Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.


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(1956) Little Toni’s, North Hollywood

It was incredibly hard to get a picture of this sign to show up on my camera as anything other than a block of light. But I stuck with it.

It was incredibly hard to get a picture of this sign to show up on my camera as anything other than a block of light. But I stuck with it.

Wasn’t planning on going to another place Friday night, but we went to a party at a bar and when we got there the kitchen was closed and I was hungry and Little Toni’s was just down the street, so David (my husband) and our friend Corey and I walked over. I had always assumed, for some reason, that it was a pizza-by-the-slice type place, with a counter and rickety tables. Turned out to be a sit-down restaurant, much nicer than you usually see open till 2 a.m.

-Getting there was confusingly difficult; it sits on a wedge-shaped corner where three streets cross at odd angles and none of the crosswalks seemed to lead there. We were finally forced to nervously jaywalk.

-Light wood walls and exposed Continue reading


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(1959) Red Lion Tavern, Silverlake

red lion signRed Lion Tavern today. According to the website it started as a British pub, and became German in the ’60s. I haven’t eaten much German food, but seem to remember liking what I have eaten.

When I walked in it was almost too dark to see, but the waitress/bartender (I think I’ll just call her the barmaid, that’s sort of what she was dressed as, and while she brought the food she seemed to spend most of her time behind the bar, and I like the word “barmaid) called out in a very cheery way that I could sit anywhere.

-I’d heard that upstairs was very different so I checked it out first, and it was–a bright beer garden with a sky light and lots of many loud people who all seemed to be sitting Continue reading


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(1908) Cole’s, downtown L.A.

coles signI went to Philippe’s yesterday, so it seemed only right today to go to Cole’s— the other downtown restaurant opened in 1908 that claims to have invented the french dip sandwich.
I took the bus, partly because parking’s a pain and gas is expensive, and mostly because it’s fun to sit and read and look out the window at neighborhoods I don’t often see. I got off the bus a little early and went to see the mural commemorating Biddy Mason, a former slave who became a midwife and wealthy landowner in 19th century Los Angeles.
Cole’s could not be more different than Philippe’s, with its waiters and wallpaper, and yet it manages to look exactly as ancient-without-being-decrepit. Lovely and cozy and Continue reading


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(1908) Philipe the Original, downtown L.A.

philippessignPhilippe the Original, which is always just called “Philippe’s,” claims to have created the french dip sandwich. I say “claims” because Cole’s, which is also downtown and opened the same year, claims the same thing. I’m planning on going there soon. I don’t think it matters a lot who did it first, as long as they’re both delicious. David (my husband) and I got to Philippe’s around noon, wanting to see it during the lunch rush. It was bustling but not overwhelming; he says he’s seen it with lines out the door.
-Everything about this place screams “been here forever” but not like it’s falling apart. It’s all very clean and well kept, just reeking of old-fashioned goodness. Strong wooden booths, long communal tables, sawdust on the floor.
-The counter where customers order food is long and shiny and, for me, almost nose-high. There isn’t really Continue reading


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(1952) Tony’s on the Pier, aka “Old Tony’s,” Redondo Beach

TonyssignsurfTony’s, with its fresh seafood and all, seemed a little pricey for me (that’s definitely going to be an issue, going forward) but the bar, which sits on the roof of the restaurant like an octagonal hat, was said to have amazing views, so I thought I’d check it out. I wanted to walk on the pier anyway.
I go to restaurants alone all the time, but almost never to bars, because I don’t drink, and it seems weird to sit at a bar drinking cub soda. It was fine at this bar, though, cause I just said I was there for the view and the bartender smiled said they don’t charge extra for the view and put a bowl of some kind of fancy chex mix next to me.
-Eight walls of windows looking out over the Pacific, wooden beams, ceiling fans that looked like they were woven from palm fronds, lots of wood, a peaked ceiling and, for some reason, what I’m pretty sure were fire-fighter hats hanging on each of the eight ceiling beams. Lights in huge colored globes hanging from the ceiling in fishing nets. This was one of the best rooms I’ve ever been in.
-At the table next to where I am sitting, Continue reading


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(1969) Eat at Joe’s, Redondo Beach

eatatjoesI had a babysitting job down in Redondo Beach today, and afterwards headed over to Eat at Joe’s for lunch.
-Bright white walls with bright blue chairs, doors, windowsills, and beams. I color combination I find particularly lovely.
-Communal seating at long tables… for someone as (sporadically, randomly) shy as me, this is a bit difficult. When the waitress tells me to sit anywhere I slide into a seat at the far end of a table. Four chairs separate me from the two elderly couples at the other end. I overhear, “my dermatologist is worried about you,” and then they lower their voices.
-I have a hard time deciding what I want. I’m fairly hungry, but nothing seems right. Mostly because I’ve decided not to have meat after last nights bbq binge, and being allergic to eggs severely limits my options. I settle on a veggie burger and french fries. Meh.
-Free wifi, so that’s nice.
-There are a number of pictures of Continue reading


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(1967) Pinnacle Peak, San Dimas

this is a little misleading, as the cow was higher than the sign

the sign and the cow

I told David (my husband) that he could choose which restaurant we’d go to tonight, and after a great deal of deliberation he decided on Pinnacle Peak (a perfect choice to show that I really mean “in and around” L.A., and that 1967 is actually a long time ago now, even if you wish it wasn’t.). Their sign is a covered wagon, and there’s a cow on the roof. The cow isn’t really doing anything, and it isn’t lit up at night, like the sign is. It’s just a cow, standing there, on the roof.

-We had heard that they didn’t allow ties, that if you wore one they’d cut it off and hang it on the wall, so I helped David (my husband) choose a tie we didn’t particularly like. The waitress showed us to our table and took our order, then came back a while later ringing a cow bell, talking about how there was a city slicker in the place, and cut off David (my husband)’s tie with big scissors, and everyone cheered. It was fun. I think they give you Continue reading