- I went to three restaurants made famous by Bravo’s reality TV series “Vanderpump Rules.”
- The newest one, TomTom, was my favourite.
- I like different things about each restaurant.
Even on vacation, most of us aren’t exactly made of money. We have to pick and choose activities, make concessions, and figure out a plan we can actually afford.
And if you’re a fan of the reality TV show “Vanderpump Rules” who is hoping to visit West Hollywood and live like matriarch Lisa Vanderpump (LVP), you’re probably hoping to visit one of the three restaurants featured on the popular Bravo series.
But unless you’re hoping to spend your entire vacation eating at only Vanderpump establishments (no judgment if that’s your plan, of course), you probably have to choose one of the three.
And to help you choose the one that’s right for you, I did a bit of a Vanderpump crawl through the LVP-owned corner of West Hollywood and visited three of her restaurants in one night.
Though major Vanderpump fans will know LVP operates four properties in California, I only visited these three restaurants since they make up the LVP triangle in West Hollywood (they are all wrapped around the same prominent corner in the heart of Boystown). The show mainly focuses on these three properties and I figured the average Vanderpump fan would likely be visiting these over travelling to Villa Blanca.
Because I was doing the tourist thing, I opted to sit in the bar area at each establishment for a cocktail and a light bite. Here’s what I learned.
SUR is the place you take the Bravo superfan – especially for a bachelorette party
SUR is, of course, the classic Vanderpump hot spot. It’s the Sexy Unique Restaurant that brought together this attractive cast of characters in the first place, and the spot where so much “Vanderpump Rules” filming takes place during the summer months.
At this point, it felt to me as if the restaurant exists solely as a museum of reality television. The entrance, which used to be a simple entryway flanked by billowing white curtains, now features teaser videos filmed by “Vanderpump Rules” stars, their sometimes-friends, and of course Ken Todd and LVP herself. There’s also a neon sign behind it that reads “SUR Rules,” which is practically begging to be an Instagram story slide.
It’s also aggressively pink, which might explain why there were multiple bachelorette parties happening at SUR the night I stopped by.
Unfortunately, SUR was not my favourite restaurant. The service, both times that I’ve been, has been abysmal. It took eons for me to get a drink, order something to eat, or get a glass of water. And on the fateful evening of this experiment, my friend and I were seated at a table where there were still bits of food from the previous patrons.
Then there are the cocktails. Despite having an entire section of the menu devoted to mojitos, Lisa’s specialty cocktail – “Lisa’s Big Pinky” – is basically just a mojito copycat in a wine glass. I found it to be a pretty basic cocktail that simply tastes sweet, with no overwhelming flavour.
Looking at the entire menu, the drinks are largely simple, common cocktails like martinis and classic margaritas.
When it comes to the food, if you must, go ahead and order the fried goat cheese that is most certainly on the menu because of Stassi Schroeder’s obsession with the fried goat cheese balls. (Currently, the cheese takes the form of empanadas.) But if you don’t want to feel like taking a nap immediately after eating, I’d suggest the Raw Ahi, which is mixed with avocado, corn, scallions, olive oil, and red chilli oil and served with fried wontons.
It is, much like the cocktails, something you could find at almost any restaurant. It’s safe, yummy, and not so heavy that you’ll want to nap right there at the table.
PUMP is the place you go to drink in the afternoon and people watch
Because it’s mostly outdoors, PUMP automatically gets a few points. It has a Garden of Eden meets “Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” vibe, which is exactly what a Bravo fan is looking for in an afternoon cocktail locale. The folks at PUMP were extremely attentive, receptive, and friendly. And final bonus: This is the only Vanderpump Rules spot with an actual happy hour, aptly named “Pinky Happy Hour.”
Another benefit of PUMP is the shape and construction of the place. The bar at the center is a square with people on each side, which is ideal for people watching – especially when a Bravolebrity stops by (Katie Maloney-Schwartz was momentarily in our midst on this particular visit).
The cocktails are also a step up from SUR, though they largely follow a similar model: There are lots of sweet drinks inspired by flavored liquors. But there are few standouts, including the Pomegranate Margarita and the super refreshing drink that I ordered (and adored), the Pump & Glory (vodka, St. Germain, fresh lime, lemon simple syrup, muddled cucumber, and mint, with a garnish of fresh cracked black pepper).
But when it comes to the menu, the food isn’t much more exciting than that of SUR
The bar menu takes a slight step up, with some more sophisticated items like Heirloom Tomatoes with Creamy Burrata, but there was little that stood out to me.
I tried the one item that did stand out: the salmon tartare salad, served with parmesan and truffle oil. Intrigued by the combination of salmon and truffle oil, I ordered it, thinking to myself that these flavours don’t usually go together. The salad did not convince me I was wrong.
If you opt for PUMP, I’d advise sticking to day or afternoon drinking and simple snacks.
TomTom is pretty gaudy but genuinely great, even if your friends aren’t into ‘
Despite thinking I’d be laughing my way through my TomTom experience, I actually loved my time at the newest addition to the Vanderpump corner of West Hollywood.
The decor appeared ostentatious and over the top to me at first, but that’s also what fans have come to expect from a Lisa Vanderpump experience. TomTom was extravagant its decor and marble countertops, but it also serves as the perfect background for Instagram pictures of its gorgeous cocktails.
Since I’m not just judging on looks, it should also be noted that TomTom had the nicest, most talkative staff by far. At both of the other establishments, I was constantly aware of how annoyed the staff seemed by Bravo superfans, keeping my knowledge of the “Housewives franchise” and “Vanderpump” history to myself.
But at TomTom, immediately after I took the first sip of my cocktail – a delicious drink called the Toulouse Your Mind, which contains habanero crystals, absinthe, a red rose garnish, and a nod to famed artist Toulouse-Lautrec – the bartender came back to let me know that I’d ordered a “Sandoval original,” referring to part-owner and “Vanderpump Rules” star Tom Sandoval.
The bartending staff was cheery, chatty, and made my cohort and I feel at home in this wacky, over-the-top locale
The food was also surprisingly fantastic. I opted for the Bubbapump Shrimp tacos (mostly because I loved the idea of a name that combined LVP, Tom Schwartz’s nickname for his wife, and Bubba Gump references) which are also a low-carb option.
Instead of tortillas, these shrimp are served in jicama slices, but because the shrimp are breaded, the veggie-for-tortilla swap is actually quite fitting and delicious. The spicy aioli on top was nothing to write home about, but as a dish overall, it was creative, delicious, and not overpriced for a West Hollywood restaurant.
TomTom also seemed to attract a less gawking crowd. Where we ran into self-professed Bravo superfans – loudly wondering if Lisa would show up – at both of the other “Vanderpump” hot spots, TomTom patrons were generally more lowkey, checking out the decor and enjoying their drinks.
The only downside of the newest “Vanderpump” addition, however, is that at popular times (Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night), you can end up waiting in a lengthy line to get in. As such, I’d advise stopping in when we did, around 6 p.m., before it gets too crowded.
And while I can’t say for sure which of the three Vanderpump restaurants is best for you, I will say I plan to be back at TomTom in the future.
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