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Chewing the Scenery
by Tim Josephs

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Thanksgiving, that great gluttonous holiday is almost upon us, and it got me thinking, as it usually does, about food in the movies. Here are some films with well-known restaurant scenes and where they really took place.


The restaurant Honey Bunny and Pumpkin stick up was a real diner in Los Angeles called the Hawthorne Grill, which has sadly since been demolished. Tarantino originally wanted to shoot in a Denny's, but the chain rejected his request.

Jack Rabbit Slim's, the awesome retro restaurant Vincent and Mia go to is unfortunately not a real place.

And what of Big Kahuna Burger that's mentioned early in the film? It's a fictional burger joint that Tarantino has actually used in several movies.


The titular diner wasn't real; it was found in a "diner graveyard" in New Jersey and brought down to Baltimore. It was based on the Hilltop Diner, where director Barry Levinson used to hang out.


Chez Quis, the snooty restaurant where Ferris and friends get a table after convincing the maitre d' that he is in fact Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago, is a combination of two places. The
interior was a restaurant in Los Angeles, while the exterior was a private home in Chicago.

The pizza joint Principal Rooney goes to look for Ferris is also in LA.


Perhaps the most famous restaurant (and possibly orgasm) scene in movie history, it took place at Katz's Deli in New York City. (Katz's was also used for a scene in DONNIE BRASCO.)


Another Tarantino flick with a pivotal restaurant scene, this one was filmed at Pat and Lorraine's in LA. (Big Kahuna Burger is also referenced in this one.)


As Miles says early on in this film: "We're gonna drink a lot of good wine...we're gonna eat some great food..."

Miles and Jack eat a couple of times at The Hitching Post, which is a real restaurant in Buellton, CA. Miles, Jack, Maya, and Stephanie all eat dinner at Los Olivos Café and Wine Merchant in Los Olivos; this is where Miles adamantly refuses to drink merlot.

There are several real wineries used in the film, including Frass Canyon, where Miles flips out after learning his book won't be published. The real winery is called Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard.

And near the end,
Miles enjoys his very expensive bottle of wine at a fast food restaurant called Orcutt Burger, which is in Santa Maria.


It seems like nearly every scene in GOODFELLAS involves some sort of food, like when the guys eat very well in prison or even drugged out of his mind and extremely paranoid, Henry makes sure to give directions about the tomato sauce. There are numerous real restaurants that were used for filming.

The diner by the airport was the Jackson Hole Diner in Queens which is still up and running.

The Bamboo Lounge, where Tommy scares the hell out of everybody, was the Hawaii Kai Restaurant in Manhattan that is now a Japanese restaurant.

Tommy and Henry's double date takes place at Salerno's Restaurant in Queens.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when Henry takes Karen through the back entrance of the Copacabana Nightclub in Manhattan. The Copa is no longer in operation.

Billy Batts gets what he deserves at the Suite Lounge, now Lido Cabaret in Queens.

And when Jimmy and Henry find out that Tommy has been whacked, they were at the Clinton Diner, also in Queens.


Something you need a little
grub to go with all those White Russians. The Dude and Walter talk about Bunny's toe at Johnie's in midtown Los Angeles. Johnie's is now just used as a filming location.

The restaurant where the nihilists eat pancakes with the woman missing a toe is Dinah's Family Restaurant in Culver City.

And of course, Walter and Donny enjoy some In-and-Out burgers while The Dude drives his windshield-less car.


The infamous food fight scene was filmed at the Erb Memorial Union at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

The club where Otter, Hoover and gang mistakenly stop to see Otis Day & The Knights play was the Dexter Lake Club in Dexter, OR. The club is still open, and is not shy about touting the fact that it was used for that scene.


Chez Paul, just as snooty as Ferris' Chez Quis (what's up with "Chez" being a precursor for snootiness?), where Jake and Elwood try to get Mr. Fabulous back in the band is in Chicago. It's now closed, but the building still stands.

Aretha Franklin's soul food joint ("Four fried chickens and a Coke.") was Nate's Deli, not far from the University of Illinois. It's also closed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Mike Thomas
Nov 19, 2013 11:17 AM
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Amazing research!

Thanks for the dissertation!
Nov 20, 2013 1:48 PM
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Thanks, Mike. I aim to inform as well as entertain.

Nov 26, 2013 11:44 PM
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Charlotte, NC can boast a real NJ diner that was actually transported from a car dump on a flat-bed truck and resurrected to its original look as Matties Diner. I grew up and lived in Jersey until 1989. Lots of diner memories for me. Thanks.
Nov 27, 2013 8:53 AM
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That's good to know. I grew up in Jersey as well and have a lot of great diner memories too. It's been tough finding good, quality diners since I moved.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.

Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

The Greatest President We Never Had

Comparing Two of the Best Horror Movies Ever Made

All Columns

Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.

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