Even though The French Chef premiered in 1963, the rest of American TV land wasn't exactly keeping up with Julia in that decade. Nor would it catch up in the food department any time soon. But that's fine, because restaurants on television don't focus on the food. Until the non-fictional TV world gets the upper hand, the imagined eateries are more about giving characters unpretentious hang outs, often with the added bonus of down-to-earth employees who embody values of hard work and honesty. (Not that Julia didn't do that either.) Keep reading about our favorite fictional food establishments on television through the years, and check back later for our list of Top 10 over-21 joints.
10. Mel's Diner, Alice
No wonder we often mistakenly refer to the show by the protagonist's place of work instead of the main character herself. Single mother, part-time student and East Coast transplant Alice wasn't the most interesting employee at Mel's greasy spoon in Phoenix. We'd rather swap stories over crappy coffee with the cantankerous cook and boss, or have some Southern waitress tell us off.
9. Edna's Edibles, Facts of Life
Mrs. Garrett put in so many years of hard work managing adolescent hormones at that fancy prep school in Peekskill that she deserved to finally follow her bliss and go into the food business. She parlayed her life experience and cooking lessons in Paris into her own gourmet shop and bakery called Edna's Edibles — with her loyal girls living next to the store and peddling Carr's water biscuits and such in the shop.
8. The skyscraper restaurant in It's a Living
Back in the era when all of three major networks dominated the airwaves, a show that catered to stereotypes of temperamental chefs, ditsy waitress and sleazy lounge singers could last multiple seasons. How the both restaurant and television industries have changed. But thankfully, the Bonaventure Hotel featured in the show's opening still has its rotating restaurant and bar at the top floor.
7. Peach Pit, Beverly Hills, 90210
In addition to giving the over-privileged kids of Beverly Hills, 90210 a place to hang out, owner Nat Bussichio offered something even more important: hearty doses of perspective learned through dedication and resolve. So they better have been tipping this failed actor at least 20%. The retro simplicity of the Peach Pit provided comfort as Brandon, Brenda, Donna, Andrea, Kelly, Dylan and crew navigated the ups and downs of growing up in fast paced, high pressure Beverly Hills.
6. Arnold's, Happy Days
A great jukebox, successive affable and quirky owners, ample parking. What's not to love? Having an indoor home away from home is also key to surviving those long Milwaukee winters. The Shotz factory could not have been nearly as comfortable for Fonzie's pals, Laverne and Shirley, although Mr. De Fazio's Pizza Bowl looked alright.
5. Rob's Place, What's Happening!!
Some of us kids thought it would be cool to turn our chairs around and sit backwards, just like Raj did when he'd settle into one of those wood café chairs at Rob's Place. But you know what? It was not cool. It was uncomfortable. That's an opinion Shirley probably would have given, and saved us a bunch of trouble.
4. Boar's Nest, The Dukes of Hazzard
We really know why the fellas would hang here. (Well, EXCEPT for the ones related to waitress Daisy Duke.) But seriously, every small town needs a gathering place for the community to eat, drink, gossip, and enjoy a little live entertainment. Plus, corrupt bad guys need a dark back room, and a hidden tunnel for hooch traffickers was an absolute must back in the day.
3. Double RR Diner, Twin Peaks
It makes sense that the Double RR Diner would be known for Agent Cooper's favorite treat — cherry pie. After all, Twin Peaks is in the middle of cherry country. Wonder if there were any other locavore Pacific Northwestern specialties we never heard about during the cryptic show's brief run.
2. Monk's Café, Seinfeld
Given Jerry's limited palate as evidenced by his supply of boxed cereal, we wouldn't take a restaurant recommendation from him. Unless it's for a soup place. But Monk's probably hits the spot for a straightforward diner breakfast and chatting with a few Upper West Side neighborhood kooks.
1. Nuovo Vesuvio, The Sopranos
Sure, Satriale's serves the best espresso near Exit 13 off the New Jersey Turnpike, and the Sicilian sausage can't be beat. But we'd rather dine at the elegant Nuovo Vesuvio anytime. Especially if it happens to fall on a night when, say, Artie channels his self-hatred and simmering rage into a masterpiece using the rabbit he just shot in his own yard.