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.

(1959) Dinah’s Family Restaurant, Culver City

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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 statue of a chicken in the whole place.

-large red and blue booths (some round and some not), giant disks hanging from the ceiling like red and blue flying saucers, a wonderful long counter with red and blue seats, white walls with stone wall accents here and there, an old-timey juke box, a large display of antique radios on a shelf near the ceiling, with signs indicating the model and year. The whole place smells really good.

-I got the bbq pulled pork sandwich (without coleslaw), which had absolutely amazing barbecue sauce, with fruit on the side. I also drank several cups of decaf coffee. My friend Marcie and I were both pleased by how happy they were to accommodate substitutions and things like leaving off the coleslaw.

dinahsfamilyinterior-There was a guy at a booth near me who looked familiar; I finally realized he looked like the actor Ron Perlman if the actor Ron Perlman had lived a much harder life.

-my friend Marcie wanted balsamic vinegar for her salad, and it turned into a whole weird thing where first they brought her balsamic vinaigrette, which of course has all sorts of things like sugar added, then they brought her regular old vinegar, then something called “malt vinegar,” then finally admitted they just didn’t have the kind of vinegar she wanted.

-Between two booths near me was a display case with a bunch of beer and wine bottles inside. I couldn’t get close to look but they seemed to be regular old wine and beer bottles. I guess it was to show the selection? I’m not sure. They really looked like someone had put them there cause they were proud to show them off.

-There was a shelf across the restaurant that had some objects on display and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were; I finally went over and saw two old record players, from the fifties I think, and an antique movie camera. They were neat and I wished I’d sat closer to them so I could look at them more.

-I got to the restaurant a few minutes before Marcie and while I waited, the Wham! song Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go came on and without realizing I started singing along to it. No one was super nearby so maybe they didn’t hear. I don’t even really like that song but it came out when I was in junior high and so I know it by heart.

-I chose a booth for us when I got there, somehow forgetting that Marcie hates sitting in booths. But there were no non-booth tables anyway, and she graciously went along with it. She even made me take a picture so she could prove to others that she’d done so. Marcie’s hatred of booths is well known.

-There was a large room in the back, with many more booths–these dark brown rather than the bright red and blue in the main room. On the walls were big black and white pictures; I spotted a baseball player and Elvis but did not linger to look at the others. The room was closed off because there weren’t many people in the restaurant at that hour.

dinahsfamilychicken-The man sitting at the booth across from had on a watch that kept reflecting light into my eyes. It wasn’t really his fault. He couldn’t have known.

-Near the restrooms was a wooden statue of a tall skinny chicken, in faded pinks and blues. I loved that chicken so much. I wanted to hug it and then steal it, but did neither.

-The place seemed to really want us to buy lottery tickets. They had one of those little kiosk counters where you can fill out cards and pick numbers, and a machine of scratch-off tickets by the door, and a tv screen advertising their different lottery options by the register, and a big lotto sign in the window. So Marcie and I each bought a super lotto ticket (not something I often do) and solemnly swore that if either of us won, we would not split the money. From what I’ve heard, those “we’ll share the winnings” agreements ruin friendships.

What I Ate: bbq pulled pork sandwich, fruit, decaf

Who I Ate With/Things We Talked About: Marcie; migraines, Chippendales, the awesome purse with a phone charger built  in that my mom got me for my birthday last year

What Sort of Ghost I’d Expect to Find if I Believed in Ghosts Which I do Not: A teenage girl in a bouffant hair-do complete with ribbon, just waiting for someone to put a quarter in the jukebox. Note: Unless otherwise stated, all ghosts mentioned in this blog died peacefully of old age and then reverted to the age/place of their choosing.

6521 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

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