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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(1965) Tony Bella Vista Restaurant, Burbank

tonysbellavistasignWent for dinner at Tony’s Bella Vista with David (my husband) and our friend Corey.

-Incredibly cozy, dim lighting and warm smells. Just inside the door is a mural on the wall showing the Italian seaside, and a curtained booth for the cashier with lots of foreign money taped up all over the walls. Dark wood and red chairs and tables, wallpaper with a lovely pattern of vines, the place is decorated to seem like you’re outside on a veranda, sitting under porches, the rafters of which are hung with white christmas lights and grape vines heavy with bunches of grapes. David (my husband) pointed out that Continue reading

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(1947) The Apple Pan, West L.A.

applepansignHad an afternoon free, so I went for lunch at the Apple Pan. It’s on a busy street across from a mall, surrounded by shops, but the building is a little white house with green shutters  and always seems to me to be miles away from everything around it.

-There are no tables, just a U-shaped white counter wrapping around the red brick grill. Red chairs, linoleum floor, three walls are white with wood paneling and heavy wood window frames, the back wall is red plaid. Also on the back wall is a large window into the kitchen, where the pies the place is famous for are on display. Aside from one wooden sign that says, “please do not smoke,” there are no decorations on the walls but it doesn’t seem plain or boring, just Continue reading

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(1975) Moffett’s Chicken Pie Shoppe, Arcadia

moffett signIn the mood for comfort food, I headed out to Moffett’s Family Restaurant & Chicken Pie Shoppe, which I eventually found tucked into the corner of a strip mall.

moffettinterior1-stylized country decor, light pine tables, gold checked wallpaper, curtains on the partitions between booths, decorative hutches, blue willow plates, painting of farms, and ceramic chicken statues on shelves. At the top of the walls there’s a wallpaper border with pictures of chickens. I never understand the way places that serve chicken want to constantly remind us what Continue reading

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(1948) Factor’s Famous Deli, Los Angeles

wpid-imag0917_1.jpgI had a babysitting job in Beverly Hills, so I went to the (fairly) nearby Factor’s Famous Deli for lunch beforehand.

-When you walk through the doors there’s a large takeaway counter and store, you walk through to get to the restaurant. Two large, airy rooms with green leather booths and light wood, a long-stemmed rose on each table (yellow with orange/red tips, my favorite), sports memorabilia and old movie posters cover the walls, a counter with stools in the very back. The two rooms are divided by a wall with large windows cut out of it, and inside each window a plant holder is suspended by wires so it looks like it’s floating in air.

-I was a bit overwhelmed by the menu and considered getting something other than a pastrami sandwich but I love pastrami sandwiches so much I almost always Continue reading

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(1924) Original Pantry Cafe, downtown L.A.

pantrysignLast night I headed downtown and met my friend Nikki for dinner at the Original Pantry Cafe. I’ve been told that on the weekends there are lines out the door and even around the block, which is why we cleverly went on a Monday night. It wasn’t empty, but we didn’t have to wait for a table.

-White walls with blonde wood paneling, black and white square tiles on the floor, orange and red menus all over the walls with chalkboards for the specials, photos of the old days wherever Continue reading


(1956) Mazzarino’s, Sherman Oaks

mazzarinossignTonight Ari and I went and got pizza at Mazzarino’s. It was actually a lot more complicated than that; we did not plan ahead and  drove around for quite a while trying to look up places on the list while my phone kept dying, and at one point a man almost walked his dog directly into Ari’s car, but the important part is that no dogs died and we ended up at Mazzarino’s.

-High ceiling room with massive black chandeliers, terra-cotta tiles on the floor and halfway up the wall, large paintings showing scenes of Italy. The room was a little oddly shaped, sort of long and narrow, but I still liked it.

-Ari and I split a pizza with mushrooms, tomato, and Continue reading

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(1948) Du-pars, Studio City

duparsscsignWas planning on staying in last night but started feeling stir crazy, so I drove out to Du-Pars in Studio City for a late dinner.

-Golden chandeliers, lovely reddish Oriental carpet with a sort of ornate star design, rose marble counter with tall black chairs in front of it, a long row of booths–round booths against the windows and tall-backed two-person booths across from them, two large rooms of tables, lots and lots of potted plants, black and white photos on the walls showing scenes from the early days of Du-Pars, a bakery display of incredibly delicious-looking treats, old-timey ads for different flavors of pie scattered around on the walls, a high shelf holding ornate Continue reading

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(1965) Franks Restaurant, Burbank

frankssignThis morning I got up early and walked to Frank’s for breakfast. Frank’s shares a parking lot with a motel I always call the HookerKill Motel, not because I have any reason to think hookers go there much less get killed there, but because almost any time you see a TV crime show where a hooker has been killed, the exterior is this place. The joy of Burbank.

-Frank’s has the structure of a classic Googie diner, but is incredibly Continue reading


(1956) Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks

casavegasignDavid (my husband) has been seeing the lovely Casa Vega sign his whole life and always wondered about it, so tonight we headed over there along with our friend Corey.

There was a twenty minute wait for a table; they suggested we wait at the bar but it was packed so we went for a walk around the block, getting back just as the pager they’d given us buzzed.

-The bar was stunning, with colored christmas lights and a sort of canopy sign with drinks written in script. The rest of the restaurant was dark rooms with white christmas lights, brick walls, hanging lamps that looked like Continue reading

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(1959) Dinah’s Family Restaurant, Culver City

dinahsfamilysignMet my friend Marcie at Dinah’s Family Restaurant for a late lunch. Hadn’t realized that it is connected to Dinah’s Fried Chicken in Glendale until I got there and saw that above the take-out portion of the restaurant was the same bucket sign. Went back and forth on whether I should feel silly about that but decided no; it really doesn’t seem that impossible that there’d be two unaffiliated restaurants in the world named Dinah’s. I’ve now checked the websites, and neither mentions the other, which makes me think there must have been a rift at some point. Whatever, I can like them both. They couldn’t be more different, anyway. Dinah’s Family Restaurant is a large googie-type diner with a counter and many booths, and I only saw only one Continue reading