out.
All in all, a night out to Musso & Frank Grill is about the experience. Sure, the food is a little pricey for pretty standard fare, but you are paying to be transported. You are visiting a Hollywood landmark. And the fact that they are famous for having the best martinis in the country doesn’t hurt either.
Musso & Frank Grill is located at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.