Dinner and a movie take on a whole new meaning when you dine at these restaurants. Each was the backdrop for a pivotal scene that helped earn someone on screen or behind the scenes take home a golden statuette. Here are four restaurants in Academy Award -winning movies to help get you in the Oscar spirit.
21 Club, New York, New York
Film: Wall Street
Academy Award: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Douglas), 1988
“Try the steak tartare – it’s off the menu,” Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) urged Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) as the two lunched at the speakeasy-turned-New-York-City-institution long favored by powerbrokers and celebs. As a nod to the iconic scene, the Upstairs at ‘21’ menu features “Speakeasy” steak tartare with mesclun greens, truffle vinaigrette, and toast points. Other perennial favorites include the 21 burger, Steak Diane for two prepared tableside, duck à l’orange, Baked Alaska, and a blazing Bananas Foster. Make a reservation at 21 Club.
Grand Concourse, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Academy Award: Best Music, 1984
Alex’s (Jennifer Beals) lunch with her boss goes from lobster noshing to lusty antics but ends with a loud confrontation when his ex-wife makes an unwanted appearance. All this drama unfolds inside the revered seafood restaurant housed inside the majestic century-old Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station, which has featured in a number of other films, including Dogma, Promised Land, The Next Three Days, and Love & Other Drugs. When not closed down for Hollywood types, diners love the all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays and the jumbo shrimp scampi, Alaskan king crab legs, and the monster crab cakes. Make a reservation at Grand Concourse.
Sardi’s, New York, New York
Film: The Country Girl
Academy Awards: Best Actress (Grace Kelly), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (George Seaton), 1955
Numerous movies have been filmed in the Theater District mainstay, including The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Producers, Switch, Radio Days and Author! Author!, but only The Country Girl managed to snag any Oscars. In one scene, Georgie Elgin (Grace Kelly), Frank Elgin (Bing Crosby), and Bernie Dodd (William Holden) enjoy a meal at the restaurant with its iconic wall of celebrity caricatures in the background. We’re not sure what they ate, but regulars rave about the cannelloni au gratin (filled with either with beef, veal, and sweet pork sausage or spinach and ricotta) and the monstrous crab cakes with smoked tomato piquillo aioli. Make a reservation at Sardi’s.
The Berghoff, Chicago, Illinois
Film: The Dark Knight
Academy Award: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Heath Ledger), Best Achievement in Sound Editing, 2009
Gotham City mob boss Maroni (Eric Roberts) has his meal here cut short when Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman) busts him. One of Chicago’s oldest restaurants – it first opened in 1898 – is lined with burnished oak panels and offers comforting German fare that hasn’t changed much over the last century. Menu standouts include wiener schnitzel, a triple threat sausage plate, sauerbraten, creamed spinach, spaetzle, and Black Forest cake. Make a reservation at the Berghoff.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.