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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(1937) Damon’s Steak House

DTH Damons sign 01I’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.

DTH interiorDamons07-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


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(1949) Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank

BBBneonsignI 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


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(1955) Fox’s Restaurant, Altadena

Foxssign2Fox’s Restaurant is only open until 2 p.m., and I’m bad at leaving the house early, so I wasn’t sure how I’d ever eat there. But I needed to go by a sheriff’s station (they have drop boxes for disposing of old medications, which you’re not supposed to just throw away. They also have drop boxes for illegal drugs, which are right next to the prescription boxes. I bet people mostly just put everything in the legal-drugs box) and the station nearest me was in Altadena, just a couple blocks from Fox’s. So I made a special effort and got there in time for lunch.

-Sweet, homey place with red-checked curtains, red and black chairs, red tables, rough wood halfway up the walls, lots of framed pictures of foxes, white ceiling with ceiling fans, exposed brick on the back wall, an antique dresser for the cash register. The whole place has a Continue reading


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(1971) Granada Restaurant, Burbank

Granadasign02My friend Theo and I wanted Mexican food, so we headed over to Granada in Burbank. I’ve driven past it thousands of times at least and never noticed it; the outside is sweet but unassuming. The interior, however, was fabulous.

-Incredibly busy and bright, full of paintings and flowers and, above the cash register, a huge parrot hanging from the ceiling. Easter decorations (this was two days before Easter) were everywhere; bunnies and eggs and all sorts of things, but even aside from the seasonal stuff, it was a blast of color. There was what appeared to be a large wood recreation of the Mayan calendar, and ornate gold mirrors, and murals and plates and giant butterflies and fancy hanging lamps. Best of all was a fake house exterior hiding the kitchen; with fake brick under fake stucco and fake curtains inside the fake windows. I don’t know if I could have loved the place more. It would have been wonderful even without Continue reading


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(1957) Art’s Delicatessen, Studio City

artsneonsign1I got hungry while running errands in Studio City and stopped at Art’s Delicatessen for lunch. I was fairly certain I’d been there before, but when I went inside it didn’t look at all like the place I was remembering, so maybe I hadn’t.

-Large, airy room, with a large deli counter in the front and, beyond, a classic coffee shop; rows of maroon and brown booths with beige tables, black and white tile floor, an acoustic-panel ceiling, hanging lamps with green shades, wood-paneled walls, a long row of giant pictures of sandwiches across the back wall, plus one picture of matzoh ball soup. Except for that one, every picture in the place seems to be of a sandwich, or sometimes a cartoon character with a sandwich.

-A little startled to see that the sandwiches were in the $16-dollar range, I got a cup of beef vegetable soup and a fruit bowl. Both were great; the soup in particular Continue reading


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(1973) Rib Ranch BBQ, Woodland Hills

Rib Ranch y sign 2Went to Rib Ranch, one of the newer places on the list, with my friends Ari and Corey. We foolishly decided to meet there during rush hour, which meant the drive was roughly three times as long as it should have been, but the barbecue sauce made it all worth it.

-There were two lovely patios, all bricks and trees, but it was a tiny bit chilly so we opted to sit in the small indoor seating area. It felt like being inside a stable in the best imaginable way; walls and ceiling of rough-wood planks, large wooden booths with–confusingly–formica wood-look tables, windows painted with Continue reading


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(1960) Yamashiro, Hollywood

yamashirosignWent with David (my husband) and his mom Keren and his stepdad Jim to Yamashiro for his birthday (this was a while ago; I went back to school and have been remiss with my blogging). Yomoshiro is a shockingly beautiful Japanese-style building in the Hollywood Hills just above the Magic Castle. You drive up a sort of circular driveway and have to let the valets park your car, which I generally hate but it was fine. Below the building, across the driveway, are Continue reading


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(1959) Tallyrand, Burbank

tallyrandsignWent to the Tallyrand for lunch with my friend Cassie. I thought I’d eaten at the Tallyrand once and hadn’t been that crazy about it, but since it was on the list I was ready to give it another go. As soon as I stepped inside, I knew I’d never been there before. That was some other place I didn’t like much. I have no idea what that other place was.

-There are several rooms; the main room that we Continue reading


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(1972) The Shack, Playa del Rey

shacksignHoping to escape the horrible heat, I headed towards the beach and ended up at The Shack. It didn’t have air conditioning, but lots of fans and open windows and the ocean breeze made it much cooler than Burbank.

-Just inside is a counter where one can Continue reading


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(1954) The Bear Pit, Mission Hills

bearpitsign2As an early birthday present, my friend Corey took me for “Missouri-style” barbecue at The Bear Pit, which was pretty much the most awesome thing he could have done.

-Very rustic looking, but in a tidy sort of way. Uneven Continue reading