FORMOSA CAFE, 7156 Santa Monica Blvd. at Formosa. This restaurant, framed with an enormous green neon sign, opened in 1939 adjacent to what was then known as United Artists. Its studio proximity meant its diners included James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, Jack Benny, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Webb, and Grace Kelly. The demolition of the adjacent studio means diners are less likely to see actors these days. But Formosa is frequented by hip locals who find it cool to eat in this former trolley car. Photo by Joshua Barash.
HAMBURGER MARY’S, 8288 Santa Monica Blvd. and North Sweetzer. If the bright red neon sign with its winking blonde waitress don’t tell you that this restaurant is GFTG, take a look at the drag queen bingo calendar. Photo by Joshua Barash.
JONES, 7205 Santa Monica Blvd at Formosa. You can’t miss the vertical sign framed by a bright arrow pointing the way to Jones’ front door. This restaurant offers a classic menu that leans toward the Italian and a softly glowing atmosphere that makes it a perfect place for a rendezvous over drinks. Photo by Joshua Barash.