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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(1975) El Compadre, Hollywood

signelcompadre04David (my husband) and I went to El Compadre with our friends Vanessa and French, and their daughter Helene who is almost three, and who I’ve been babysitting since she was a tiny baby, and who is awesome.

-Lots of xmas lights, some shaped like peppers, dim lighting from large round red and yellow hanging lamps, tables with red tablecloths, lots of dark wood, maroon booths with brass tacks, some of them rectangular and some round and cozy, oil paintings of street scenes and flowers, tall vases of lilies, a bar with  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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(1931) El Coyote, Hollywood

elcoyotesignWent for lunch at El Coyote with David (my husband). It’s decorated in a fantastic, fun, manic way and is another place I’d read about before I even lived here. I never thought the food was as good as the decor, but I’d heard it was under new management so I thought I’d try it and Continue reading


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(1956) Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks

casavegasignDavid (my husband) has been seeing the lovely Casa Vega sign his whole life and always wondered about it, so tonight we headed over there along with our friend Corey.

There was a twenty minute wait for a table; they suggested we wait at the bar but it was packed so we went for a walk around the block, getting back just as the pager they’d given us buzzed.

-The bar was stunning, with colored christmas lights and a sort of canopy sign with drinks written in script. The rest of the restaurant was dark rooms with white christmas lights, brick walls, hanging lamps that looked like Continue reading


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(1928) La Golondrina Mexican Cafe, downtown L.A.

 

lagon sign3David (my husband) and I were in the mood for Mexican, so we decided on La Golondrina Mexican Cafe on Olvera street downtown. The restaurant has been there since 1928, but it’s in the oldest brick building in L.A., built in 1855.

We were going to sit on the lovely outdoor patio, where the tables had vibrant colored tablecloths and the air smelled like the best air possible, but I wanted to see the inside of the place, and it turned out to be even lovelier than outside.

-brick walls, mostly but not entirely painted white, bright paintings everywhere, a large stone Continue reading