Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Red Medicine Reworking Formosa Cafe with Vietnamese Fare

The Formosa Cafe on the corner of Santa Monica and Formosa, in West Hollywood.
The Formosa Cafe on the corner of Santa Monica and Formosa, in West Hollywood.

The bright red Formosa Cafe, on the corner of Formosa and Santa Monica in West Hollywood, will soon see be reincarnated as a Vietnamese-inspired restaurant and bar from the creators of Red Medicine out of Beverly Hills.

The Formosa has long been an old Hollywood icon with its trippy Chinese decor and vintage Hollywood memorabilia devoted to honoring the dozens of Hollywood denizens who spent time at the bar/restaurant.  Think James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, and modern day celebrities Bono, Michael Douglas, Jodie Foster and Shannen Dougherty ( who reportedly smashed a bottle against a man’s car in the parking lot and got two years probation .) It has also been the location of many a Hollywood film, including Indemnity, LA Confidential, Black Dahlia, The Majestic and Swingers.

According to, which appears to have inventoried the location, there are currently over 250 B&W photos of stars who dined there since 1925 when the then-prize fighter Jimmy Bernstein opened the restaurant in a Red Car trolley on the corner. The location was just across the street from the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio in the 1920s and 30s, which became the Samuel Goldwyn Studio, then the Warner Hollywood Studio in 1999 and now is referred to as the “Lot.”

The Formosa, with its American-Cantonese menu, has never been known for fine dining so the reinvention of the red-clad restaurant by Red Medicine, the contemporary Vietnamese restaurant from Beverly Hills, could bring the place back to life. Calling it “Red Med at Formosa Cafe” the current owner is said to be joining forces with Adam Fleishman and his AdVantage Restaurant Group to hire chef Mark Tagnipez to bring us banh mi and vietnamese dumplings, with fancy drinks at the bar.

Designated a Cultural resource by the City of West Hollywood, we hope the Formosa will retain the feel of the classic, once police-protected Hollywood watering hole where bookies and boxers once saddled up to the bar, yet offer a great dining experience not far from Hancock Park. The new Red Med at Formosa is hoping for a late January opening.

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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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