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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(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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(1957) Norm’s Restaurant, West Hollywood

normssignAfter a surprisingly uneventful dentist appointment, I stopped by the original Norm’s for a late lunch. Norm’s has a sign that always shows up in pictures of cool L.A. signs–for good reason, it’s neat–and the building is the quintessential Googie diner.

The inside doesn’t exactly look like the Jetsons, but it looks like it was designed and decorated by someone who thought the Jetsons was incredibly awesome.

-Sharply slanting ceiling, floor tiled to look like red brick, a gray counter with seats that are bright green with orange piping. The two long walls (which are crooked in a deliberate, interesting geometrical way) have one long Continue reading