I needed to get lunch before going babysitting, and it was noon on a Sunday in Hollywood, and I wanted a bagel, so I went to Canter’s Deli. Canter’s first location was in Boyle Heights (in downtown LA) in 1931; it opened in this location on Fairfax (in Hollywood) in 1953. Often this blog takes me to new and wonderful places, but sometimes it’s about re-visiting places I’ve been a million times. I lived down the street from Canter’s Deli when I first moved to L.A. I was living in a tiny apartment with a couple other punk rockers, and we had almost no money and went to clubs every night, and if we happened to not be completely broke we’d go to Canter’s afterwards, because it was open all night and they were nice to us and you could get really full for super cheap, if you like eating pickles. We were very hungry so we liked eating pickles. I’ve gone to Canter’s fairly regularly since. I saw Liza Minnelli there once (I was certain it was her and my friend was certain it was not… and then the waiter came over and quietly freaked out because OMG it’s LIZA!!) and I’m pretty sure the last dinner I had with my dear friend Marcia Wallace was at Canter’s. David (my husband) has been going to Canter’s all his life; with his grandfather when Continue reading
Author Archives: Sarah McKinley Oakes
(1939) Harbor House Cafe, Sunset Beach
I headed down to the Harbor House Cafe because I’ve been worrying about how many restaurants on the list are south of L.A., where I don’t go very often these days. I used to; I lived in Orange County for years, but now that I’m in the valley I almost never get that way anymore. So when I found myself already fairly far south for a doctor’s appointment that didn’t take as long as I’d expected, and with a particularly good audio book to listen to, I decided to drive down to Sunset Beach. I used to eat at the Harbor House Cafe all the time, when I lived in Huntington Beach and worked at Quicksilver Software, because it was open all night and I kept odd hours back then. I’m not sure I’d ever seen it during the day before. I was less than halfway there when there was an accident or something and traffic on the freeway, all but stopped. So I got off at a random exit and told my GPS to take me on surface streets. It was delightful. Didn’t take much longer and I got to drive past all Continue reading
(1975) El Compadre, Hollywood
David (my husband) and I went to El Compadre with our friends Vanessa and French, and their daughter Helene who is almost three, and who I’ve been babysitting since she was a tiny baby, and who is awesome.
-Lots of xmas lights, some shaped like peppers, dim lighting from large round red and yellow hanging lamps, tables with red tablecloths, lots of dark wood, maroon booths with brass tacks, some of them rectangular and some round and cozy, oil paintings of street scenes and flowers, tall vases of lilies, a bar with Continue reading
(1969) Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ, Van Nuys
Went to Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ with my friends Corey and Michael, and Michael’s two-year-old son Rocco. We were going to go to My Brother’s Barbecue, but it had closed down. Several places on my list have shut down in the year since I started the blog. It is a bit disheartening. But anyway, Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ turned out to be a great choice for the four of us.
-A few rows of brown and beige booths, with a small room off to the side with another row of booths. Grey carpet and wood walls, some paintings of Continue reading
Happy… Anniversary? Birthday? Whatever… Happy!!!
One year ago today, I blogged my first restaurant. I’ve now posted about 55 restaurants (and have three more in the hopper!). Doing this blog has made me so happy, has led to so many adventures and places I never would have gone.
Thought I’d list some of my favorites so far, in no particular order:
(1928) La Golondrina Mexican Cafe, downtown L.A.
A beautiful old Mexican restaurant on Olvera St. La Golandrina has been there since 1928, but the building was built in the 1850s. Amazing stone fireplace and colored hanging lamps and artwork everywhere.
(1953) James Restaurant, San Fernando
A perfectly cozy coffee shop way out in the suburbs, full of nice people and comfort food. Hard to put my finger on why it’s one of my favorite places ever, except that I love coffee shops and this has everything I love in a coffee shop.
(1952) Tony’s on the Pier, aka “Old Tony’s,” Redondo Beach
The best bar I’ve ever been in, stuck on top of the restaurant like an octagonal hat, with windows on all sides looking out over the ocean. Back in the ’50s, a monkey escaped from the circus and lived at Tony’s, stealing sugar cubes from the tables.
(1946) Nick’s Coffee Shop, Los Angeles
Perfectly wonderful greasy spoon diner, cramped and marvelous. It makes me want to be a private eye just so I could sit at the counter and growl for coffee in between solving crimes.
(1908) Cole’s, downtown L.A.
(1908) Philipe the Original, downtown L.A.
These places are connected in everyone’s minds because they both claim to have invented the french dip, and I love them both so much I don’t want to play favorites. In fact they are so different it’s impossible to compare; Cole’s is a sit-down place that let’s you dip your own sandwich and Mickey Cohen used to eat there, while Philipe’s has a busy counter where the sandwiches come pre-dipped, with sawdust on the floor and a line of old wooden phone booths. They both say wonderful things about what life was like in L.A. in the early 20th century, and it thrills me that they’re both still open for business.
(1946) Jolly Jug, El Monte
My friend Ari and I drove out to El Monte to visit the Jolly Jug. It ended up being a longer drive than expected, because of traffic, but it was ok because I taught him the car game “Botticelli” and that makes any road trip delightful. The sign over the Jolly Jug is one of my favorites. It took us a while, staring at it, to notice that the man’s head has a stopper at the top, like you might see on a jug. Nothing else about his head looks like a jug. It’s confusing.
-Light brown booths with beige wood panelling on some walls and exposed brick on others, hanging Tiffany-style lamps and lots and lots of decorations. Knick-knacks everywhere, a big display window when you first come in full of turtle figurines plus, for some reason, a couple of cows, a tall thin aquarium with koi, many many beer signs all over the walls. It’s wonderful; it feels kind of like being inside a cozy curio cabinet, or a dollhouse owned by a lady whose only hobbies are her dollhouse, and beer. Every where I look I see Continue reading
(1926) Greenblatt’s Deli, Hollywood
I’d been to Greenblatt’s Deli before, but not recently, and I hadn’t written about any places in Hollywood in a while, so I decided to head over for lunch. I always like that section of Sunset because I stayed very near there on my first ever trip to L.A., more than twenty years ago. I remember going for a long walk right past there, but I think I was more interested in looking at the Laugh Factory next door than at Greenblatt’s; at least I don’t remember it. The front of Greenblatt’s is all brick and carved stone, a really gorgeous old building, but someone put a gigantic, garish digital sign on the front of it. I wish they hadn’t, but I suppose if it attracts business that they need to stay open it’s worth it?
-The first floor is the deli and wine shop, with some booths, but mostly the deli counter and lots and lots of wine bottles. There’s more seating upstairs so I went there. Big, heavy wood beams, solid wood stairs and floors, a terrific white tile ceiling with broad beams, brown booths that match the wood in a very pleasing way, and two huge, oval stained glass windows that are a perfect colorful counterpoint to all the dark brown wood. I sat facing the windows because it made me happy to look at them. There are lots of plants in front of the windows too. On the walls are black-and-white photos of Continue reading
(1935) Clifton’s Cafeteria, downtown L.A.
I’d heard about Clifton’s Cafeteria for years, and always meant to go, but then it closed for renovations, and stayed closed for years. When this blog first started, Clifton’s was still being worked on. It re-opened last fall, and after meaning to go for months, David (my husband) and I finally headed downtown. Clifton’s is tremendous, so tremendous I’m a little overwhelmed at the idea of describing it. I counted how many pictures I took later, and it was more than 200. It is easy to imagine how it influenced Walt Disney when he was thinking about his theme park. I tried
for about two seconds to be cynical and jaded but it didn’t work out. It is probably my favorite place on earth. It is truly, breathtakingly, wonderful.
-The first floor has a large eating area, lots of long tables and chairs, with rock walls, pillars like tree trunks, rock archways and a big rock fireplace, a meandering waterfall coming down from the second floor, and forest murals on the walls that aren’t rock. Also lots of flowers. In one corner, almost at the level of the second floor, is what looks like a castle tower carved out of the rock. It is immense and amazing. The cafeteria, which you get to by walking through a gift shop section full of mugs and books and old postcards, is behind the first floor eating area. It’s like a combination of a school cafeteria and a Vegas buffet, with salads and sushi and pizza and meats.
The second floor has a redwood tree with a fireplace in it. There is a grand piano and a bar near the redwood, and sitting areas with chairs and sofas in semi-circles, and lots of tables and chairs like on the first floor. Some of the tables appear to be large slices of redwood tree. The third floor is all old Hollywood glamour, with another bar and a large room with a bandstand. All over the place are stuffed animals on display in dioramas, and all sorts of awesome things to look at. I felt like I could have spent days there and not Continue reading
(1937) Damon’s Steak House, Glendale
I’d wanted to go to the old Tiki-themed steakhouse Damon’s in Glendale for a while, but the dinner menu is a bit pricey (I really, really can’t afford to have a blog like this). The lunch menu, however, was surprisingly affordable, so I headed over one day around noon.
-Palm fronds on the ceiling and bamboo everywhere, lots of unreal palm trees and intensely busy, colorful murals of Polynesian scenes on all the walls, and lots of masks and pictures of things like mermaids hanging on the walls that didn’t have murals, it is wonderful, like being inside an incredibly fake Tiki hut. Here and there there were stuffed monkeys, the kind with long arms and velcro hands, hanging off of pillars. So many details, more to see everywhere you look. I want to live there. All the hanging lamps are different, odd shapes. There is a big Continue reading
(1949) Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank
I felt a little silly going to a Bob’s Big Boy for my blog, since it’s a huge chain, but this was one of the very first ones, built in 1949, and the oldest still around. At some point in the ’90s someone bought it and started making it more like it was in the old days, with car-hop service on the weekends and a classic car show every Friday (which, I’ve been told, Jay Leno attends). My friend Terry and I decided to check it out but didn’t go on a Friday or a weekend, because it’s supposed to be extremely crowded then.
-Curvy walls with tall windows, Googie-style, a neon “Take-Out” sign just inside, pictures of classic cars everywhere, a large “Bob” statue inside, almost as Continue reading