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Feb 14, 2014 10:26 AM

Depressing Places You Like

You know the kind of place. Like a loser friend whose company you enjoy but would never take into respectable society. I meet periodically with an old friend for dinner, and we like these kind of places. He describes them as "David Lynch" places, by which he means artfully bleak. Of course, this is to be distinguished from garden variety crappy places.

I solicit your suggestions. Any part of town is OK. Food doesn't need to be more than good.

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    1. El Charro in Montrose. Depressing and tight booths, so you know they haven't remodeled since humans were smaller. The kind of Mexican food best described as 'orange.' Tasty, but embarrassing in its cheesy, lardy excess. Bar full of regulars. Paper placemats have rudimentary Spanish lesson on them. Best part is it's 100% irony free.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gnarlex

        What a perfect description of El Charro!! I thought I was the only one who felt squeezed in their booths. Thankfully they have tinted windows so I can't easily be spotted eating there.

        1. re: kevin

          I disagree. What depresses you about Musso's?

          1. re: kevin

            Sure if OP hasn't been it is worth a trip. I think it could qualify as a David Lynch kind of place. Super old school. Sure to be some interesting characters about.

            1. re: kevin

              I don't get it, either. I'm always happy to go to Musso and Frank. No shame whatsoever.

              1. re: cacio e pepe

                I don't think it's about "shame." I'd call the dining room at Musso & Frank significantly and authentically depressing whereas the bar room can be downright convivial.

                1. re: JeMange

                  To each their own. I don't find it depressing in the least. I do recognize the place is polarizing, but I've had and will have too many good experiences in that dining room for it to depress me.

            2. Any low rent bar place in Long Beach and San Pedro that still serves the fishermen.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Gypsy Jan

                Likewise, lots of places in the sf valley, in particular any of those established 1949 and still going. They usually always have original interiors as well as locations. In the valley this group includes many ethnic restaurants too.

                1. re: chewbacca

                  Agreed. The Safari Room in Granada Hills is an example. I don't think the upholstery has been changed since the fifties.

                  1. re: chewbacca

                    Like Mandarin Deli? Although I imagine the place was freshened up in... the 70's or 80's....

                    1. re: chewbacca

                      Tallyrand. Love their turkey burger.

                  2. Well where have you been going?

                    I haven't been, just peeked in but how about Chez Jay in Santa Monica. Looks a bit disreputable; I'm sure they have colorful regulars. Seriously has peanut shells on the floor. Gets decent marks for steak and seafood.

                    13 Replies
                      1. re: coconutz

                        Gary Bric's Ramp in Burbank probably comes the closest to what we were looking for. Not so much depressing as noir-ish. An outpost at the end of the world.

                        1. re: coconutz

                          Disreputable? If you call RAND think tank types and astronauts disreputable, then yes. One of those peanuts has been to the moon and back. It's still there I think.

                            1. re: kevin

                              Me too. That and the Galley are classic.

                              1. re: Thor123

                                I still haven't made it to the Galley.

                                But these days I'm bidding my time at Tana's.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  I'd go to the Galley once a week, but they don't open until 5 ;(

                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                    You have been ???????

                                    And it's pretty fucking goood. ?????

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      No, I just remember somebody telling me they had steamers, that were kinda like the kind on the east coast. I tried to go once for lunch, but saw they were closed until 5 pm everyday.... So I have no idea if it's any good or marginal.....

                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        They don't have steamers in the strict, Northeast sense but they do have buckets of hardshell steamed clams which are pretty tasty.

                                        I don't find The Galley depressing at all. I do, however, find the passable food a bit expensive for what you get.

                                      2. re: kevin

                                        The steamed clams at the Galley are great. Its a Chey Jay vibe. A fun place to eat and drink. Been there forever.

                                        1. re: Thor123

                                          One of these days I'll make it there. But for some reason, currently, you probably have a clue as to what two joints are primarily on my rotation of watering holes.