Musso and Frank’s–An Icon on LA’s Shifty Culinary Landscape

2009 marks the 90th anniversary of one of LA’s iconic restaurants: Musso and Frank Grill.  At a time when restaurants are closing faster than they opened, Musso and Franks is a true culinary anomaly.  The staff are lifelong devotees – Luis has been there since 1956, Juan since 1970, and Ruben has been behind the bar since 1967.  How rare to find that kind of longevity in a town like Los Angeles!

More than that, their classic menu hasn’t changed much in their near century-run.  The dark wood walls and the wait staff’s signature red blazers enhance the feel that you’re sitting where someone you idolize once sat – whether it was Rudolph Valentino, John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin, or Marilyn Monroe.   To celebrate their milestone, head to Musso and Franks for a classic martini (no infused vodka here), a hunk of red meat cooked to perfection, and a chat with Sergio (on staff since 1972) about living the life in Hollywood.

This celebration brings to mind some of the most difficult closures LA has endured in recent memory– Morton’s on Melrose and Robertson was an iconic restaurant constantly filled with Hollywood power players.  The recent redux of Luau brought to mind, for many of LA’s veteran residents, the magic of the original Luau – although, it wasn’t quite the success they’d hoped it would be.  And every Francophile in the city cried a little when L’Orangerie closed after 28 years of candlelit dinners.  Among the most recent restaurants to shutter is The Gardens on Glendon in Westwood – a place just good enough that both parents would go there regardless of the chance of running into each other.

Thank god we’ve still got vintage LA spots like the Fountain Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Philippe’s The Original, Dan Tana’s, Pink’s Hot Dogs, and Canter’s.  Los Angeles seems to prefer pioneering over being steeped in history, but we’ve got to celebrate icons whenever and wherever we can, right?  Another martini, Ruben!