Paris Hilton

Amy Graves/

Do regular people stand a chance at getting into Hollywood hot spots like the Ivy?
—Karin, Atlanta

I love questions like these, that imagine Los Angeles as one big Studio 54 with a mile-wide velvet rope stretching all the way around Robertson Boulevard.

The big secret to getting into restaurants like the Ivy and Nobu and Hamasaku and Mozza and Cut? Called the telephone.

Get on the blower, child. I did, just now, and the Ivy told me they could seat me today at noon. No fuss, no who-is-this. They even said I could bring a friend. It was all very chummy.


It's a big myth that hot Hollywood restaurants only have room for Tom and Katie and Gisele and...That Other Tom. Mozza, the precious Hollywood pizzeria which has seated everybody from Mischa Barton to Lauren Ambrose, is always booked solid for a month out. Always. But regular people eat at the bar all the time. They walk in, put their names in a list, and within 20 minutes they're snarfing down squash flowers and trufflelicious Italian whatnots.

Ditto with Cut, the steak place that operates out of the Wilshire Boulevard hotel made famous in Pretty Woman. Cut is always superbooked, but even regulars like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes make reservations, I am told. So do Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, who also eat there, but, you know, never when Tom and Katie are there. I have tentative plans to eat there next month. I am not worrying myself into a grand mal seizure over whether I will get a table.

It's when you start pushing for big-party reservations for 8 p.m. on a packed Saturday that the celebrity card starts coming into play at the hot spots, whether they're in Hollywood or abroad.

In some instances, booked restaurants secretly keep a few tables open every night just for VIPs or celebrities who can't be bothered with reservations. You will never get one of those tables. Now that you know of them, put them out of your mind.

In other cases, you simply might be pushed aside, momentarily, because of your ordinariness. If Paris Hilton breezes into N9ne steakhouse in Vegas and announces she'd like to play footsie with some macaroni and cheese, forthwith, prepare to wait around for 20 minutes or so until a new table can be cleared for you.

"If we have to have someone wait 15 or 20 minutes more in the lounge, I might come over, shake their hand, offer to have our chef give them an appetizer or some shots, take care of them," explains Jesse Shen, whose N9ne steakhouse caters to Paris, Hef and Gisele. "But we don't tell them it's because Paris Hilton just took their table."


Of course not. Because then I might have to walk over there and send her concave derriere flying straight into the Palms Hotel swimming pool.

Got a question about how Hollywood works? ASK ME already!

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