Actor Paul Newman wants his regular seat, but suddenly Sen. Hillary Clinton is in town and needs a table, too. What to do?
At Michael's in New York City, where both Newman and Clinton are regulars, owner Michael McCarty calls it "social chess."
Everyday America's most influential converge to "power lunch" at a few select watering holes across the country. From clubby steakhouses to Denny's diner, here's where the movers and shakers "power lunch" near you.
New York's media and publishing elite made Michael's in Midtown their default power lunch destination decades ago. Regulars include Paul Newman, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffett, Katie Couric, Lance Armstrong and Elton John. The California cuisine -- and double-width leather club chairs -- help make it a natural fit for the entertainment industry.
Cobb Salad: Maytag Bleu Cheese, Julienne of Bacon, Hard Boiled Egg, Cherry Tomato, Avocado, Chicken Breast Filets, and Baby Greens in Balsamic Vinaigrette, $36
"You consistently get wonderful food and are always made to feel as the most important person in the room," explained Aaron Simpson, CEO of Quintessentially, the exclusive private concierge service, who also recommended Jean Jorges, the Modern restaurant and Nobu Tribeca for a New York "power lunch."
As Hollywood's hub has migrated more toward Century City some of the best new restaurants have followed, and the 10,000 sq ft Craft L.A. (including an 80-seat outdoor area) ranks at the top. "It's amazing ... the coolest, hippest, high-end cafeteria-like atmosphere," says Chris Huvane, the West Coast editor of GQ magazine. Top agents from next-door CAA are regulars, along with execs from nearby ICM, HBO and MGM.
Ling Cod & Gribiche, $31
L.A. is a city that lunches and the runners-up list is long. Highlights include Sur, which is popular with power publicists whose offices are nearby in the design district, as well as Ammo, which Huvane describes as "the Eastsiders' great place to go for lunch."
Washington insiders can tell you that much of the backdoor dealing between lobbyists, politicians and reporters happens in plain view at the city's many "boys' club" steakhouses. Among the most popular is Morton's, just a few blocks from the White House on Connecticut Avenue. A favorite of the first President Bush, regulars now include former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the current secretary, Robert Gates, and CNN's Larry King.
Double-cut filet mignon, $42.50.
Runners up include the Capital Grille, which boasts a view of the Capitol building itself and the Palm – "where James Carville and Terry McAuliffe set up shop after Bill Clinton was inaugurated," writes Portfolio magazine lifestyle editor Sarah Clemence.
For more than a century, Boston's elite have headed to Locke-Ober's in the Back Bay for important meetings and celebrations. Once a men's club, the old-school dark wood décor is still in place -- "a bit of a throwback to a different era," says Boston Globe style editor Hayley Kaufman – but now with a new female owner and an award-winning chef, the ambience has a "new, interesting twist," she says. That includes a more female clientele, and a "delicious" contemporary 3 ½-star menu.
Wiener Schnitzel á la Holstein, $22
When the Celtics won the NBA Playoffs they chose Locke-Ober's for their victory feast.