The 14 Best Restaurants to Spot a Celebrity (and Dine Like One Too)
New York City is obviously a hotbed for celebrity sightings, and there’s no better reminder that they’re just like us than seeing the likes of Rick Ross put away a $1400 steak dinner or what have you. And while they certainly deserve their privacy, who’s to say you can’t draw inspo from your favorite celeb’s eating habits? Read on for the 411 on where the elite (past and present) have hung their hats during mealtime in NYC.
1. Park Side
This Corona, Queens Italian restaurant seems like an incredibly random spot for A-list celeb sightings, but for some reason, it’s been making waves across the music, film, and sports scenes as of late -- a domino effect, perhaps. Selena Gomez was recently seen having dinner here with Petra Collins and Carlotta Kohl; Fat Joe paid Park Side a visit last year as well, and it seems to be a favorite of Ray Romano and Major League Baseball players alike.
Selena and The Weeknd have also been spotted dining at Rao’s, Harlem’s ultra-exclusive (and very old-school) Italian joint, where usually you can’t get a table unless someone dies, so good luck with that one.
Delmonico’s is about as iconic as New York steakhouses get -- the place just celebrated its 180th anniversary and is said to be the birthplace of things like the printed menu, Eggs Benedict, and the Baked Alaska. It was also the first restaurant in America to have tablecloths, so needless to say, it’s a place of refinement...which is exactly why Rick Ross loves it. Last time he was in, he spared neither expense nor carb; his party of eight ordered basically everything on the menu including steaks, seafood, and all the accoutrements one could dream of, besides pears. No word on that.
Rihanna is obsessed with this this 24-hour Latin diner. Chef/Partner Julian Medina, who opened the 14th Street joint in 2014, tells Billboard Style: "Rihanna loves the Lomo Saltado, a soy-ginger glazed beef short rib stir fry with tomatoes, onions, fries, and white rice. She's usually pretty low-key when she comes in, but if it's after an event, the paparazzi will follow her! She loves our staff and we love her."
4. O Ya
O Ya is quite possibly the greatest omakase experience in the entire city, hands down. Tucked inside the Park South Hotel on 28th Street, it’s the perfect respite for celebs who want to keep things low-key...take Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, for example, who count o ya as one of their favorite spots for special occasions. Partner Nancy Cushman (wife of Chef/Partner Tim Cushman) shares a few details: "Ryan and Blake have been coming into o ya for years now and we love both of them. They actually credit oy a Boston as the place where they first fell in love! They celebrated Ryan's 35th birthday at o ya Boston a few years back, and then last fall they celebrated his 40th at the NY restaurant. Blake loves to cook -- she's pretty great at it -- and has spent some time on the line with our chefs in the kitchen. She even came in and cooked family meal for our staff once -- a Southern meal with corn pudding, tomato pie and this really memorable homemade ice cream." Olivia Wilde, who’s currently starring in 1984 on Broadway Broadway, is also a regular.
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5. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse
This one’s in Chicago, but it’s worth a mention...Gibsons first opened in 1989 and has since become a favorite of Eddie Vedder, Steven Tyler, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Céline Dion and Lionel Richie to name a few.
6. 21 Club
There is NO restaurant or bar in NYC more historically rich than 21 Club, which opened in 1929 during the height of Prohibition and was consistently considered home base for the music industry’s most revered decade after decade. Its roster of celebrity regulars past and present includes Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, almost every single president since the 1930s...the list goes on and on. Stepping into this place will transport you every time, without fail.
7. The Rotunda and Perrine at The Pierre Hotel
The Pierre Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is another New York classic -- thanks in large part to its robust dining scene, which has drawn many a celebrity since the hotel’s opening in 1930. The hotel’s focal point and physical centerpiece, The Rotunda, has gone through many iterations and reinventions over the years, each one more opulent than the last but always a sight to behold, lending to the hotel’s iconic status. Many celebrities even lived in the hotel for a time (namely Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few) and could be seen passing through at any moment. Today, Perrine, the bright, modern restaurant that flanks The Rotunda, is always abuzz and is favored by Olivia Palermo, Priyanka Chopra, and Kate Bosworth.
9. Fish Cheeks
Manhattan newcomer Fish Cheeks, the brainchild of Chef/Partner Chat Suansilphong, has drawn quite the fan base since its recent opening, including Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Suansilphong shares the inside scoop with Billboard Style: "Chrissy and John dined at Fish Cheeks with a group of friends in the fall of 2016. We were lucky because we opened in her old neighborhood before she moved to LA (and on her favorite street to boot). They were so low maintenance, easy going, and super kind, and they literally ordered the entire menu. Chrissy gave compliments following the meal, noting that she especially loved the Nam Tok Pork, and that it reminded her of her mom's cooking."
10. TAO Downtown and TAO Uptown
Between these two Manhattan club-staurants (the crown jewels of TAO Group), the entire celebrity crowd is pretty much covered; it’s a hell of a scene on any given night (and the cleverly named cocktails don’t hurt, either). Chance the Rapper, Flo Rida, Afrojack, Cyndi Lauper, Harry Styles, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Alicia and Swizz all hang out at one location or the other on occasion, so request a table on one of the upper levels for optimal stalking-from-afar vantage points.
11. The VNYL
The VNYL, located in New York’s East Village, is a ‘70s-inspired multi-level music mecca with genius cocktails and insane food, hence its captivation of One Direction heartthrob Niall Horan’s attention. Yes, he’s old enough to drink now. Taylor Bennett is also a fan.
12. Avra Madison
This super-chic Greek member of the TAO family is as buzz-worthy as its Asian-inspired cousins and is favored by a long list of A-listers, including Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, Alexander Wang, Leo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell, and many more.
13. Tavern on the Green
Tavern on the Green is another New York staple -- and a gorgeous one at that. Known for its sprawling historic property and prime Central Park location, celebs have been flocking here for decades, especially now that the space has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation, though it’s still definitely got its old swag when it comes to the warm hospitality and traditional American fare its regulars know and love. Over the years, Tavern on the Green has welcomed Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor, Madonna, Jimmy Scott, Chris Martin, Jennifer Lawrence, Joe Biden, and many more.
Co-owner Jim Caiola shares his experience with one of his idols, John Travolta, at the restaurant: "When the movie Blow Out came out in the early 1980s, I broke into the premiere party at Tavern on the Green. I was so mesmerized when John Travolta walked by that Tavern, to me, became synonymous with him. It got to the point that when I was training all my managers 30 years later, instead of using the word celebrity, I always said, “...when John Travolta comes...” Two years ago, he stopped into Tavern very casually for an early dinner, and every manager called me to let me know. I thought it was a prank, as we have tons of celebrities and it seemed too good to be true, but I grabbed my five-year-old, Leonardo, and ran! I told Leonardo on the way to the restaurant that we were meeting one of my idols, and that this man has a huge 747 airplane that he parks in his driveway. We got to Tavern as he was finishing and were lucky enough to meet him. I told him my story about the Blow Out premiere, and he was very kind and said to me, 'Are you sure you were even born in 1981?' Then my son chimed in and said, 'Can I help park your big airplane in your driveway?' John Travolta looked at him, grabbed his face, and so genuinely said, 'Yes, you can, Leonardo!'"
14. Bodega Negra
An inside source tells Billboard Style that Miguel is obsessed with this sexy, dimly lit taco den at the Dream Downtown hotel. And *gasp* -- it’s yet another TAO Group property. (They may or may not be putting something special in the drinks).