From a Manhattan steakhouse favored by cinema’s most notorious editor-in-chief to a Californian wine country landmark that dazzled in an award-winning rom com, restaurants can be certified scene stealers. They fuel a film’s most pivotal moments, serve as settings for unforgettable meet-cutes, and, sometimes, even introduce their own set of indelible characters. Afterall, who can forget the errant escargot on a dinner plate in Pretty Woman? Or the anonymous deli diner—and her legendary aside—amused by the protagonist’s antics in When Harry Met Sally?
Whether you’re channeling your inner performer or just want to bask in secondhand stardust, here is OpenTable’s guide to 12 restaurants made famous by movies and television.
Grand Central Oyster Bar – New York, NY
Replicate a Mad Men bar crawl at this beloved bivalvery, nestled in the basement of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Ad execs Don Draper and Roger Sterling made a few stops at this sprawling subterranean expanse, throwing back a martini or three. The storied joint has dished out raw oysters, pan roasts, and chowders since it first opened doors in 1913. Embellished with herringbone Guastavino tiles, it’s an exceedingly photogenic space with lights dotting the vaulted ceilings—practically made for its own closeup.
Bridges – Danville, CA
Divorced dad Daniel Hillard’s life unravels here in the 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. As he toggles between getups—he’s been posing as the film’s titular British nanny to spend time with his children—a family dinner, and an unofficial job interview, Daniel can’t keep up with his disguises, leading to a messy reveal. Today, diners can find a framed movie poster at this East Bay institution, signed by the late actor himself. And flocks still frequent the sophisticated restaurant for live weekend jazz on the patio and exceptional Asian-accented plates such as pork chops with Chinese five spice and stir-fried prawns in Thai red curry sauce.
Cicada – Los Angeles, CA
After getting a crash course on table manners in the 1990 blockbuster Pretty Woman, Hollywood escort Vivian Ward accompanies corporate bigwig Edward Lewis to this swanky downtown Los Angeles fixture. Turns out even a tossed snail shell—“Slippery little suckers,” Vivian mutters, as one goes flying off her plate—isn’t a dealbreaker for Edward, who eventually falls for her unvarnished charm. While this swanky restaurant, all marble-topped tables and dark oak paneling, was once known as the northern Italian stalwart Rex il Ristorante, these days, it’s the Cicada, a swinging supper club inspired by an art deco ocean liner.
Smith & Wollensky – New York, NY
When editorial assistant Andy Sachs breathlessly bursts into the Manhattan outpost of this nationally renowned chain in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, she’s picking up a medium rare ribeye for her dictatorial boss, Miranda Priestly. It’s one of the many tasks on a demanding to-do list that also includes procuring an unreleased impossible-to-get manuscript. But the USDA Prime steaks, lobsters, and martinis at Smith & Wollensky—which the New York Times’s Ruth Reichl once dubbed “a steakhouse to end all arguments,” are best consumed onsite. The restaurant’s famed New York City location, which opened its doors in 1977, was the chain’s first and continues to draw crowds for its gargantuan portions, old-school servers, and dry-aging expertise.
Sant Ambroeus (Multiple Locations)
For those who want to retrace writer Carrie Bradshaw and co.’s stilellettoed footsteps from Sex and the City, there are plenty of enticing options in Manhattan. The series’s 2021 reboot, And Just Like That…, also pays homage to many New York City greats such as Sant Ambroeus, a chic Milanese place dressed in flirty pinks and dripping with glamorous gold flourishes. Several AJLT scenes, including one where Carrie and her real estate broker buddy, Seema Patel , discuss their dating woes over a plate of cacio e pepe, were filmed in Sant Ambroeus’s West Village, Madison, and SoHo locations.
The Little Owl – New York, NY
Known for a perfect pork chop and seasonal Mediterranean plates such as risotto with truffles and organic egg yolk, this West Village jewel box stood in for the fictional restaurant in the 2007 foodie flick No Reservations. It’s where chef Kate Armstrong, a fierce force in the kitchen, juggled her culinary duties while caring for her 9-year-old niece after a family tragedy. The Little Owl’s pop culture prowess extends beyond the restaurant’s confines: It’s housed in the same place that was used to film the exterior shot of the iconic apartment building on Friends, and you can still see fans frequently posing for pictures outside.
Hitching Post II – Buellton, CA
In the 2004 buddy dramedy Sideways, two middle-aged men, a wet blanket of a wine snob Miles and his soon-to-be married best friend Jack, embark on a last hurrah across the central Californian coast. The award-winning movie sparked a tourist boom in the area, and no spot is more visited than Hitching Post II. The family-run restaurant churns out delicious house wines—this is where Miles first meets the beautiful Maya and waxes poetic about Pinot Noir—and wood fire-grilled meats. Enjoy the impeccably barbecued fare with stellar sides such as shrimp cocktail and garlic bread. Designated drivers are rewarded with a free artichoke or mushroom starter and complimentary non-alcoholic drinks.
High Cotton – Charleston, SC
The Notebook diehards will recall this dapper Lowcountry restaurant and the seminal—albeit, heartbreaking—role it played in the 2004 romance: It’s where Noah, who’s just returned from serving in World War II, sees former flame, Allie, only to discover she’s with her new fiancé. The downtown Charleston fine-dining spot, decked in brick and leather, is lined with large street-facing windows and remains a favorite for refined Southern plates such as blackened halibut, a superb spin on shrimp and grits, and key lime pie.
Antoine’s Restaurant – New Orleans, LA
As the Crescent City’s oldest restaurant and the birthplace of oysters Rockefeller—the decadent dish was conjured up here circa 1889—Antoine’s was a New Orleans staple long before it starred in a slew of Hollywood thrillers, including 1991’s JFK and 1994’s The Client. But one of its more memorable appearances was in The Pelican Brief, a thriller centered on a young law student, Darby Shaw, whose legal brief about the murder of two Supreme Court Justices turns her into a target for killers. The restaurant was the site of an important conversation between Darby and journalist Grey Grantham. To this day, the French Creole standard-setter is steered by fifth-generation relatives of the original owner, drawing tourists and locals for its sumptuous poached eggs and pommes de terre souffles, or puffed potatoes.
South End Buttery – Boston, MA
If this cozy bakery-cafe seems familiar, it’s because it appeared in Spotlight, the award-winning 2015 drama based on the true story of Boston Globe journalists uncovering a decades-long child abuse cover-up. South End Buttery served as the backdrop to a meeting between reporter Sacha Pfeiffer and a victim-survivor. Sit exactly where Sacha did at this neighborhood darling, which transforms into a restaurant with a full bar at night, and feast on comfort food such as fish and chips, lobster mac and cheese, and a chickpea falafel patty served in a buttery brioche.
Aquitaine – Boston, MA
Spy this swish French bistro in 2009’s The Social Network, an absorbing take on Facebook’s tumultuous origin story. Though Aquitaine underwent an extensive overhaul in 2016, introducing new red vinyl banquettes and charming globe lights, its previous avatar hosted a tense power lunch between some of the film’s most significant players, including Mark Zuckerberg and Napster co-founder Sean Parker. Whether you’re sipping a gin cocktail at the zinc bar—the drinks menu here also teems with by-the-glass French-Californian options—or tearing into a plate of the renowned steak frites, enjoy this unexpected piece of Paris in Boston.
Luma – Toronto
Though it’s meant to exist in the concrete jungle that is New York City, almost every episode of the hit legal drama Suits was filmed in Toronto. This airy dining room, set on the second floor of the massive TIFF Bell Lightbox, is where superstar attorney Harvey Specter and team had dinner, appearing in multiple restaurant scenes. Tuck into seafood-forward creations such as Atlantic cod tagine and charcoal-grilled branzino in this warm, wood-paneled space; the chocolate bar tart—layers of sponge toffee, caramel, and milk chocolate mousse—makes a compelling closing argument.