Located right on busy Wilshire Blvd., this restaurant has had a celebrity and industry following for years. Breakfast sees the suits - the agents and power-brokers who make and break careers over French toast. Before lunch, the celebs start drifting in.
It's mostly American diner fare served here: a great breakfast menu, burgers, meat loaf, macaroni & cheese, white chili, steaks & mashed potatoes... but this comfort food comes at at higher prices than you'd find in any standard diner.
For the extra money, you get good food, white linen on the table, and the possibility of of seeing Brad Pitt or Cameron Diaz or Jodi Foster slip into one of the booths for a magazine interview or a meeting with a producer. People-watching is one of the main attractions here.
For a Beverly Hills restaurant, it's an informal place, made of stainless steel and big windows with a view of Wilshire (and offering passersby a view of the diners). Like many Hollywood landmarks, Kate's is open late, so it gets lots of stars coming home from evenings out at premieres, as well as events at the nearby Academy building and Writers Guild headquarters.
Who? No need for insider tips here. A simple Google scan turns up more celebrity sightings than you can count: Antonio Banderas chowing down on their spaghetti with meatballs. Snoop Dogg talking to an agent. The Stones' Mick Jagger passing on dessert. Dawson Creek's James Van Der Beek dining with two girls. Star Trek's 'Seven of Nine', Jeri Ryan, combining breakfast and a magazine interview. Topher Grace (of That 70's Show) was spotted there. Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda) says its his favorite breakfast spot.
Tom Cruise arrived on a motorcycle at Kate Manitelli's, had dinner, posed with fans for pictures, and rode off... Josh Brolin and Diane Lane met at Kate's during a premiere party for "A Beautiful Mind" (and were married three years later).
One fan reports having Donald Sutherland seated next to his table. Speaking of Sutherland, his director in M*A*S*H, Robert Altman, showed up one evening, following a screening of his classic Nashville, with most of that movie's cast in tow.
Who else? How about Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Sydney Poitier, Toby Maguire, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Garner, Samuel L. Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Tom Selleck, Billy Bob Thorton, Kirsten Dunst, Matt Dillon, Queen Latifah, Keri Russell, Whitney Houston, David Duchovny, Claire Danes, Magic Johnson, Gary Shandling, Winona Ryder, Jamie Kennedy, Susan Dey, Joseph Bologna...
Robert Downey Jr. says that back in 1997, he met a director at Kate Mantilini's bar. Downey arrived shoeless and packing a semi-concealed pistol in a purse. The director noticed the gun, but still hired him for the movie One Night Stand.
Legendary director Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Blvd) was a regular. He always ordered calves brains, so they kept them in stock for him, even though not many other people ordered them. He was also the only person they let make a reservation - in a restaurant that doesn't take reservations.
Even the waiters here have become famous... sometimes. Buffy the Vampire Slayer's 'Xander', Nicholas Brendon used to wait tables here, and so did Billy Crystal's daughter, Jennifer Crystal, until she finally landed an acting role.
They've even shot movies here. Remember the first head-to-head meeting, over coffee, between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in the 1995 film Heat? Director Michael Mann shot that scene in Kate Mantilini's main dining room.
Kate Mantilini's was the creation of Marilyn and Harry Lewis, who also created the successful Hamburger Hamlet chain.
Harry Lewis was an actor under contract with Warner Bros. He played the memorable character, "Toots", in John Hustonís classic Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson.
Marilyn Lewis was one of the most successful clothing designers in the fashion industry, designing the costumes for Marlo Thomas in That Girl and creating her own highly successful Cardinali clothing line.
After Harry told Marilyn on their first date that he had always dreamed of opening a small bistro where industry people could meet, Marilyn went to work on the Hamlet menu and found a space. She convinced Harry to invest his last $3,500 in the lease, despite the fact that she didn't even know how to cook at the time. It was a good bet. A few years ago, they sold the Hamburger Hamlet chain for $33 million. (By the way, they named it Hamburger Hamlet because every actor dreams of playing Hamlet...)
So why did they name this restaurant Kate Mantilini? Kate was the first female boxing promoter, and a close "friend" of the owner's uncle... explaining the large boxing mural on the wall.
People argue about whether Kate's menu is overpriced or reasonable... (Some might find the prices high for homestyle American food.) But if you want to keep the tab down, try breakfast or lunch.
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays; open until 2 a.m. on Fridays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Sundays. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Sunday brunch. Valet parking.
Rodeo Drive, drive east on Wilshire Blvd, about eight blocks, to just before
Doheny Drive. The restaurant will be on your left (north) side.
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Copyright © 2014-Gary Wayne
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