15 TV Show Restaurants You Can Eat at in Real Life
Have you ever watched an episode of your favorite TV show and wished you could walk right into the coffee shop, diner, or restaurant where all the action seems to happen? For many series, that’s only possible if you work at an LA sound stage. But for others, you’re in luck. Sure, Central Perk might be fictional. And Luke’s Diner might have just been a pop-up. But whether you wish you could eat with the Seinfeld gang, want to spot the hipsters who frequent Ray’s coffee shop in Girls, or crave a late-night meal à la House of Cards, you can definitely make that happen.
Check out some of the iconic TV show restaurants you can eat at in real life.
1. Cheers from Cheers
Love Cheers just as much as you love a good beer? Then, the next time you’re in Boston, you’ll need to stop by the bar that inspired the TV show. Zagat notes the staff at the real-life Cheers in Beacon Hill won’t know your name. And the interior of the bar doesn’t look like what you saw on TV. But Cheers will serve up delicious “pub grub.”
The National Trust for Historic Preservation notes the bar is located in the basement of the historic Hampshire House, and “served as the establishing shot throughout the show’s 11 seasons on air (from 1982 to 1993).” But as a 1985 story in the Chicago Tribune noted, the show’s popularity “brewed trouble” for patrons of the real-life watering hole, which quickly became a tourist attraction.
2. Café Grumpy from Girls
Calling all Girls fans. Want to visit the cafe run by Ray Ploshansky and staffed by unreliable barista Hannah Horvath? Just head to Café Grumpy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. AM New York reports the shop actually has several locations throughout New York City, plus its own roastery. The Greenpoint location was left virtually unchanged when Girls shot there.
Café Grumpy is such an iconic part of the show that NYC Go characterizes Café Grumpy’s place on Girls as “the series’ answer to Central Perk and Tom’s Restaurant.” But not everybody is pleased about Café Grumpy’s prominent place on the show. The New York Daily News spoke to baristas from the real Café Grumpy, where several people objected to the show’s portrayal of young New Yorkers as “losers.”
3. The Campbell Apartment from Gossip Girl
Remember the swanky bar where Serena and Nate have a steamy encounter during the Gossip Girl premiere? That took place at the Campbell Apartment, a cocktail bar at Grand Central Terminal. Town & Country reports the Campbell Apartment — named for the financier who used the space as an office — opened in 1999. It quickly became a New York institution thanks to its “anachronistic insistence on a dress code as its delicious cocktails.”
The operator who created the bar lost his lease on the venue in 2016. But the Gerber Group won the lease. Fans worried the group would replace the bar with something new. But the place became “The Campbell,” updated in a way Vogue promises “will appeal to its die-hard fans and newcomers alike.”
4. Werner’s from House of Cards
The most iconic eatery on House of Cards, Freddy’s Barbecue, is unfortunately fictional. (The producers used an empty Baltimore storefront for exterior shots and a sound stage for interior scenes.) But Frank Underwood fans can still eat at another restaurant featured on the show. Conde Nast Traveler reports downtown Baltimore diner Werner’s actually has the show partially to thank for its recent renovation.
Though the restaurant “had been closed for 10 years or so,” according to production designer Steve Arnold, “right about the time we decided we were interested [in shooting it], somebody had control of it and decided to reopen it. Their opening day was a little bit after we needed it, so we came in and did some cleaning and restoration. And then they opened about a month after we shot there. It’s a great, classic, old-school, downtown diner.”
5. MacLaren’s from How I Met Your Mother
If you’re a fan of How I Met Your Mother, you’ll need to visit McGee’s restaurant and pub in Hell’s Kitchen. As the New York Post reports, the restaurant served as the inspiration for MacLaren’s Bar. And it now hosts How I Met Your Mother trivia nights.
According to the New York Post, the show’s co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas “drew inspiration from their days sharing an Upper West Side flat when they wrote gags for David Letterman.” They made “McGee’s padded booths and muraled walls,” where they spent a lot of time in their Letterman days, “the show’s focal point.”
6. Ben’s Pizzeria from Louie
Fans of Louis C.K.’s show Louie will want to stop by Ben’s Pizzeria. This famous pizza spot is featured in the opening sequence of the show, along with the West Fourth Street subway station. NYC Go reports that “Louie digging into his pre-show meal of a slice on the run doesn’t have the swagger of, say, John Travolta folding two stacked slices, but he has definitely earned his place in the Pantheon of Great NYC Pizza Eaters on Film.”
Splitsider reports the pizzeria has long been “a stopover for Village bar patrons after a long night of drinking.” And the blog promises that Ben’s Pizzeria is still a great place to grab a slice of pizza the next time you’re in the area.
7. The Bluebird Cafe from Nashville
Fans who have never been to Nashville (the city) might assume that characters on Nashville (the show) are playing at a fictional venue. But the Bluebird Cafe, featured prominently on the series, is a real-life songwriters’ mecca. Billboard reports the show has put the Bluebird in the spotlight by making it the scene of numerous performances.
But the venue, “which seats no more than 100 people, has long been a difficult place to get a table.” And now, “it’s close to impossible.” Visitors flock to the cafe, trying to get a seat. And more songwriters than ever audition for the Bluebird’s open-mic nights.
8. Dmitri’s Russian Deli from Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black might not feature quite so many restaurants as shows where the main characters aren’t all in prison. But Red’s backstory involves her work at Dmitri’s Russian Deli, the spot co-owned by her husband. Dmitri’s is actually Rosario’s, an Italian-style deli in Astoria. Paper reports Rosario’s “makes highly awarded pizza. Locals refer to it as ‘the secret pizza,’ and the mozzarella that goes on the cornmeal crust is made in-house. They also only sell it by the slice, which adds to the appeal.”
Red asks Piper to try the piroshkis, a Russian pastry, when she visits the deli on her furlough. Piper made it to Dmitri’s but found it was impossible to go inside thanks to the “for lease” sign on the door. But if you’re in the area to check out Rosario’s, you can actually find piroshkis in a nearby hub of Russian cuisine on Brighton Beach Avenue.
9. JJ’s Diner from Parks and Recreation
Fans of Parks and Recreation don’t need to travel to Indiana to eat at the restaurant that served as the inside of Leslie Knope’s Pawnee favorite, JJ’s Diner. Four N 20 in Sherman Oaks, California, was the filming location for interior shots of JJ’s Diner. And though the restaurant doesn’t serve waffles, there are plenty of other delicious foods to choose from, no matter what time of day you decide to visit.
Interestingly enough, even though Four N 20 played the part of the interior of JJ’s Diner, a different establishment served as the site for exterior shots. You’ll have to head to Atlanta to look for the Landmark Diner Jr. on Chesire Bridge Road to see the retro exterior used for JJ’s. It doesn’t seem to serve waffles either. But there are plenty of delicious breakfast options on the menu.
10. Monk’s Cafe from Seinfeld
One of the most famous TV restaurants where you actually eat is Tom’s Restaurant, the real-life location for exterior shots of Monk’s Cafe. The New York Times reports even though Seinfeld was actually filmed in Los Angeles, tourists flock to Manhattan’s Upper West Side to eat at “the Seinfeld restaurant.” Tom’s is the most recognizable Seinfeld landmark in the city.
The New York Times promises, “Fans will get a kick out of the signed photos and show memorabilia that grace the walls of this Greek-American diner and, yes, you can order a big salad. At $17 with grilled chicken, it was big and more than edible, but the food is not necessarily the draw.”
11. Magnolia Bakery from Sex and the City
Want to pretend you’re Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, or Miranda the next time you’re in Manhattan? Then, you’ll need to stop by Magnolia Bakery. Fodor’s recommends skipping “the long line at the original Bleecker Street location and head[ing] uptown to the second branch on Columbus Avenue.” (However, it’s that Bleecker Street shop that Carrie Bradshaw fans will recognize.)
The 1950s-style bakery offers cupcakes the Telegraph characterizes as “part of the city’s folklore.” But many longtime patrons of the bakery have complained about the way that Sex and the City has thrust the bakery into the spotlight. “When Carrie took her first bite, she left teeth marks in my neighborhood,” Emma Forrest writes for the Telegraph. Once the tourists — and the Sex and the City tour bus — arrived, Magnolia Bakery increased its prices and extended its hours, annoying locals even as it delighted tourists.
12. Holsten’s from The Sopranos
Want to visit the setting of the infamous final scene of The Sopranos, where mob boss Tony Soprano meets his family for dinner? Just head to Bloomfield, New Jersey, to check out Holsten’s. The New York Times reports even though fans don’t know for sure whether Tony was killed, “What is not such a mystery is that business at the real Holsten’s has soared after the episode and has not tapered off much.”
Holsten’s first opened as Strubbe’s Ice Cream Parlor in 1939. Then, it became Martin & Holsten’s and then simply Holsten’s. Sopranos fans often order the onion rings that Tony Soprano and his family ate. But the New York Times reports, “The onion rings are bought frozen from a distributor,” and the owners “are much prouder of their homemade ice cream and candy, as well as their hamburgers.”
13. The Double R Diner from Twin Peaks
Diehard Twin Peaks fans will want to make a pilgrimage to Twede’s Cafe in North Bend, Washington. As Slate explains, “The Double R Diner found an uncannily perfect setting in Twede’s Cafe — before it was Twede’s Cafe and before Twede’s Cafe took a hiatus from being the Double R Diner.” The restaurant opened as Thompson’s Diner in 1941. It became the Mar-T Cafe a decade later, and in 1989 it served as the model for the sound stage set where Double R scenes were filmed.
When Twin Peaks began airing, the establishment saw an influx of traffic. By the late 1990s the enthusiasm waned, and the restaurant was sold in 1998 to Kyle Twede, who rebranded it. A fire in 2000 destroyed the interior, and when it reopened in 2001, Twede’s Cafe looked nothing like the Double R. But as part of the production of the new season of Twin Peaks, the diner was restored “to the moody, campy diner of our fondest Lynchian memories” to serve as the shooting location for the Double R Diner.
14. The Mystic Grill from Vampire Diaries
Anyone who watches Vampire Diaries will remember the Mystic Grill, where tons of action on the show plays out. (The restaurant was even blown up in one episode.) Fans will be happy to learn the Mystic Grill is actually real. It’s located in Covington, Georgia, and has the same exterior you’ve seen numerous times on the show. But unlike most TV show restaurants, this one actually opened after the Mystic Grill appeared on Vampire Diaries.
Explore Georgia notes Covington served as the show’s primary filming location. And locals opened the real-life Mystic Grill as a response to Vampire Diaries-related tourism to the area. The real-life Mystic Grill is located inside a historic bank building, the same one used in the show. And its rooftop seating overlooks the historic Covington Square — the perfect place to enjoy Southern food made from locally sourced ingredients.
15. Chaps Pit Beef from The Wire
Pit beef is a Baltimore specialty. So it’s fitting one of the most famous food moments from The Wire happens at Chaps Pit Beef, where “Wee Bey somewhat symbolically amazes an apprehensive D’Angelo by shoveling spicy horseradish onto a sandwich early in the first season,” according to USA Today. Plus, Mapping The Wire reports, “When Wee Bey goes to jail he asks for a sandwich from here in exchange for admitting to multiple homicides.”
You’d assume that would have to be a pretty great sandwich. And according to USA Today, the pit beef at the real-life Chaps Pit Beef lives up to fans’ lofty expectations. In fact, the publication characterizes the meal as “a sandwich so good you start thinking up reasons to be in Baltimore, so you can eat it again.”