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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(1946) Jolly Jug, El Monte

ysignJollyJug10My 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

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(1946) Nick’s Coffee Shop, Los Angeles

nickscoffeeshopWalked to Nick’s Coffee Shop for an early lunch. I wondered why I’d never been there before, as it was fairly near where I used to live, but wasn’t surprised when I saw how tiny and tucked away it is. It’s a shame, though; I would have gone there at least once a day.

-Colorful umbrellas over tables outside; inside are brown counter and chairs, brown booths and tables, but the dozens of celebrity photos covering the walls and the sharply slanted ceiling make it feel fun and busy rather than drab. Ceiling fans with 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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(1946) Original Tommy’s Hamburgers, Los Angeles

tommy signThere are lots of Original Tommy’s Hamburgers stands around L.A., but this is the original one. I’ve never been to a Tommy’s, but David (my husband) is a fan so we stopped by late(ish) Saturday. The parking lot made a square, with two places to order and get food, one in the wall and one in the stand-alone shack near the street. The counter at the wall had a long line, with none at the shack, which was where I wanted to get the food anyway, so we walked over to find out why. The counter guy explained that they wouldn’t be opening for five or ten minutes. The line looked longer than that so we decided to wait. It was maybe three minutes, and by the time our food came there was a long line behind us. All the people made it feel like a party. Possibly because so many of them were at least a little drunk.
-Bare bones steel and formica, but somehow charming nonetheless. It smelled good, and the lights made Continue reading