Long shunned by the film industry in favor of hipper locales, Hollywood is once again a hot spot teeming with actors, artists, and hungry young studio executives. In-the-know denizens of this L.A. 'burb forsake the tawdry, touristy pop of Hollywood Boulevard and roam the side streets, where chic clubs and restaurants announce themselves not in a scream of neon, but with a doorman discreetly stationed out front. Here, T+L's guide to Tinseltown.
The Hollywood crowd never passes up a meal at Joachim Splichal's Patina (5955 Melrose Ave.; 323/467-1108; dinner for two $120). Many still consider the newly renovated restaurant the best in L.A. (with ahi tuna and organic tomatoes, or roasted côte de boeuf with chanterelles). • More than 80 years old, the Musso & Frank Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd.; 323/467-7788; dinner for two $75) can be excused if its waiters are gruff and its defiantly 1920's Continental menu lists dishes like grilled lamb kidneys. Where else can you spot Anthony Hopkins slouching in a red-leather booth or Russ Meyer, the infamous director of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, surrounded by his aging starlets?• Excellent cooking is a staple of Vermont (1714 N. Vermont Ave.; 323/661-6163; dinner for two $80), a cozy yet hip neighborhood hangout. • Tucked behind a hedge, the always-busy Café des Artistes (1534 N. McCadden Place; 323/469-7300; dinner for two $60) offers quick, no-nonsense French cuisine about 60 years ahead of that at Musso's.
When movie stars want to get back to their craft, they search for a local stage. Two of the best: the tiny Blank Theatre Company (2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323/882-8065), founded by Daniel Henning (whose star-studded production of Michael John LaChiusa's Hello Again earned raves in 1998) and sponsored by ER's Noah Wyle; and the Cast Theatre (804 N. El Centro Ave.; 323/466-0944), the new home to playwright Mary Willard, whose Elvis and Juliet recently ended a nine-month run at L.A.'s Improv.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S HOLLYWOOD
With two of the architect's three public Hollywoodresidences closed for restoration, only the 1924Ennis-Brown house (2655 Glendower Ave.; 323/668-0234) can currently be visited. This 8,000-square-foot homage to a Mayan temple is a treat for architecture buffs and Wright fans alike. Perched high on a ridge bordering Griffith Park, the massive concrete-block house at first appears forbidding. Inside, however, bright California light streams through art-glass windows to create an inviting, almost dreamlike state of calm. Look for the luminous, wisteria-patterned mosaic above one of the fireplaces.
HOT HOLLYWOOD CLUBS
The real action at the Sunset Room (1430 N. Cahuenga Blvd.; 323/463-0004), a former film rental warehouse that's now a 1930's-style supper club, takes place by the curving mahogany bar, where industry insiders mingle with well-coiffed wannabes waiting for the likes of Sean Penn. • If you're after let-your-hair-down dancing, the Opium Den (1608 Cosmo St.; 323/466-7800) has the best DJ's in the new Hollywood. • The Lava Lounge (1533 N. La Brea Ave.; 323/876-6612) draws many local bands; Keanu Reeves has been spotted there.
EVERYBODY IS A STAR
Every night is a party at Les Deux Cafés (1638 Las Palmas Ave.; 323/465-0509; dinner for two $90), insists owner Michele Lamy, a former fashion designer. By spreading the scene over three spaces — an outdoor courtyard; a clubby, wood-paneled dining room; and a cabaret bar — she forces patrons to wend their way past other diners and become stars even if they're still waiting for their three-picture deal. Lamy's formula rarely fails: both Joni Mitchell and Boy George have taken the stage after dinner to sing a few songs in the cabaret. Another Les Deux trademark: a multigenerational crowd, from gray-haired moguls to Brad Pitt and kids even younger. "I love the eighteen-year-old boys who act like they've seen it all," Lamy says with a laugh.
Satisfy your fitness needs and take a great tour by simply stepping outside. The forested Hollywood Reservoir is a secret haven, especially on a misty morning. Joggers and bikers: Enter from Weidlake Drive, and check out the gargoyles adorning the outer walls of the 1925 Mulholland Dam. A flat 3½;-mile path winds around the lake, and is open to the public in the early mornings and late afternoons. Walkers: Start at the end of Deronda Drive. Enter the lake area via the main gate and walk along the fire road, which twists its way beneath the hollywood sign and into Griffith Park. Vistas of the city stretch out below; watch for deer and the odd rattlesnake basking in the afternoon sun.
The best places for … CLASSIC Movies The American Cinematheque's new home is the Egyptian Theater (6712 Hollywood Blvd.; 323/466-3456), a refurbished movie temple with outlandish, mock North African décor. Its three cinemas show foreign and rarely seen films.Breakfast The walls of the Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop (6145 Franklin Ave.; 323/467-7678; breakfast for two $18) are lined with photos of customers who've made it. "The first to sign one was Tim Roth," says ebullient owner Susan Moore.Cocktails 360 (6290 Sunset Blvd.; 323/871-2995), in the penthouse of an ominous sixties tower, lives up to its name. Booths line the windows on each side of this bar-restaurant, with views of the Pacific on the south side and the hollywood sign to the north. Drink of choice?An apple martini.
JAZZ The Catalina Bar & Grill (1640 N. Cahuenga Blvd.; 323/466-2210) is the most serious jazz club in the Los Angeles area. Clint Eastwood comes here often, and its lineup includes such greats as Pharoah Sanders and Chick Corea.
MUST-HAVE SHADES Opposite Les Deux Cafés, and launched by Michelle Lamy's brother, Traction (1643 Las Palmas Ave.; 323/463-3700) sells its own line of eyewear, as well as first-edition art books and the new essential: jewelry from Brevard.
Hollywood Boulevard is in the middle of a building boom. • Early next year, a $430 million complex — the requisite six-cinema multiplex, plus a nightclub owned by Quincy Jones and a 3,500-seat theater for the Academy Awards — opens on the corner of Hollywood and Highland Avenue. • Architects Michael Rotondi and Clark Stevens's planned retail center west of Mann's Chinese Theatre bucks the Hollywood tradition of echoing the past: the unruly, abstract glass-and-steel shape has walkways and roofs in all directions.