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Recommendations on classic, "old LA" restaurants

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Hi there -

I am looking for a good dinner place that is a great, old LA restaurant. Along the lines of Hamburger Hamlet in BH...

Casual but elegant, big chairs, not snooty. The food doesnt have to be fabulous but it must be good.

Welcomes all kinds of people - young and old. West of LaBrea preferred, but I am open to all recommendations.


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  1. Musso & Frank, Pacific Dining Car.

    1 Reply
    1. Trader Vic's. I know it gets mixed reviews but the last time I was there this year the rack of lamb was great. Not exactly inexpensive. La Dolce Vida in Beverly Hills has been there for at least 40 years.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Hughlipton

        Trader Vic's is being torn down soon, so get it while you still can!

        1. re: hrhboo

          Is there a timeline on this? I'd like to go back in for one last over-priced Mai-Tai for old time's sake....

          1. re: cagey

            You know, I've heard numerous reports from people who have been there but I can't find any concrete information. If I find out anything more solid I'll report it here. It's always a good time for an over-priced Mai Tai!!

            1. re: hrhboo

              It's a sad sad day! Trader Vic's Beverly Hills is officially closed. Say goodbye to the best mai tai on the planet!

              1. re: odog

                Try Damons Steak house in Glendale for a different but excellent mai tai!

          2. re: hrhboo

            Is it just this one, or the whole chain that's being shut down?

        2. My family is the king of old school restaurants in LA (my 94 year old grandmother has lived in Beverly Hills since the 1930s).

          Some favorites include:

          La Dolce Vita, on little Santa Monica in BH


          Lawry's (La Cienega



          Madeo (Beverly Bl. just east of BH


          Madeo Restaurant
          Address: 8897 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048
          Phone: (310) 859-0242

          Pacific Dining Car (Santa Monica)


          All are comfortable, big booth kinds of places, with good to great, if not exceptional, food. None are inexpensive.

          1. there are quite a few places that fit this bill throughout LA, but the only one where I really *feel* like I've been transported back to the past is the old Dresden room. Big cushy white seats, older bartenders in suit jackets who know what they're doing and are polite and chivalrous, and marty and elaine crooning on the other side of the wall. admittedly i haven't eaten here, only gone for drinks, so I can't say anyting about the quality of the food. They really win on ambiance though.


            2 Replies
            1. re: tannazie

              End up at Dresden periodically for meetings. It certainly fills the bill as one of the oldest places in the Los Feliz area (may, in fact be one of the oldest continuously operating relatively high end places in northern LA City - Taix and Tam O'Shanter are not at the same level). Plush booths, fancily dressed waiters, hushed atmosphere with live crooners occasionally. Competent chops and fish but not a food destination. The food doesn't reach the level of Musso and Frank's at its best, but I think it compares favorably on average. Not as expensive as M and F's ($25 entrees).
              If an old school place in this part of the City is your goal, you could do worse.

              1. re: tannazie

                I agree this is a classic. The food is good.

              2. Matteos on Westwood Blvd, b/w Olympic and Pico Blvds.

                1. Although DanaB's suggestions probably fit your requirements more accurately, here are some other Old-Time L.A. institutions you might be interested in:

                  Phillipe The Original
                  PE Cole's Buffet
                  CC Browns (ice cream)
                  Langer's Deli
                  Taylor's Steakhouse

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Tkn

                    CC Brown's has been gone for MANY years, alas.

                    1. re: Tkn

                      All good suggestions except CC Browns closed at least 15 years ago!

                      1. re: Paliau

                        it was sorta resuscitated last year or so in the mall on vine above sunset. failed.
                        Lawry's also offers a "c c brown" sundae supposedly made with the cc brown hot fudge, which was amazing. Haven't tried their version.

                        1. re: Jerome

                          Last time I was at Lawry's (March '06), they had the CC Brown fudge sundae on the menu and it was delicious.

                          1. re: DanaB

                            I've heard rumors that you can still order cans of the "hot" fudge on the internet.

                    2. Agree about Musso and Frank and the Pacific Dining Car (although with respect to the later, I favor the original, downtown location). I'd add the Dal Rae (http://www.dalrae.com/index.htm ) to the list, although it's definitely not west of La Brea. Also, in a weird way, the Grill on the Alley in BH (http://www.thegrill.com/index.cfm ) might be a good fit.

                      1. I'll add Dan Tana's in West Hollywood, and The Galley on Main Street in Santa Monica.

                        1. How about Dal Rae in Pico Rivera, venerable, old school dinner house.

                          Here are a couple of reports:



                            1. Here's some more to toss into the mix.
                              The Buggy Whip in Westchester
                              Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks
                              Bel Air Hotel
                              Tam O'Shanter in Los Feliz
                              Saddle Peak Lodge way out there
                              And of course there's Barney's Beanery!

                              1. The Palm in West Hollywood.
                                Dakota is a new restaurant in the classic Roosevelt Hotel.

                                1. Ditto on Lawry's. Very classic feel.

                                    1. re: yogachik

                                      if you go to chez jay (if you go chez jay)... stick with the sand dabs. They are the best (which is to say only edible) thing on the menu. The odd soup is good. For drinks, bloody marys. Period.

                                      1. re: Jerome

                                        Very good advice. Mostly I've only ever been to Chez Jay for drinks, but they do have the sand dabs, and as one of the few regular purveyors of them, thankfully, they do a decent job at it.

                                        For Old School seafood, I'd recommend the Galley over Chez Jay, though.

                                        1. re: DanaB

                                          Does the Galley ( or anyone else) have breaded pounded abalone steak?

                                          1. re: Jerome

                                            I second that! Anyone know where to get a breaded pounded abalone steak? A friend of mine used to dive for fresh abalone and do it up that way...

                                    2. Saw your post and immediately Musso & Frank came to mind. (so did the first poster...what the heck).

                                      1. Lots of good suggestions above. I would add TAYLOR'S STEAKS, in Koreatown (Not the La Canada location) Nice red booths, big chairs at the tables, great atmosphere, reasonable prices. I love it.

                                        1. Lawry's sound perfect for what you are asking for!
                                          Always yummy and a fun experience!

                                            1. re: Burger Boy

                                              I've looked at latimemachines.com many times and find it useful and interesting as a site about Los Angeles history, but keep in mind that it warns: "[W]hile I am very picky about the authenticity of interior design, I am not picky at all about food, service and the quality of the neighborhood that surrounds any given place. In fact, food comes secondary to me after ambiance. If the ambiance is good, I’ll put up with barely edible food."

                                              1. re: Mel Gee

                                                Yeah, LA Time Machines is a site on history rather than food per se, but you will literally find at least 50 old LA restaurants with pictures that fits the bill for this posting (all of which are still open).

                                                My personal favorite, although it's not Westside is the HMS Bounty. Great hamburgers and definitely cheap. Real 1940's throwback. Super friendly place.

                                            2. apple pan (although i like the ambiance, not the burgers). also second the dan tana vote, again more for ambiance.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: epop

                                                Why would you even mention Apple Pan esp when you don't like the burgers, which is pretty much all they got and what people go for? Except that it's LA old (hasn't changed since it was built in 1947 it doesn't meet any of the criteria the OP is looking for:
                                                "a good dinner place" - No way
                                                "a great..restaurant" - ditto
                                                "Casual but elegant" - casual yes,, the opposite of elegant
                                                " big chairs" - bar stools only all around a counter
                                                "food...must be good" - evidently you don't think so, epop

                                                1. re: ilikefood

                                                  you're right, i got lost in the posts about old LA and forgot about the original request.

                                              2. Third vote for Dan Tana's.

                                                1. Please I beg you stay away from Taix. The food is banal continental ideible dreck. Anyone who says otherwise was drunk. :)

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: mattesq

                                                    Food at Taix may not be all that, but it is "power-lunch" central for those in the know at City Hall.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      That may be - so go for the "power lunch" and not for the food. I prefer my downtown "power lunches" at Sushi Gen.

                                                      1. re: mattesq

                                                        Right, power lunches have more to do with place than food. The food at Taix is terrible.

                                                        1. re: slacker

                                                          I was dragged to Taix for the 1st time for lunch today. The food was indeed not good.

                                                  2. Taix is kinda goofy, and the food isn't that great but sitting in the lounge nibbling crudite and having some of their really good soup can be just the thing after a long day...

                                                    1. I just had dinner at Taylors this weekend. It was fan-tas-tic! And reasonably priced, to boot. Great atmosphere. Lots of old school H-Wood folks.

                                                      1. I fourth, fifth? Dan Tana's.

                                                        I would add the Bonaventure rotating lounge in downtown. I have very early memories of the entire family eating apps and drinking from mugs and glasses we got to keep. View is still gorgeous (albeit a bit hampered by the rising buildings).

                                                        I'm unsure as to whether the steakhouse above the lounge is as old as the lounge.

                                                        This reminds me - I wonder how old the Windows steakhouse is! It has a brilliant view of downtown, too. Food eh, but view awesome. :)

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: chica

                                                          Rotating lounge at the Bonaventure "old" L.A.? Old L.A. with a view would be Yamashiro in Hollywood. The Windows steakhouse is not old, there has been a restaurant on top of that building for about 40 years though, originally it was a fancy schmancy "continental" joint. I was dragged there by a salesman for lunch once, and they made me don one of their tacky sportscoats before they would allow me in the dining room.

                                                          1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                            Boy, the coat caper must have been a while ago - probably the Tower era. For a while the Tower had some of LA's best food and the wine list was legendary, especially for the prices (the only Petrus I ever had was there, for $95 in 1992). Now the only thing worthwhile is the view which doesn't even seem as good as it was. Food is an afterthought (or no thought) and the wine list is banal and overpriced. Service is... well, just go for a drink and eat somewhere else.
                                                            Bonaventure steakhouse is LA Prime. The only thing Prime about it is the price. Not even the view is that great. And it doesn't rotate, for those who like such things(the bar below does).

                                                            1. re: Griller141

                                                              Yeah, the Tower (the name was escaping me), about 20 years ago.

                                                        2. I agree with Musso & Frank, Dal Rae, and Pacific Dining Car (only the original downtown LA location though, the West LA one is newer). I also like the original Steak & Stein in Pico Rivera which is the first of the Clearman's/Northwood Inn's locations ever built

                                                          1. Monty's steakhouse in Pasadena on Fair Oaks.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. why the Buggy Whip on La Tijera of course!!!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: michelleborns

                                                                Trax at the Union Station is not an old restaurant, but the station, its architecture, and its ambiance is about as old as it gets in Los Angeles. It served reliably good food, although I haven't heard much about it for a couple of years.

                                                                1. re: cfylong

                                                                  It is servicable, but it's only worth going to if you're into the ambience. It was built in 1939, which is not as old as it gets (especially in that area), but there is something about the constant stream of passengers going to SF, LV, and NO throughout the evening, and the sheer grandeur of the place that sometimes makes it a great experience. Be sure to walk through the terminal to the Metrolink building on the far side of the tracks with its overdone architecture and artwork afterwards.

                                                              2. DELMONICO'S on Pico and Beverly Drive. Great place. Old style tables. Large restaurant. Beautiful wooden booths. Great for large parties. Everything I've had here has been very good. Tasty steaks. Great service.



                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: misty

                                                                  I don't think Delmonico's has been around for all that long. It's old style tables and decor, but then, Daily Grill(e) has very similar decor.

                                                                2. how about La Scala? good food and not too fancy and old..in a good way?

                                                                  1. I suggest either The Buggy Whip or Taylor's Steak House. Love both and Buggy Whip is one of the few restaurants in town to still serve a great Green Goddess dressing. Though Taylor's is east of La Brea, it is worth the trip.