Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Dine.
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176 N. Canon Drive,
Beverly Hills, CA. / (310) 385-0880



This spot was Nancy Reagan's favorite restaurant, back when it was the Bistro Garden. But then celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck purchased the property. For a while, there were rumors that Puck was going to move his fabled Spago from its longtime home above the Sunset Strip to his new posh digs. But in the end, he decided to have it both ways. He kept his original Spago open in West Hollywood (re-naming it Spago Hollywood), and opened Spago Beverly Hills in this beautiful space in April of 1997, investing some $4 million in the process.

As you might expect, the new Spago was an immediate sensation, jammed with Hollywood stars from day one. Reservations were being taken a month in advance. In November of '97, the President of the United States,
Bill Clinton showed up at the new Spago to host a benefit for the "Rock the Vote" effort. The celebs in attendence included Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey, Lou Diamond Phillips, Graham Nash, Don Henley, Michael Bolton, and several studio leaders.

In 1998, Sir Elton John moved his star-studded post-Oscar party from Maple Drive to Spago Beverly Hills. This is an invitation-only event (dinner guests pay $1,000 each), and the only charity event on Oscar Night to raise money for an organization that is seeking a cure for AIDS. That year's guests included "Titanic" director James Cameron and Linda Hamilton, Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver, Sharon Stone, Jon Bon Jovi, Faye Dunaway, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver ("Good Will Hunting"), Robin Williams, Kim Basinger & Alec Baldwin, Sandra Bullock, Pam Grier, Fran Drescher, Natalie Cole, Jay Leno, and many more, including Elton himself (who gets there at 4 p.m., and doesn't leave until 2 p.m.).

   

In 1998, they shut down two lanes of Canon Drive for the big night, and erected a giant tent on the street, as Spago hosted the arriving stars. (But since then, Elton has moved his affair to other spots.)

Billy Crystal celebrated his birthday there in 1999.

On Oscar Night of 2000, DreamWorks took over Spago Beverly Hills to celebrate their Best Picture winner, "American Beauty." The place was decked out with more roses than you'd find in Pasadena, and party guests included Kevin Spacey, Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, Peter Gallagher, Kevin Pollack, Roberto Benigni, Val Kilmer and (from "The Sixth Sense") Haley Joel Osment. Plus the DreamWorks trio of Spielberg, Geffen and Katzenberg, of course.

In 2001, Tom CruisePenelope Cruz had their first date at this Beverly Hills restaurant. That same year, DreamWorks decided to have it's party at Spago the day before the Oscars, since so many of their actors were up competing each other for the awards (e.g. both Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks were up for the Best Actor award.) At a smaller party held earlier at Spago for authoress Gwen Davis, guests included Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Curtis, Paula Prentiss & Dick Benjamin, Harvey Korman and Robert Stack. A book party drew out the reclusive Johnny Carson, as well as the late Jack Lemmon.

And in 2002, DreamWorks joined up with Universal Studios for a joint pre-Oscar party at Spago. Other recent celebs spotted here included Sidney Poitier, Cindy Crawford, Pamela Lee Anderson, Angela Bassett, Michael Eisner, and Liza Minnelli.

This location has always housed a big, beautiful restaurant, but Puck and his wife have managed to improve things. At the center of the sophisticated restaurant is the old Bistro Garden's romantic patio, shaded by tall pepper trees. A fountain inscribed with the word "passion" (in various languages) bubbles next to a pair of 100-year-old olive trees imported just for Spago. The restaurant's striking interior shows none of Barbara Lazaroff's usual excess. But it does feature an open kitchen, like the original Spago Hollywood.

And this is where Puck has been spending most of his time lately. In addition to some of the usual Spago favorites (such as his smoked-salmon pizza), Wolf has added some Austrian specialties inspired by his childhood memories, such as wiener schnitzel, and beef stew with spaetzle. Local critics have noted that Spago Beverly Hills offers the kind of spectacular food you used to only be able to get if you asked Puck to personally cook off the menu.

In March of 2001, Puck finally bowed to the inevitable and closed the older, original Spago restaurant on Sunset Blvd. But this new Beverly Hills branch remains open and thriving.

Spago Beverly Hills is open daily for dinner, and is open for lunch Monday through Saturday. Reservations are essential (and almost impossible to get during prime hours); preferably weeks in advance. But be warned that the restaurant doesn't take reservations between 7 and 9 p.m. (unless you're a celeb, of course).

Prices are high, of course.


Getting there: from Rodeo Drive, go south to Wilshire Boulevard, take Wilshire two blocks east to Canon Drive, turn left (north) on Canon. The restaurant will be on your right (east) side.





[You can access Puck's official website at: http://www.wolfgangpuck.com.]



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