Guys, we have roughly eight weeks to go until the Turner Classic Film Festival, can you believe it?
(UPDATED Feb. 2020 in time for my 5th Festival!)
To some, the festival has become second nature or something you just do, a right. For some of us, it's still this surreal, magical experience that we have to save every extra nickel we earn so we can attend. The moment I get home from the festival, I'm counting the days down until the next one. It's what I look forward to most all year long.
This year will be my third trip to Hollywood for the TCM Film Festival, and it still feels like my first time. Eight weeks out and I still have butterflies in my stomach. I’m excited, and as I write this my heart beats faster and harder as I think about what films they have yet to announce, Wuthering Heights perhaps? Possibly, Gone With the Wind? Probably not, they ran that a few years back, before I could afford to attend, dang.
Before my first trip in 2016 I researched so many blogs and found so many helpful tips but what I also found was that I was not in the same category as everyone else. My pal Will gave some wonderful suggestions on ways to eat without missing a movie. I took those tips to heart and memorized nearly every line of his blog post word for word. I even saved it to my phone in case I needed it when I got to LA.
What I found out when I got there was that I couldn’t function on concession foods and snacks. My body needed a meal. My food was important enough for me to cut into my movie time. They don't call him #OldFoodWeirdo they call him #OldMOVIEWeirdo. I was in the minority, and that was alright. My blood sugar just couldn’t handle the lack of food; I didn’t feel great without the piles of crap in my gut. I hadn’t prepared for it.
If you're going to cut back on your food and try to eat mostly concession foods and Special K Bars, Candy Bars, Etc., prepare yourself for it. Don’t be the guy who passes out in line.
That did happen to someone last year on the first day. A poor soul passed out and got sick. I didn’t see it happen my first year but last year as we stood in line, indoors for Barefoot in the Park someone got ill and dropped. Prepare yourself for standing, walking, and stretches of little to no food if that is the route you go. Stick a candy bar in your purse if you need to. It may be a lifesaver! Even with a proper meal my sugar still dropped from time to time, and I needed a candy bar quick. Pack a couple to keep on hand. Don't rely on grabbing an expensive on from the concession stand. Put some in your luggage or grab one from the CVS down the street from the Roosevelt (more on that later.)
I’ll be honest with you; I like my food a lot. I’m a chubby girl, and I plan most of my vacations around where I get to eat. Let me lay it out for you in some pricing terms of the middle class also to help out.
The heart of the Festival is the TCL Theater and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Here are some of the places I recommend that are decently priced and delicious for those who want to be able to eat either fast food or sit down and eat a meal for under $20 per person.
In-N-Out: Three Blocks South of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
You can get a Double-Double Burger Combo-$6.70, that’s pretty much the most expensive thing. So if you’re quick, you can eat cheaply there.
Baja Fresh – Across the street from Grauman’s, Decent fast food (Mexican) I was there in 2016 and I remember it was pretty good. Prices for burritos under $9. Menu HERE
Jinya Ramen Express is right outside the door of a few of the TCL Theaters, and it is a GREAT place to grab a quick meal that is easy on your stomach if you have a sensitive stomach like me. I had 15 minutes between a few movies last year and grabbed something from this place and fell in love. I went back at least three more times before the end of the trip. I have talked about this place so much over the past year and looked forward to it the most. It was delicious! A bowl fed both my husband and me, and it was under $15. Menu HERE UPDATE: Still a fave, no THE FAV. Plan on going there at least five times in the five days I'm here-if not more.
Johnny Rockets - right around the corner from the TCL theaters you’ll find this little diner. This place is a favorite of my sisters and came so highly praised by a reader/friend of mine that I gave it another shot hoping for a small miracle. I ran into Ben Mankiewicz eating with his family there too. I had high hopes, unfortunately, this was the first time I had eaten here sober and found it to be just alright. It will get you by in a jam. Menu HERE.
SIT DOWN MEALS:
Inside the Hollywood Roosevelt-25 Degrees, you get a TCMFF Discount for attending the Festival with your pass, and they play TCM. They have an excellent breakfast and are open 24 hours. I hit this place up a few times alone in my first year. (This is a note for any women going alone. I was 33 and a woman alone during my first year. I felt 100% safe going to 25 Degrees at midnight and early in the morning for meals alone. There was always someone to talk to, or not talk to if I chose.) Here are some of the items I have ordered and enjoyed.
Grilled Three Cheese-$8.00; Sonoran Hot Dog*MY FAV* (bacon-wrapped, caramelized onion, tomato, pinto beans, hatch green chili, queso fresco onion, mustard, garlic aioli) $10.50; Classic Waffle-$11; They also have lots of Burgers here too, but I had that Sonoran Hot Dog, and it was so good I never looked back. Menu HERE
Mel’s Drive-In – Between TCL theatre and the Egyptian Theatre A Must! You will find fellow TCM friends dining at Mel’s all hours of the night during the festival. You may also find a Chaplin impersonator dining as well. Mel’s is an institution you can’t miss. The mac and cheese is to die for, and I swear by their BLT +Avacado sandwiches. That’s all I’ve ever had there so I can’t recommend anything else. I know its probably about $20 for me to eat there but I usually splurge and get a coke while I’m there and maybe a coffee or dessert. That’s my fault. You could probably eat there pretty reasonable, but there is just something about being there that makes me scream ‘Bring me ALL THE FOOD.’ It’s my fault. Plus they have lavender candy, and I love it and only find it there, so I always buy them out when I’m there too. Menu HERE
Pig ‘N’ Whistle – Right next to the Egyptian Theatre- I have been here once, and it was a fun night, my first in Hollywood with great friends. I had a meal that wasn’t the best, but I was in a hurry and didn’t order what I was comfortable with eating. I need to get them a shot again, so I am going to recommend them for a fun atmosphere and from what I have heard is a fun place with good food. It couldn’t be pricey, but you could get out under $15 if you wanted to. Menu HERE UPDATE: I managed to get into ‘Pig’ a few more times in recent years and the food was pretty great and after eating around, I realized that it was also reasonable. I had the California nachos and they were pretty damn good.
Micelis – A few blocks east of the Egyptian Theatre- The Italian food was so delicious. The Atmosphere was so fun, and every time we wandered our way down there we had a blast. Each time we sat down and filled ourselves to the brim with pasta we were surrounded by fellow TCM fans. The first time I had Alfredo and it was incredible, the second night I had cheese ravioli, and it was incredible, then any other time I was there, I rotated between those two things. Those two dishes were about $14. There was just enough to fill me up and nothing left over which was a bummer because there was nothing to take back to eat later, but still great. It was a beautiful little getaway from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood BLVD. Menu HERE UPDATE: The food quality had gone way downhill in the past few years. I think this year will be a no go for us on this little place. Sadly.
Cho Oishi - Fine Japanese. It’s in the Highland/Hollywood Mall area. I haven’t been here, but I am told on good authority (thanks @jaxbra) that its good and has a huge menu. The service was good too. I think I will defiantly be checking this place out in 2019! It looks reasonably priced too. Menu HERE
Cheap eats to survive and not exactly my recommendations but in the area: McDonald's is between the TCL Theaters and the Egyptian. California Pizza Kitchen is in the Highland Shopping Center. The sitting area is gorgeous as you have a great spot to see the Hollywood sign and people watch but the pizza is not great and overpriced. There is a Subway Sandwich shop in the shopping area to the west of LA LA Land next to the CVS across from the Hollywood Roosevelt. Also - you can probably Postmates something too!
There is a CVS right past on N. Sycamore Ave. and Hollywood BLVD. Its just west of LA LA Land across from The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. You can find alcohol there as well as water and all kinds of other snacks. GET WATER! Keep a bottle of water on you for the lines. You will be glad you did. Jeremy (@movie155) just alerted me to the fact that they recently opened a Walgreens next to the theater and someone else said there is a Trader Joe’s at 1600 and Vine south of Hollywood Boulevard for a healthier option. (Thank you @MaxineFaulk1). I was also told that you may even use Instacart to have groceries delivered. That may be something to consider as well. Thank you again Jax, that is actually brilliant and something I would have loved when I was sick my first year! (Please tip your driver though guys, they don’t get the full tip you designate when you place the order)
I give Jameson's Irish Pub a thumbs down for a flat beer, bad service, and food that was spoiled, overpriced and made me sick.
A few places outside of the area that we explored last year that are totally worth a shot are:
Jones: This place was amazing. The atmosphere was great and I can’t stop thinking about the Famous Apple Pie for Two. It was super low key and a quick, cheap Lyft away from Hollywood Boulevard. Menu HERE
Want to find go where the real celebrities ate? Follow this guide from someone who knows L.A. This is a GREAT guide HERE.
Little Dom’s: This place was such a fun place. Our pal Lauren took us to this place and couldn’t have chosen a better place for us to sit out on the sidewalk and spend the afternoon. The Nutella panini paired with the potatoes was heaven. Menu, HERE.
Cantors Deli: Get in a Lyft and find your way here. Get a slab of cheesecake and some black and white cookies ASAP as well as a meal. Do it. DO IT! Menu, HERE.