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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(1908) Cole’s, downtown L.A.

coles signI went to Philippe’s yesterday, so it seemed only right today to go to Cole’s— the other downtown restaurant opened in 1908 that claims to have invented the french dip sandwich.
I took the bus, partly because parking’s a pain and gas is expensive, and mostly because it’s fun to sit and read and look out the window at neighborhoods I don’t often see. I got off the bus a little early and went to see the mural commemorating Biddy Mason, a former slave who became a midwife and wealthy landowner in 19th century Los Angeles.
Cole’s could not be more different than Philippe’s, with its waiters and wallpaper, and yet it manages to look exactly as ancient-without-being-decrepit. Lovely and cozy and Continue reading

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(1908) Philipe the Original, downtown L.A.

philippessignPhilippe the Original, which is always just called “Philippe’s,” claims to have created the french dip sandwich. I say “claims” because Cole’s, which is also downtown and opened the same year, claims the same thing. I’m planning on going there soon. I don’t think it matters a lot who did it first, as long as they’re both delicious. David (my husband) and I got to Philippe’s around noon, wanting to see it during the lunch rush. It was bustling but not overwhelming; he says he’s seen it with lines out the door.
-Everything about this place screams “been here forever” but not like it’s falling apart. It’s all very clean and well kept, just reeking of old-fashioned goodness. Strong wooden booths, long communal tables, sawdust on the floor.
-The counter where customers order food is long and shiny and, for me, almost nose-high. There isn’t really Continue reading