Formosa Cafe

4.5
194 reviews
$30 and under
Asian
The Formosa Cafe is a restaurant and bar founded in 1939 and located at 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard at the intersection with North Formosa Avenue, in West Hollywood, California.

The restaurant has a long history of movie star and film industry patronage due to its close proximity to studio lot across the street, which began as the United Artists lot and was later owned by Warner Bros. Generations of movie stars such as Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable have eaten meals at The Formosa. Frank Sinatra is reputed to have spent many nights at the Formosa in the 1950s, pining over Ava Gardner.

After a brief 2 year hiatus, a complete refurbishment, and a tremendous menu update The Formosa Cafe has returned to serve the Los Angeles community once again.

Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitising
  • Surfaces sanitised between seatings
  • Common areas deep cleaned daily
  • Digital, disposable or sanitised menu provided
  • Contactless payment available
Physical distancing
  • Limited number of seated diners
  • Distancing maintained in common areas
  • Extra space between tables
Protective equipment
  • Waiting staff wear masks
  • Diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking
Screening
  • Proof of vaccination required to dine indoors
What 194 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.4
service
4.7
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
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E
Ellie
Central Coast
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great service and ambiance., foof was delicious. Hadn’t been there for over 25 years😂

OT
OpenTable Diner
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Birthday brunch. Had an excellent experience! Thanks so much. Will be back again!

G
Giggles
Los Angeles
12 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall4food4service4ambience4

I haven't been here since well before the remodel. It was nice to be back in this iconic place. Food was good, drinks were great. Service was a bit slow to start once we sat down, but our waiter was lovely. Bartender was a kick.I had made reservations just incase. I've never been here when it was so quiet. I will definitely go back again. Always a good time.

a
aahlaw
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall2food2service1ambience3

Service was absolutely lousy. Food was cold. Overpriced for what you get.

JL
JakeinLA
Los Angeles
36 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall1food2service1ambience5

Very very bad service. The Server, who I believe was also the manager neglected our table and forgot to deliver our food. When asked about where the food was, he brought the check instead. We were not even asked if we wanted dessert. The only excuse for the poor and slow service was they were understaffed. We had to ask them to take away plates that were piling up. No apology of any sort. I will not go back unless they change management or ownership. They need a new management team to turn this place around. I will let my friends and colleagues know to stay away from this place. Only reason to go are maybe the cocktails. It was a big disappointment. I thought this landmark LA restaurant was going to be fun but it was the opposite.

JK
JeffreyK
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall3food1service5ambience5

I asked for my chow mein spicy and I think they poured half the jar of whatever space they had onto the dish. It was in edible. The rice dish tasted like it was cooked in old oil and the scallion pancakes were like building material. You don’t come here for the food. It’s about ambience and the drinks and the legacy of Hollywood.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on 20 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It’s hard to find good Chinese food, but I think we found a gem with Formosa Cafe. My wife and I enjoyed our time here. The ambience was great, the food was awesome, and the drinks were fire. This establishment is owned by the 1933 Group, and they’re known for other great bars like Oldfields, Idle Hour, and Bigfoot West. The only thing I wish we had done was ate at a booth. Our table inside the trolly cart was kind of tight, but outside of that I have no other complaints.

CC
ClareC
Chicago
1 review
Dined on 19 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

So delicious with great service snd cocktails! Rooftop is gorgeous and the inside is so beautiful and historic. Great atmosphere, one of my favorite spots!

LH
LHSinLA
1 review
Dined on 19 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

For a place that opened in 1939, the Formosa is strangely under the radar. On a recent weeknight I visited, there was a comfortable crowd, but not the throng one might expect from such an iconic location.

Food, service, ambience… all over-performed, especially at the price point. Parking is plentiful in an adjacent underground structure. Vegan and gluten-free options are available, and delicious.

Highly recommended, whether you’re visiting LA and want to experience a genuine piece of Tinseltown history, or you’re a local seeking a new addition to your restaurant/bar rotation.

p
vipphild
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on 19 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was great! Hadn't been here in decades, and the restoration is really well done. Food is way better than the old days.

E
Eric
Los Angeles
33 reviews
Dined on 17 October 2021
Overall5food5service4ambience5

Venue and food were amazing! Loved it! Could use some more wait staff, but still worth the visit.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Central Coast
2 reviews
Dined on 16 October 2021
Overall4food5service5ambience4

We hadn’t been to Formosa in years so we decided to stop in for a late dinner after seeing a play nearby. Wonderful service and delicious food! Fun ambiance too if not a bit loud.

JM
JaniceM
1 review
Dined on 16 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Loved it! Service was great! Ambiance was fun and festive! Felt like dinner was an event. Asian vegetables and steak and broccoli were our favorites !

KH
KeithH
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on 16 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Jess was a great hostess and Sunny a great server!

AW
AmandaW
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on 15 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Delicious and very friendly staff.

m
mlister01
Las Vegas
18 reviews
Dined on 15 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

My favorite Chinese restaurant when visiting L.A. Great food, ambience and a beautiful setting.

MA
MARTYR
1 review
Dined on 15 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We enjoyed every part of our experience. We were greeted as soon as we walked in. Our waiter Jordan was fabulous, as was the food. I tried the Zombie, it was too strong and Jordan replaced my drink and left the Zombie on the table for someone else!! How cool

PN
vipPhillipN
Los Angeles
19 reviews
Dined on 12 October 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

We were in the mood for Chinese so we headed straight to one of our favorites: The historic Formosa Cafe on the corner of SMB and Formosa on the far-eastern edge of West Hollywood. We were lucky to have made reservations and yes, even on a Tuesday night, they were FULLY BOOKED! The music was perfect, although I'd HIGHLY like to suggest you incorporate the Vintage Chinese Vibe channel on Spotify into your musical repertoire. That would put the place over the top!

Our server was perfect. Attentive, kind, super bubbly and cheerful, she made us both smile and immediately put us at ease. Ready to eat!

We ordered a variety of dishes including:
- Steak and Broccolini - AMAZING- the best thing on the menu by far. They use actual Filet Migon to make this incredible dish. And at $22 a steal! Where can you get a filet steak for less than $40? So tender, the meat literally melts in your mouth.
- Formosa Chow Fun - I really wanted to love this noodle dish, but didn't. I'll stick with the traditional noodles next time. It was ok, but the noodles just a tad thick and felt a bit doughy. The flavors were great, but... meh.
- Orange Chicken- SO good! The outside is crispy, the sauce finger licking good and the impact of the chili, BOOM! Beware, they do put the entire red chilis in the dish, don't accidentally just eat a whole one because you are looking at the patrons and not at your chopsticks! My bad!
- Cong Yu Bing - It was so bland. It literally felt like eating a pita, with no pita flavor. Just dough. No salt. No anything. And the scallions are just drizzled on top! I was hoping for some strong scallion flavor. Meh.
- Egg Rolls- Amazing. The outer shell is crispy, the inside flavorful and great! A winning app!

We will be back (soon) and we are so pleased at the care and attention they paid to the preservation of this historic eatery! If you are in LA, YOU MUST GO TO THERE! You'll be glad you did!

CP
CalProv
Palm Springs
25 reviews
Dined on 11 October 2021
Overall4food4service3ambience5

One of the most iconic and atmospheric restaurant settings in southern California. A great Thank You to the owners for maintaining this place in the spirit it was originally created.
The food is undoubtedly better now than it ever was before. Cauliflower a must, and the best marinated cucumbers we've ever had.
Service was a bit perfunctory. The place was not full, but waitress seemed rushed, or uninterested, and food carriers just plunked dishes down on the table without bothering to remove empty glasses and plates.
Will definitely be back for the food as well as the great atmosphere.

RH
RonH
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on 10 October 2021
Overall2food2service3ambience3

Well, the first time we ate at the "famous" Formosa Cafe about 3 weeks ago was going to be the last - not a good experience, and on my birthday, too (see previous review). This second (and definite last) visit was only because we were celebrating another birthday and it was at the birthday-girl's request for nearby Chinese food. We thought, OK, but only because of it's fame and we'd give it one more shot. Big mistake! My husband's meal was under-cooked and had a hard chip or stone in it that nearly cracked his tooth. My Kung Pao Chicken dish had about 2 very small pieces of chicken, and was otherwise just a bowl full of onions in sauce with a very few peanuts thrown in for show. The birthday celebrant's meal was equally disappointing, consisting of dumplings that were missing much of any sign of meat - very bland. The waitress and manager were apologetic and gracious, offering to bring replacement meals, and they reduced the bill very slightly - still an expensive evening for a bad experience - and on another birthday! When making the reservations I advised these were birthday celebrations which went completely unacknowledged - then why even ask??? Well based on this time and last - no way for another chance, and I would not recommend the Formosa to anyone.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 9 October 2021
Overall5food2service5ambience5

Met friends that we hadn’t seen for awhile. Great time out! Will visit again.

MW
MichaelinWeho
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on 9 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Dinner was awesome. Kelly was amazing and accommodating. She really made our party of 8 feel taken care of. Loved her.
The only downside was towards the end of our dinner the (sub) DJ began and between the music choices and the volume it made the last part of our evening intolerable.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on 9 October 2021
Overall5food3service5ambience5

Wifey birthday.

EC
ErinC
1 review
Dined on 7 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful night. Enjoyed the food and the service was good. Would go back.

DD
DeniseD
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on 7 October 2021
Overall5food4service4ambience5

We are so happy the Formosa survived 2020 and hope their business thrives. Can't wait to return!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Seattle
3 reviews
Dined on 5 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful dinner in the dining car section of the restaurant

B
Bkbk
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on 4 October 2021
Overall1food1service1ambience1

Service was so bad ,, watied a long time after ordering a appetizer two dishes and two drinks. An appetizer and a main course that my friend ordered came first, (appetizer and drinks shoould be first)than a few minutes later my main course came , but still no drinks. Waiter said tha bar tender was busy. We asked another server if we could get a water refill, he came back filled up my friends glass and not mine. Our server would not make eye contact with us or take the dirty disjes off the table which is ver small and cramped. Finally our drink came when were about done eating, biut that would be because i could only take a few bites the food was so salty it was pretty inedible.

TN
TearsNRayne
1 review
Dined on 4 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Such great atmosphere, friendly servers, amazing food, fun cocktails, and soaking in Hollywood history. Not that you needed more, but the restrooms are a religious experience.

TB
vipTracieB
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on 3 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Formosa café was the best most fun place to celebrate our daughter’s birthday!! I used to hang out there in the 1980s and I’m so glad to know that this wonderful historical place has been preserved to its original beauty!!
The food was so fantastic - way better than the 80s

E
Edna
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on 2 October 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Fantastic place, music perfect, ambiance was perfect, great service.
Great people!

B
vipBydand
London
7 reviews
Dined on 2 October 2021
Overall3food3service2ambience4

I like this place for it's history, décor, and food, but the music is too damned loud.

SL
SylviaL
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on 30 September 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Formosa is back and better than ever. The food and cocktails were great. Get the Peking Pork with Buns! It is amazing!

JS
JackieS
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on 30 September 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a fabulous dining experience! The food was absolutely delicious and the chefs and bartender/mixologist did a great job with the gluten free options! Can’t wait to dine again!

MH
vipMarkH
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on 29 September 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love the vibe. Love the decor. Love the drinks. Love the proof of vaccination requirement AND outdoor patio.

F
Falstaff
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on 27 September 2021
Overall4food3service4ambience5

Ambience great. Food only average.

DF
DFJ1
1 review
Dined on 26 September 2021
Overall3food5service1ambience3

The server completely disregarded us. We sat down at 7:00pm as per our reservation time, and she didn't come back to take our drink order until 7:14pm. Highly unimpressed, given that it's an intimate establishment so she was around... just didn't come and see us after bringing our waters right at the beginning.
The table was also very, very small. No one's fault obviously, just not the most spacious place ever..

TG
TrinaG
1 review
Dined on 26 September 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Sunday brunch done right. The Steak and Eggs was simple yet on point and, oh my, but the Pork Belly Sandwich was downright luscious.

And the service: perfectly attentive.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on 23 September 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Very courteous, friendly, and conscientious hostess and servers (Barbara and Honey). Loved the old school ambience and open air dining. Singapore Sling, scallion pancakes, and cold peanut noodles were fantastic.

RH
RonH
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on 22 September 2021
Overall2food4service2ambience3

We were celebrating my birthday and had made reservations. The food was very good, and slightly better than most similar places. The ambiance was mixed - fine, historic decor, but the lighting was turned down so low that it was impossible to see much. We were seated at a tiny table right by very busy foot traffic. The tables for two (even for three or four) are so small that the dishes were hanging over the edges. We saw no evidence of the tables being wiped clean after others left - just dishes removed. Our table was very sticky. The food was served all at once so that appetizers came out with the main entrees. We specifically asked the waitress to stagger these items but the request was ignored. We had to ask for practically everything instead of being offered (water refills, silverware, other items). The waitress was very nice but waited a bit long for our food. The prices are a bit steep, and we can have a better experience at several more local Chinese restaurants. Well, fortunately I was in a celebratory mood (my husband wasn’t happy), and we won’t be in a hurry to return. Who knew? Not us.

GG
GeorgeG
Los Angeles
11 reviews
Dined on 22 September 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Had drinks and dinner in the Red Car. The perfect way to start an evening out on the town.

Highly recommend!

FAQs

Formosa Cafe is rated 4.5 stars by 194 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting bookings at the moment.