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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(1953) Canter’s Deli, Hollywood

y-sizecanters-the-neonI needed to get lunch before going babysitting, and it was noon on a Sunday in Hollywood, and I wanted a bagel, so I went to Canter’s Deli. Canter’s first location was in Boyle Heights (in downtown LA) in 1931; it opened in this location on Fairfax (in Hollywood) in 1953. Often this blog takes me to new and wonderful places, but sometimes it’s about re-visiting places I’ve been a million times. I lived down the street from Canter’s Deli when I first moved to L.A. I was living in a tiny apartment with a couple other punk rockers, and we had almost no money and went to clubs every night, and if we happened to not be completely broke we’d go to Canter’s afterwards, because it was open all night and they were nice to us and you could get really full for super cheap, if you like eating pickles. We were very hungry so we liked eating pickles. I’ve gone to Canter’s fairly regularly since. I saw Liza Minnelli there  once (I was certain it was her and my friend was certain it was not… and then the waiter came over and quietly freaked out because OMG it’s LIZA!!) and I’m pretty sure the last dinner I had with my dear friend Marcia Wallace was at Canter’s. David (my husband) has been going to Canter’s all his life; with his grandfather when Continue reading

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Happy… Anniversary? Birthday? Whatever… Happy!!!

One year ago today, I blogged my first restaurant. I’ve now posted about 55 restaurants (and have three more in the hopper!). Doing this blog has made me so happy, has led to so many adventures and places I never would have gone.
Thought I’d list some of my favorites so far, in no particular order:

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(1928) La Golondrina Mexican Cafe, downtown L.A.
A beautiful old Mexican restaurant on Olvera St. La Golandrina has been there since 1928, but the building was built in the 1850s.  Amazing stone fireplace and colored hanging lamps and artwork everywhere.

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(1953) James Restaurant, San Fernando
A perfectly cozy coffee shop way out in the suburbs, full of nice people and comfort food. Hard to put my finger on why it’s one of my favorite places ever, except that I love coffee shops and this has everything I love in a coffee shop.

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(1952) Tony’s on the Pier, aka “Old Tony’s,” Redondo Beach
The best bar I’ve ever been in, stuck on top of the restaurant like an octagonal hat, with windows on all sides looking out over the ocean. Back in the ’50s, a monkey escaped from the circus and lived at Tony’s, stealing sugar cubes from the tables.

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(1946) Nick’s Coffee Shop, Los Angeles
Perfectly wonderful greasy spoon diner, cramped and marvelous. It makes me want to be a private eye just so I could sit at the counter and growl for coffee in between solving crimes.

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(1908) Cole’s, downtown L.A. 

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(1908) Philipe the Original, downtown L.A.
These places are connected in everyone’s minds because they both claim to have invented the french dip, and I love them both so much I don’t want to play favorites. In fact they are so different it’s impossible to compare; Cole’s is a sit-down place that let’s you dip your own sandwich and Mickey Cohen used to eat there, while Philipe’s has a busy counter where the sandwiches come pre-dipped, with sawdust on the floor and a line of old wooden phone booths. They both say wonderful things about what life was like in L.A. in the early 20th century, and it thrills me that they’re both still open for business.


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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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(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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(1969) House of Pies, Los Feliz

houseofpiessignI had some time between appointments, so I headed over to the House of Pies in Los Feliz. I’d meant to go there with someone who could eat pie, but I was in a hurry and it was close and it’s not like that’s the only thing they serve.

-It seems like the place should be decorated with an exciting and colorful pie motif, and so is disappointing in its drabness. The booths and chairs are gray, brown, and cream, with light gray wood panelling not the walls that aren’t plain white. A few Continue reading


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(1948) Cindy’s in Eagle Rock

Those are owl statues perched on the sign

Those are owl statues perched on the sign

I chose Cindy’s to be my first restaurant in the blog because it’s got a sign I’ve always been crazy about (Eagle Rock in general has a lot of fantastic old signs), and because there’s nothing I love like a coffee shop. I know we say diner now, but not all diners are coffee shops. This one is exactly a coffee shop. I went for brunch (really it was breakfast but I’m calling it brunch because I slept crazy late today, either because I was out late doing fantastic fun things or because I was up late trying to remember how WordPress works. You decide.

-The interior is fantastic; bright orange booths and chairs, hanging globe lights, and the sort of  star-spangled wallpaper that always reminds me of ’70s rec rooms (even though it’s from earlier, really; the ’70s is just when I first saw it).  There’s a wall-sized chalk board you look at when you sit at the counter, with the specials on it in colored chalk. The only thing that didn’t seem to fit was the green and red carpet that looked like hallway carpeting in a mid-price hotel.

-I sat at the counter because it was crowded, which I like doing cause I can pretend I’m at a lunch counter in the forties trying to gather info for my private detective boss, except Continue reading