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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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:

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(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.

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(1908) Cole’s, downtown L.A. 

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(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.

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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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(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


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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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(1953) James Restaurant, San Fernando

jamessignMy friend Ari, David (my husband), and I drove out to San Fernando and had dinner at James Restaurant.

By far the best sign yet. And underneath the sign, for no reason I can fathom, are two statues: a horse, and a lady holding what looks like a horn of plenty. There seemed to be a space for a third statue, but really, aren’t those two enough?

-the walls inside are rose stone with brown tiles making star patterns, to extremely pleasing effect. Reddish-wood tables, hanging Tiffany lamps, striped curtains,  paintings on the walls. Our U-shaped booth had a painting on either side, one of seaside scene in what we think was Greece, and one of a deer at a stream near a house. Not necessarily great art, but very nice to look at.

-as we sat down I was exclaiming over how much I loved the place, and the woman finishing her Continue reading