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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(1939) Harbor House Cafe, Sunset Beach

SignHarborhouseI headed down to the Harbor House Cafe because I’ve been worrying about how many restaurants on the list are south of L.A., where I don’t go very often these days. I used to; I lived in Orange County for years, but now that I’m in the valley I almost never get that way anymore. So when I found myself already fairly far south for a doctor’s appointment that didn’t take as long as I’d expected, and with a particularly good audio book to listen to, I decided to drive down to Sunset Beach. I used to eat at the Harbor House Cafe all the time, when I lived in Huntington Beach and worked at Quicksilver Software, because it was open all night and I kept odd hours back then. I’m not sure I’d ever seen it during the day before. I was less than halfway there when there was an accident or something and traffic on the freeway, all but stopped. So I got off at a random exit and told my GPS to take me on surface streets. It was delightful. Didn’t take much longer and I got to drive past all Continue reading

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(1972) The Shack, Playa del Rey

shacksignHoping to escape the horrible heat, I headed towards the beach and ended up at The Shack. It didn’t have air conditioning, but lots of fans and open windows and the ocean breeze made it much cooler than Burbank.

-Just inside is a counter where one can 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