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Old-School LA Recs?

I'm visiting LA and love restaurants like Musso and Frank, The Dresden and Taylor's, and am looking for other spots along those lines (my husband calls them "red-booth" places). Is Dan Tana's like that and worth eating dinner at? Any other suggestions -- good for either a drink or a full dinner -- would be very much appreciated. We're based in Silver Lake, but will travel wherever. We once even went out to the Derby by Santa Anita track, and it did not disappoint...

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  1. Paul's Kitchen Downtown LA
    Dal Rae, Pico Rivera www.dalrae.com

    Dal Rae
    9023 E. Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera, CA 90660

    Paul's Kitchen
    1012 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

    8 Replies
    1. re: monku

      The Dal Rae, without a doubt. Get the pepper steak, the tomatoe & onion salad with the grated blue cheese dressing, a grilled artichoke, the potaotes with jalepenos and one of the desserts that is prepared table side. I am stuffed just think about it!

      1. re: Burger Boy

        I've been wanting to try the Derby and haven't been to Dal Rae since Mose came down the mountain. How do I apply for stimulus money? I love Taylor's for atmosphere and drinks but have always found the steaks a bit tough. Have I missed something really good on their menu?

        1. re: Harry Nile

          I get the Coulotte Steak at Taylors, not as tender as a filet, it is the top piece of the sirloin, 2 to an animal, good flavor. I love the Molly salad.

          1. re: Burger Boy

            There are some oldtime places that may have once rivaled Taylor's in Koreatown for high-quality but good value steaks, but most of them have fallen way off their games. Petrelli's down in lower Culver City used to be good, but now I only read of people going there for the burger. Billingsley's on Pico just west of the 405 used to be a good place to eat, I'm told, but now is only known for being related to Beaver's mom. And the Buggy Whip on La Tijera on the way to the airport used to be known as a good place to stop to or from a pickup at the airport, but mentioning it now gets mostly negative reports.

            1. re: nosh

              2 years ago I had a good meal at The Buggy Whip. Petrellis, not worth it. I love the Dal Rae & Taylors. I want to try The Venice Room in Montebello, you cook your own steaks.

              1. re: Burger Boy

                I am a huge fan of the Venice Room, but it doesn't really fit the bill. Service consists of a server bringing you your drinks and MAYBE, if you are lucky, pointing to the grill where your steak will be placed. What I'm saying is, there is no service to speak of. Also, the only thing on the "menu" is the steak. You get a baked potato and a roll with it. There is also chilled iceberg you serve yourself (the Ranch is the only worthwhile dressing.) If there is a Lakers game or karaoke, it gets LOUD!

                It sounds like I'm knocking it, but I'm not, I LOVE IT, but it's not in the same league with any of these places. It's pretty much a dive with a great steak source.

                Dal Rae is my fave from the lists, though.

                1. re: Burger Boy

                  Ate at the Buggy Whip Saturday night. We recently moved to the area but had been avoiding it due to several thumbs down from fellow CH'er's. We were seated promptly and it went south from there. Long wait for the cocktails and food to come out. They were "out" of the duckling by 7pm? Mr. Fresser had the rib-eye special, fatty, and I had the chicken picatta. Both were served with what looked like frozen Birdseye peas and corn? Green Goddess dressing was mixed in and only so-so on a boring salad of just lettuce and croutons. All in all a very mediocre meal for those prices. Maybe a stepup from Billingsleys. The cheesecake and desserts did look yummy and the bar with live lounge music looks like it's a fun place just to have cocktails.

                  1. re: Fresser

                    Re: Billingsley's:

                    It's not owned by the family anymore. New ownership a for a couple of years now. Menu prices have gone up and the portions have dropped as well. Even the once-decent fried chicken dinner isn't what it used to be. Great for a martini perhaps. Sorry, but without the country pop music in the background (replaced by contemporary pop), it's just not the same.

      2. Pacific Dining Car

        In Downtown
        Los Angeles
        1310 West 6th Street
        Los Angeles, CA 90017

        In Santa Monica
        2700 Wilshire Boulevard
        Santa Monica, CA 90403

        4 Replies
        1. re: DrBruin


          Pacific Dining Car? Really??

          That place is short on ambiance, service, location, and value. It's a true mystery that it is still open. I predict that within ten years if they don't catch up a little with the LA food revolution, they will shutter their doors. How about Taylor's?

          Taylor's Steakhouse
          Neighborhood: Koreatown
          3361 W 8th St
          Los Angeles, CA 90005
          (213) 382-8449

          1. re: nhb2009

            He wanted old-school and it's been open since 1921, I think.

            1. re: nhb2009

              If they don't catch up with the LA food revolution they'll be out of business in, I think your estimate was, ten years? They started in the business three years after the boys came home from the First World War and have survived all kinds of "food revolutions," even the Lazy Susan craze in the Fifties.

              You have to know when to go, nhb2009, (try the wee and other in-between hours) and what to order (breakfast filet and eggs, apple-cinnamon ice cream, prime rib -- focus on simple items prepared simply), and you have to go more than once or twice to get into the rhythm. Good wine, drinks, food, and service are readily available to anyone with an open mind and deeply open pocketbook.

              Pacific Dining Car
              1310 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

              Pacific Dining Car
              2700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403

              1. re: nhb2009

                I couldn't disagree more. I love the ambience. Service has always been gracious and professional, its easy to get to and yes, it is expensive.
                I also love Taylor's, for a more affordable exp.

            2. Taix for accessible French-oriented food -- location is ideal on Sunset near Echo Park/Silver Lake with its own parking lot. Not fancy, some might say looking a bit threadbare around the edges, but not expensive, either.

              Pacific Dining Car, the original old train cars east of downtown. Seems that many on this board who still like it enjoy them for an upscale breakfast -- a lot of complaints that steaks at dinner are overpriced and service then has gone downhill. But again, location is ideal and definitely oldtime.

              Does Cicada count? Used to be Rex II, I believe. Gorgeous old room. In Westwood Village, Tanino took over the former Alice's Restaurant over a decade ago, but the restaurant and bar are still historic and relatively unchanged. And the food is classic Drago brothers style, and they've been cooking in L.A. for ages.

              7 Replies
                1. re: nhb2009

                  These are all awesome, thank you. I'd heard of Dal Rae, and it sounds like it should go at the top of the list. Noone commented on Dan Tana's, though. Would it fit the bill? And speaking of bill, are their prices insane?

                  1. re: Oliverstreet

                    Peppone's in Brentwood is old school, their filet mignon meatballs are very nice. Also Guido's on Santa Monica has booths, old style Italian.

                    1. re: Oliverstreet

                      I haven't been to Dan Tana's in probably 20 years, I don't think anythings changed. It was good then, I'm sure its good now. Dabney Coleman NY steak is what I had.


                      9071 Santa Monica Blvd.
                      West Hollywood, CA 90069
                      (310) 275-9444

                      1. re: monku

                        Dan Tana is one of my favorites, probably because it was one of the first places I went on my own as an "adult". Based on your list (all of which I like too), I think you would enjoy it. Not cheap and not the greatest food, but the overall ambience and service are wonderful. Plus, you do get the celeb factor as well, which can be fun. Also, agree with the Smokehouse in Burbank- it's a hoot with addicting garlic bread.

                      2. re: Oliverstreet

                        I love Dan Tana's. Order the steak and Caesar salad (mixed tableside).

                        1. re: whatsfordinner

                          I had steeled myself for an attitudinal West side experience at Dantana's, and was looking forward to some fun kitschy time, but as the host was "networking" for a good 15 minutes with two guests before acknowedging me and my partner, I just couldn't take it anymore. It was so over the top stereotypical hollywood in a bad way, and I was a forewarned diner. I suggest going to the Cicada, at least for cocktails. The room is gorgeous, art deco frescoes and murals everywhere, nothing like it anywhere else!! I love Musso's, Dresden, Pac. Dining Car, Taylors, Taix! All great!

                  2. Can't believe I'm first to rec these in your general area, unless I missed them in the string (by the way, a friend and I used to refer to this genre as "stiff drink, good steak" -
                    -but first, agree Dal Rae, but that's a hike from Silverlake, not sure good tradeoff for the drive. They have directions on their website, WAYYY down the 605.
                    -Smokehouse in Burbank : booths as red as can be. Cheesy piano entertainer(s) at happy hour, too loud for me.
                    -Damian's in Glendale - get stiff drinks, salads tossed at your table, and great steaks. Polynesian/Tiki vibe.
                    -Taylor's in La Canada recently remodeled
                    -Al Read's in Sunland, size of a postage stamp, across from a biker bar (don't be concerned, nice bikers), highly recommend. Forget the booth, if it's just you and huz sit at the bar and eat there. And enjoy.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: swimfin

                      It's "Damon's" Steak House.....good call

                      Damons Glendale Steakhouse
                      317 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

                      1. re: monku

                        Damon's is loads of fun. The only place on the planet where I'd order the Surf'n'Turf just to be doing it! All the waiters are in Hawaiian shirts, and at least half of them are older than I am...can hardly wait for an excuse to go back.

                    2. I second Dal Rae. Get the Lobster Thermidor and Caesar salad. They make the salad in front of you. And for desert get the Cherries Jubilee.....when was the last time you've seen that?

                      As for Pacific Dining Car, I've been to the downtown one several times. The only complaint is that it's overpriced.....but then again, how many good 24 hour steakhouses do you know of?

                        1. Any "Old School LA" crawl must include a Hot Fudge Sundae made with C.C Browns Hot Fudge Sauce. If you do not have one of these before your trip is done then you have never been to Old School L.A.! There are only several places left in the L.A. Area that serve it and they are all old school places run by Lawry’s.

                          C.C. Brown’s

                          Lawry’s, The Prime Rib
                          100 N. La Cienega Boulevard
                          Beverly Hills, CA 90211
                          (310) 652-2827

                          The Tam
                          Tam O'Shanter
                          2980 Los Feliz Boulevard
                          Los Angeles, California 90039
                          (323) 664-0228

                          An old “old school’ post “Where would Bogie Eat?”

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JeetJet

                            I was wondering if somebody was going to recommend Tam O'Shanter!

                            For a less upscale but still old LA experience, go to Coles downtown. Their lamb sandwich with goat cheese is outstanding. I cannot wait to go back to try their cocktails.

                            In the event that you happen to be in Long Beach, you must go to Kelly's on 2nd St. It looks like an Irish pub on the outside but is actually a really nice steakhouse. Their martinis are huge and well-made because they are for old-school boozers. I'd recommend it above the Dal Rae.

                          2. Totally agree on the awesomeness that is Taylors and Damons, but Dal Rae, kinda meh. And the chopped salad that they hype? RUN! Unless you like 20 ingredients run through a hospital blender, in that case, enjoy!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: PinotPlease

                              Please, Damon's is a joke of its former self. Dal Rae is 1000 times better!

                              1. re: Burger Boy

                                yeah, we went to Damon's. Once was enough. Drinks and atmosphere were fun, but the food...not so much

                            2. did anybody mention chez jay in Santa Monica? I think Jay just died. It's old school Good for a burger for lunch. Good drinks too

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: JPomer

                                Chez Jay is an excellent recommendation.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      yikes...i was out of the country for over a year, so i was out of the loop...

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Was there an Obit, how do you know? Thanks

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            I was smoking crack again, I thought you were talking about jay from Jay's Jay Burgers.

                                            1. re: Burger Boy

                                              You JPomer were the ones that mentioned Chez Jay in your responses and that ended up drawing Simon's question! No more hard stuff in the AM for you! ;-D>

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                I was looking at a post about Jay's Jay Burgers and then I jumped on this one with out looking at what the post was about. Damn, I am gonna go to the fridge and grab me some Bloody Mary Mix, with out the Wadka.

                                  1. I'm not sure if they have red booths, but I think Marino's at 6001 Melrose would qualify. I think a lot of this red booth stuff is nostalgia and people really want to eat what's served at places like Farfalla in Los Feliz.

                                    1. You can find a great list of Old School LA places at...

                                      1. I remember Monty's in Westwood being very old school, but it's long gone. Are the other locations similar, though? Not sure about the quality of the food, but I recall being satisfied on my one visit.

                                        1. No one said the Rainbow! Yes, more '70's old-school than '40's Hollywood, but it's got the red booths, the pictures of celebs all over the wall (granted, they're all pictures of Dio, Janie Lane, Slash and the like), there's even the requisite "Mafioso" bunch in the front booth...The people-watching can't be beat, and the food's not half bad...I like the Eggplant Parmaggiano, the stuffed mushrooms, the mixed green and avacado salad, and their pizza is pretty satisfying...Also, where else can you listen to Whitesnake in a non-ironic way while you eat?

                                          1. If you ever come to the South Bay, The Bull Pen in Redondo Beach is about as old school as you can get. The food is fine, not great, except for the burger. They have a great salad with some of the yummiest blue cheese dressing. We usually go for lunch, the crowd is a hoot with all the old timers.

                                            Bull Pen
                                            314 Avenue I, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: JEN10

                                              I am going there in a week or two.

                                              1. re: Burger Boy

                                                Enjoy the burger, BB. The fries are not so great, it is the old school atmosphere that really cracks me up. Good solid drinks, try the bloody mary.

                                            2. The following link has 4 pages that might have ALL of them:


                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: JBC

                                                OMG! I was just going to post this link. Good resource.

                                              2. A couple of restaurants that have not yet been mentioned, and are among my favorite "old school" places in Los Angeles are La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills, for old school italian, and The Galley in Santa Monica, for old school surf and turf. My mom and dad and their friends used to hang out at the Galley in the 1950s, and their names can still be found carved on one of the tables. If you do the Galley, you can go down the street to Chez Jay for a drink afterward, and hit two places in one night :-)



                                                1. (The) San Franciscan Restaurant, 2520 Sepulveda, Torrance, CA, 90505, 310-325-5231

                                                  The Bull Pen Restaurant and Bar, 314 Avenue I, Redondo Beach, CA 310-375-7797

                                                  1. I love this kind of place, too. IN fact, Taylor's and Musso's are two of my favorite places in the world. Do NOT miss Dan Tana's, then. Get the Garlic Bread, the caesar, the Dabney Coleman steak, one of the best steaks you will ever have. and the spicy red sauce pasta on the side. With a martini, that is one of the best meals ever.

                                                    I went to Dal Rae in February for the first time and had a great time. The food is not quite as good as Dan Tana's, Taylor's or Musso's, but I think you would enjoy it very much. Damon's in Glendale is fun but the food just ok.

                                                    Here is to old school LA!

                                                    1. YES on Dan Tana's (and I concur w/ the Dabney Coleman recs!).
                                                      I would also add The Palm, which is one of my faves for both lobster AND the old school Hollywood vibe....definitely one of the few LA institutions rich in both food and history.

                                                      1. Matteo's on Westwood Blvd. Very old-school, very red-booth. Frank Sinatra used to frequent it; so did Lucille Ball.

                                                            1. re: rednyellow

                                                              Love Musso & Franks, The Tam O'Shanter, and Taix, all of which are very close to Silver Lake. Taix has a nightly special for $17.95 - Monday's is filet mignon with bearnaise, a great deal! Soups are excellent, as is the chocolate mousse. The Tam has great fish 'n' chips and burgers, on the less costly side of the menu, and a carvery in the bar (it's owned by Lawry's).

                                                              My parents used to take me to an old school German restaurant in the Van Nuys area back in the 70s and I believe it withstood the 80s as well. Does that ring a bell with anyone?

                                                              1. re: Vikzen

                                                                Do you mean:

                                                                The Matterhorn Chef
                                                                13726 Oxnard St., Van Nuys

                                                                It's closed, but I believed he now operates:


                                                                1. re: JBC

                                                                  That link isn't working for some reason.

                                                                  Add: http://www.chaletedelweiss.us/

                                                                  This one works and the only difference is the final / so that must be needed?

                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                    Wow, this is great! thanks for the update! I believe he was at Mikado, that weird, old "Japanese" place right off the 134 in the Valley. I forget where. We went once just to see what he was doing and it was. . .odd. But this is more to my liking!

                                                                    1. re: annalulu

                                                                      Please thank, JBC above who really did the leg work here. And now that I look at the link he supplied the problem is that it has a colon after the www which is the reason it won't work. Guess my upstairs monitor is so old and with such lousy resolution until I came downstairs to my lap top I couldn't see it.