Update: You won’t find this gorgeous and eclectic interior any longer. It was gutted and turned modern. However, they realized their mistake. Hopefully the classic joint we all love will soon be back. With a storied history dating back to 1925, the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood oozes with a lot of star power. Just a stones throw from The Lot, a studio that has changed hands and names over the years, the Formosa was in a prime position to serve the clientele working at the studio.
A Storied Background
The Lot was originally known as the Jesse Hampton Studios and was subsequently, known by various monikers such as the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios, United Artists, Samuel Goldwyn Studios, and Warner Hollywood Studios. Movies such as Wuthering Heights, Some Like it Hot, West Side Story, The Great Escape, The Social Network, and The Green Mile filmed just next door to the Formosa. Naturally, as a result, the restaurant had its fair share of celebrity clientele visit. Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Bono, Frank Sinatra, Nicholas Cage, Quentin Tarantino, have dined at the Formosa and hundreds of photographs of celebrities who have visited the site line the walls. The restaurant served as the location for films such as L.A. Confidential, Swingers and The Majestic. While threatened with demolition in the past, the converted red car trolley stood the test of time to remain a favored Hollywood night spot.
A Culinary Treat
We visited just as it was opening for the evening, and so were able to photograph it without many people about. Soon, however, the place filled with guests having cocktails at the bar or dining from the restaurants Asian-oriented cuisine.
Since we were starving, we decided to try something off of the menu. The wonton nachos were delicious and different, with edamame and black beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream. The Formosa burger featured, along with the patty, caramelized onions, white cheddar, a kimchi aioli and arugula. Both were scrumptious. Given my enduring fondness for all things Hawaiian, I fell in love with their mai tai. Theirs stood out as a tasty libation.
The Formosa Cafe is a destination you will want to visit again and again. It feels small, homey, and approachable, yet is infinitely trendy and classic.
7156 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA