The Tam O’ Shanter: Walt Disney’s Favorite Restaurant


The Tam O’ Shanter in Los Angeles, California was a popular dining spot for Walt Disney, his animators, and Imagineers. This restaurant is a must-do in Los Angeles not for its cuisine (although the food is above average), but for its rich history. In this post, we’ll take a tour of the Tam O ‘Shanter, and offer some thoughts on the food.

The Tam O’ Shanter is Los Angeles’ oldest operating restaurant, and it has remained in the same location, run by the same family since 1922 (originally as the Montgomery Inn). Although located in Los Angeles, its on the north side of the city, near Burbank and Glendale. The Tam O’ Shanter was founded by Lawrence Frank, who went on to found Lawry’s, which is a successful restaurant and (more notably) seasoning company.

In addition to being Los Angeles’ oldest operating restaurant, one of its other claims to fame is that it’s the world’s first themed themed restaurant. Or, so they claim; this is the kind of status that it’s difficult to corroborate. The Tam O’ Shanter has a Scottish theme, with tartans for various clans on the walls, three fireplaces, a pub, and stylized design. Then there’s the Disney connection…

Thanks to a combination of its location, design, and menu, it became a favorite low-key dining spot for Walt Disney and Disney animators. In fact, they dined at ‘The Tam’ so often, that it was dubbed “the Studio Commissary.”

Walt Disney even had a favorite table, which has since been enshrined as a functional tribute to him. This table (#31) is located next to the fireplace in the main dining room.


Walt Disney is otherwise known to be a man of simple tastes (most notably eating a regular diet of canned chili), the Tam O’ Shanter is known as the one restaurant where Walt Disney dined with regularity.

Even after the Disney Studios moved from Hyperion, Walt Disney remained a regular patron of the Tam O’ Shanter.


We haven’t had a chance to dine at Table 31, but I do know there is “graffiti” of dinosaurs and other doodles on the table by Disney artists/Imagineers. This table can be requested, and should be done at the time you make reservations. If you wait until you arrive to make the request, you may not have it fulfilled.


There are numerous rumors that further connect the Tam O’ Shanter to Disney. The most famous of these is that the design of the building was used for Snow White’s cottage. A variation of this same rumor says it was used for Pinocchio’s Daring Journey at Disneyland. Maybe it inspired both, maybe neither.


Other rumors concern dealmaking and decisions that were made at the Tam, none of which could probably never be proven or disproven. Based on photos on display at the restaurant, what is clear is that a lot of Disney Legends dined at the Tam O’ Shanter, including Walt Disney himself…many, many times.


There are also photos and doodles of other celebrities on display, so it was clearly not just a Disney thing. Even if I were not interested in Disney, I’d find this to be a fascinating restaurant because it’s quite clearly a vestige of “Old Hollywood.”

The kind of place where those in the show-business ducked into for a nice meal while working; a quiet spot that does not have the celebrity cachet of today’s flashy “see and be seen” restaurants.


As for the food, it’s above average. The Tam is known for its prime rib, and this is what I’d recommend ordering. The cut of meat is sizable and pretty good, but not the best cut. The flavor is good but not great, although the house-made horseradish is excellent.


Other dishes we’ve tried were less memorable, so we have a tough time recommending anything but the prime rib. The sides are also generally somewhere between so-so and good (I like the mashed potatoes quite a bit, but I’m a sucker for mac & cheese).


My other recommendations when it comes to the Tam O’ Shanter, if you want the full Disney experience, is to visit Griffith Park. This is where the merry-go-round is located where Walt had the inspiration for Disneyland.


It’s also where you can visit Walt’s Barn (open the third Sunday of every month) before your meal, or head up to Burbank for a drive-by the studio (it’s not open to the general public). We’d also recommend finding free street parking at the Tam, which is readily available within a 5 minute walk.


Honestly, though, without the accompanying history and interesting environment, the Tam O’ Shanter wouldn’t be a place on my radar. Los Angeles is one of the best food cities in the world, and the Tam O’ Shanter is too expensive to be viewed as a good hole in the wall value, and not high-quality enough to be viewed as one of the city’s premier restaurants.


Overall, the Tam O’ Shanter is a good option if you’re looking for a good prime rib and other traditional American or pub fare (or if you get a deal during DineLA), but you could do better for the price. With that said, the ambiance and its connection to Walt Disney and Hollywood history definitely elevates it a notch or two, making it a restaurant to visit at least once.

If you’re planning a California road trip or vacation, check out my California category of posts for other things to see and do. If you enjoyed this post, please use the sharing buttons above to help spread the word via social media. I greatly appreciate it! 

Your Thoughts

Have you dined at the Tam O’ Shanter? If so, what did you think of experience? What did you order? Would you dine there again, or do you think it was a ‘one and done’? Was it worth doing for the Walt Disney connection? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

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14 replies
  1. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    My dad use to come here for the traditional Prime Rib and all the fixins. He thought it was a great place for a comfort dinner. My brothers and I have been back several times, mainly for birthdays and special occasions, our mom and us love it. The prime rib is just as good as Lawry’s, its sister restaurant, but much more convenient to get to. It will always be a special place.

  2. Michael Vega
    Michael Vega says:

    Michael Vega, John Marshall High School class of 1958, have been coming to the tam since 1956, i grew up in the area, every time i go there it brings back memories, it was the place i had my 1st $20..00 dinner date

  3. Scott
    Scott says:

    Tam O’Shanter Inn is now serving the 6th generation of my family generous cuts of Prime Rib. It was a favorite restaurant of both sets of my grandparents, I was raised eating there and now my grandkids enjoy eating there. I hope some day their grandkids eat there too.

  4. Terry David
    Terry David says:

    The Tam O’Shanter is a must for anyone that enjoys great food at a great price and an unlimited peak into the past of legendary Hollywood. I have been there several times over the years and happened to stop by again this past Thursday, for a lunch. We sat in the bar and ordered a couple of prime rib sandwiches that came with a couple of sides and the fore mentioned horseradish sauce. The place exudes history! Our server was an attractive girl in a little skirt who seemed to be perfectly cast for this restaurant. The place was busy but not overwhelmingly crowded. I parked in their free parking lot with ease. I must say that I was not planning on stopping by for lunch, but was heading up the I-5 toward SF from SD and was telling my friend about this place. Tam O’Shanter is literally right off the freeway. Heading east on Los Feliz Blvd for a couple of blocks and you will find the restaurant on the right side of the road. Parking is located behind Tam O’Shanter. (There is another business next door, called the Griffon, which looks cool, but i have not been yet).

  5. Kayla
    Kayla says:

    I enjoy restaurants that feel stuck in the past, and this strikes me as one of those. I’m catching up on all these LA posts and there’s so much to do I don’t know how we’ll pick activities for our Hawaii shoulder days.

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      There are a ton of places in Los Angeles that have old Hollywood ties. It’s tough to recommend against this since you’re a Disney fan, so maybe consider it? Definitely hit Griffith Observatory–this is convenient to that!

  6. Casey
    Casey says:

    I got married last April, just close family & friends. We had our wedding dinner here 🙂 We had only eaten here once before, a Christmas visit with the same close friends. That is an experience in and of itself! I look forward to celebrating every wedding anniversary here!

  7. Niki
    Niki says:

    We ate there March of 2016 after spending the day at Griffith Park and Walt’s Barn. We were lucky enough to get to sit at Walt’s table. I know I got the fish and chips that I shared with my son. We both thought they were good. I can’t remember what my husband ordered. We thought the food was good. All of us said we would go back again if we were in the area.
    I wish we would have spent more time exploring the restaurant, but we were tired. The history was felt all around the restaurant.

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I haven’t tried the fish and chips, but they seem like a good value relative to other menu items (the same can be said for the sandwich bar). It seems like going for a cheaper meal–or even just happy hour drinks–might be the best way to experience the Tam.

      I’d also agree that visiting Griffith Park and Walt’s Barn beforehand and capping the day off with a meal at the Tam is the optimal experience. We’ve done that, and it was awesome. (I might even recommend going back to Griffith Park after the meal for sunset at the Observatory.)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] de las servilletas. Tiene una vibra de «si estas paredes pudieran hablar», muy parecida a la Tam O'Shanter. Ese es otro restaurante que me viene a la mente cuando estoy en The Office, y los bocetos en la […]

  2. […] the again of napkins. It has an “if those partitions may just communicate” vibe, similar to the Tam O’Shanter. That’s any other eating place that involves thoughts when in The Place of job, and the sketches […]

  3. […] in actuality, the only food that I know he enjoyed is canned chili, but the Tam O’Shanter was Walt Disney’s Favorite Restaurant so he presumably enjoyed prime rib. The prime rib at Steakhouse 71 isn’t quite as good as it is […]

  4. […] really, the one meals that I do know he loved is canned chili, however the Tam O’Shanter was Walt Disney’s Favorite Restaurant so he presumably loved prime rib. The prime rib at Steakhouse 71 isn’t fairly nearly as good as […]

  5. […] in actuality, the only food that I know he enjoyed is canned chili, but the Tam O’Shanter was Walt Disney’s Favorite Restaurant so he presumably enjoyed prime rib. The prime rib at Steakhouse 71 isn’t quite as good as it is […]

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