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Recommendations on classic, "old LA" restaurants

OldLA Nov 14, 2006 06:50 PM

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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    slacker RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 07:10 PM

    Musso & Frank, Pacific Dining Car.

    1 Reply
    1. re: slacker
      slacker RE: slacker Nov 14, 2006 08:31 PM

      Polo Lounge.

    2. Hughlipton RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 07:28 PM

      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
        hrhboo RE: Hughlipton Nov 14, 2006 10:28 PM

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

        1. re: hrhboo
          cagey RE: hrhboo Nov 15, 2006 03:23 PM

          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
            hrhboo RE: cagey Nov 15, 2006 04:14 PM

            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
              odog RE: hrhboo Apr 30, 2007 04:55 PM

              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
                Catinthehat2u RE: odog May 10, 2008 04:09 PM

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

          2. re: hrhboo
            lil mikey RE: hrhboo Nov 20, 2006 02:41 PM

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

        2. DanaB RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 07:49 PM

          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. t
            tannazie RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 07:54 PM

            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
              Griller141 RE: tannazie Nov 15, 2006 03:13 AM

              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
                Catinthehat2u RE: tannazie May 10, 2008 04:11 PM

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

              2. c
                coco puff RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 08:30 PM

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

                1. t
                  Tkn RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 08:37 PM

                  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
                    Jack Flash RE: Tkn Nov 15, 2006 02:05 AM

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

                    1. re: Tkn
                      Paliau RE: Tkn Nov 16, 2006 10:58 PM

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

                      1. re: Paliau
                        Jerome RE: Paliau Nov 17, 2006 05:50 AM

                        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
                          DanaB RE: Jerome Nov 17, 2006 07:44 AM

                          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
                            Paliau RE: DanaB Dec 2, 2006 02:58 PM

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

                    2. David Kahn RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 08:41 PM

                      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. n
                        nosh RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 09:13 PM

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

                        1. ChinoWayne RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 11:31 PM

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

                          Here are a couple of reports:



                          1. ipsedixit RE: OldLA Nov 14, 2006 11:37 PM

                            The Derby in Arcadia?

                            Go Seabiscuit!


                            1. t
                              Thorn RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 12:55 AM

                              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. a
                                alexfood RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 01:27 AM

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

                                1. n
                                  Nicole RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 02:24 AM

                                  Ditto on Lawry's. Very classic feel.

                                  1. y
                                    yogachik RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 02:41 AM

                                    The Galley
                                    Chez Jay

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: yogachik
                                      Jerome RE: yogachik Nov 17, 2006 05:51 AM

                                      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
                                        DanaB RE: Jerome Nov 17, 2006 07:54 AM

                                        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
                                          Jerome RE: DanaB Nov 17, 2006 07:16 PM

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

                                          1. re: Jerome
                                            LoveCulverCity RE: Jerome Dec 1, 2006 06:38 PM

                                            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. monku RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 02:48 AM

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

                                      1. Tom P RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 04:10 AM

                                        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. c
                                          Chowmommy RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 04:13 AM

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

                                          1. b
                                            Burger Boy RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 06:05 AM


                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Burger Boy
                                              Mel Gee RE: Burger Boy Nov 17, 2006 05:09 AM

                                              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
                                                Paliau RE: Mel Gee Dec 2, 2006 02:56 PM

                                                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. e
                                              epop RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 06:31 AM

                                              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
                                                ilikefood RE: epop Nov 17, 2006 01:03 AM

                                                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
                                                  epop RE: ilikefood Nov 18, 2006 05:33 PM

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

                                              2. m
                                                MalibuAly RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 03:07 PM

                                                Third vote for Dan Tana's.

                                                1. m
                                                  mattesq RE: OldLA Nov 15, 2006 05:19 PM

                                                  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
                                                    ipsedixit RE: mattesq Nov 15, 2006 05:21 PM

                                                    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
                                                      mattesq RE: ipsedixit Nov 15, 2006 05:23 PM

                                                      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
                                                        slacker RE: mattesq Nov 15, 2006 05:55 PM

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

                                                        1. re: slacker
                                                          JAB RE: slacker Nov 17, 2006 04:05 AM

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

                                                  2. sll RE: OldLA Nov 16, 2006 11:57 PM

                                                    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. b
                                                      beesknees RE: OldLA Nov 17, 2006 01:50 AM

                                                      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. chica RE: OldLA Nov 17, 2006 04:44 AM

                                                        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
                                                          ChinoWayne RE: chica Nov 17, 2006 05:23 PM

                                                          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
                                                            Griller141 RE: ChinoWayne Nov 18, 2006 04:03 AM

                                                            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
                                                              ChinoWayne RE: Griller141 Nov 18, 2006 03:12 PM

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

                                                        2. e
                                                          Ernie RE: OldLA Nov 17, 2006 03:15 PM

                                                          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. p
                                                            pasadena_girl RE: OldLA Nov 18, 2006 11:28 AM

                                                            Monty's steakhouse in Pasadena on Fair Oaks.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: pasadena_girl
                                                              David Kahn RE: pasadena_girl Nov 19, 2006 11:04 PM

                                                              Great suggestion.

                                                            2. m
                                                              michelleborns RE: OldLA Nov 30, 2006 03:00 PM

                                                              why the Buggy Whip on La Tijera of course!!!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: michelleborns
                                                                cfylong RE: michelleborns Nov 30, 2006 03:32 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Griller141 RE: cfylong Dec 1, 2006 03:41 AM

                                                                  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. m
                                                                misty RE: OldLA Dec 1, 2006 06:54 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Jerome RE: misty Dec 3, 2006 01:10 AM

                                                                  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. y
                                                                  yum RE: OldLA Dec 2, 2006 06:08 AM

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

                                                                  1. brieflunchcounter RE: OldLA Dec 2, 2006 06:48 AM

                                                                    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.

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