Have you ever wished that you could join Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey on the couch at Central Perk? Or grab a beer with Barney at McLaren’s? While many were filmed on a Hollywood sound stage, some of our favorite on-screen meals took place in real settings — and we can’t wait to visit. Check out these undeniably iconic movie and TV bars and restaurants that exist in real life.
1. Cheers on Beacon Hill from Cheers
They might not know your name if you’ve never been there before, but it’s totally possible to become a regular at Cheers on Beacon Hill, in Boston. Originally established in 1967, this most legendary of TV bars was named The Bull & Finch Pub, but changed the name shortly after the production and massive success of the hit sitcom, Cheers.
So how does a pub become the inspiration for one of the greatest television shows of all time? Once producers had the script down, which centered around a quintessential American bar, they headed to Boston for some vintage American inspiration. After visiting multiple locations, they decided on The Bull & Finch Pub — and the rest is history.
2. Tom’s Restaurant from Seinfeld
No, there’s not really a cafe called Monk’s in New York City. The exterior shot that features before virtually every diner scene in Seinfeld is actually Tom’s Restaurant. This TV staple is 100% real and located at 112th and Broadway, near Columbia University. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David decided on the fictional name Monk’s because there was a poster of jazz legend Thelonious Monk in the office where they wrote the show.
The restaurant has been owned and operated by a Greek family, the Zoulis, since the 1940s. Today, it is a popular gathering spot for Columbia students and faculty, some of whom went on to have illustrious careers in politics. It’s said that a young Barack Obama, as an undergraduate at Columbia, used to eat there frequently when he was a student.
3. Le Polidor from Midnight In Paris
Ernest Hemingway called Paris a movable feast when he was bustling around the city in the 1920s, drinking, writing, and hanging out with his famous literary friends. Woody Allen cleverly retold Hemingway’s story in a modern fantasy, where a writer named Gil (played by Owen Wilson) gets transported to 1920s Paris. There, he spends a couple nights on the town with such figures as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce.
Le Polidor, which was shown in the movie, actually was indeed frequented by Hemingway and his gang, as well as famed writers Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac. The restaurant has remained virtually unchanged since the turn of the century. It has maintained the same name for over 100 years and has a menu that still features traditional French cuisine. Fois gras, anyone?
4. Cafe Lalo from You’ve Got Mail
Cafe Lalo is the self-proclaimed most famous restaurant in New York City. Naturally, it helps when your restaurant is featured in one of the most popular movies of the 1990s. This setting, which appears multiple times in the film, comes up in the very first scene, where we see a spark of romance between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
If it were possible to drop Cafe Lalo in Paris, it wouldn’t look out of place given its vibe. The exterior is simply stunning — which is probably why producers chose the spot to film. Today, Cafe Lalo still boasts celebrity clientele, hosts jazz nights and live music, and features over one hundred different kinds of pie! When visiting New York, it’s definitely worth heading over for a dessert.
5. New York Bar from Lost In Translation
In this iconic cult film, Bill Murray’s character pulls up to his Tokyo hotel. Immediately after being greeted by bellboys in the lobby, the scene suddenly cuts to the bar — New York Bar, to be precise, which is located on the fifty-second floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo, Japan.
The bar scene is where viewers are first introduced to the unlikely romance that sparks between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The bar and restaurant has amazing wraparound views of the city and serves some of the most elegant food and cocktails in Tokyo to boot. They also regularly host top international jazz artists from around the world.
6. Holsten’s from The Sopranos
Of all the TV bars and restaurants out there, this one is particularly tempting. Fans of The Sopranos looking for a little taste of nostalgia should visit Holsten’s ice cream parlor in Bloomfield, New Jersey. They opened over eighty years ago as a classic soda shop, selling only soda, ice cream, and candy. That menu has since expanded to include traditional American entrées like burgers, fries, and onion rings.
The last scene of Sopranos shows Tony sitting at a booth in Holsten’s, eating a side of onion rings. Since then, the restaurant has been receiving tour groups every Tuesday and Thursday, many of whom order the rings as an homage to the late James Gandolfini. Since his death, the booth has been off-limits to customers, but will be filled again when the Sopranos movie shoots there in late 2020.
7. 21 Club from Wall Street
Since Gordon Gekko and Bud Fox dined on steak tartare at the famous 21 Club at 21st West 52nd Street in New York, it has been the most ordered dish on the menu. When it opened in the middle of prohibition, the bar featured levers that, when pulled, would sweep the liquor bottles off the shelves directly into a chute that led to the city sewers. How’s that for beating the Feds?
The cellar has stored the wine collections of several US Presidents and A-list actors. Today, the bar is recognizable for the line of colored, bronze lawn jockeys that adorn the entrance, all former gifts from stable owners who painted the statues to represent their teams. But don’t think that you can waltz right through the door. The black tie dress code, instituted when it opened, still stands today, and reservations must be made in advance.
8. Cicada from Pretty Woman
Remember when Julia Roberts flung her escargot across the room while dining at Voltaire, in Pretty Woman? In the film, producers used a fictional name; however, the restaurant does exist in real life, and is located on Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles. Formerly dubbed Rex II Ristorante, it’s called Cicada today.
The restaurant’s art deco design features all the grandeur from the golden age of Hollywood films. The building was constructed in 1922, and the interior features vaulted ceilings and chandeliers with enough space to host weddings and other special events. They regularly open throughout the week for dinner and dancing.
9. Coyote Ugly from Coyote Ugly
Few movie or TV bars have the name recognition that Coyote Ugly does. You can visit this bar in New York’s East Village, but chances are, you won’t see actress Piper Perabo dancing on the countertop. In fact, only exterior shots of the real-life bar were used in the movie. The interior was filmed in a bar called Hogs and Heifers, which has since closed.
The Coyote Ugly Saloon opened in 1993, seven years before the movie premiered, the brainchild of two former NYU alums who turned down internships on Wall Street to open their own bar. The success of the saloon spawned multiple franchises across the United States. In 2009, the company went international, opening several locations in Russia, and are in the works to open in Japan, the UK, and Kyrgyzstan.
10 . Top Notch Hamburgers from Dazed and Confused
Say man, have you ever eaten a charcoal burger at Top Notch? You’d be a lot cooler if you did. Top Notch Hamburgers was featured in the scene where Matthew McConaughey drops his famous three-word catchphrase, “Alright, alright, alright…” So, a visit there is not only delicious — it begs dropping a quote or two.
Since 1971, the spot has been a favorite for Austin, Texas locals, with a menu that features burgers, shrimp, fries, and fried chicken. The original neon sign still looks the same as it did in the movie, making it all the more noticeable when you’re passing through town. Inside, fans of the film can catch a glimpse of several pieces of movie memorabilia, including the soul pole, which was used to paddle incoming freshmen in the movie.
11. Kansas City Barbeque from Top Gun
When Goose and Maverick broke out with their rendition of “Great Balls of Fire”, they were sitting at Kansas City Barbeque in San Diego, California. At the request of director Tony Scott, the restaurant closed its doors for an entire day to film what would become one of the most iconic film scenes of the ’80s.
The bar appeared a second time in the movie during the final scene. Unfortunately, since then, the original Kansas City Barbeque is no more. A kitchen fire spread to the whole building, requiring 45 San Diego firefighters to put out the flames, resulting in an estimated $400,000 in damage. The owner has since reopened, but the fire destroyed all the memorabilia from the film.
12. Johnie’s Coffee Shop from The Big Lebowski
Johnie’s is a Los Angeles landmark on Fairfax Avenue in the Miracle Mile district. It has appeared in several movies, including American History X, Reservoir Dogs, and Gone In Sixty Seconds, in addition to being in The Big Lebowski. The restaurant closed in 2000 and now serves as a parking lot for a dollar store across the street.
But Johnie’s Coffee isn’t going to disappear any time soon. Thanks to its famous cameos, the site was declared a historical landmark by the LA City Council in 2013. Its Googie architecture, which drew influence from car culture, jets, and everything space-age, is a standing example of a style that once dominated the LA aesthetic during the ’60s and ’70s.
13. Smith & Wollensky from American Psycho
Of all the movie and TV bars and restaurants out there, this one has a more sinister context. They couldn’t get a reservation at Dorsia, so Patrick Bateman and Craig McDermott, played respectively by Christopher Bale and Josh Lucas, dined at their second choice: Smith & Wollensky. The restaurant is a real place, found at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 49th Street in New York City.
In the film, Bateman is in a daze during an afternoon lunch there, and McDermott berates him for not ordering the famous hash browns, calling Bateman deranged and a maniac. It’s the first subtle hint to viewers that this impeccable financial advisor may not be exactly who he says he is. You can still order the hash browns, but the restaurant is better known for its aged steaks and seafood.
14. 7B Horseshoe Bar aka Vazacs from The Godfather: Part II
Fans of the epic crime trilogy are sure to remember the 7B Horseshoe Bar aka Vazacs from the second Godfather film. It’s the scene where Frank Pentangeli gets ambushed and his attacker utters the infamous line: “Michael Corleone says hello.” Pentangeli is saved when an on-duty police officer wanders into the bar, unwittingly saving him from being strangled to death.
Violence spilled onto the street, revealing the entrance to the bar, which hasn’t been changed since the 1930s. For residents of New York’s East Village and Alphabet City, the bar serves as the neighborhood dive, the perfect place to go and toss back a couple of cheap beers. These days, it’s more of a place to take a date or hang out with friends than to stage a mob hit.
15. Pastis from Sex And The City
TV bars and restaurants have rarely received this much praise from any character. Carrie Bradshaw led fans of Sex and the City around several New York eateries, but Pastis stands out for its appearance in the show’s last season, when Carrie and then-boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky go on a date there. In the episode, she describes the restaurant as being the only place that seems to exist in the city.
The restaurant is indeed one of the most popular in New York, and has stood the test of time when most other restaurants that appeared on the show have since closed. The owners are two James Beard Award-winning chefs, Keith McNally and Stephen Starr. The pair serves up classic bistro dishes for breakfast, brunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
16. Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant from Mad Men
Fans of Mad Men will remember the scene where ad men Don Draper and Roger Sterling take a longer-than-usual lunch break together, gorging themselves on oysters and martinis. Famously, the duo returns to the office for a big meeting only to find that the elevators aren’t working. After climbing up all those stairs, a physically spent Sterling throws up his lunch in front of the potential clients.
The real-life restaurant, which bears the same name, is actually located in the lower terminal of Grand Central Station. It opened one day before the train station did in 1913, so that investors could celebrate the occasion. In 1999, then-owner Jerome Brody sold the restaurant to his employees, and to this day they still serve some of the best seafood in New York.
17. The Billy Goat Tavern from Saturday Night Live
Greek immigrant William “Billy Goat” Sianis bought the Lincoln Tavern near Chicago Stadium for $205 with a bounced check. He then used his proceeds from the following weekend to pay his dues. When Sianis took his pet goat to a Cubs game, only to be kicked out of his box seats by the club owner, it was rumored that he put a personal curse on the team.
In the 1970s, this most auspicious of TV bars served as inspiration for some of Bill Murray and John Belushi’s early Saturday Night Live sketches. Both Chicago natives, the pair used to frequent the bar and poke fun of Sianis’ broken English, which revealed itself on the bar’s signs and menus. This directly inspired Albanian-American Belushi’s Greek Olympia Café sketches on the show.
18. La Sirenita from Bridesmaids
If you’ve seen Bridesmaids, it’s difficult to forget what happened in the aftermath of lunch at the Brazilian restaurant. Annie insists on taking her childhood best friend and bride-to-be Lillian and the other bridesmaids out for lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse. But when the group goes dress shopping afterwards, everyone becomes, shall we say, drastically — and unforgettably — ill.
The actual restaurant where the scene was filmed is La Sirenita in Van Nuys, California — but don’t be too disappointed when you discover it’s not Brazilian. They’ve been serving traditional Mexican dishes and seafood for years, and have built up a loyal clientele. Locals love the spot for the amazing food, as well as the servers in their traditional Mexican garb. Most importantly, no one has ever gotten food poisoning from eating there!
19. Twisters from Breaking Bad
Okay, so there’s no real restaurant chain called Los Pollos Hermanos (yet). Instead, scenes in the infamous fictional restaurant were filmed at the Twisters location in South Valley, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Reportedly, once word got out that Breaking Bad was being filmed there, they saw a ten percent increase in revenue.
In total, there are twenty Twisters locations, eighteen of which are in New Mexico and another two in Colorado. Their menu combines traditional Mexican food while also drawing influence from Native American cuisine. While there have been several Breaking Bad-inspired pop ups that borrowed the Los Pollos Hermanos name, more permanent plans are reportedly in the works to turn Los Pollos Hermanos into a real restaurant chain.
20. McGee’s Bar from How I Met Your Mother
Spoiler: virtually all of the scenes from How I Met Your Mother were filmed in a Los Angeles studio. However, McLaren’s Pub, while entirely fictional, draws inspiration from the real life McGee’s Pub, located on 240 West 55th Street in New York City. The show’s writers, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, used to frequent the restaurant during their early days writing jokes for David Letterman.
McGee’s Bar has embraced their status as one of the most recognizable TV bars, renaming some of their food and drinks after bits and pieces from How I Met Your Mother. They offer the TedMosbyIsAJerk.com wrap and cocktails like the Pineapple Incident. What’s more, every Tuesday night at 8:00 is How I Met Your Mother trivia night for the true fans who want to put their knowledge to the test.
21. The Little Owl from Friends
While The Central Perk existed only on a Hollywood sound stage, there is a real café that sits under the corner building where Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey lived. Oblivious to the fame of the building (Google Maps now lists the location as “The Friends Building”), and completely charmed by the location, chef Joey Campanero decided to open a neighborhood restaurant, pitching his plan to investors as a local bohemian hangout.
Similar to the fictional Central Perk, The Little Owl is very much a local hangout, with many of its neighbors eating there several times per week. You won’t find a big orange couch inside, but it is possible to run into a handful of celebrities there (Chef Camparo doesn’t name names though). Part of Camparo’s policy is to “treat (our) neighbors like celebrities and celebrities like (our) neighbors”.
22. Llanerch Diner from Silver Linings Playbook
After staying open for decades, Llanerch Diner in Upper Darby, just outside Philadelphia, was forced to close its doors. Luckily for local residents, some of whom frequented the diner daily, the closure was only temporary — and for good reason. The restaurant was set to film a scene there with A-listers Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, giving local residents a little taste of Hollywood.
One waitress showed up to work to watch the filming despite having the day off. She said that it took the crew 26 hours to film just the one scene, where Tiffany and Pat (played by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper) argue whether or not their breakfast together qualifies as a date. Llanerch has seen a significant uptick in customers, many of whom want to sit in the same booth shown in the movie.
23. Katz’s Deli from When Harry Met Sally
Katz’s Delicatessen has been serving up traditional Ashkenazi Jewish deli fare since 1888 when the surrounding Lower East Side neighborhood was largely populated by recent immigrants. The restaurant is the number one-rated deli in New York, feeding thousands of loyal customers and tourists every week.
It’s estimated that the kitchen burns through about 15,000 pounds of pastrami, 8,000 pounds of corned beef, 2,000 pounds of salami and 4,000 hot dogs every week! Katz’s has made its fair share of appearances on the silver screen, but none are quite as memorable as the scene where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal enjoy a hot pastrami sandwich together. “I’ll have what she’s having!”
24. Twede’s Café from Twin Peaks
The Double R Diner in Twin Peaks is actually called Twede’s Café, located in North Bend, Washington. On the show, FBI special agent Cooper ate quite a few pieces of cherry pie at the restaurant, washing them down with what he called “a damn fine cup of coffee”. Both items really are on the menu at Twede’s.
The restaurant has been in business since the 1940s and has undergone several name changes throughout the years. In 1990, while on a scouting trip for film locations, director David Lynch passed through the town, and wound up selecting it to feature as the main setting for his hit show, Twin Peaks.
25. L Street Tavern from Good Will Hunting
Every night, fans of Good Will Hunting and neighborhood locals flock to L Street Bar in South Boston to knock back a couple. The bar, which has preserved its vintage aesthetic of a real Irish pub, is a local Southie hangout. This iconic bar used to be frequented by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck when they were growing up in nearby Cambridge.
The film, which was shot both in Canada and around Boston, used L Street Tavern for all of its bar scenes. While driving through Boston looking for film locations, director Gus Van Sant was immediately drawn to the aesthetic of the bar. Because L Street Tavern is such a popular hangout for Southies, it has also drawn the attention of the city’s mayor, who has stopped by to have a beer and talk politics with locals.
Costly, Extravagant, But Not Always Successful: These Are The Most Expensive Movie Sets Ever
Give us the spectacles we want to see! Constantly trying to outdo each other, some of our favorite films are notorious for their insane sets and huge production costs. The problem is, shelling out great sums to behind an on-screen fantasy world wasn’t always worth the investment — and sometimes the result was downright catastrophic. These are the most expensive movie sets of all time.