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Inside Formosa Cafe
Wonho Frank Lee

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Formosa Cafe Is the Legendary Hollywood Haunt that LA Refused to Leave Behind

The West Hollywood bar and restaurant returns June 28

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

After several years away and several million dollars in upgrades, the Formosa Cafe is back. The 1930’s-era former celebrity haunt has been closed since 2016, owing to some previous ownership issues and at least one failed attempt at a massive rebrand. Now the 1933 Group has stepped up to the plate, pouring in something like $2.5 million in private funds (and grant money) to restore the former West Hollywood crown jewel to all its glimmering glory.

And better still, Bobby Green and the 1933 Group are not alone. David Kuo of Little Fatty comes on board to oversee the food and reinterpret the restaurant’s age-old Chinese-American menu, hitting it with just the right amount of modern Taiwanese flavors. The cocktails even offer throwback appeal, as the 1933 Group — known for going the extra mile to restore historic properties like Highland Park Bowl — consulted with local historians to try to get not only the drink recipes, but also the ingredients, to fit with the era of the place. The opening food and drink menus are below.

Inside, Formosa Cafe is back to its roots. The terrazzo floors and deep red booths remain, as does the trolley car stuck right inside, which dates to 1904. In the back is the Yee Mee Loo bar, a secondary space with a vintage bar the group rescued from a different historic restaurant down in Chinatown. The walls are once again lined with headshots from days gone by, along with period-specific newspaper clippings, old art, carvings, and more.

The Formosa Cafe reopens on Friday, June 28, keeping hours from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Lunch service in the front bar, a weekend brunch, and a rooftop lounge area will also arrive in the coming weeks.

Formosa Cafe. 7156 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA.

A dim red and black interior of a redone restaurant with lots of throwback touches and a tiki vibe.
The front bar
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Vintage booths
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Lots of room
The bar inside formosa cafe, glowing in red lights.
The Yee Mee Loo bar
Bright red tones and old photos hang at Formosa
The back dining area
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Elegant touches
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The 1904 trolley car
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Inside the trolley car
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Old headshots and more
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Design details outside
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Beef with broccoli
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The vegan fatty bowl
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Dan dan mian
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Windex blue cocktail with an umbrella and curvy cup.
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