Posted by: Jerry Garrett | September 17, 2011

Where Was the Movie DRIVE Filmed?

Ryan Gosling, ready to make his getaway, down Old Ridge Rte. in "Drive" (Sierra-Affinity)

Where was the movie “Drive” filmed?

The short answer? “L.A.”

The whole thing was filmed within a 25-mile radius of downtown Los Angeles. But it ranged into surrounding Ventura County, up into the old Grapevine Pass and Malibu beaches.

Here’s a quick look at ten specific locations:

1. The movie starts in downtown L.A., and the crackerjack opening gambit involves a chase scene on Seventh Street and an iconic old concrete bridge.

2. The chase winds up in a garage at L.A. Live, a new entertainment complex downtown adjacent to the Staples Center  where the Los Angeles Clippers (and Lakers) of the NBA play. Nice shout-out to Ralph Lawler, the terrific Clippers announcer. If only the Clips themselves were as good as their announcer.

3. Echo Park is the area where Irene supposedly lives. It is just west of downtown L.A. and includes places like Silver Lake and MacArthur Park (Remember the old Jimmy Webb song of the same name)? Driver and Irene live in an apartment overlooking the park; the actual building is an old structure now being re-habbed for condos.

4. Big 6 Market is a real place in the Echo Park area. It gets it name from being located on Sixth Street.

5. Irene works at a real coffee shop. Is it the 101 Coffee Shop – located near the 101 freeway in Hollywood? (No, it’s Nibblers in L.A. See comments below.) That’s where director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling would actually hang out before, during and after filming to brainstorm and eat diner food. The ’50s-chic 101 Coffee Shop is no stranger to Hollywood filming; it’s been featured in numerous TV shows and Jon Favreau’s 1996 movie “Swingers“.

6. Saugus Speedway is an old “bullring” style race track in Saugus, northwest of downtown. It used to host West Coast NASCAR races until the land’s owner decided it was a better location for a flea market. For real racing in the L.A. area, Saugus (now shuttered) has been supplanted by Irwindale Speedway.

7. The Los Angeles River in the Reseda area was the cement channel that Driver and Irene and her kid visited. Not all of the river is a cement trough. Where the ugly old cement ends, there is still a hint of the wild river that the L.A. River used to be. Anal-retentive city planners, decades ago, decided a cement channel was the way to tame it. Pity.

8. The big chase scene mid-way through the movie was filmed on the Old Ridge Route in Castaic. This is part of the infamous old Grapevine Pass road, which has been replaced by Interstate 5. You can actually see the trucks going by on I-5 in the background of the chase.

9. Locations – featureless boulevards, strip clubs and auto repair shops – throughout San Fernando Valley, on the northwest fringes of L.A., are used throughout the movie. It’s a bull’s-eye characterization of dead-end lives and the environment in which they are lived. The pawnshop, however, was out near Castaic (Santa Clarita, actually) – which is not “in the valley,” as the script suggests.

10. The big broadside crash and fight on the beach happened about a mile south of the Point Mugu Rock on Pacific Coast Highway, north of Malibu. This is a frequently used location for movies such as “Iron Man 2” and “Knight and Day”.

Finally, what about Nino’s Pizzeria? Thankfully, there’s no real Nino’s (Vincenzo’s in Granada Hills was used); it exists only in the mind’s eye of Mr. Refn. Or maybe it’s part of a larger chain of facades for evil, scattered all along the Road to Hell.

(P.S. For more “Drive” locations, check out’s interactive map, and interview with the director.)

Jerry Garrett

September 17, 2011


  1. Irene works at a Denny’s in the film. Most likely the one on Ramirez St downtown by Union Station. The 101 is in the background. It’s near the 110, 10, and 5 freeways. I don’t think there is a 101 Cafe in LA, there is however a pretty famous 101 Coffee Shop in Los Feliz, which I don’t think was featured in the movie, unless it was featured in the scene where Ryan Gosling was eating pie alone and that man approached him. I would love to know where that diner is.

    • Thanks for your insights. Irene does wear a red waitress top, with a Denny’s name tag pinned on it. But I don’t think that was an “official” Denny’s uniform (or name tag), or an actual Denny’s. You are correct about the name of the 101 Coffee Shop. It’s at 6145 Franklin Avenue, near its junction with the 101 Freeway in Hollywood. If you google images for that coffee shop, the interiors that pop up sure look like the movie sets. Did anyone notice whether Denny’s got a mention in the credits? I sure didn’t see that.

      • The scene where the Driver is eating by himself in a diner when approached by a familiar face was filmed at Saugus Cafe, also in Santa Clarita. It was my first thought as soon as that scene came up, being a local to the area.

      • Thanks! That one had stumped the band here…

  2. It is the Denny’s on Ramirez Street, but they just changed the name this year, so it’s no longer a Denny’s.

  3. Loved the movie, but where was that chinese restaurant? I know I’ve been in there before…just can’t place it.


    • Sure, it was The Great Wall, 18331 Sherman Way, Reseda CA

  4. […] – via Jerry Garrett […]

  5. […] – via Jerry Garrett […]

  6. Big 6 Market is located in the Rampart/Westlake district not Echo Park. Echo Park is north of the 101 freeway, and from the view of their apartment building I can say that is also in the Rampart/Westlake district – just west of the 110
    Los Angeles Center Studios might be their hub.

  7. The Big 6 Market was also in the 1976 movie Car Wash.

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