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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(1915) Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain, Orange

watsonsignDavid (my husband) and I were going to a play in Anaheim, so I looked to see what places on the list were nearby, and settled on Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain.

I love drugstore lunch counters. They were on their way out when I was a kid, but I have dim memories of them, of regular plain old drugstores where you could get grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and milkshakes. In old books they’re always such a staple, and take on a sort of romance for me in how very prosaic they are. I once told David (my husband) that my dream writing space would be a small apartment upstairs from a drugstore with a lunch counter, and he asked if the apartment would have a place for clients to sit when they came to ask me to solve crimes, because I was clearly getting being a writer confused with being a private detective in the forties.

–long counter with stools, and also lots of Continue reading


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The Idea

I have always adored old L.A. restaurants. Walking into them gives us a glimpse of what once was, as close to traveling through time as we can come. Even just driving past the crazy old signs can be, for a moment, like seeing a different world. Driving around L.A. is another thing I love; exploring new neighborhoods, tracking down hidden treasures. Being a tourist in my hometown.

So when The Los Angeles Beat posted this list of 300+ vintage L.A. restaurants, all from the last century (okay, that could be fairly recent; the oldest are from the ’70s) and all still in business, my heart leapt. I want to go to ALL of them. I want to tell you about it when I do.