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Pickle Bills

  • m

Does anybody remember a place called Pickle Bills on Pico Blvd. around 30th? in santa monica. Probably closed in the early 70's, the best hot beef sandwich mashed potatoes and gravy around. Sawdust on the floor, was around since it served to world war 2 workers at Douglas Aircraft just south on Ocean Park Blvd. What happened to the family and where can one get similarly wonderful hot beef sandwiches?

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  1. Hi Ike. The local boards, like Los Angeles, are for the discussion of where to find great food or perhaps where to miss bad food. Unfortunately we are not set up to talk about places that have passed from the scene or to find out where the folks who ran those places might have gotten too, (unless someone knows that they are currently operating another restaurant in the greater Los Angeles/OC/Ventura area possibly).

    Please concentrate on Ike's central food question, where to get great hot beef sandwiches only.

    Thanks for everyone's cooperation.

    1. There has been quite a bit of discussion over the years about Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches, if that is the style you are looking for. I know there was a place that recently opened in OC that came out of Chicago, but can't think of the name right now. (I'm sure someone else will chime in with it). I have had the same type of sandwich at QT's in the San Fernando Valley (see location information below) and thought they were pretty tasty.

      QT Chicago Dogs
      8650 Reseda Blvd
      Northridge CA 91324
      818 993-1999

      1. The closest thing to the long lamented Pickle Bills is the original -- Philippe's -- wonderful French dip, in downtown LA -- near Olivera Street and the train station. The other downtown place I've been taken to when home that is reminiscent of this class of beef bin is The Pantry.

        1 Reply
        1. re: David D

          There's another place like Phiippe's- It's called Cole's on 8th street in downtown L.A. They claimed to make the first French dip. They're both good.

        2. >>>"where can one get similarly wonderful hot beef sandwiches?"

          Check out "The Hat".

          1. I remember going there as a kid and having the mac n cheese. I can still see the sawdust. It was great! I have had great sandwiches out in San Pedro. Try the Busy Bee Market. 2413 S. Walker Ave. They always have a line, but it is worth the wait... Good people, great food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: encino1

              I can make the brisket they served myself, but the thing I cant duplicate was their fantastic Gravy.

            2. Thanks for the memory. My grandparents owned a Fosters Freeze soft ice cream parlor very near Pickle Bills. When I visited we always at there.

              Fosters Freeze
              31754 Castaic Rd, Castaic, CA 91384

              2 Replies
              1. re: carolwinder

                Was that Fosters west of Pickle Bills on the same, south , side of Pico, best malts I ever had.

                Pico Cafe
                8944 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

                1. re: malibumike

                  Yes, that was the place. My grandmother had her own recipe for soft ice cream which included a lot of real cream. In the 40's they were one of the first ten people in the country to buy and make soft ice cream.

              2. Pickle Bills closed in the late 70s. The Davenport family were the owners (Harvey and Florence). I am not sure but i would guess they moved to Utah. Yes they did have the best hot beef sandwiches in town!

                1 Reply
                1. re: pitta

                  I know they used brisket roast, cooked with some kind of pressure roasting, but their gravy was unbelievable , anybody know the recipe???

                2. Hi Ike!

                  I grew up on hot beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy and it's not the same as a French dip or an Italian beef sandwich. As a Chicago native living in LA,I love those sandwiches, too, but the hot beef is my favorite. I order mine dry with extra gravy on the side. I'm sure my arteries are thrilled.

                  Most of the places where I remember having the best hot beefs are long gone except for Rae's on Pico in Santa Monica. I'm pretty sure the potatoes are homemade and not instant.

                  I think I also had a decent hot beef at Vip's on Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana. Vip's is a little independent coffee shop in an office building. The late. great John Wooden ate breakfast there. :)

                  1. My grandfather owned Pickle Bills. I use to work for him during the summer months when I was in junior high and high school. I graduated on 1977 and I think he sold the business in 1976. He and my grandmother moved to St. George Ut and bought an existing restaurant called the Jolly King where he added some of his recipes to the menu. I miss Pickle Bills and my wonderful grandparents

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: daven540i

                        Thank you so much, that was my favorite restaurant, it seems like the good ones are mostly gone now. Would you have a recipe for that wonderful beef gravy and brisket?

                        1. re: malibumike

                          If I had my grandfathers recipes I would open up another Pickle Bills. The brisket was prepared in a huge double boiler with lots of ground pepper, garlic and onions

                      2. I recently had the prime rib dip at Northwoods Inn in la mirada. It had grilled onions and swiss cheeseā€¦it was heavenly

                        1. We lived on just off Pico Blvd...walking distance from Pickle Bill's. Lived there 1962 fall thru 1969...worked at Douglas...and ate there. Loved the food...great open face roast beef sandwiches...bench seats...sawdust on the floor...and a pickle...you formed a big line around the room and got your choice of meat cut...I miss it...now live in Alabama...also remember La Cantina Mexican restaurant a little further down Pico towards West LA...and Mexicali Beer...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tkk3035

                            Yes! I was just waxing nostalgic to the dh about Pickle Bill's chili spaghetti. Went there in the 60s. Our other family favorite was La Cantina so glad you mentioned that- Always got platters of tacos and ice cold cokes! Anyone remember Stern's bbq?

                          2. Yes Went with my family as a young girl. Loved it. Great sandwich beef dip, also slaw and of course sawdust on the floor. It was cafeteria style with trays you carried to the table. Wish it was still there. Now we still have the wonderful Apple Pan, when we visit LA. Now live in Colorado. Diane Holloway