If you ever wanted to feel close to your favourite celebrities, why not dine in style at one of their restaurants? Just like us, the famous faces of the world love food. From glitzy bars to indulgent southern food and yes, even popcorn, celebrities are opening restaurants faster than we can visit them.
From Jay-Z to Ryan Gosling and all the famous faces in between, here are ten of the best celebrity restaurants owned by some of your favourite stars.
Name: Pick 6ix.
The celeb: Drake.
What’s On The Menu: Latin American food steeped in chimichurri to Bolognese pasta topped with butter-poached lobster. Desserts include Tiramisu capped with matcha powder. Feeling frisky? How about Ace of Spades champagne at $700 a bottle?
What Does It Look Like: Seating almost 180, Pick6ix is equal parts family/couples-friendly and lounge/nightclub. The overall colour scheme is a blend of gold and black Nero Marquina marble.
You Serious?: Drake has his own personal washroom in the VVIP section.
What The Critics Say: “Loud, flamboyant, expensive. If you’re not about to drop four figures on a few bottles of Ace of Spades, you get the feeling that you don’t matter.” (Globe and Mail)
Name: Yummy Pop.
The celeb: Scarlett Johansson.
What’s On The Menu: Popcorn like you’ve never tasted before, that’s what. Think gourmet popcorn tastes such as chocolate strawberry, truffle Parmesan, Canadian maple, sea salt & olive oil, and Vermont cheddar. Flavours change seasonally.
What Does It Look Like: This place is more a shop/snack bar than a restaurant, but it looks pretty on the outside and in with a soda-style design that is Americana retro yet – like the Marais district it’s located in – distinctly hip.
You Serious?: Is this the first gourmet popcorn shop that sells its own merchandise? Tres chic.
What The Critics Say: As far as we know, there are no official popcorn ‘critics’, so here’s what popcorn aficionado Kathleen Hou says: “Yummy pop tastes like actual corn. Even the truffle, a flavour not exactly known for its subtlety, was delicate.” (thecut.com)
The celeb: Francis Ford Coppola.
Location: Geyserville, California.
What’s On The Menu: Farm-to-table organic fare. The focus is family-oriented Italian cuisine (which includes Muffaletta sandwiches and authentic Neapolitan pizza), South American wood-grilled meats, and gallons of wine from Coppola’s very own vineyard.
What Does It Look Like: This 80-plus seat dining room is, as its name implies, of rustic disposition, while its incredible views of vineyards and mountains add to the remote mood.
You Serious?: Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather rests in the winery’s Movie Gallery.
What The Critics Say: “A flawed blockbuster movie, its weaknesses masked by spectacular special effects.” (sfgate.com)
Name: 40/40 Club.
The celeb: Jay-Z.
Location: New York.
What’s On The Menu: Sectioned into baseball terms such as 1st Base (appetisers, including catfish tacos), 3rd base (mains, including penne pasta a la vodka), Dug Out (sides, including mashed potatoes with truffle salsa), and Home Run (desserts, including pineapple upside down cake), this joint
What Does It Look Like: This all-American sports bar and lounge oozes ‘business class’ style: leather upholstered wall panelling, smoked bronze mirrors, luxurious lounge banquettes, state-of-the-art video walls, a second-floor ‘catwalk’, and five VIP lounges.
You Serious?: The venue’s ‘Sports Hall of Fame’ houses autographed boxing gloves from the Joe Frazier vs Muhammad Ali ‘Fight of the Century’ in 1974.
What The Critics Say: “This is where people with expensive tastes in clothes and cognac gather and indulge.” (the10best.com)
Name: Joanne Trattoria.
The celeb: Lady Gaga.
Location: New York.
What’s On The Menu: Starters include Joanne’s Meatballs (a Germanotta family recipe); mains include Squid Ink Tagiolini & Lobster; desserts include Nutellasanga.
What Does It Look Like: Despite the associated star wattage of Gaga, this is a low-key neighbourhood Italian eatery, complete with images of Tuscany and family photographs adorning the walls.
You Serious?: Don’t expect to see Lady Gaga here too often – and forget about images of her. “It’s not going to happen,” says her father, Joseph.
What The Critics Say: “As if on purpose, the place is missing the creativity and commitment that made their daughter a star. The result is a careless, lifeless production that feels like a weird facsimile of a restaurant rather than the real thing.” (New York Daily News)
Name: Walton’s Fancy & Staple.
The celeb: Sandra Bullock.
Location: Austin, Texas.
What’s On The Menu: This hybrid bakery, deli, and coffee shop is so down-home it’s difficult to believe it’s operated by one of the world’s best-known actresses, yet its range of biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, ‘dirty’ potato chips, and honey-bee cake is a winning formula.
What Does It Look Like: Really smart but basic in a typically US southern way: scrubbed wooden tables, and ‘distressed’, roughly painted bare walls.
You Serious?: Walton’s is so local it also sells flowers.
What The Critics Say: “The cakey Golden Egg cookies with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon keep us coming back for more. At $1.50 a pop, we bet you can’t eat just one.” (zagat.com)
Name: The Grapes Gastropub.
The celeb: Sir Ian McKellan.
Location: Limehouse, London.
What’s On The Menu: What you might expect, but it’s expertly cooked and well presented. Starters include traditional devilled whitebait; mains include the must-have Sir Ian ‘meaty’ shepherd’s pie; desserts include chocolate mud cake.
What Does It Look Like: Imagine something out of a Charles Dickens’ novel: quaint, tiny, narrow. It oozes authentic ‘Old-London’ atmosphere (minus the fog).
You Serious?: Charles Dickens makes a reference to The Grapes (one of the oldest pubs in London) in his novel, Our Mutual Friend.
What The Critics Say: “There is no television or fruit machine, and definitely no children – just good conversation, excellent food, fine wine and good ales.” (pubs.com)
Name: Southern Hospitality BBQ.
The celeb: Justin Timberlake.
Location: New York.
What’s On The Menu: Prepare for, says the menu, “a new approach to old Southern cuisine” with classics such as crispy fried buffalo shrimp, fried chicken, cornbread, fried catfish, and collard greens. BBQ is slow smoked in-house.
What Does It Look Like: Bright lights, ‘80s disco music, rustic wood, bare brick walls, flat screen TVs, neon signs, and beer. Lots of beer.
You Serious?: This place is a celebrity hangout, although people hoping for a selfie with JT will probably end up waiting a very long time.
What The Critics Say: “Those baby back ribs – juicy but not fatty, seasoned simply and evenly, and scented with a strong but not overpowering hit of smoke. They are, against tall odds, good.” (New York Times)
The celeb: Ryan Gosling.
Location: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
What’s On The Menu: Co-owner chef Abdessamad Benameur presents a modern twist on Moroccan food that is as authentic as any decent restaurant you’d find in Tangier or Marrakesh.
What Does It Look Like: A very smart and upscale mix of traditional Moroccan décor and contemporary, intimate and understated design.
You Serious?: There isn’t a fez or a belly dancer to be seen.
What The Critics Say: “Everything here is exquisite. Prices are more than reasonable and the food is beyond compare. Service was excellent, as well.” (zagat.com)
Name: Saints & Sinners.
The celeb: Channing Tatum.
Location: New Orleans.
What’s On The Menu: From crawfish boil platter, shrimp and tasso pasta, and seafood gumbo to fried alligator tail, oysters, and blackened Gulf fish, all fish bases are covered. Desserts include red velvet cheesecake and bordello bread pudding.
What Does It Look Like: This is Channing Tatum’s tribute to New Orleans’ burlesque/risqué past, so it looks what you would guess an old-style bordello would be: lots of red, leather seating, baroque décor.
You Serious?: The restaurant very kindly uses its venue and profits to assist local and international charity organisations.
What The Critics Say: “My favourite place in New Orleans and not because of the man who owns it. Best crawfish I’ve ever tasted.” (TripAdvisor)
Tony Clayton-Lea is a freelance pop culture/travel writer. His primary aim when traveling is to avoid obvious tourist traps, to make sure an intriguing laneway never goes undiscovered, and to unearth the perfect place for people watching.
Stay up-to-date with Tony’s writing by visiting his website, tonyclaytonlea.com.