Rainbow Bar & Grill – West Hollywood, California - Gastro Obscura

Gastro Obscura

Rainbow Bar & Grill

An Italian restaurant became a rock-and-roll hangout and the lair of the "Hollywood vampires." 

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A part of Los Angeles history since 1972, the Rainbow Bar & Grill, featured in many songs and music videos, has been a home away from home of many rock legends.

The music venue Whisky a Go Go was the sounding ground for musicians with dreams of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Whisky a Go Go was the place rock stars came to see other rock stars perform, and the Rainbow was where they “networked.” A place that the Prince of Darkness—Ozzy Osbourne—remembered walking in but never remembered leaving, the Rainbow became a known hangout spot for rockstars and their groupies through the ’70s and ’80s.

Before it was the Rainbow, the restaurant was the Villa Nova, a popular date spot of Hollywood’s biggest stars from the 1930s to the late 1960s. The heavy-hitter regulars roster included tinsel-town icons such as Bing Crosby, John Wayne, and Judy Garland. Legend has it, Marilyn Monroe walked in with Mickey Rooney and walked out hand-in-hand with Joe DiMaggio. 

Mario Maglieri, the manager of the Whisky a Go Go and the “pope of the Sunset Strip,” took over the Villa Nova restaurant. Maglieri and the Rainbow became a haven for the young rockers lost in the City of Angels who came to heal their hangovers with bowls of chicken noodle soup and complimentary loaves of bread.

A select few rockers bellied up to the bar nightly. Above the restaurant was the secret hideout of Alice Cooper’s elite men’s drinking club. The loft was christened the “Lair of the Hollywood Vampires.” Notable members of this club have included Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, Micky Dolenz, and Harry Nilsson. To be initiated, John Lennon allegedly had to outdrink every single member.

For many rockstars, the Rainbow was where they grew up. Long time regular Lemmy Kilmister, the lead singer of Motörhead, said, “the history of rock and roll is in here.” The walls are covered in mementos that rock legends have donated to their beloved second home. 

Most recently, the Rainbow added a life-size statue of Kilmister to their patio in memory of the rock legend’s life and love for the Rainbow. Kilmister would spend his days sitting on a ragged barstool, drinking Jack and Cokes (now called “Lemmys”) and playing video poker at the patio bar. The patio became “Lemmy’s Lounge” in his honor, remodeled with all new barstools except one.

The Rainbow is a place rockstars can go where everybody knows their name but are not asked for their autograph. The Maglieri family upholds tradition and still serves Italian food, including what some consider the best ravioli in Los Angeles every night. As long as the Rainbow is open, there will always be a place where rock and roll can call home.

Know Before You Go

There is complimentary valet parking for customers. The bathrooms are located upstairs.