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The Eateries of Old LA

  • h

I was born in LA but moved away about 13 years ago - so I'm completely out of the loop as to what still exists and what has been bulldozed to make way for strip malls.

This Christmas I'll be visiting LA and I've set myself a mission: TO DISCOVER OLD LOS ANGELES

This would include dining in some of the old classics. I remember as a little girl being taken to the Tic Tock by my grandmother and her mah jong playing friends. I also remember being taken for a special meal at Chason's. I hear that they are both gone now - sadly. I understand that Musso and Frank's is still there, as is the Formosa (though I hear that the Formosa is not a place to go to eat). Does anyone else know what is in existance? I'm not expecting culinary genius, just comfort food.

And on that note, does anyone know if there's anything worthwhile happening in LA over new years eve? Or is asking that a complete joke in itself? Any suggestions for unique or even good experiences for that night?

  1. Taylor's 3361 W 8th Street in Koreatown, The Pacific Dining Car 1310 West 6th Street, the Pantry 877 South Figueroa, Phillipe's 1001 N. Alameda St., Coles 118 East 6th St., and Clifton's Cafeteria, (see link to their web site).

    Link: http://www.cliftonscafeteria.com/

    1. Many people here denigrate Zagat ratings, but it is indisputably a handy resource for basic information. I haven't seen the 2004 edition yet, but in the past it has always had an "historic places" index, although the online edition's definition of historic appears to be pretty vague...Benihana?!?!

      In addition to places mentioned in the posts below, add Restaurant Taix (on Sunset), Lawry's & Tam O'Shanter.

      1. I don't know what neighborhood you were from, but a few places I enjoyed in childhood that still exist are: Dan Tana's, the Polo Lounge, Nate 'n Als, Callahan's coffee shop in Santa Monica, Snug Harbor in Santa Monica, Tommy's burgers (oh, I know, heartburn, whatever), Philippe's, DiVita's Pizza in West L.A., DuPar's, Farmer's Market in general, Lucy's El Adobe on Melrose. They're not all historic but anything that sticks around more than 25 years in this town must be there for some reason...

        1. Add to that list, Trader Vic's for polynesian food and scorpion bowls (at the Beverly Hilton Hotel); the Polo Lounge for drinks in your own booth, with a phone (at the Beverly Hills Hotel); the Apple Pan for burgers and pie (Pico/Glendon); The Galley for martinis and steaks (Main St. in Santa Monica); Olvera Street (downtown), Casa Escobar (Santa Monica), Tia Juana (Olympic/Bundy), El Cholo (Western) and the Talpa (Pico in West LA) for 'mexican' the way we ate it as kids; and Dal Rae, for steaks and martinis (in Pico Rivera).

          Gone are: the Nickodel (although you probably didn't go there as a kid, as it was a bar), the Swiss Cafe, the Brown Derby, La Scala, La Famiglia, and the Stew Kettle, to name a few. I've linked an extensive thread from last year containing many reminiscences of these and other lost Los Angeles favorites.

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          3 Replies
          1. re: DanaB

            How could I forget Trader Vic's and the Apple Pan! Probably because we always went to the Luau instead. Nickodell was not just a bar though, it was a popular mid-range place for lunch for Paramount employees, I remember they were somewhat known for their caesar salad.

            1. re: Chowpatty

              And the best "chopped salad" I've ever had to this day. I also don't remember the bar being that big a deal.

            2. re: DanaB

              Nickodell was a bar???? Whaddya mean? I used to have dinner there all the time--good food at great prices. The food was not that different from Musso & F.'s today (okay, a cut below). Shrimp cocktails, chicken a la King, roast beef. Terrific place. It was never empty. Why do these things close??

            3. Chili John's in Burbank. Cole's PE Buffet on 6th (or is it 5th) cassell's burgers, the hms bounty on wilshire, Philippe's on Alameda, (someone already said Musso's I"m sure), the Odyssey in the Valley, Langer's for pastrami, El Cholo and El Chavo for Cal-mex, the juice bar if it's still there in the Grand Central Market, Andre's Italian Cafeteria in the Town and Country Mall on 3rd across from the Farmers Market, Pink's and tail of the pup, is Irv's Burgers still on Santa Monica? DuPar's on Ventura and at the Farmers market, etc.

              1. Although there's been probably a couple of turnovers
                in management, the "Smokehouse" is still operating
                in Burbank near the Warner Bros Studios.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ralph

                  yep, and i believe they are also serving thai food now too.

                  1. re: jaydee

                    Um, no ... I've been there twice in the last month and they are most certainly *not* serving Thai food.

                2. Also check out the menu collection online at the LA public library. Menus going back to c. 1900.

                  Link: http://pubindex.lapl.org/pages/ele_ne...

                  1. The food at Formosa has been upgraded in the last few years. It is much better than it was, which is to say wonderful at 1:00 a.m.

                    Ignore the hulk being built next to it.

                    1. The Pacific Dining Car which I think now holds the title as the oldest Steakhouse in Los Angeles (the one on 6th St. in downtown L.A. not the one in Santa Monica) is still excellent. For really laid back (jeans and a sweater) nothing could be better than Phillipe's for a french dip sandwich. Monty's Steakhouse (now in Woodland Hills) is definitely the class of the valley, especially if you like cocktail hour. I used to go to the old one in Encino well over 47 years ago. If your really driven to finding retro LA then of course there's Pink's for hot dogs and Tommy's on Beverly near Rampart for chili burgers.

                      1. Old restaurant: Pann's in Westchester on La Cienega and Centinela.

                        New Year's Eve: Pink Martini at the new Disney concert hall. Two shows.

                        1. I remember The Pantry. I ate there in the late '60s and eary '70s. Is it still in the same place?

                          I also remember a "French" Bistro called Yellowfingers. There was one in Woodland Hills and one in Sherman Oaks. There were mighty few places one could get a Salade Nicoise in the '70s.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Paul H

                            Yellowfingers is now called La Frite and there are still two of them in the exact same places and you can still get a good salade nicoise.

                            1. re: Paul H

                              The Original Pantry is on 9th and Figueroa. There is also the oldest Bob's Big Boy in Burbank on Riverside Drive.

                              Link: http://www.bobs.net/

                            2. some of the family members from man fok low are still around. you can try Wing Fu Low in Fountain Valley which is operated by Kenny. Peter had a restaurant in Ontario until he passed away. and Taix is still in their location on Sunset Blvd at Silverlake, food is great and prices are reasonable. Does any one remember the Pauls kitchen that was on Julian st. in the market area. also closed 15 years ago.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: davez

                                That was Paul's Cafe which is different from Paul's Kitchen. Remember Popeye the cook?

                              2. Clifton's is still around.
                                Valley Inn
                                Traveling to Disneyland, you can still get into the tiki room.

                                  1. La Dolce Vita on Little Santa Monica and Wilshire is still there. I used to go with my parents in the 70's and sit in Sinatra's booth. They still cook pasta tableside and the chopped salad is fantastic.

                                    1. I want to put in a word for the late Tokyo Kaikan. One of the first sushi bars in LA, this was where the California roll was invented. This was also the first tempura bar in LA. I miss those deep fried ice creams.

                                      The old Far East Cafe also in Little Tokyo, was where many older Japanese American Issei's and Nisei's had wedding receptions (no money those days) and funeral service receptions. It closed after the big earthquake. The new Far East bears little resemblance to the old one.

                                      Also down the street, I believe Paul's Kitchen and the New Moon are still operating in Old Chinatown, although both have branches in the suburbs, Paul's Kitchen in Monterey Park and New Moon in Montrose. Old school LA Cantonese.

                                      Holiday Bowl on Crenshaw had great Asian food 24 hours a day. In my younger days, it was often our final stopping point after a night of partying before going home to greet the sunrise.

                                      Another one who really misses La Barbera's pizza.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Ogawak

                                        It was also, I think, the first restaurant in L.A. to serve shabu shabu.

                                      2. Langer's for their great handcut pastrami sandwich. Canter's for nostalgia's sake. Dolores's was an old drive-in in Beverly Hills and still functions in WLA. Rae's in WLA is still around.

                                        1. Hi Folks-

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