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Marilyn Monroe at Hotel Bel Air
Marilyn Monroe at Hotel Bel Air

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How to Dine Out in Los Angeles Like Marilyn Monroe

The starlet was a paleo before paleo was a thing.


Classics Week Mini LogoWelcome to Classics Week, a week that chronicles the old and iconic restaurants in Los Angeles. Here now, a feature on one legendary starlet's escapades around L.A. restaurants.

There are few icons more evocative of Hollywood's Golden Era than Marilyn Monroe, who spent her entire life in Los Angeles. While LA certainly has a penchant for the new, nearly all of the starlet's favorite hotel and restaurants still exist today, making it surprisingly amenable to experience the city as she once did.

What's particularly interesting is the actress' predilection for extended hotel stays. Throughout the ‘50s and very early ‘60s, Monroe would bounce around to a few select Beverly Hills and Hollywood hotels, taking full advantage of the hotel restaurants, while also cooking her own meals within her hotel suite in order to stick to her diet.

In a 1952 interview with Pageant Magazine, Marilyn revealed her dining habits, which, while considered bizarre at the time, would actually fit quite nicely within the restrictions of the paleo diet:

"Breakfast. I've been told that my eating habits are absolutely bizarre, but I don't think so. Before I take my morning shower, I start warming a cup of milk on the hot plate I keep in my hotel room. When it's hot, I break two raw eggs into the milk, whip them up with a fork, and drink them while I'm dressing. I supplement this with a multi-vitamin pill, and I doubt if any doctor could recommend a more nourishing breakfast for a working girl in a hurry.

Dinner. My dinners at home are startlingly simple. Every night I stop at the market near my hotel and pick up a steak, lamb chops or some liver, which I broil in the electric oven in my room. I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat, and that is all. I must be part rabbit; I never get bored with raw carrots.

P.S. It's a good thing, I suppose, that I eat simply during the day, for in recent months I have developed the habit of stopping off at Wil Wright's ice cream parlor for a hot fudge sundae on my way home from my evening drama classes. I'm sure that I couldn't allow myself this indulgence were it not that my normal diet is composed almost totally of protein foods."

Although Monroe stuck to this high protein, paleo-esque diet in her hotel rooms, the actress and model was a fan of hitting some of the hottest restaurants in town, all of which still exist in some form today. Here now, a list of Marilyn Monroe's restaurants in hotels, in loose chronological order:

Roosevelt Hotel
1951

At the very beginning of Marilyn's successful modeling career, Marilyn resided in the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel in suite 229 above the Tropicana Pool bar. Her very first magazine shoot was on the hotel's diving board for a suntan lotion ad. Monroe continued to frequent the hotel throughout the mid ‘50s, and she now allegedly haunts the halls.

The Avalon Hotel
1951

Formerly known as the Beverly Carlton Hotel, Beverly Hills' Avalon Hotel still sports retro touches from the early ‘50s. What was a residential motel at the time housed many of Hollywood's finest, with Monroe staying at the hotel over the course of three years beginning in 1948. A famed photo shoot by Phil Burchman shows Marilyn at the hourglass pool in 1951.

[Photo: Alison Martino]

The Rainbow Bar & Grill
1952

While The Rainbow Bar & Grill is often associated with the rock legends of the ‘70s, the space's storied history goes back ever further. Before it was The Rainbow, the iconic Sunset Strip restaurant was called Villa Nova, an Italian restaurant where Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio went on a blind date in March of 1952. The couple enjoyed spaghetti in a back booth that still exists today.

Musso & Frank
1952-1954

Musso & Frank was a restaurant to the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Famous visitors included Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart, and, of course, Marilyn Monroe, who would sit at the bar with Joe DiMaggio.

Dominick's

Dominick's in the ‘50s and ‘60s had a door policy comparable to some of the hottest clubs today. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe appreciated the exclusivity, where only stars in the know would have access to the back door, with the front essentially closed to all others.

[Photo: Canter's]

Canter's

It is said that Marilyn Monroe's third husband, playwright and screenwriter Arthur Miller, introduced Monroe to the iconic deli Canter's. The couple became loyal customers of the 24 hour hot spot.

[Photo: Water and Power Associates]

Formosa Café
1958

The real estate gods blessed Formosa Café when it plopped down next to The Lot, formerly known as the prolific Warner Hollywood Studio, Samuel Goldwyn Studio, and United Artists Studio. During the filming of Some Like it Hot, Monroe frequented the legendary haunt, albeit quite the unglamorous menu, and her photo still graces the restaurant's walls.

Barney's Beanery
1958

In a vintage story by Route 66 Magazine, Monroe's penchant for Barney's Beanery's chili is revealed. She would often stop in during the filming of the same Some Like it Hot for a comforting bowl of the chili that is still on the menu today.

[Photo: The Beverly Hills Hotel]

The Beverly Hills Hotel
1958-1959

Monroe resided within the walls of the "Pink Palace" several times throughout the ‘50s, but her longest stays were during the filmings of Some Like It Hot and Let's Make Love. While she typically stayed in Bungalow 1, she also inhabited Bungalow 7 with Joe DiMaggio and Bungalows 20 and 21 during the filming of Let's Make Love. Naturally, Marilyn spent many meals at the Polo Lounge where she would sip rum and cokes if she were alone, or order Dom Pérignon if she were with company. Marilyn preferred table #6 so she could enjoy views of the patio and Brazilian pepper tree, and would order fish, pasta, and the occasional hot fudge sundae.

[Photo: Hotel Bel-Air]

Hotel Bel-Air
1962

Just six weeks before Monroe's passing, the actress and model posed for her last photo shoot commissioned by Vogue at The Hotel Bel-Air. Monroe ate at The Restaurant at Hotel Bel-Air, now Wolfgang Puck, which currently offers Monroe's Passion, a cocktail inspired by one of Hollywood's most loved starlets.

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