Hollywood Stars. Venice Beach. Rodeo Drive. All icons of the extraordinary city that is Los Angeles.
However, tucked away in a humble, yellow bungalow along the buzzing Santa Monica Boulevard is where the real old-school Hollywood magic happens. Dan Tana’s has been in the LA scene since 1964 during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, and hasn’t really changed since. The retro Italian eatery remains the same with the restaurant’s checkered table cloths, weathered white shutters, and Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling paying homage to their motto, “It’s more than comfortable. More than familiar. It’s Tana’s.”
Whether you’re a local that’s been coming to the hidden gem for over fifty years or you’ve been there 5 minutes, Dan Tana’s is known to welcome every walk of life – and in Los Angeles, there are many. Original dishes like the Chicken Parmigiana and Veal Cutlet Milanese a la George Clooney has stayed in the joint for decades, and so has the bartender. Local legend Michael Gotovac has been pouring gin martinis and keeping Hollywood Stars’ secrets for a whopping 47 years.
A hang out that Vice News calls “a place where both Clint Eastwood and a WeHo party boy can feel comfortable pulling up a stool”, the Santa Monica Boulevard restaurant has been known to host the most elite LA residents since the start of the silver screen. Gotovac began his bartending career at Tana’s in 1968, coming from Croatia to work as a waiter knowing little English or even how to whip up a solid drink. “The customers would tell me the names of drinks and how to make them. I was a fast learner,”Gotovac shared.
For a casual Italian eatery with no Michelin stars, it’s hard not to fall in love with the Dan Tana’s atmosphere and hospitality that makes you feel like family. “Warren Oates was one of my favorite customers, he used to come in to drink. Robert Mitchum, John Ireland. Clint Eastwood was always at the bar in the 70s. Great drinkers,” Gotovac continues, “And music people came to the bar all the time like Joni Mitchell, The Byrds. The Eagles were my favorite… I’ve had a lot of drinks with them, did shots.”
The veteran bartender has described his celebrity run-ins at Tana’s ranging from Drew Barrymore’s parents changing her diaper on the bar to George Clooney hosting his 2006 post-Oscar party at the joint.
While the iconic bar host mentions that both the restaurant and drinking habits have somewhat changed since the 60’s and 70’s, Dan Tana’s continues to bring in every kind of customer. He stated, “In the old days, the big, big stars used to hang at the bar. Now, they want to get seated right away. Today, music people like to hang at the bar. They still like to drink and have fun.” And Gotovac indeed brings the fun, wining and dining with the customers, chatting like old friends – sometimes even downing 20 shots a night.
“It’s all your personality. How you handle people. You can find in my bar, sitting, the richest man in the world talking to a homeless person and buying each other a drink. It’s unbelievable, this place” said Gotovac.
For more information on Dan Tana’s, click here.