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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(1936) Tom Bergin’s Public House

Bergins smlrysigns 135When the news came that Tom Bergin’s was shutting down  (or maybe staying open but not serving food anymore)? Or maybe shutting down but not quite yet? It was all very unclear) I was horribly sad. I hadn’t been in years but I’ve loved it every time I’ve gone, and I know a lot of people who call it their favorite bar. I called my friend Suzy —who has spoken fondly of the place — and asked if she’d liked to pay last respects, and we headed over one Wednesday night after work.

-From the outside, it looks like an Irish tavern, with brick on some parts and white walls and heavy wood beams on others and a dark green sloping roof, and stained-glass windows. One enters through a door off the parking lot and finds themselves in a sort of an entry way… really it’s just an in-between space —to the right is the Horseshoe Bar (actually more of an oval) and to the left is the restaurant part, just a long room with booths for eating, and beyond that the back room with a red-felt pool table and huge fireplace, and more tables. Every inch of the ceiling, throughout the bar and front room of the restaurant, is covered in paper shamrocks with people’s names written on them. It’s a cacophony of shamrocks —I know cacophony usually refers to noise but you’ll have to trust me. Thousands of Continue reading

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(1952) Melody Bar & Grill, Westchester

ymelodythesignI was picking up friends at the airport and got there early so I could have lunch at the Melody Bar & Grill. In the evenings they have live music and I thought that if I visited then, with the noise and the dim lights and the crowds, it would be a lot harder to take notes and pictures. So I went just before noon, right after they opened, and it was nice and quiet and nearly empty.

-The main room has a long bar in the center, light-colored wood surrounded with tall chairs, tall dark tables along the walls with the same tall chairs, wonderful red wallpaper on the walls that weren’t rough stone, a fire pit with a lovely fire roaring away, pictures of Continue reading


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(1952) Tony’s on the Pier, aka “Old Tony’s,” Redondo Beach

TonyssignsurfTony’s, with its fresh seafood and all, seemed a little pricey for me (that’s definitely going to be an issue, going forward) but the bar, which sits on the roof of the restaurant like an octagonal hat, was said to have amazing views, so I thought I’d check it out. I wanted to walk on the pier anyway.
I go to restaurants alone all the time, but almost never to bars, because I don’t drink, and it seems weird to sit at a bar drinking cub soda. It was fine at this bar, though, cause I just said I was there for the view and the bartender smiled said they don’t charge extra for the view and put a bowl of some kind of fancy chex mix next to me.
-Eight walls of windows looking out over the Pacific, wooden beams, ceiling fans that looked like they were woven from palm fronds, lots of wood, a peaked ceiling and, for some reason, what I’m pretty sure were fire-fighter hats hanging on each of the eight ceiling beams. Lights in huge colored globes hanging from the ceiling in fishing nets. This was one of the best rooms I’ve ever been in.
-At the table next to where I am sitting, Continue reading