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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(1969) Don Cuco, Toluca Lake

ysdoncucossignI was in Hollywood when I heard that Debbie Reynolds had died, so after work I went and visited her stars on Hollywood Boulevard. Then I called David (my husband) and begged him to meet me somewhere we could get comfort food. Since I was already driving back over the hill, we decided on Don Cuco in Toluca Lake. Don’t know if Debbie ever ate there but she grew up in Burbank and Warner Bros. Studio is less than a mile away, so it seems likely, or at least very possible, that she did. There are three Don Cucos; we’d been to the one in Burbank several times because it’s close to where we live, but this one, in Toluca Lake, is the original.

-It’s all wonderfully warm and cosy, with red lights and red booths and tables, each booth is separated from the others with wooden railings and pillars, and there’s a fake roof overhead — the kind with those rounded clay tiles — so it’s like everyone is sitting on the front porch of a house. Because we were there in late december, there were lots of Christmas decorations everywhere, tinsel and fake snow on the fake roof, blending nicely with the Continue reading

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(1949) Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank

BBBneonsignI felt a little silly going to a Bob’s Big Boy for my blog, since it’s a huge chain, but this was one of the very first ones, built in 1949, and the oldest still around. At some point in the ’90s someone bought it and started making it more like it was in the old days, with car-hop service on the weekends and a classic car show every Friday (which, I’ve been told, Jay Leno attends). My friend Terry and I decided to check it out but didn’t go on a Friday or a weekend, because it’s supposed to be extremely crowded then.

-Curvy walls with tall windows, Googie-style, a neon “Take-Out” sign just inside, pictures of classic cars everywhere, a large “Bob” statue inside, almost as Continue reading


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(1971) Granada Restaurant, Burbank

Granadasign02My friend Kate and I wanted Mexican food, so we headed over to Granada in Burbank. I’ve driven past it thousands of times at least and never noticed it; the outside is sweet but unassuming. The interior, however, was fabulous.

-Incredibly busy and bright, full of paintings and flowers and, above the cash register, a huge parrot hanging from the ceiling. Easter decorations (this was two days before Easter) were everywhere; bunnies and eggs and all sorts of things, but even aside from the seasonal stuff, it was a blast of color. There was what appeared to be a large wood recreation of the Mayan calendar, and ornate gold mirrors, and murals and plates and giant butterflies and fancy hanging lamps. Best of all was a fake house exterior hiding the kitchen; with fake brick under fake stucco and fake curtains inside the fake windows. I don’t know if I could have loved the place more. It would have been wonderful even without Continue reading


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(1959) Tallyrand, Burbank

tallyrandsignWent to the Tallyrand for lunch with my friend Cassie. I thought I’d eaten at the Tallyrand once and hadn’t been that crazy about it, but since it was on the list I was ready to give it another go. As soon as I stepped inside, I knew I’d never been there before. That was some other place I didn’t like much. I have no idea what that other place was.

-There are several rooms; the main room that we Continue reading


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(1953) Larry’s Chili Dog, Burbank

larryschilidogneonsign Went for a late lunch with my friend Corey at Larry’s Chili Dog. I’d often admired the chili dog sign and had always assumed it was a regular restaurant, but when I got past the row of hedges that hide it from the street I found a walk-up order window and some tables and chairs outside under an awning. It was a very hot day, but their clever placement of bushes and umbrellas made enough shade that we were quite comfortable.

-Six square green tables with tan folding chairs, a large awning and umbrellas over the tables that don’t fit under the awning, tall bushes surrounding the eating area and making it feel closed off from the world, a bright yellow Continue reading


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(1965) Tony Bella Vista Restaurant, Burbank

tonysbellavistasignWent for dinner at Tony’s Bella Vista with David (my husband) and our friend Corey.

-Incredibly cozy, dim lighting and warm smells. Just inside the door is a mural on the wall showing the Italian seaside, and a curtained booth for the cashier with lots of foreign money taped up all over the walls. Dark wood and red chairs and tables, wallpaper with a lovely pattern of vines, the place is decorated to seem like you’re outside on a veranda, sitting under porches, the rafters of which are hung with white christmas lights and grape vines heavy with bunches of grapes. David (my husband) pointed out that Continue reading


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(1969) Lancers Restaurant, Burbank

lancerssignI woke up early on Saturday and walked to Lancers to have breakfast before work. I’ve driven past Lancers many times, and while the turquoise roof and sign are kind of neat, the way they keep the shades mostly down on the windows always made it seem very plain and possibly not open. So I was surprised to find it crowded. It was much bigger inside than I’d expected, but not very interesting. This place might be the prototype on which all Continue reading