Every trip to the Smoke House is an event. Located right across the street from the Warner Brothers lot, it is the ideal place for celebrity sightings. In the early days, it was a hangout for such luminaries as Errol Flynn, Bogart, Cary Grant and Judy Garland. Back in those days, it was not uncommon to see costumed extras on lunch break from Warner Brothers. Only at the Smoke House… Later, Garry Marshall and George Clooney were regulars. Clooney even named his production company “Smoke House” in honor of the restaurant.
Founded in 1946, its first location was at Riverside Drive and Pass Avenue. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were often seen in the 46 seat house. But soon the owners realized they needed more space. The Red Coach Inn on Lakeside Drive in Burbank was built by Danny Kaye in 1947, but never opened. In 1948, the Smoke House moved in, and there it remains. Famed architect Wayne McAllister expanded the 6,000 square foot venue to 18,000 in 1955, adding the bar and lounge area.
The retro décor at the Smoke House makes it a popular spot for film shoots. The rich, dark red leather booths, the candlelit tables transport us back to post World War II days. La La Land, 2016’s Oscar-winning film, shot three crucial scenes in the Lounge. (Picture Ryan Gosling at the piano.) Thursdays through Saturdays there is free live entertainment. The bar is reminiscent of Cheers, friendly and fun. The food and the service are superb, fit for celebrity royalty.
In 1983, the very first Sunday brunch in the Valley was served at the Smoke House, and what a sumptuous feast it was, and still is, and for a very reasonable price. It now begins at 9am, and from 9 to 10am there is a $5.00 discount. Last seating is at 2pm. The fare is incredible: carving stations, seafood and salads, breakfast items, delicious desserts and bottomless champagne and Mimosas. Wow!! In the evenings from Monday through Saturday between 4 and 6pm and Sundays from 3:15 to 5pm, enjoy “Beat the Clock”: 20% off dinner menu prices. Happy Hour is Monday through Friday, 4 to 6pm. Meat lovers would be crazy to pass up Monday’s Prime Rib special ($21.95) or Thursday’s Filet Mignon ($24.95), PLUS 20% off bottles of wine! And the portions are formidable.
The world-famous garlic bread is a must. Created in the early 1950s by chef John L. Sullivan, it has enjoyed popularity ever since. So much so, that last year the current owners made it available for shipping throughout the continental United States. What a unique holiday gift for those loved ones who’ve enjoyed this treat, but are too far away to get to the Smoke House. Yummy!
Holidays are always bustling with festive banquets and office parties. It would be wise to book early to ensure a space.
The service and food at the Smoke House are worthy of their motto: Where every diner is treated like a star!
The Smoke House is located at 4420 Lakeside Drive in Burbank. For menus, wine list and entertainment information, visit SmokeHouse1946.com or call (818) 845-3731.
Laura Voeth has worked for some of L.A.’s most prestigious restaurants. In 2002, she began reviewing restaurants for Beverly Hills-based “Women On Top” magazine. She is also a freelance writer.