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) 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


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(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


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(1946) Billingsley’s, West L.A.

billssignSunday dinner with David (my husband) and my in-laws, Jim and Keren, at Billingsley’s in West L.A.

Billingsley’s was started by the husband of Barbara Billingsley, the mom in “Leave it to Beaver,” and the restaurant is now owned and operated by her sons.

-Just inside the brick entrance is a beautiful stone fountain. On the wall leading inside are wooden prints, pictures of spices and handwritten instructions on how to use them; they look like they came straight out of Continue reading


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(1973) Izzy’s Deli, Santa Monica

izzyssignDrove out to Santa Monica to have dinner with my friend Ari at Izzy’s Deli.

I used to live not far from there, and I don’t know why I never went. It should have been my regular late-night place, but somehow it was never on my radar. The place has a very nice, friendly feel to it, much more Continue reading


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(1969) Lancers Restaurant, Burbank

lancerssignI woke up early on Saturday and walked to Lancers to have breakfast before work. I’ve driven past Lancers many times, and while the turquoise roof and sign are kind of neat, the way they keep the shades mostly down on the windows always made it seem very plain and possibly not open. So I was surprised to find it crowded. It was much bigger inside than I’d expected, but not very interesting. This place might be the prototype on which all Continue reading


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(1957) Norm’s Restaurant, West Hollywood

normssignAfter a surprisingly uneventful dentist appointment, I stopped by the original Norm’s for a late lunch. Norm’s has a sign that always shows up in pictures of cool L.A. signs–for good reason, it’s neat–and the building is the quintessential Googie diner.

The inside doesn’t exactly look like the Jetsons, but it looks like it was designed and decorated by someone who thought the Jetsons was incredibly awesome.

-Sharply slanting ceiling, floor tiled to look like red brick, a gray counter with seats that are bright green with orange piping. The two long walls (which are crooked in a deliberate, interesting geometrical way) have one long Continue reading