Top Ten TV Restaurant Hangouts

By on December 27, 2013 11:30am EST

While we’re taking some holiday time off to eat and nap and frolic in the snow, we’re re-running some of our best posts of the year. We’ll be back with new stuff Monday, January 6.

Lanford Lunch BoxHaving a usual “haunt,” the place where you “hang” with your friends is, to be honest, kind of sad. At best, it means you’re probably spending way too much money eating and drinking outside your own home, the “deals” your “favorite” waitresses or bartenders slip you easily overtaken by the large tips you issue in return. At worst, it renders you predictable, boring. You realize it when that waitress or bartender slides you that same burger-hold-the-onions-side-of-ranch you’ve ordered a thousand times before, before you can utter the proclamation, “Hey, I’m a vegan now…uh, okay, nevermind.” Slides you a Jameson lowball before you can show off your shiny new AA token. In other words, it might mean you have an eating or drinking problem.

Television, as with so many other things, glamorizes the restaurant “hang.” Here are some of my favorites.

The Lanford Lunch Box – Roseanne

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Okay, so no one really hung out at the Lanford Lunch Box other than its loose meat sandwich-slinging owners and employees: Roseanne, Jackie, Bev, Nancy, Leon, and Staci Lords in a cameo appearance… and DJ. But wouldn’t you want to hang out with DJ? He was such a little s-h-swearword. The thing that confounds me, though: What was up with all the chicken shirts and chicken aprons?

The P*lace – Kids Incorporated

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Whowouldathunk some of the finest names in contemporary musical entertainment – Martika! Wild Orchid! Fergie! J. Lo. Hewitt! – got their start as terrible child actors performing in rock group at a malt shop called The P*lace? Believe it. And fear not. The P*lace isn’t torn down. It’s deemed a National Historic Landmark, and saved!* Duuuuuuh. *Not in real life. You can’t visit The P*lace in real life, you weirdo.

Arnold’s Drive-In – Happy Days

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“Yeeep. Yep, yep, yep, yep.” The famous cook featured at the beginning of the Weezer video – you know the one – is Milwaukee’s own Al, not Arnold, the namesake of Fonzie, Potsie, Richie and Ralph’s favorite restaurant hang. Confusing, I know. Al took over ownership of Arnold’s after Pat Morita’s character, Matsuo “Arnold” Takahashi, left the show following season three. Can you eat at Al’s, I mean Arnold’s? No – the diner was filmed on a set, though based on the now-demolished Milky Way Drive-In in Glendale, Wisconsin.

Honker Burger – Doug

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Uh, I can’t explain that video, but it pretty much explains all that is Doug. Should you ever find yourself at Doug, Skeeter and Patti Mayonnaise’s favorite restaurant, here’s a primer on how to place an order at Honker Burger (thanks Skeet).

Riff’s – Mad About You

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Because everyone loves a good Phoebe/Ursula twin crossover.

Bronto Burger – The Flintstones

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When you were a kid, didn’t you want to ride with the family down the street, through the courtesy of Fred’s two feet, to Bronto Burger’s Drive-In for a car-insurance-premium-busting rack of brontosaurus ribs?

The Peach Pit – 90210

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While a prehistoric drive-in may have seemed within my reach, I figured that even by the time I graduated to high school, I’d still not be cool enough for a place like The Peach Pit. I’d apparently built Ian Ziering up in my head. I was a dumb kid. But look, Color Me Badd occasionally stopped by! COLOR ME BADD!!! THEY WANTED TO SEX PEOPLE UP!

The Max – Saved by the Bell

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Now The Max, on the other hand, was the kind of place I could see myself hanging out someday, as a cool high schooler. After all, if Kelly Kapowski could show up with her face all red from homemade zit cream, A.C. Slater could dance in Spandex (in more than one episode), and Jessie Spano could have caffeine pill-induced breakdowns just offscreen, I could fit in quite nicely.

Mel’s – Alice

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I don’t remember a darned thing about this show except that my grandma watched it, and when I think of famous TV diners, it’s always number one.

Monk’s – Seinfeld

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How these people managed to sit in a tiny booth for nine seasons with George Costanza is beyond me. I hate George Costanza. You can visit the exterior of the cafe, which is actually Tom’s Restaurant at West 112th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.

Stay tuned for a top ten list of famed TV drinking haunts. Any restaurants I missed? List them in the comments!


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Nikki Miller-Rose

Nikki Miller-Rose loves well-marbled (read: real, real fatty) steak, dry champagne, and Merle Haggard, though she's been trying to cut down on all but the Merle. Follow her on Twitter at @stuffedpheasant