Musso & Frank | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Musso & Frank

photo by Anne Fishbein

There’s plenty of food in L.A. more exciting, more thoughtfully prepared than what comes out of the kitchen at Musso & Frank, and yet I’d pass over a lot of them for a chance to sit at that bar, or in that dining room, and eat the food my grandfather might have eaten in this exact spot when he was a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1940s. There’s the grand literary history, of course — which we are outrageously lucky to see enshrined not just in our cultural institutions but also in our dining institutions — the giddy thrill of sitting and drinking where Fitzgerald and Faulkner and Chandler sat and drank. But there’s also a foodist’s anthropology available here, a chance to eat Welsh rarebit and marinated herring and lobster thermidor, items that were popular at some time over the almost 100 years Musso & Frank’s has been open but certainly are not anymore. It’s one of the first places we’re likely to send newbies or visitors to L.A., and it’s hard to imagine this town without it. If that’s not essential, then what is? —Besha Rodell