We are lucky in Los Angeles to have a lot of spectacular vintage restaurants, but we are still losing many every year to owners who retire, sell out for money or lose their long-held lease to nasty gentrification. I’m a sucker for a joint with history, charm, character and stories. I’m not as selective about a menu as I am about the ambiance, atmosphere and what I am experiencing. I’m a junkie for vintage architecture and old signs. I pray that old places don’t renovate their mid-century or even mid-’70s decor. I often search the internet for authentic old-school spots in neighborhoods I visit and finding them is not always easy. After a lot of detective work I’ve compiled this “Master List” and plan to update it regularly. I’m sure there are many holes in my research and would appreciate additions, updates and corrections in the comments section below. My criteria for the restaurants here is that they are at least 35 years old (1985) or older, although I have made a few exceptions, and that they are within about an hour’s drive from downtown L.A. You will find classic steakhouses, Googie diners, pastrami delicatessens, walk-up hamburger stands and more. The list includes all of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, but also the Inland Empire in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. I’ve added a Yelp link for each restaurant, so you can check out hours and customer reviews of the food. I do my best to keep this list continually updated and add, subtract and make changes as needed. As of September 2021 the list is at 495 places, spread as far south as the bottom of Orange County, east to San Bernardino and north to Santa Clarita. Cheers, my dears, and bon appetit! Love, Nikki
NOTE September 2021: It’s now been about a year and a half since Coronavirus altered the landscape of socializing and dining worldwide. Though we won’t fully know what we’ve lost until the virus subsides, I continue to comb through this list to do inventory. A couple restaurants here are temporarily closed with the intent of eventually reopening- El Toreo (1950) and La Golondrina (1926), but 19 others have announced that they have closed permanently. Our recent losses during Covid include Pacific Dining Car (1921), Greenblatt’s Deli (1926), Art’s Chili Dog (1944), Billingsley’s (1946), El Patio Cafe (1951), The Arsenal (1956), Viva Cantina (1962), Casa Escobar (1967), Pico Kosher Deli (1968), Sabroso (1968), Wah’s Golden Hen (1972), Label’s Table (1974), Conrad’s Pasadena (1976), Dong il Jang (1978), Conrad’s Glendale (1979), Enterprise Fish Co. (1979), Maria’s Italian Deli (1979), Harry’s Family Restaurant (1981), Las Hadas (1981).
The first two of my map series breaking down restaurants by type, location and description can be found here:The Oldest Surviving Mexican Restaurants in Los Angeles and That’s Amore- The Oldest Surviving Italian Restaurants and Delis in Los AngelesMore in this map series to follow soon. In the four years since I published this list, it has received a million reads! That shows me how much people care about our vintage restaurants. I am constantly adding new restaurants I discover, updating the ones that have closed and expanding the descriptions below, so check back often for new updated information. Currently I’ve edited this list over 754 times. It is in perpetual evolution. All descriptions here started out as exactly 2 sentences each and I’ve been adding more specific histories, but it takes research and time. I have also been working hard at photographing everything on this list. Please click to see nearly 3,000 photos I have captured so far of the exteriors & interiors of these restaurants on my Offbeat L.A. Flickr.
From May 2015 to September 2021 we have lost 82 restaurants on this list due to closure. These closures are found at the bottom of the list.
(1905) The Saugus Cafe 25861 Railroad Ave, Santa Clarita, CA 91355. This is the oldest restaurant in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties, though the current building technically dates to 1952. President Roosevelt ate here in 1903 & later DW Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Marlena Dietrich, Clark Gable, John Wayne & Frank Sinatra. It is a traditional diner/cafe, with bar attached, featuring wood paneled walls and both counter and booth seating. Housed in a low ranch-style building, its exterior is bordered with mid-century river rock. Originally opened in 1887 as part of the Saugus Train Station under the name Saugus Eating House, it took its present name, The Saugus Cafe, in 1899. It moved to its present location in 1905 and was remodeled and enlarged in 1925. In 1952 it was re-built completely by a new owner.
(1908) Cole’s 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014. Founded by Henry Cole in 1908 on the bottom floor of the Pacific Electric Building, which at 10 stories was once L.A.’s tallest building. Known for their cocktails and French dip sandwiches, which both Cole’s and nearby Philippe’s claim to have invented. Cole’s story is that the au jus dipped roll was prepared at the request of a customer with sore gums who could not eat the crunchy bread. Closed briefly in March 2007 after 99 years in business, Cole’s was brought back to its original splendor with a new owner in 2008 with vermillion red wallpaper, a long mahogany wooden bar, a copper penny tiled floor, Tiffany-style lamps, old photographs mounted on the walls and a back speakeasy. Claims to have been a hangout of 1930s-40s gangster Mickey Cohen.
(1908) Philippe the Original 1001 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. An old fashioned delicatessen with sawdust on the concrete floors, long communal wooden tables, vintage wooden booths and photographs and historical ephemera covering the walls. They are most famous for their French dipped roast beef sandwich and roll soaked in gravy. Originally opened at 300 Alameda St in 1908 by French immigrant Philippe Mathieu, it moved to its current location several blocks away in 1951 after being booted from the old one due to construction of the 101 Hollywood freeway. Philippe’s, like Cole’s, also claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich by accidentally dropped the crunchy roll into gravy.
(1915) Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain 1526 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030. Fair Oaks Pharmacy originally opened in 1915 as the South Pasadena Pharmacy at the same location that it still stands today on Mission Street, then known as Route 66. The soda fountain and lunch counter, serving ice cream treats and diner food, was added in the when the business became Raymond’s Pharmacy in the 1920s, and is one of the very few surviving soda fountains in the area. It was remodeled, and considerably spruced up, by owners Michael and Meredith Miller in 1989 adding heavy oak doors with embossed glass, marble counters, tin ceilings, honeycomb tile floors and original period soda fountain equipment acquired from MeGee Pharmacy in Joplin, Missouri. The Millers sold the business in 2005.
(1915) Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain 116 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92866. Originally opened as a drugstore in 1899 by a man named Kellar Watson, it was first located on Glassell St. in Orange, but moved around the corner to Chapman Ave in 1901. In 1915 they added the soda fountain and began serving ice cream and comfort food. For years Watson’s had a fun, kitschy mid-century vibe with booths and a long stainless steel counter with stools. In 2016 a new owner completely gutted and renovated the restaurant, bringing the interior back to its original turn of the century roots. The original tin ceilings were uncovered, new neon was added to the front and an old-time feeling wooden bar was added with more neon. The decor features vintage pharmacy items, newspaper wallpaper, old tin signs and vintage product packages.
(1919) Musso & Frank Grill 6667 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028.
Old Hollywood classic restaurant opened by Oregon restauranteur, Frank Toulet as Frank’s Cafe. Joseph Musso soon joined the business end and the restaurant was renamed Musso & Frank. Established in 1919, it is the oldest surviving restaurant in Hollywood, though the original location was next door to where it stands today. In 1927 Musso & Frank was bought by new owners, Joseph Carissimi and John Mosso, who moved it to its present site a few years later. The restaurant features red leather & wood booths, amazing signs and vintage American food. The Fettuccine Alfredo is the original recipe brought to the U.S. back in the 1920s by silent film stars Mary Pickford & Douglas Fairbanks. They supposedly brought the recipe back from a restaurant in Rome called Alfredo’s & would have Musso’s prepare it for them.
(1924) Joe Jost 2803 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804. Established as a barber shop & pool hall. Serving sandwiches and pickled eggs since prohibition was appealed, this old-time tavern features a wooden bar, wood booths and a pool room full of memorabilia. Founded by Joe Jost, a Yugoslavian immigrant, the pub is now run by his grandson.
(1924) Original Pantry Cafe 877 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Cash-only coffee shop serving traditional American comfort food, open 24-hours-a-day, that claims to have never closed during nearly 100 years in business. Originally located at 9th & Francisco Streets, the restaurant the consisted of 15 stool counters and a grill and hot plate, but in 1950 the Pantry moved to its current location one block away to make room for a freeway off-ramp. The interior is diner-like, with an exposed cooking area, wood paneling, hanging globe lamps, vintage photography on the walls and a long counter with 19 stools and 19 old fashioned enamel tables. Currently owned by Richard Riordan.
(1925) Bay Cities Italian Deli 1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Classic old school Italian market that first opened on the corner of Broadway & Lincoln in Santa Monica in 1925, two doors down from where it is located today. Story says that founder Antonio DiTomasi was a Chicago policeman who relocated west because the local mob was on his back. Bay Cities moved to its current building in the 1970s and its utilitarian brick exterior, with patio and portillo tile overhang, was given a modern era remodel in 2010. Its interior features a long glass deli case and an extensive Italian grocery market, added to the original delicatessen. Serving sandwiches with bread baked on premises, it is known for the “Godmother,” a sandwich loaded five Italian cold-cut and all house salads, first created by DiTomasi in 1952. The deli has gone through 5 different owners since its initial opening, but kept the same manager, Victorio Campos, since 1971.
(1925) Formosa Cafe 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046.
Opened by a prize fighter in an old red trolley car, it has kept its vintage integrity. In July 2015 the original vintage interior was gutted and subjected to an unfortunate flavorless remodel. This restaurant was then CLOSED PERMANENTLY in December 2016. After 2 years of restoration, the Formosa reopened in June 2019 with new owners and has been renovated back to the original vintage appearance.
(1925) Tam O’Shanter 2980 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. This Scottish-themed steakhouse opened in 1922 by Lawrence Frank and Walter Van de Kamp and was originally called Montgomery’s Country Inn, becoming Tam ‘O Shanter in 1925. It was built in the storybook style, with a thatched roof, by architect and Hollywood set designer Harry Oliver, who also did the Witch’s House in Beverly Hills and the Van de Kamp bakeries. Fatty Arbuckle, Mary Pickford, silent film cowboy star Tom Mix and John Wayne were regulars while Walt Disney insisted upon Table 31, which bears a plaque today. The interior is ornate, with wood beamed ceilings, fireplaces, stained glass windows, thick carpeting and Scottish inspired decor, such as coats of arms, medieval weapons and historical photos. It is the oldest restaurant/pub continuously operated by the same family in Los Angeles, though it did change names to The Great Scott from 1967 to 1982. Waiters and waitresses dress in plaid tartan, while a pub section has built-in wooden booths and a more casual atmosphere.
(1926) Lanza Brothers Market 1803 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90031. Tiny, authentic neighborhood grocery market that serves up much beloved Italian deli sandwiches in a still rough and tumble area near downtown. The neighborhood was an original Little Italy through the teens and 1920s and this is one of the few pieces left, along with nearby San Antonio Winery. A few cafe tables outside of this vintage brick building are available for curbside eating.
(1927) Barney’s Beanery 8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069.
Barney’s Beanery had its start in Berkeley, CA in 1920. It moved to its current location in West Hollywood in 1927, when Santa Monica Blvd was still a dirt road and was surrounded by poinsettia fields. It was always a shack or roadhouse with wooden walls & floors, and still hasn’t changed much. In the early days it was frequented by actors like Clara Bow, John Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Clark Gable and more. In the 1960s it became a hangout for musicians like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, who favored booth #34. The bright yellow & orange sign was most likely installed in the ’60s, along with the cool multicolored booths of thick orange/yellow/pink/beige stripes. Barney’s has always been known for their large selection of beer, hamburgers & chili, but they slightly scaled down the menu about 4 years ago.
(1927) El Cholo 1121 Western Ave Los Angeles, CA 90006. The oldest surviving Mexican restaurant to have stayed located in the same location in Los Angeles. It was first opened on Broadway in downtown L.A. by Alejandro and Rosa Borquez in 1923 as the Sonora Cafe and the name was changed to El Cholo in 1925. The current restaurant on Western Avenue was opened two years later when George Salisbury married Aurelia Borquez, daughter of Alejandro and Rosa. Their restaurant was the second El Cholo location and originally had 8 stools and 3 booths. The restaurant claims to be the first to serve the Tex-Mex dish nachos in Los Angeles, after San Antonio born waitress Carmen Rocha introduced the recipe (first created in 1943) to El Cholo in 1959. The restaurant is still owned by the descendants of the original owners.
(1928) La Golondrina Mexican Cafe 17 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 90012.One of the earliest Mexican restaurants to open in Los Angeles. It originally got its start in 1924 as La Mision Cafe on Spring St. by Consuelo Castillo de Bonzo, a widow who had emigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles in 1899. La Mision was demolished to build City Hall and in 1928 moved to Olvera Street, the oldest surviving street in the city. Olvera Street was getting a re-birth at the time by wealthy socialite, Christine Sterling who was fashioning it into a tourist destination full of shops and restaurants. The street had been neglected by the 1920s and Sterling succeeded in getting it closed to traffic in 1929 and opening the street as a marketplace in 1930. La Mision was renamed La Golondrina, after a popular Mexican song. It is located in the oldest brick building in LA, Pelanconi House, which was built in 1855. (Temporarily closed. Scheduled to reopen October 31, 2022)
(1929) Eastside Market & Italian Deli 1013 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Old-fashioned, tried and true Italian-American deli, opened as a market by Joe Campagna and Domenic Pontrelli in 1929, located in the hills above Chinatown, not far from Dodger Stadium. With a busy and authentic deli counter serving up huge cold-cut sandwiches on crusty bread, Italian dishes and cannoli, it has had minimal remodeling and remains true to the past. The dining area has a handful of wooden tables and chairs, concrete floors, framed historical photos and atmospheric ceiling fans. It gets crazy crowded at lunch time, but the rest of the time it’s pretty mellow.
(1929) The Rock Inn 17539 Elizabeth Lake Rd, Lake Hughes, CA 93532. The Rock Inn was built in 1929 by Joel Hurd, who after watching his business across the street burn to the ground, decided to build his next one, a hotel, post office and trading post, out of stone. With a castle-like exterior built of river rocks and a large stone fireplace, this restaurant serves American food and burgers and is a known biker hangout. The interior is a rustic tavern, with hard wood floors, stone columns, a long wood bar and tables and chairs.
(1930) Brighton Coffee Shop 9600 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Brighton Coffee Shop opened in 1930 in Beverly Hills. Serving traditional American breakfast and lunch, there are also Korean selections on the menu, influenced by current owner Pil Rai Ahn. The interior is simple and basic, with booths, tables and a breakfast counter. Its decor has been updated over the years, but has still stayed with a more retro feel. The exterior has kept its wonderful corner vintage sign with original font and its old-timey awnings.
(1931) Canter’s 419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Canter’s began its Los Angeles journey when New Jersey-born Ben Canter and his two brothers opened Canter’s Brother’s Delicatessen in Boyle Heights, then a distinctly Jewish neighborhood, in 1931. It moved to its current location in 1953 and expanded in 1959; the mid-century decorative touches have remained much the same since that time. Serving an enormous menu of Jewish deli favorites and American diner classics, this casual restaurant is open 24-hours and has a long history of hosting celebrities from film, music and politics. In fact listing a Who’s Who would take up half of this page. With bakery cases in the entryway filled with delicious treats, amazing original neon signs, a diner area with booths and an attached ’50s style lounge, it is happily stuck in time.
(1931) El Coyote 7312 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036. El Coyote Restaurant was originally opened in 1931 by Blanche & George March. It started as a tiny cafe on La Brea & 1st Street, but relocated to its present location in 1951. With original mid-century signs, multi-colored bottle glass windows, burgundy leather booths, vintage light fixtures and a separate bar room, it is one of the best known original old-school Mexican restaurants left in the city. Its story includes the dark history of having served Sharon Tate and her friends their last meal in 1969 before they went home and were murdered by the Manson family hours later. The “Sharon Tate Booth” still remains and is part of the restaurant’s folklore.
(1931) Halfway House Cafe 15564 Sierra Hwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91390. The Halfway House Cafe opened as a restaurant in 1931, but has a history as a trading post dating back to 1906, because of its location exactly halfway between Los Angeles and Palmdale. This casual, old country diner with rustic wood walls, a long wood-paneled eating counter and a handful of tables and chairs has a great weathered Western-style exterior & vintage neon sign standing tall on a pole. It has been used as a filming location for countless TV shows and films, including “The Twilight Zone,” “Heroes,” “Melrose Place,” “Numbers,” “CSI,” “ER,” “Angel,” “The King of Queens,” “The A-Team,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Monk,” Heroes,” “Space Cowboys,” “Lost In America,” “Georgia Rule,” “Heartbreak Ridge,” “Waitress,” “Mi Vida Loca,” “Every Which Way But Loose,” and many more.
(1933) Colonial Kitchen 1110 Huntington Dr, San Marino, CA 91108. The information available about Colonial Kitchen restaurant in San Marino, is murky at best. No one there seems to know the opening date and the only information I could originally find was in old stories and people’s memories. Now that the building has been up for sale, realtors list the restaurant’s build date as 1933, which fits exactly in with stories of when it got its start. Located in a brick-fronted building with white shutters and amazing old neon, this restaurant/cafe/diner is amazingly quaint inside. With hard wood floors, wood paneled walls, green vintage vinyl booths, colonial-style wooden club chairs and a long wood laminate eating counter, which looks like it was added in the mid to late ’70s, it is country kitsch at its most authentic. The decor includes a significant amount of Elvis memorabilia, while the menu is hearty American vintage comfort food, including Salisbury Steak, Liver and Onions and an unusual Welsh Rarebit Sandwich.
(1934) Magee’s Kitchen 6333 West Third Street, #624 Los Angeles, CA 90036. The first restaurant in the Original Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles was opened by Blanche Magee in 1934. She already had been operating a food stand for almost 2o years downtown at the Grand Central Market when she decided to sell turkey sandwiches to farmers who were selling produce at 3rd and Fairfax. She decided to convince land owner Earl B. Gilmore, who had seen his land go from a dairy farm to oil wells to the very first self-serve gas station, to let her have her own restaurant in the market when it formally opened for business. Known for its corned beef, Magee’s restaurant helped bring electricity to the Farmer’s market and first added tables and chairs. Magee herself lived to be 102 and passed away in 2000. Her descendants run the stand today.
(1934) Cielito Lindo 23 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tiny walk-up food stand, with a few tables on Olvera Street, specializing in taquitos, but also selling burritos. The restaurant was started by Mexican immigrant Aurora Guerrero out of a shed and expanded soon after. It was named after an old Mexican song, Cielito Lindo, popularized by Mariachis.
(1934) The Galley 2442 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405. The Galley is the oldest bar/restaurant in Santa Monica, opened by Ralph Stephan in 1934 on Main Street, which until a few decades ago, before gentrification, was the city’s skid row. It became a hangout for many film stars of the 1930s and 1940s, including Errol Flynn, Carole Lombard, Edward G. Robinson, and Charles Laughton. It is dark, cozy, and eccentrically decorated with a nautical theme, including portholes for windows, fishing nets, lanterns, a captain’s wheel, bamboo and rattan furniture, sawdust on the floor, twinkling colored Christmas lights and many hidden nooks & crannies. Set decoration from the 1934 film Mutiny On the Bounty was donated by its actor Charles Laughton and a boat from the movie sits on the patio. The exterior is just as eclectic, with a boat and rowing mannequin hanging above the entrance, wood dock pilings and a vintage neon sign. The restaurant serves steak and sea food and has a reasonable happy hour. Stephan, who passed away in 1990, sold the bar the year before to “Captain” Ron Schur, who expanded the seating from 60 to 120, added the back patio and has owned it since.
(1934) Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620. Remodeled chicken restaurant that evolved from the initial berry farm & grew into the amusement park; just outside the gates of the park.
(1937) Damon’s Steak House 317 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203. Damon’s Steak House was opened in 1937 on Central Avenue in Glendale by Loyal Damon, who sold his chain of Los Angeles candy stores to start a restaurant. The restaurant moved to this Brand Avenue location in 1980 and expanded upon the subtle South Seas theme of the original Damon’s. The interior took the tiki vibe to a new level with Polynesian inspired murals in the entrance, an outrigger canoe hanging from the ceiling, ratan covered walls, a vaulted thatched ceiling over the dining room and a massive aquarium with exotic fish. Specializing in traditional American steakhouse fare and tropical drinks, especially Chi Chis and Mai Tais.
(1937) Mitla Cafe 602 N Mt Vernon Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92411. A landmark on Route 66, this Mexican cafe was opened in 1937 as a lunch counter by Lucia Rodriguez and expanded its size in the 1940s. Mitla is the oldest surviving Mexican restaurant in the Inland Empire and is still owned by Lucia’s grandchildren and great grandchildren at the same location. The exterior of Mitla is simple Spanish-style, with some river rock inlay. The interior still has a long wood laminate eating counter along with rust colored booths and tables, ceiling fans and old photographs. Apparently Glen Bell, who had opened Bell’s Hotdogs and Hamburgers across the street in 1950, “borrowed” Lucia’s taco recipe and began selling tacos himself in December 1951. Glen then opened several taco stands in the early ’50s and went on to open the first Taco Bell in Downey in 1962 using the same recipe.
(1938) The Derby Restaurant 233 Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91006. The Derby restaurant was opened in 1938 on Huntington Drive, in Arcadia, CA, near the Santa Anita racetrack. It evolved out of the Proctor Tavern which opened in 1922 and moved to the location where the Derby now stands in 1931. Its owner was horse jockey George Woolfe, who was a national star and raced Seabiscuit. It is a serious steakhouse filled with cool old horse racing memorabilia, interior and exterior walls of brick, beamed wood ceilings and burgundy leather booths.
(1938) Du-par’s 6333 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Du-Par’s began as an nine-seat stall in the Original Farmer’s Market founded by James Dunn & Edward Parsons, who combined their last names to create the name Du-Par’s. Specializing in American comfort food, breakfasts and pies, it is located in a little house-like building, with white picket fence, on the southwest corner of the market. The interior features burgundy tufted booths, trimmed with dark wood, lantern-like light fixtures and deep crimson Oriental-style carpeting. The effect is comfortable and casually elegant, while still maintaining the original vintage feel. A much beloved Studio City branch ran from 1948 to 2017, and although several more branched were created over the years, only two additional locations remain, Pasadena and Las Vegas, both recently created.
(1938) Lawry’s The Prime Rib 100 N. La Cienega Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Lawry’s Prime Rib was created in 1938 by Lawrence “Lawry” Frank and Walter Van de Kamp. The pair had previously opened the Tam O’Shanter Inn in Los Feliz in 1922, which also still operates today. Originally this fine dining restaurant served only one entree, prime rib, and was also known for its Yorkshire Pudding and its signature “spinning salad” prepared tableside, but now has a mixed menu. Lawry’s also claims to have been the first to premiere valet parking and the use of the take home “doggy bag.” In 1947, the restaurant moved across the street into a modernist building designed by Wayne MacAllister, known for his Googie coffee shop architecture, who designed Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in Burbank two years later in 1949. Lawry’s stayed at this location until 1993 when it moved back to its original site, in a newly constructed building. MacAllister’s 1947 building still stands, however, and is now occupied by the Stinking Rose, a garlic themed restaurant which originally debuted in 1991 in San Francisco. The interior of Lawry’s is white tablecloth elegant, with wood parquet floors, polished wood, chandeliers and understated art.
(1939) Harbor House Cafe 16341 Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Beach, CA 90742. Harbor House Cafe opened as a restaurant in 1939, converted from a seaside beach cottage into a roadside diner. The exterior is wood sided with an awning and has a tall neon 1950s replica sign, which was likely installed in the 1970s or afterward. This 24-hour diner is open every day of the year, serving American classics and breakfasts with some Mexican items thrown in. The walls and ceilings are wood paneled and the interior is plastered filled with vintage memorabilia and framed movie posters covering every available space of the walls and the ceiling. Burgundy leather booths line the walls alongside a long wood laminate eating counter with matching burgundy high-backed stools. A second location was opened in Dana Point.
(1939) Newcomb’s Ranch Angeles Crest Highway 2, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011. Originally built in 1939 this rustic roadhouse, at the snowline up mountainous Angeles Crest, was rebuilt after a 1976 fire. With a wooden exterior, pine board walls and a bar.
(1939) Pink’s Hot Dogs 709 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Pink’s Hot Dogs has stood on the corner of Melrose & La Brea in Los Angeles since 1949. It was originally started in 1939 by Paul & Betty Pink, who sold 10¢ chili dogs out of a pushcart at the same corner. Known for their long lines and sausages named after celebrities, the little shack is a true icon of the city. A small eating area has walls covered with framed actor’s headshots and there are outdoor eating tables in the back.
(1939) Sariñana’s Tamale Factory 2216 W 5th St, Santa Ana, CA 92703. Sariñana’s Tamale Factory was opened in 1939 by Juan and Felipa Sariñana, immigrants from Durango, Mexico. Located in a tiny former house, painted with exterior murals and modernized with plastic signs, it is the oldest surviving Mexican restaurant in Orange County. Ordering is done at a counter and eaten at a choice of six interior picnic tables or two outside. Though its founders passed away in the late 1960s, it is still family owned, by the 5th and 6th generations of Juan and Felipa’s descendants. Serving Mexican food in the Durango style, Sariñana’s is particularly known for their tamales, though their homemade hot sauce is exceptional as well.
(1939) Sycamore Inn 8318 E Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730.
Built on the spot of the Mountain View Inn, built in 1848, the location suffered fires and floods and was rebuilt several times. The current building, a two-level wooden structure with front porch, dates to 1921, built by German-born citrus rancher John Klusman. In its first few years, the basement served as a Prohibition defying speakeasy, while several rooms upstairs were used as a brothel. It became the Sycamore Inn restaurant in 1939, when bought and remodeled by Danish immigrant Irl Hinrichsen. Located on what once was Route 66 and now is Foothill Blvd, the restaurant is white tablecloth elegant, serving traditional steakhouse fare. The main dining room is dimly lit, with beamed ceilings and heavy leather chairs. An attached bar features burgundy leather semi-circular booths, antique stained glass lighting and a large stone fireplace. Both Marilyn Monroe and Betty Short (the Black Dahlia) are said to have been guests right before they each died.
(1939) Vince’s Market 3250 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Started as a small Italian market with deli case Vince’s originally shared their space with a barber & beauty shop. Opened in 1939 by Joseph and Mabel Caravella and named for their son Vince, the family expanded the business in 1946, taking over the whole building and enlarging their menu. With old school signs and funky exterior murals, they have an authentic neighborhood feel. A deli counter in the back of the store serves up great Italian sandwiches on crusty rolls.
(1940) Centro Basco 13432 Central Ave, Chino, CA 91710. Centro Basco, located in the San Bernardino County town of Chino, appears to be the oldest surviving Basque restaurant anywhere close to the Los Angeles area. The next oldest appears to be Continental Basque in Glendora, which opened in 1980. Centro Basco was opened as a Basque restaurant and boarding house in September 1940 by J.B. Robidart, a Basque businessman who helped guide and organize the local Chino Basque community, many of whom had immigrated to the Inland Empire to work tending sheep or milking cows in the area’s then-plentiful dairies and farms. In 1948 Robidart sold the property to Ben & Melanie Sallaberry, who ran it until 1970 and in turn sold it to Pierre and Monique Berterretche. Today it is run by their daughter, Bernadette Berterretche-Helton. The front bar area has a great casual vintage feel. With wood paneled walls and semi-circle tan colored booths, it was probably last remodeled in the 1960s. Another room features long tables for the traditional communal Basque dining experience, which is served “family style” over several courses with special dishes not found on the regular menu, such as oxtail stew, rabbit and blood sausage.
(1940) Tal’s Cafe 2701 W Florence Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90043. Old fashioned Southern-style diner in South Central L.A. serving homey breakfasts and lunch. Located in a building constructed in 1947. Its remarkably unaltered interior features wood paneling, exposed brick walls, an original-appearing green linoleum floor, an original counter with stools, booth seating and vintage hanging globe lamps.
(1941) Bun ‘N Burger 1000 E Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801. Authentic neighborhood diner serving American & Mexican food in a deco-style corner building with great neon. Interior has red booths & counter stools, ’50s formica tables, a black and white checkered floor and walls covered with vintage memorabilia.
(1941) Polo Lounge 9641 Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Located inside the Beverly Hills Hotel, which was built in 1918, the Polo Lounge opened on July 11, 1941 in a space previously called El Jardin. Named for then-owner, Hernando Courtwright’s polo-playing friends, it was immediately a meeting place for Hollywood players and celebrities, which it remains to this day. The list of famous guests is impossibly long, but Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlene Dietrich were among the many famous regulars. The interior lounge features dark green and white walls, tartan plaid carpets, horseshoe shaped booths and a long wooden bar, a look that is conservative, falling into no particular era. An outdoor eating area features white iron cafe chairs pulled up to tables shaded under white and green umbrellas. The menus are very expensive, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and Afternoon Tea. Owned by the Sultan of Brunei since 1987, the hotel and Polo Lounge was actively boycotted, beginning in 2014, due to human rights persecution that the Sultan set into law in his own country.
(1941) Snug Harbor 2323 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403. Opened in 1941 by Frank Leight, Snug Harbor is a small, authentic early 1940s diner on Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica with a small laminate counter and a few booths. Now on its third owner, the vintage appearance and integrity stays much the same, despite changing times and a bit of a remodel here and there. Serving basic America breakfasts, lunch and soda fountain treats, it closes at 3pm every day.
(1943) Carrillo’s Tortilleria 1242 Pico St, San Fernando, CA 91340. Carrillo’s is a small self-serve style restaurant that grew out of a family owned hand made tortilla factory started by Guadalupe Carrillo and her husband Emilio in 1943. Since 1964 it has been owned by their daughter, Amelia Carrillo Luna and her husband Epigmenio. Located on a side street in San Fernando, CA, in a nondescript building with a plastic sign, the inside is simple, yet cozy, with an exposed brick wall, polished concrete floors, plastic molded booths, a few tables and festive Mexican-themed murals covering the walls. A display case sells a few grocery items, but an extensive eat-in menu serves Mexican breakfasts and combination dinners. They are especially known for their tamales, menudo & homemade tortillas.
(1945) Barone’s Pizzeria 13726 Oxnard St, Valley Glen, CA 91401. Barone’s was first opened in 1945 on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks by a group of siblings from Buffalo, NY. They took over the building of a former restaurant, Barto’s, and because altering the sign was cheaper than buying a new one, named it after the sister with the closest name, business partner Josephine Barone. Specializing in square cut pizza with Monterey Jack cheese, instead of Mozzarella, they relocated the restaurant in 2006 to the former space of the defunct Old Heidelberg, built in 1958. The interior is immaculately retained with dark wood walls, stained glass, carved beamed ceilings and knobby wood room dividers. An attached lounge area features a red leather padded bar and often live entertainment. The Old Heidelberg, once a German restaurant, was a location for a dinner/date scene in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and is still recognizable as such.
(1945) Nate ‘n Al 414 N Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Nate ‘n Al was opened in 1945 by Russian born Al Mendelson and Nate Rimer, who met in Detroit and relocated to Beverly Hills to start a classic Jewish delicatessen. Originally their Beverly Drive location started with a deli counter and a few tables and only held 30 customers, but it became popular with the Hollywood film crowd and expanded shortly afterward, becoming known as a “show biz” hangout. The front of the otherwise nondescript building features the restaurant name in large orange letters, probably added in the 1960s or 1970s. The interior has a standard coffee shop layout with brown leather booths, wood laminate tables, dividers made of wood paneling and a long glass deli case. Today, Nate’n Al is operated by Mendelson’s grandsons, Mark and David.
(1946) Chili John’s 2018 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506. Chili John’s got its start in Green Bay, Wisconsin, opened by Lithuanian immigrant John Isaac in 1913. The popularity of that restaurant and its unusual combination of serving its famous chili on top of a bed of spaghetti noodles, inspired Isaac’s son, Ernie, to open a second Chili John’s branch in Burbank in 1946. The location is a true vintage throwback; a diner with white-washed brick walls, a U-shaped wood laminate counter, bright orange vinyl counter stools and a long rustic mural of mountains, sky and water. The exterior is old fashioned as well, with an entrance on the building’s rounded corner, vintage signs and hand painted lettering. Keeping true to its roots and serving only chili items, the restaurant has been owned since by the LoGuercio family since 1990.
(1946) Chris & Pitts 9839 Artesia Blvd, Bellflower, CA 90706. Amazing signage and a faux log cabin painted exterior It is among only 3 remaining restaurants of a BBQ chain that once included over 20 locations, all over Southern California. The chain was started in 1940 by Chris Pelonis, the son of a Greek immigrant. He scraped up $200 to start a business and the first location (now gone) was in Lynwood. The other remaining locations are on Lakewood Ave in Downey (opened 1953) and on Washington Blvd in Whittier. This location was the 4th location opened. Inside is casual, authentic & old school, with burgundy leather booths, a counter to eat at, original red linoleum floors, wood paneled walls & tons of country kitsch, including shot guns & taxidermy. There is a walk-up pick-up window out front.
(1946) Clearman’s Steak ‘n Stein 9545 E Whittier Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660.
Old European-themed kitschy steak house with a circular stone fireplace, dark red colors, wood, chandeliers and stained glass. The owner, John Foley Clearman, was a creative man who seemed to want to be noticed. Born in New York City in 1906 and raised in Coronado, California, he graduated from Yale in 1929 with a degree in theater. A trained Shakespearean actor, Clearman spent several years during the Great Depression on the road with traveling productions. He once was quoted as saying, “A good restaurant has a longer run than a good play” and abruptly changed career paths to reinvent himself as a restaurant owner. In 1946, at age 40, he opened his first restaurant, Clearman’s Steak ‘n Stein. He also went on to create the The Magic Lamp (1955), and the fabulous Clearman’s Northwoods Inns (1966 and 1967).
(1946) Gus’s Barbecue 808 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030.
Opened on Fair Oaks Ave in South Pasadena in 1946 by three relatives from Cleveland, Ohio and was named after the eldest one, Gus. The location had previously been a diner called Hamburger Macs. The interior was tastefully renovated with a vintage slant in 2007, but the neon sign out front is original. It now belongs to two brothers who also own another Pasadena vintage restaurant, the Original Tops.
(1946) Hot ‘n Tot 2347 Pacific Coast Hwy, Lomita, CA 90717. Hot ‘n Tot restaurant opened on Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita, CA in 1946. This diner has been remodeled over the years, but still has a classic feel, including a counter with attached olive green leather stools, brown booths, ceiling fans and long plate glass windows.
(1946) Jolly Jug 4264 Peck Road, El Monte, CA 91732. Opened in 1946 on Peck Road in El Monte, the only history I could find about this place was a second hand anecdote. Apparently this restaurant was opened by a Jewish woman who had relocated from New York with a deli attitude in mind. This woman ran it until about 1996 when she sold it to the current owner, Margaret, an immigrant from Hong Kong, who kept most of the original recipes and added a few new ones. Situated in a freestanding house with spectacular original signage, white sideboard, brick trim and a shingled roof, one half is an vintage diner and the other side is a dive-type bar. The walls are wood paneled, the floor green linoleum and the booths tan leather with wood laminate tables. The decor is a mish mash of 1970s knick knacks, beer signs and country kitsch. Serving American food and specializing in pastrami sandwiches.
(1946) Nick’s Coffee Shop 8536 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. This little diner has stayed quite true to its 1946 roots with minimal change. Probably the last remodel, thankfully, occurred in the 1960s. In front of walls cluttered with framed photos of family members, friends and patrons, stand dark worn rust colored booths with wood laminate tables, a pitched drop down ceiling and a long eating counter with tufted high-back stools running alongside the smoking griddle. Stained glass chandeliers and ceiling fans hang above, and a feeling of unpretentious comfort pervades. With an extensive menu featuring American diner classics and open for breakfast and lunch, this greasy spoon is the kind of place that modern coffee shops try to replicate. The original Googie-type sign out front and the bright yellow circus-like original exterior only add to the perfect ambience.
(1946) Original Tommy’s Hamburgers 2575 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057. This first location of the well-known hamburger chain, located on the corner of Beverly and Rampart Streets was founded in 1946 by Tom Koulax, an Oklahoma born son of Greek immigrants. Serving a limited menu of hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, tamales and breakfasts, this popular walk-up stand eventually expanded to over 30 Southern California locations. The tiny shack, with its iconic neon and bulb arrow sign perched on the shingled roof has both order and pick-up windows. Tommy died in 1992 and the chain is still run by his family.
(1946) Paul’s Kitchen 1012 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Chinese-American food served in a neighborhood that was once called City Market Chinatown, a working man’s area of several square blocks that popped up after L.A.’s original Chinatown was razed in the 1930s to built Union Station. The Chinese element in the neighborhood began to fade in the 1970s. Owned by the nephew of the restaurant’s original owner, Paul, it is one of only two Chinese businesses left in the neighborhood. The interior features two rooms with brown vinyl booths, wood laminate tables, a long faux wood grain counter, hanging globe lamps, Chinese window shades and a plethora of Dodgers memorabilia. In fact Tommy Lasorda became a regular customer beginning in the 1970s.
(1946) Pecos Bill’s BBQ 1551 Victory Blvd, Glendale, CA 91201. Pecos Bill’s BBQ is a tiny, authentic BBQ shack with a take-out window serving a limited meat-centic menu consisting of meat sandwiches and sides of baked beans and coleslaw. Opened in 1946 by Bill Stenzel who was born in Pecos, Texas and came to California in the 1940s, it is now owned by his grandson, Owen. Open 11-3pm, Thursday through Sunday, ordering is done from a window in the tiny building, while a few picnic tables sit on the sidewalk, under a hand painted sign.
(1946) The Smoke House Restaurant 4420 Lakeside Dr, Burbank 91505.
Across the street from Warner Bros studios, the Smoke House opened in 1946 on the corner of Pass and Riverside Ave as a 46-seat restaurant. Popular and frequented by celebrities, such as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, in 1949 the restaurant decided to expand and moved down the street to its present location, the former Red Coach Inn. In 1955 the restaurant’s current building was constructed around the old one, designed by Wayne McAllister and his partner William Wagner. Though McAllister was a leader in Googie architecture, having designed nearby Bob’s Big Boy, this building was done in the Tudor Revival style, with a chateau-like feel. The interior is large, with several dining areas and a cozy mid-century lounge. With beamed ceilings and amazing original exterior neon signs, deep burgundy leather tufted booths, interior walls made of brick, shingles, paneled wood and covered with old photos, this restaurant breathes history. Because of its proximity to the studio across the street, the list of celebrity regulars and patrons is extremely long. Serving American steakhouse fare, the menu is heavy on the meat selections, but is also well known for its cheesy bread.
(1946) Vince’s Spaghetti 1206 W Holt Blvd, Ontario, CA 91762. Vince’s opened in 1945 as a six-stool French Dip sandwich stand by Vince Cuccia and his two brothers, who relocated to California from Chicago after World War 2. The restaurant lore states that the kitchenless stand began serving spaghetti soon after a customer inquired about the home-brought spaghetti lunch a Cuccia family member was eating. A kitchen was soon built and spaghetti became the menu mainstay. The long building has been expanded four times over the years and eventually evolved into a 425-seat business. By 1968 it was advertised as the largest spaghetti restaurant west of the Mississippi River. An amazing original mid-century neon sign still stands out front. The interior is casually vintage with many individual rooms, some with wood paneled walls others with brick. Eating areas have either dark green leather booths or faux wood laminate tables, while the floor is a deep red linoleum and ceilings are beamed wood. Spaghetti servings are massive, topped with optional grated mozzarella. A Torrance location operated from 1973 to 2014, a Rancho Cucamonga location opened in 1984 and a Temecula location in 2003.
(1946) Walker’s Cafe 700 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731. Classic vintage family-run dive cafe, a biker favorite, opened by Bessie and Ray Walker and owned by their son, Richard since 1996. Located on an ocean side cliff, the building itself dates to about 1913, when it was used as a station at the end of the Red Car streetcar line. The interior has original 1940s linoleum floors, wood paneled walls and is full of kitschy knick knacks. They accept cash only.
(1947) A-1 Imported Groceries 348 W 8th St, San Pedro, CA 90731. A-1 Imported Groceries opened in 1947 on 8th St in San Pedro, CA. This Italian market and deli specializes in sandwiches, but also has pasta dishes. The exterior features a river rock entrance wall, a plastic sign that likely dates to the 1960s and an awning trimmed with siding in the colors of the Italian flag. The interior is a small crowded grocery store with wood paneled walls and a long vintage glass deli case filled with meats, cheeses, olives and various Italian dishes.
(1947) The Apple Pan 10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Classic burger & pie diner in a small house with white sideboard and original neon signs. A popular and beloved restaurant, there is nearly always a wait for the U-shaped counter and the 26 red leather stools around it. Opened by Ellen and Alan Barker in April 1947 and now run by their daughter and granddaughter, the menu has 11 food items and hasn’t changed since the business was surrounded by farms and fruit orchards.
(1947) The Great White Hut 121 W California Ave, Glendale, CA 91203.
Tiny, longtime corner burger & taco stand with stool seating. Painted with retro themes. The Great White Hut is a tiny hamburger and taco stand that has held its place on a corner in Glendale since 1947. With stool seating and painted with retro themes (a full size mural of James Dean always fools me into thinking it is a real person as I walk by), it is a rare slice of the past in this neighborhood where the old keeps being replaced with the new.
(1947) Hawkins House of Burgers 11603 Slater St, Los Angeles, CA 90059. This burger stand, located in Watts across from the Nickerson Gardens housing project, was initially started out of a grocery store opened by James Henry Hawkins. Born in 1911 to a poor Arkansas family, his 1991 obituary in the Los Angeles Times reported that he came to Los Angeles in 1942 as part of the 2nd Great Black Migration, riding on a mule. He then worked as a truck driver to save enough money to build a malt shop and grocery store at this location in 1947. The Hawkins family, which included 14 children, began flipping burgers from a street food stand and merged it with the grocery store into Hawkins House of Burgers. Now run by granddaughter Cynthia Hawkins, the burger shop is located in a little storefront with takeout counter service and tables to eat at in a covered area outside. Serving hamburgers, chicken and waffles, wings, catfish and more, they also open early for breakfast.
(1947) Langer’s Delicatessan 704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057. Respected Jewish deli, opened by New Jersey born Al Langer in 1947, across the street from MacArthur Park. Originally called the Famous Deli when purchased by Langer, it was a small 12 restaurant which he expanded to the current 135 seats by 1968. Well celebrated for its pastrami sandwiches, the lines at lunchtime often extend down the block. Al passed away in 2007 and the restaurant is now owned and operated by his son, Norm. Both the interior and exterior have kept their original appearance with vintage signs and incredible mid-century orange, yellow and brown tile on the wall behind the deli counter. Booths are brown leather with wood laminate tables and knobby wood room dividers.
(1947) Santa Fe Importers 1401 Santa Fe Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813. Opened in 1947 on Santa Fe Avenue in Long Beach, CA by Sicilian born Vincent Passanisi. It is still owned by his grandchildren today. This market and Sicilian deli serves take-out sandwiches and Italian meals. It has an old fashioned exterior but remodeled interior with stools and counter eating. Inside is a regular, small food market with full glass deli counter and an ordering window.
(1947) Valley Inn Restaurant 4557 Sherman Oaks Ave, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. The Valley Inn is an old school steakhouse opened in 1947 by Jim Otto on Sherman Oaks Ave in Sherman Oaks, CA. The building was designed in 1945 by architect Roger Winston Bray and for its first two years functioned as an electric light store. Jim Otto’s name once stood in big neon letters on the cobbled pitched roof, where the Valley Inn sign stands today. Unfortunately the neon in the sign was recently replaced with plastic lit letters. The exterior has an entrance way bordered by wooden columns and is trimmed with wrought iron and hanging lanterns. The dining room is white table cloth elegant and features round black leather booths, an embossed ceiling, plenty of dark hardwood and framed art work. An attached separate pub area is entered through saloon-style doors and has a classic wooden and brass bar, with walls covered with vintage sports memorabilia.
(1948) Cindy’s Eagle Rock 1500 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Cindy’s Coffee Shop opened on Colorado Blvd in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock in 1948, when it was still Route 66. It has had many owners over the years, the latest taking helm in 2014, but has kept the original vintage interior and exterior intact. The building is long and low, in a true late ’40s roadhouse fashion, with mid-century signs that have been refreshed over the years, but never ruined. The interior has bright orange booths and counter seats, complimented by walls that are currently bright green and retro-style lighting fixtures.iner with orange leather booths & stools, vintage lighting and restored original signs.
(1948) Claro’s 1003 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Original location of authentic family owned Italian market and deli chain that now total six stores. The building was constructed in 1937 and hasn’t had a major renovation since 1962. Opened by Joe Claro and his wife Mary in 1948 on Valley Blvd in San Gabriel. It is a tried & true old fashioned Italian Market with a deli counter that serves classic Italian dishes, freshly made cold cut sandwiches, antipasto and other salads. There is also a bakery with Italian cookies, bread and cannoli. The inside hasn’t been updated much and has original concrete floors and wooden trellises hanging with plastic grapes. A second Claro’s opened in Arcadia in 1971, followed by four more stores in La Habra, Covina, Tustin (1982) & Upland. The stores are still run by Joe Claro’s grandchildren and their families.
(1948) Domingo’s Italian Deli 17548 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316. This market selling Italian products and deli food was first opened by Phyllis and Frank Domingo and has been owned by the Magnanimo family since the 1970s. Domingo’s serves sandwiches, antipasti and Italian desserts in a room with a few eat-in tables and an outdoor patio. Although it was remodeled a few years ago and has been somewhat modernized, it still has a genuine feel.
(1948) El Adobe 31891 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675. Opened as a restaurant in 1948 by Clarence Brown, a Rancho Mission Viejo farmer, the location comprises two different historically significant buildings dating back to before California become a state in 1850. The northern part of the restaurant, forming the walls of El Adobe’s cocktail lounge was built in 1797 as an adobe home for Miguel Yorba, while the southern part was built in 1812 as a court and jails. Filled with antiques, brick walls, wood beamed ceilings and clay tiled floors, El Adobe originally served Continental cuisine. but switched to a Mexican menu after Orange County native Richard Nixon, a fan of Mexican cooking, became an El Adobe patron during his presidency. Today the restaurant is owned by partners Steve Nordeck, Tony Moiso, and Gilbert Aguirre.
(1948) Factor’s Famous Deli 9420 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. This Jewish Deli was opened by Esther Factor in 1948 on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles. Bought by Cleveland-born Herman Markowitz in 1969, who added the “famous” to the restaurant’s name, it has been run by his family since the 1970s. Remodeled and expanded a bit over the years, with booth-style seating, walls of sports and movie poster memorabilia, brick, laminate wood, long glass deli cases and a retro ’70s appearing sign out front, it serves classic Jewish deli cuisine.
(1948) Nick’s Cafe 1300 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Nick’s Cafe on Spring Street near Chinatown in L.A. is an old-school authentic roadhouse-style diner with wood paneled walls. It thankfully hasn’t been touched in decades. Opened in 1948 it has a single U-shaped counter with seats & serves only breakfast & lunch.
(1948) Roma Deli 6449 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606. Old school Italian deli, now on its third owner, serving big sandwiches, pizza and Italian food, plus cannoli. Exterior has a vintage river rock front and a slight castle-like appearance. Inside has a very basic, no-frills eating area, but has enormous Roman-themed paintings randomly leaning up against the walls. Not connected to the Pasadena Roma Market.
(1949) Bill’s Taco House 219 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90011. Small South Los Angeles fast food taco shop with molded laminate seating and a vintage sign out front. Opened by a man named Bill, it was one of the very first places to begin serving patty-style ground beef in a taco (called Cheeseburger Taco). The counter service restaurant is decorated with murals depicting famous moments in the civil rights movement. It has only had 3 owners and has been owned by a Korean woman named Eva Man since just after the 1992 LA riots.
(1949) Bobby’s Coffee Shop 22821 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. This comfortable, old-time coffee shop/diner with red leather booths and formica tables was opened in 1949 by Navy veteran and short-order cook, Robert “Bobby” Perkins. Bobby’s is currently owned by Joe Shabbouei since 2008.
(1949) Bob’s Big Boy 4211 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505. Oldest remaining branch of the burger chain. It was designed by architect Wayne McAllister in what became known as the Googie style. The chain originally opened in 1936 as a 10-stool hamburger stand on Colorado Blvd in Glendale under the name “Bob’s Pantry.”
(1949) Miceli’s 1646 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The oldest surviving Italian restaurant in Hollywood was opened in 1949 by Chicago transplant Carmen Miceli, his wife Sylvia and several of their family members. To put together the restaurant economically, the clan pieced together a jumble of architectural elements from other Los Angeles spots that had gone out of business, salvaging old stained glass along with the booths from the original Pig ‘n Whistle restaurant, which had closed down around the corner that same year. The multi-tiered and dimly lit restaurant is romantic, filled with brick walls, ornately carved dark wood, vintage red leather, hundreds of hanging Chianti bottles and kitschy red and white checkered plastic table cloths. Among the first Hollywood restaurants to serve pizza, which was then new to most Americans, a whole pie could at first be purchased for 39 cents. Today a piano playing singer belts out standards and show tunes alike while a long bar tucked upstairs is a good place to find a stool and a frosty drink. Though Carmen died in 2015 at age 92, the restaurant is still in the good hands of his descendants, who honor the restaurant’s long history with the reverence it deserves.
(1949) Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza 6333 W 3rd St #448, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Italian food stand in the Original Farmer’s Market opened in 1949 by Brooklyn born Pasquale “Patsy” D’Amore. First called Patsy D’Amore’s Italian Food, it was D’Amore’s second restaurant; he also owned Casa D’Amore which he opened in 1939 on Cahuenga Blvd and was frequented by celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Dorsey. In 1950 he then opened the legendary Hollywood restaurant, Villa Capri which was in business until 1982. Villa Capri was even more star-studded than D’Amore’s first restaurant, with patrons including James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and the ever loyal Sinatra. D’Amore died in 1975 and his widow ran Villa Capri until 1982 and Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza until 1998, when she passed on the restaurant to daughter, Filomena D’Amore, who still runs it today.
(1950) El Toreo 21 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105. El Toreo Cafe opened in 1950 on Fair Oaks Ave in Pasadena. A tiny, casual restaurant, serving Mexican food, it has brown booths, a drop ceiling, wood paneling and old Mexican-style paintings adorning the walls. Its original vintage sign still hangs out front. (Temporarily closed during covid. Hopefully this will not end up being permanent.)
(1950) Golden Bull Restaurant 170 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402.
Vintage steakhouse opened in 1950 with burgundy leather booths and original sign. The building itself seems to become a restaurant in 1932, when a kitchen was added to an existing store which was built in 1922. The Golden Bull was a chain of SoCal steakhouses opened by Glenn Billingsley, the husband of “Leave It To Beaver” actress Barbara, who played the Mom. It was one of 7 Golden Bulls and 3 Outrigger Polynesian restaurants that Glenn opened beginning in the late 1940s. Only 2 survive- one in Santa Monica, still called the Golden Bull (1950) & another in West L.A., once called Billingsley’s Golden Bull (1946), now just called Billingsley’s.
(1950) La Chiquita Restaurant 906 E Washington Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
La Chiquita opened in 1950 in the Logan Barrio area of Santa Ana, one of the first Mexican barrios in Orange County and once one of the only Santa Ana neighborhoods where Latinos could legally buy a house, due to discriminatory restrictions. Owned by Sammy Montoya since 1994, this Mexican cafe is small, with wood paneled walls, river rock trim, breeze block room dividers, original red clay-tiled floors, a “popcorn” ceiling and basic tables & chairs. Located in a square building with an original vintage bulb sign out front.
(1951) Bamboo Inn 2005 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057. Opened in 1951, this well-worn diner-style Chinese eatery is the 2nd oldest surviving Chinese restaurant in the whole greater L.A. & Orange County area. The longest running one to my current knowledge is Paul’s Kitchen, 1946. This place is small and extremely authentic. It has not been remodeled & still has the original wood paneled walls, burgundy booths and wood laminate tables. The prices are even from another era, with lunch specials under $5 and generous servings. The food is classic mid-century American Chinese cuisine, nothing groundbreaking, just simple & old fashioned.
(1951) El Carmen 8138 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048. First opened in 1929 by Mexican immigrant Encarnación Elias Gómez, the wife of General Arnulfo Gómez, assassinated two years before while running for Mexico’s president, the widow started the Los Angeles business to support her family. El Carmen’s original location was at La Brea and 3rd Street, an area considered the boondocks at that time, but it moved west in 1951 as Los Angeles expanded. It was passed down through the family for a few generations, and finally sold to a non-relative in 1997. Popular with the Hollywood film crowd, guests once included D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, Busby Berkeley, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and artist Diego Rivera. Dark and moody, with a rounded rattan ceiling trimmed with wood beams, tiled floors and more tile adorning the walls, the restaurant is reputedly haunted by the ghost of Encarnacion.
(1951) The Hat 1 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801 The Hat opened in 1951 as a small corner burner stand in Alhambra, selling 25¢ hamburgers, 5¢ cups of coffee and piled-high pastrami sandwiches. Though the original owner and the restaurant’s early history seems lost to time, it is known that the stand was set to be demolished for a shopping plaza in 1981, but was bought and rescued by Ronald “Corky” Conzonire and his brother, Joe, then-owners of five Belly Buster sandwich shops. Still owned by the Conzonire family, the stand has expanded to a small local chain of 11 restaurants. The first Alhambra spot features the location’s original neon sign with its iconic chef’s hat, updated and renovated over the years, bright yellow 1960s plastic signs, and ordering from take-out and pick-up windows. A covered area with built-in vintage picnic tables allows customers to eat on-site.
(1952) Ernie’s Mexican Restaurant 4410 Lankershim Blvd, N. Hollywood, CA 91602. Opened in 1952 by Ernie and Albina Cruz as the second location to an Ernie’s Mexican they opened in 1944 in Lincoln Heights. The family also operated two additional Ernie’s Jr restaurants in Eagle Rock (1950-2014) and Pasadena (1955-1998). This classic mid-century North Hollywood restaurant is the only surviving location and has two dining areas and a bar. The interior is dimly lit with burgundy leather booths, knobby wooden room dividers, stained glass chandeliers, wood laminate tables and plenty of wrought iron and Mexican decorative elements. The exterior has vintage signs and tile work.
(1952) Giuliano’s 1138 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247. Family owned Italian market and deli in a building constructed in 1947, with an outdoor eating area. opened on Gardena Blvd in Gardena in 1952 by Frances and Gaetano Giuliano. Although the inside has been remodeled over the years, the traditional glass cold cut and Italian food cases still reflect its past. Several Giuliano descendants still work at this location. The deli is known for its Torpedo Sandwich. Serving Italian sandwiches, pizza, pasta and fresh baked goods.
(1952) Johnnie’s Pastrami 4017 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230. Famous pastrami shack serving American fast food take-out style. The small interior is reminiscent of a ’50s diner, with a wood laminate counter and a handful of tables with booth seating. They are long known for having a vintage jukebox on each table filled with oldies. The exterior has an amazing original neon sign, and additional picnic table seating with fire pits.
(1952) Josie’s Place 16616 S Normandie Ave, Gardena, CA 90247. Opened in 1952 on Normandie Avenue in Gardena, Josie’s Place is located next to rail road tracks in a little shack built in 1940. Specializing in authentic Mexican take-out food, the restaurant is now owned by the Lopez family. The building’s exterior features a plastic molded sign, while the interior has wood paneled walls, a take-out counter and a small display case of knick knacks.
(1952) Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe 812 N Evergreen Ave, L.A., CA 90033. Opened by Manuel Rojas and now run by his daughter, Elena, and grandchildren. Casual Boyle Heights neighborhood Mexican cafe with counter known for their massive burrito, called The Hollenbeck; vintage exterior river rock front & original sign.
(1952) Melody Bar & Grill 9132 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045.
Opened as a steakhouse in 1952, now a bar & restaurant. Vintage rock fireplace, red leather booths.
(1952) Steven’s Steakhouse 5332 East Stevens Place, Commerce, CA 90040.
Steven’s Steak House is a classic, old-school steakhouse with spectacular signs, tan colored leather booths, beveled glass & a vintage bar. Though the interior decorations and furniture have been remodeled over the years, the feel is a mish mash of mid-century meets gaudy ’80s, a definite time warp. Food is mid-century as well, large slabs of steak, some seafood choices, the typical iceberg salads and pasta with marina sauce.
(1952) Tony’s on the Pier 210 Fishermans Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Opened with a small shack on the Redondo Beach pier in 1952 and redesigned and rebuilt between 1961-63 by the owner, an ex-fisherman named Tony Trutanich. It is an amazing mid-century landmark, with panoramic ocean views, tables with built-in fireplaces and an octagonal crow’s nest bar on top. The interior has a lot of wood, brick, vintage decor and lighting, original tables and chairs, and cool headshots of celebrities (mostly from the 1960s- ’70s) who have visited over the years. The exterior is two levels with amazing vintage signs on both sides. Tony passed away in 2007 and his widow now owns the restaurant. Known for their Mai Tai’s and seafood, the vintage beauty of this place is worth saving. There are no heirs that want to take over this gorgeous place, so visit while you can.
(1952) Tuxie’s 6030 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, CA 92506. Tuxie’s Drive-In opened 1952 on Magnolia Ave in Riverside, CA. Once a walk-up hamburger restaurant, it is now a taco and juice shop under the same name. Located in a little hut of a building with take-out windows, a covered area with built-in picnic tables allows for sit down eating. A great neon sign dates to 1955.
(1953) Chris & Pitts 9243 Lakewood Blvd, Downey, CA 90240. One of among only 3 remaining restaurants of a BBQ chain that once included over 20 locations, all over Southern California. The chain was started in 1940 by Chris Pelonis, the son of a Greek immigrant. He scraped up $200 to start a business and the first location (now gone) was in Lynwood. The other remaining locations are on Artesia Blvd in Bellflower (opened 1946) and on Washington Blvd in Whittier. This location was the 6th location opened. Inside is casual, authentic & old school, with moss green colored leather booths, a wooden counter to eat at, brick floors, wood paneled walls and ceiling & tons of country kitsch. There is a pick-up window just inside for To-Go orders.
(1953) Chronis Famous Sandwich Shop 5825 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022. Walk-up sandwich stand in business since 1945. At this location since 1953. Original sign.
(1953) El Paseo Inn 11 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 900121. This Mexican restaurant opened in 1930 at another location on Olvera Street, but was purchased by Elena Peluffo and Frank Webb and in 1957 it moved to its present location. The building was constructed as Pelanconi Winery, operating from 1870-1914, and was then remodeled into the restaurant Café Caliente. The space originally possessed a large central dance floor which featured Mexican traditional dancers and a Latin orchestra, but that was eventually removed. The current interior features beamed ceilings, painted brick walls, a long bar and contains a mural-sized painting made by artist Rubén Lara Campos in 1946. Cesar Chavez was a guest as well as later on Bill Clinton. An exterior brick patio has tables with black iron cafe chairs, good for people watching on Olvera Street. The restaurant was bought by Andy Camacho in 1984.
(1953) James Restaurant 739 Truman St, San Fernando, CA 91340. Classic American-style diner with a spectacular neon sign, burgundy leather booths & stools, hanging stained glass lamps and a wood laminate counter.
(1953) Larry’s Chili Dog 3122 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505. Larry’s Chili Dog stand opened in 1953. It is a little hut with take-out windows serving several varieties of hot dogs and toppings along with a limited burger, salad and sandwich menu. Outdoor patio seating is available. The incredible original vintage sign is unique, featuring a reclining dog inside a hotdog bun. When the sign is lit, the dog appears to wag its tail
(1953) McDonald’s 10207 Lakewood Blvd, Downey, CA 90241. The oldest working location of the fast food chain. The original architecture is unchanged; an incredible animated neon sign of their first mascot, Speedee, was added in 1959.
(1953) Mickey’s 101 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Mickey’s Italian Delicatessen was opened in 1953 in Hermosa Beach by Michael “Mickey” Mance, a 22-year old Korean War veteran who had just returned from service. It was the first authentic Italian market and deli in the South Bay and today is owned by Mickey’s son, Paul. Serving Italian sandwiches, pizza and pasta from the deli counter in a convenient market setting, the deli has communal tables and additional outdoor seating, Unfortunately some of the great vintage signs were recently replaced with modern ones, but luckily some of the exterior vintage detail remains.
(1953) Taylor’s Steakhouse 3361 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005. Began as a Los Angeles pub with the name Taylor’s Tavern, it opened in 1953. It was originally located on the corner of Olympic & Western, but moved to its present location on 8th and Ardmore in the L.A. neighborhood Koreatown in 1970. Still owned by the son of the original founders, the interior of this mid-century steakhouse is like a step back in time. Dark inside, even on L.A.’s brightest afternoons, its deep brown wood, burgundy semi-circular leather booths and brick walls give the suggestion of martinis and film noir. A long wooden bar of black tufted leather enables you to complete this request.
(1954) The Bear Pit 10825 Sepulveda Blvd, Mission Hills, CA 91345.
If you’re looking for traditional barbeque that seems to harken back to another time and place, visit The Bear Pit in Mission Hills. This vintage restaurant has been in business since the 1940s, but moved to this location from Newhall in 1954 when country singer Tennessee Ernie Ford was its original endorser in ads. With saw dust on the floors, wagon wheel-shaped light fixtures, wooden beamed ceilings and kitschy paintings of friendly bears parading across the walls, its a cozy throwback to long ago. Its menu is obviously meat-centric with the standard BBQ side options: baked beans, coleslaw, fries and their much lauded garlic bread.
(1954) Capri Deli 713 E San Bernardino Rd, Covina, CA 91723. This Italian grocery store and deli was opened in 1954 by former heavyweight boxer Vince DiMaggio. Lined with old glass deli cases, filled with meats, cheeses, olives and salads, there has been a bit of modernization, but luckily the old red brick polished floor remains and the vibe has stayed true to its roots. Ordering is done by counter, with a separate eating area filled with tables and chairs available. Now run by Vince’s sons, Vic and John, sandwiches are still made with the same sesame-crusted 12-inch Frisco Bakery rolls Vince DiMaggio used when he opened the deli, and pizza and salads are available as well.
(1954) Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse 1833 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Colombo’s restaurant serves old school 1950s Italian food, going back to when this part of Eagle Rock was an Italian neighborhood. Opened in 1954 on Colorado Blvd by Sam Colombo and his wife Ann, it is now run by their nephew, Vic Parrino. Featuring live jazz bands and vocalists, the dimly lit dining room has red leather semi-circular booths, wood paneled walls, iron chandeliers, red velvet drapes and vintage paintings hanging in gold colored frames, while an attached bar is paneled in faux wood and upholstered in more red leather. The exterior is a classic mid-century restaurant building, boxy with brick trim, and featuring a wood shingled roof. Murals are painted on the outside wall, near a small outdoor eating area.
(1954) Domenico’s Italian Restaurant 5339 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803. Opened in 1954 by Domenico and Beverly Spano, this is the oldest surviving full service restaurant in Long Beach and definitely the first restaurant to introduce pizza to the Long Beach area. An early Domenico’s menu instructs newbies to the art of pizza eating, “Pick it up in your hands to eat it. Your waitress will be glad to show you the proper way. Not only does this make it easier to handle- it adds to the flavor.” Known for their piled-high ground pepperoni pizzas, the interior of Domenico’s stays true to its vintage integrity with dim lighting, red leather booths, wrought iron, dark wood, trellises and stained glass. The exterior is brick trimmed with incredible vintage neon signs. Domenico’s was owned by the Kenyon family from the mid-’60s until 2004 and has been owned since then by Mike Rhodes.
(1954) Dresden Restaurant 1760 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
Classic mid-century steakhouse & lounge. It was remodeled in the 1960s by then-owner Carl Ferraro with white leather booths on the dining room side, geometric, modernist cork board walls, river rock inlays, mid-century globe lamps and a long wooden bar. Lounge act Marty & Elayne have performed in the bar area since 1982.
(1954) Petrillo’s 833 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Petrillo’s is a classic pizza parlor opened in 1954 by brother-in-laws Norbert Lighthouse and Carl Petrillo. The front of the restaurant features an amazing vintage exterior with several cool neon signs. The interior is partially remodeled, but still has black leather booths and a cool, kitschy trellis with stained glass lamps overhanging them to make it feel old school authentic. Known for their incredible square cut pizzas, the restaurant is still family owned.
(1954) Ramona’s Mexican Food Products 6900 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90003. Opened in 1954 on San Pedro St in a rough around the edges part of Huntington Park. Serving fast food Mexican food take-out style, this place always has huge lines and is a neighborhood favorite. The restaurant got its start in 1947 out of a house at Temple & Beaudry before moving to this location in ’54 and opening another in 1962 on Western Ave in Gardena. The interior here has been completely modernized, but it still has a somewhat vintage exterior and old school plastic signs.
(1955) Casa Bianca Pizza Pie 1650 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Opened in 1955 by the Martorana family, who had just relocated to Los Angeles from Chicago, it is still run by their children today. A comfortable and busy pizza and pasta restaurant with affordable prices, there is nearly always a long wait for a table. The exterior has amazing original neon signs and the interior has a casual old school vibe, with green leather booths, stained glass chandeliers, hard wood floors, red & white checked table clothes.
(1955) Chips Restaurant 11908 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA 90250. Original Googie diner with spectacular sign & wavy roof line serving classic diner food. The building was designed by architect Harry Harrison.
(1955) El Charro 3741 N Verdugo Rd, Montrose, CA 91020. Originally opened in as a four table, eight stool restaurant in 1955 at another location in Montrose, owners John & Grace Chagolla moved it to its present, larger, Verdugo Road location in 1960. The sauces were recipes that Grace had learned growing up in Texas. The interior is decidedly vintage, with wood paneled walls, knobby wood booth dividers, olive green leather booths and Mexican lanterns hang from a drop ceiling.
(1955) Hof’s Hut 2147 N Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90815. The only vintage location left of Hof’s Hut, a popular chain of Long Beach restaurants opened by Harold Hofman in 1951, beginning with a now defunct Bixby Knolls location. By 1975 the chain had 9 locations, but today there are only three remaining- Los Alamitos (opened in the 1990s in the 1977 space of the first Claim Jumper restaurant), Torrance (opened mid-1980s) and this location, all now run by Harold’s son Craig. Serving homey, American classic food, breakfasts and pie, the interior has been remodeled over the years in an updated “retro” style with tile floors and walls, modern lighting fixtures and booths.
(1955) Fox’s 2352 N Lake Ave, Altadena, CA 91001. Quaint, family owned cafe serving breakfast and brunch in a small house. Cool original fox sign out front. Original owner retired and it was closed for many months. Reopened in mid-2018 with a modern remodel and different owners.
(1955) Joyce’s Coffee Shop 8826 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324. Old school diner-style coffee shop. Vintage signs, burgundy leather booths & formica tables.
(1955) Magic Lamp Inn 8189 E Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730. Opened in 1955 by eccentric restauranteur John Clearman, who modeled it on his Pico Rivera Steak ‘n Stein which he opened in 1946. Clearman went on to create the Northwoods Inn, Clearman’s Galley and the long gone Golden Cock. Located on Route 66, it was formerly the location of a restaurant called Lucy and John’s opened in 1941, which was destroyed by fire in 1955. It has had only three owners in its 65 years, Clearman from 1955-1975, Anthony Vernola from 1975-2012 and currently Sartaj Singh. This traditional steakhouse was done in the Old World style with planked wood walls and ceiling, red leather booths, stained glass, a circular brick fireplace and ornate carpeting. The exterior is rustic brick and features an incredible original neon sign in the shape of a magic lamp.
(1955) Sire Bar & Grill 6440 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, CA 92506. The Sire Bar & Grill was opened in 1955 in Riverside, CA. This small dive bar/restaurant has wood paneled walls, rust colored leather bucket seats, a padded bar, wood laminate tables and a brick fireplace. It serves American food, burgers, sandwiches and weekend breakfasts. Outside is this gorgeous vintage horseshoe neon sign.
(1955) Uncle Bud’s Kitchen 16636 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706. Tiny house with limited counter seating and a few tables. Vintage ’70s interior with wood paneled walls, mid-century table and chairs, thrift market kitsch decor and a laminate eating counter with stools. Serves breakfast only until 11:30am. The real Uncle Bud was a cook in the Korean War who returned home to open this restaurant and then passed on the business to the current owner.
(1955) The Venice Room 2428 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park, CA 91754.
A dark, romantically moody restaurant and bar that seems frozen in time. With both deep burgundy & black semi-circular booths, wood laminate tables, knobby wood detailing, red table lamps, velvet flocked wallpaper and old school murals of Venice, Italy, inside this windowless steakhouse, it could be day or night. The bar area is just as vintage and even has a piano for when the mood is right. The exterior has fabulous vintage neon and the original 1950s facade. Although the ambiance is perfect, it is not the thing that stands out most here. This place is known for grilling your own steak. It is an odd & fun custom that is absolutely unique in old L.A. American restaurants. Just bring the raw steak you order to the built-in hibachi, season it to your liking, and then grill. But try not to forget about it as you nurse your martini…
(1956) Beeps 16063 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Beeps is a small authentic 1950s diner with window/counter service and a few remodeled booths covered in silver vinyl upholstery. The small eating area is jam-packed with fun retro memorabilia, such as old movie posters, records and pop culture ephemera, covering the walls and ceiling. Its extensive take-out menu of everything from hamburgers and ice cream sundaes to burritos is displayed on old plastic billboards and can be ordered either outside or inside.
(1956) Casa Vega 13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Opened in 1956 by 22-year-old Raphael “Ray” Vega, the son of Tijuana-born immigrants who operated Cafe Caliente restaurant for 18 years on Olvera Street beginning in the 1930s. Originally located two blocks east on Ventura, Casa Vega moved after two years to where it presently stands. Marlon Brando, Cary Grant and countless other Hollywood luminaries were regulars. The entrance walls are made of river rock, with a heavy carved wooden door and the wonderful exterior neon sign is original. Inside is a dark, romantic Mexican restaurant with burgundy leather booths, brick walls and a separate bar. The restaurant is now run by Ray Vega’s daughter, Christy.
(1956) Domenick’s Pizza House 24209 Avalon Blvd, Carson, CA 90745. Old school, casual Italian restaurant with wood ceilings and burgundy leather booths, an original polished red linoleum floor, brick walls, paneled wood and vintage Italian-American restaurant decorations. A vintage sign out front is ’60s-’70s era.
(1956) Jack’s Whittier Restaurant 13221 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90602.
Opened in 1956 by Clinton Hust “Jack” Corcoran, who beginning in the 1930s owned a total of six Whittier restaurants, including Jack’s Salad Bowl, Jack’s El Rancho, Jack’s Uptown and Jack’s Beverly Fountain, this is the last location of those still standing. After Corcoran sold the business in 1973, the building was drastically remodeled, changing the googie roofline and removing a full exterior wall of glass blocks. Although today it is impressive in its retro style, it is not original and was turned down for historic landmark status in 2016. However, the incredible signs out front were built with the original 1956 building and are true vintage. Jack’s Whittier lists the year 1933 as its opening, which may have reflected an earlier version of the restaurant in the same location. Both the interior and current exterior are in the retro ’50s diner style, with angled ceilings, booths with laminate tables and a long eating counter.
(1956) Little Toni’s 4745 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91602. Little Toni’s opened in 1956, taking over the 30-seat Cottage Italia restaurant, an Italian eatery where known jazz musicians jammed together in the early ’50s. About ten years later it expanded to 100 seats by knocking down the liquor store next door. Serving Italian-American food, this restaurant has an authentic old school vibe; dark, with red leather booths, stained glass, wood & Italian inspired decor.
(1956) The Munch Box 21532 Devonshire St, Chatsworth, CA 91311. The Munch Box is a tiny walk-up hamburger stand on Devonshire Street in Chatsworth, CA opened by John Kent in 1956 and now owned by his nephew. Bright yellow with red 1950s font, a jet-age sloped roof, sporting brick and river rock trim, it was designed by architect Marcel Dumas. In an area once mostly known for its ranches and cowfolk, it originally featured a hitching post where local riders could tie their horses while grabbing a bite. Chatsworth residents Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were known to be customers. Serving the most basic of a hot dog, fries and hamburger menu, this old time stand was made a historic-cultural monument in 2003.
(1956) Naka’s Broiler 1961 W El Segundo Blvd, Compton, CA 90222. Opened on March 1, 1956 by husband and wife Katherine and Nathaniel Banks, Naka’s Broiler may be the first black-owned business in the city of Compton. The couple came up with the name Naka by combining the first two letters of Nathaniel with the first two of Katherine. Located in a small brick building, the diner serves American food, including burgers, sandwiches and breakfasts and is only open for morning and early afternoon hours. The restaurant was bought by David Fisher in 1991, who kept Katherine aka Mama Naka busy there until she died in 2007.
(1956) The Original Park Pantry 2104 E Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90803. Original 1950s vintage building with a great neon sign. Serving American diner-style food. The inside has been somewhat redecorated, but still keeps an old school integrity.
(1956) Otomisan 2506 1/2 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033. Cozy diner with three booths and counter seating. It may very well be the oldest surviving Japanese restaurant in the whole Los Angeles area. Boyle Heights became a Japanese community in the 1950s after Japanese citizens were released from forced U.S. WWll internment camps. The neighborhood is now primarily Mexican and this restaurant is one of the few remainders of its Japanese history.
(1956) Santoro’s 1423 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506. Opened in 1956 by Pat Santoro, a transplant from Massachusetts who ran a sub shop back East with his brothers. In 1971 Pat’s son took over the shop and since 1996 it has been owner by Salvatore Palilla. Beloved in Burbank since the ’50s, the little store with both indoor and outdoor seating serves hot and cold Italian subs, side salads and cannoli.
(1957) Antonio’s Pizzeria 13619 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Opened in 1957 by Antonio Miceli, brother of Carmen Miceli, founder of Miceli’s restaurant (1949), this eatery opened in 1957 as a second branch of Miceli’s. Antonio changed the name to Antonio’s Pizzeria about about a year later, adding the classic Italy-shaped neon sign that still hangs proudly over Ventura Blvd. With great stained glass windows facing the street, the interior has wood paneled walls, faux brick trim, green leather booths, and many kitschy details, such as Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling, plastic grape leaves, red & white checked table cloths & murals of Italian vistas painted on the walls. Antonio Miceli sold the restaurant to current owner Alex Lunardon in 1988.
(1957) Art’s Delicatessen 12224 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604.
Art’s Deli opened in 1957 on Ventura Blvd in Studio City, CA. Founded by New York born Art Ginsburg, it is a traditional Jewish delicatessen with rust colored booths, wood paneled room dividers, ceiling fans, hanging glass globe lights and a glass deli case. The room was remodeled after a fire caused by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but the exterior features an old neon sign. Art passed away several years ago and the restaurant in now run by his son.
(1957) Cock-a-Doodle 12940 Central Ave, Chino, CA 91710. The Cock-a-Doodle restaurant opened in 1957 on Central Avenue, in what’s left of Chino’s downtown business district. Started by Johnny and Thora Sosinsky, its name came from the fact that the restaurant opened so early in the morning that one could hear the rooster crow. People in the area often shorten the name to “The Doodle.” Serving American country-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners, the decor reflects this theme, with wood paneled walls, burgundy tufted leather booths, wagon wheels on the walls and a separate lounge area that reflects the same decorating scheme. The exterior is wood sided and trimmed with brick and overhung with a fairly new awning. Though it has had several sets of owners since the Sosinskys, it has been owned by Patricia and Joe Costa since 1996.
(1957) Coral Cafe 3321 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505. Coral Cafe was opened in 1957 by Danny and Irene Frydokowski. Located in a freestanding building, trimmed with brick, this 24-hour diner has had makeovers since it was first opened. With plenty of laminate wood, colonial decor chairs, frosted hurricane lamps and cloth booth seating, it retains a vintage dated feel, somewhere between the late ’70s anf early ’90s. Serving an extensive menu of American and Mexican diner classics, it has been owned since 1990 by John Leoisis and Tom Vournas, cousins of the original owners.
(1957) Galley Cafe 829 Harbor Island Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660. Small, sunny diner with yellow leather booths and a view of the marina.
(1957) Ozzie’s Diner 7780 E Slauson Ave, Commerce, CA 90040. Classic, authentic ’50s diner with aqua colored booths, formica counter, an amazing original sign and a dark, cozy lounge with a wood bar tucked to the side.
(1957) Norm’s Restaurant 470 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048. Part of the 1949 founded chain, this Googie Armet & Davis designed location is the oldest left.
(1957) Rod’s Grill 41 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia, CA 91007. Rod’s began as a chain of American-style restaurants opened by Rod Wellman in 1946. The first location was on Atlantic Blvd in Alhambra, but this Arcadia location, Rod’s #4, is the only branch that remains today. Other locations were in El Monte, Pico Rivera, Montebello and East L.A. This was nearly lost to the wrecking ball in 2006, when the city of Arcadia attempted to use eminent domain to enable a Mercedes dealership to expand, but public outcry saved it from demolition. The exterior is in the googie-style, with triangular roof, river rock walls and vintage signs. Inside is a well-preserved mid century diner with turquoise leather booths, brink walls, wood laminate tables and a sloping architectural ceiling.
(1957) Safari Room 15426 Devonshire St, Mission Hills, CA 91345. The Safari Room is a mid-century steakhouse opened in 1957. Though the exterior of the building is basic light-colored brick, the plastic sign featuring a dancing African warrior hints at the interior decoration. The inside is African safari-themed with black leather semi-circular booths trimmed with faux-leopard fur, a slanted wood beamed ceiling, decor featuring African spears, shields and masks, and a cozy attached wooden bar with black bucket seats.
(1958) Astro Family Restaurant 2300 Fletcher, Los Angeles, CA 90039 .
Mid-century Googie diner that changed names; opened as Donley’s Diner, then Conrad’s, Astro in 1974.
(1958) Dal Rae 9023 E. Washington Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660. This “sophisticated” and pricey mid-century steakhouse was originally opened in 1951 on 105th Street and Western Avenue, near Watts, by Ed Dalton and Rae Harris, who combined their names into a new one to call their restaurant. Shortly afterword the restaurant was purchased by Omaha, Nebraska born brothers, Ben and Bill Smith, who opened this second location on Washington Blvd in Pico Rivera in 1958 and a third location in Fullerton. The Watts location closed in 1969 and the Fullerton restaurant was in business at least into the late 1980s. With an amazing vintage sign out front, unfortunately converted a few years ago from its original neon to plastic, the interior features elegant dark wood walls, a honeycombed ceiling & black leather booths. Though the decor has been somewhat modernized over the years, the menu has stayed much the same from the days when an ashtray was found on every table and a martini with lunch was considered quite normal. This is the place to try some of those classic ’50s menu items that you’ve only heard of, such as Oysters Rockefeller, Sauteed Frog Legs, Duck l’Orange, Crab Louie or the flaming Cherries Jubilee and Banana Flambe. The Dal Rae has been owned by Ben Smith’s sons, Lorin and Kevin, since 1996.
(1958) Frumento’s 214 W Beverly Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. Opened in 1958 by Anthony and Barbara Frumento, this Montebello brick fronted, neighborhood Italian deli and market serves sandwiches, Italian baked goods, gelato, deli case pasta and salads. The counter and deli case have been modernized over the years, but the rest of the room is still pretty original, with polished cement floors, exposed air ducts and tables & chairs for eating. It is still owner and run by the Frumento family.
(1958) Giovanni’s Pizza 922 Williamson Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832. This first pizzeria in the Orange County town of Fullerton was opened by Tony and Emily Codispoti in 1958 and was run by their son Paul Codispoti from 1981 until his death in 1999. Still in the same location today, the interior of this casual Italian restaurant has been modernized over the years, but still features inexpensive pizza, pasta and subs and a separate video game room.
(1958) Jim’s Burgers #1 4660 Gage Ave, Bell, CA 90201. The first of the Jim’s Burgers chain. Amazing vintage sign. Great late 1960s/early 1970s interior with a rock wall, knobbed wood work, wood laminate and molded booths. Serving fast food American and Mexican.
(1958) Lido Pizza 15232 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91411. This vintage pizza parlor is located in the corner of a strip mall built in 1956. Its original weathered plastic sign, topped with a crooked mid-century lantern still stands proudly beckoning patrons to Lido’s circus tent-like ’50s awning and a front entrance built of fabulous river rock. Taken over from a family member in 1960 by Frank Paul Miccolis, a Brooklyn transplant who started the Chi-Chis Pizza chain in 1958 out of Panorama City, this restaurant was his second and is still part of the Chi-Chis family. With a menu serving huge gooey portions of pizza, pasta and Italian salads, Frank’s widow Ida Mae and son Paul Miccolis continue to own the restaurant today. The interior features dim lighting, red-tufted vinyl booths and vintage wrought iron faux stained glass chandeliers and the place probably hasn’t been remodeled since the ’80s. Anchored on the other end of the plaza by the old school dive bar Carlito’s Way, this plaza is worth a trip.
(1958) Original Pancake House 1418 E Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92805. The first California branch of The Original Pancake House was built in 1958 on Lincoln Ave in Anaheim. It had been founded in Portland, Oregon 5 years earlier in 1953 by Les Highet and Erma Hueneke as a restaurant to highlight international pancake recipes. Today there are over 100 restaurants in the chain. This Anaheim location was gutted by fire in 1961 and immediately rebuilt. The exterior resembles a thatched roof cottage, while the interior of this location is still original with wood paneled walls, orange leather booths, knobbed wood room dividers, wood laminate tables and linoleum floors.
(1958) Pann’s Restaurant 6710 La Tijera Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045. Opened by George and Rena Panagopoulos in 1958, after about a decade of working in other L.A. area restaurants, Pann’s is a classic googie-style coffee shop currently only open during breakfast and lunch hours. Designed by architects Eldon Davis and Helen Lui Fong of the Armet & Davis architectural firm, the exterior has a space age triangular roofline, river rock walls and original neon sign. The interior has red leather booths, a long wood laminate counter with ivory leather stools and more river rock.
(1958) The Pizza Show 13344 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA 90250. The Pizza Show opened in 1958 on Hawthorne Blvd in Hawthorne as the second branch of a casual Italian restaurant opened by Jay Evans, an ex-New York City cab driver. Jay moved his family from New York to to California in 1955 and opened the first branch of the Pizza Show in Inglewood in 1956. He kept it running until 1966, when he opened a third branch in Lawndale, which closed in the early 2000s. Now owned by Jay’s son, Gary, this Hawthorne branch has red leather booths and vintage old world, rustic touches. The exterior is faced with brick and has vibrant, red, white and green circus-like signs with flags and a few cafe tables for outdoor eating. The inside has a fun feel, designed to resemble an old Italian village courtyard, with doors and windows on the walls, exposed brick and trompe d’oeil murals. The Beach Boys grew up a few blocks away & used to get pizza here after their gigs in the early ’60s.
(1958) Rae’s Restaurant 2901 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Classic 1950s diner with red leather booths, vintage light fixtures, neon sign and exterior wall made of rock. Authentic neighborhood old school feel. Contrary to popular belief, there was no Rae. The name is derived from the initials of the names of the original owners: Ralph, his wife Alphonsine, and their daughter Eloise. The S is for their last name-Shipman.
(1958) Sandwiches by Connal 1505 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104
This fast food sandwich stand opened in 1958 and has a local, casual feel. It has an indoor eating area that has been completely remodeled with a ’50s vibe, but still feels authentic. Two cool vintage signs hang out front.
(1959) Cavaretta’s Italian Deli 22045 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91304. Opened in 1959 on Sherman Way in Canoga Park. A recent exterior remodel unfortunately removed the cool vintage sign & the mid-century river rock fronting. However, the interior has kept its authentic integrity with old school glass deli cases filled with Italian cold cuts, cookies, cannoli and a mish mash of collectibles crowding the walls. An area with baseball memorabilia commemorates a cousin, Phil Cavaretta, who played Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs from 1935 to 1954.
(1959) Chez Jay 1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Chez Jay was opened fourth of July weekend in 1959 on Ocean St in Santa Monica by a struggling actor from the east coast named Jay Fiondella. A combination bar/restaurant with red leather booths, wood paneled walls, port hole windows and a formica topped bar, it became a hangout of some of the coolest celebrities of the 1960s & 1970s: Richard Burton, Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joe DiMaggio, Judy Garland, The Beach Boys, Jim Morrison and many more… Jay passed away in 2008, but the place has thankfully not changed a bit. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the interior is still exactly the same, along with saw dust on the floors and bowls of peanuts on the bar.
(1959) Dinah’s Family Restaurant 6521 S Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045. Homey diner that’s been remodeled but keeps some vintage integrity.
(1959) Gazzolo’s Sausages 132 E Highland Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92404. Walking into Gazzolo’s on Highland Ave in San Bernardino is a bit like stepping into an old German fairy tale. Opened in 1959 as Otto’s Sausages by Otto Doggwiler, who immigrated from Switzerland with his family’s sausage recipes, it has functioned as a restaurant, deli and homemade sausage company ever since. Doggwiler retired and returned to Switzerland and it has been owned since 1986 by Jay Gazzolo, who changed part of the store’s name to reflect his own. Santos Favela, a 72-year old sausage maker, has been working at the restaurant since the early 1960s and can still be seen there today. Both the exterior and interior are magical and full of charm. The outside, with a wood cobbled roof, faux log exterior, faux chimney bright colors, window shutters and flower boxes, looks like a Disneyland creation. Written on the front of the building is “Bavarian Inn” and “German Dinners,” but an amazing vintage plastic sign, likely from the 1960s, in the shape of a pennant hanging from a javelin says, “European Dining, Specializing in Austrian, German and Swiss.” Entrance is through the back parking lot and a wood cobbled portico with another sign, “Wilkommen.” Inside is quaint and old world, with wood panelling, and small wooden tables, but the real special place to eat is in the back room, where several wooden booths are part of a Hansel & Gretel-type village set, where patrons eat under an overhand designed to look like a European house, with faux windows and shutters. And yet another small room has the old fashioned deli case, complete with sausages, cold cuts and a few cheeses.
(1959) La Luz del Dia 1 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Located in a historic building on L.A.’s oldest street, this Michoacan-style Mexican restaurant was opened by Jack Berber and his cousin, Pancho Cazares. Jack had owned a market with the same name a few blocks away, but opened this restaurant after receiving permission from Olvera Street’s founder Christine Sterling in 1959. Beginning in 1926 Christine campaigned for several years to have Olvera Street preserved and turned into a tourist area celebrating Mexican culture and was successful in 1930. The restaurant is filled with beautiful tile work, red clay tiled floors, original brick and wood trim. Food is served from a take-out window and has a central dining room and an outdoor patio area. It is now owner by Jack’s son, Henry Berber and grandson, Gregory Berber.
(1959) Marty’s Hamburger Stand 10558 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Marty’s Hamburger Stand opened in 1959 on Pico Blvd in the Rancho Park neighborhood of West L.A. It is a little take-out shack, painted orange and blue, with counter seating available on the sides and a patio with built-in picnic tables in the rear. Serving fast food hamburgers, fries and hotdogs, their speciality is the “Combo,” a chili-hot dog topped-cheeseburger. The stools and tables, also painted orange and blue, are original vintage fixtures.
(1959) Matt & Tony’s 10710 Sepulveda Blvd, Mission Hills, CA 91345. Serving hot and cold Italian submarine sandwiches in a funky corner hut with hand painted murals on the exterior walls, the interior holds a few ’60s molded laminate booths.
(1959) Pina Pizza House 11102 Paramount Blvd, Downey, CA 90241. Pina Pizza House is family owned pizza parlor, Downey’s oldest Italian restaurant. It was named after the family matriarch, Pina Persico, who founded the restaurant with her husband John in 1959. The interior is basic and casual, with a patchwork of decor styles, from the 1960s to the 1980s, including vintage wall and floor tile.
(1959) Red Lion Tavern 2366 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. The Red Lion Tavern opened in 1959 on Glendale Blvd in Silverlake. It’s a kitschy German tavern that was originally opened by the owners of the even older Cole’s restaurant in downtown L.A. Although Red Lion was originally an Old English pub, it became German in 1963. With forest green leather booths, wood paneled walls, windows made of multi-colored bottles, waitresses in Oktoberfest-style cinched dresses and an extensive German beer list, this restaurant/bar is a local institution. The food is straight up traditional German- sausages, schnitzel and pretzels as big as your head. Check out the weird piano lounge act as well.
(1959) Tallyrand 1700 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91506. Tallyrand is an American diner opened in 1959 on Olive Avenue in Burbank by Al and Delores Thomas, transplants from the Mid-West. Remodeled somewhat over the years, the interior has a 1960s meets 1980s feel with a long laminate eating counter, ’80s-style booths and a lot of faux wood. The exterior has kept much of its original mid-century flavor, with original font on the front of the building and a decorative diamond pattern as well. The original sign with Al Thomas’ name in neon above the restaurant’s was unfortunately eventually replaced with a modern plastic version, but the separate cocktail lounge, also recently remodeled, still survives. This diner was a favorite of California TV tour guide Huell Howser.
(1959) Tito’s Tacos 11222 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90230. Much beloved Americanized hard-shelled tacos served at an outdoor stand with notoriously long lines. This taco stand was opened in 1959 in Culver City by business partners Benjamin Davidson and Benny Vizcarra, but has been owned since 1981 by Davidson’s granddaughter Lynne Davidson. The interior is remodeled fast-food simplicity with basic tables and ceiling fans. Picnic table seating is also available outside. A bright yellow plastic sign out front is likely ’70s era.
(1959) Tortilla Inn 18114 Parthenia St, Northridge, CA 91325. Though this family-owned Mexican restaurant is located in a somewhat off-putting strip mall with a modern plastic sign, inside has a feeling of hidden treasure, an old school restaurant that has kept much of its mid-century decor and integrity. With a dimly-lit atmosphere, red leather booths and separate bar, the interior is paneled with both wood and brick.
(1960) Compari’s Pizza 5490 W Centinela Ave, Westchester, CA 90045. In its original strip-mall location on Centinela Ave since 1960, Compari’s has a quaint, casual, old neighborhood feel. The exterior still has its original river rock front and the arrow part of its vintage neon sign is original. Serving Northern Italian-style pizza and pasta, the long, narrow interior is built to recreate an outdoor courtyard in Italy, a unique feature. The walls are brick, with windows, shutters and awnings to appear you are outside looking in. The ceiling and rear wall is completely and heavily covered with plastic grape vines, to give one the feeling of eating under a trellis. Other vintage decorations include original 1960s hanging lanterns and paintings of the Italian masters along the walls.
(1960) Domenico’s Italian Restaurant 2411 E Washington, Pasadena, CA 91104.
Family owned & run for three generations, Domenico’s got its start as a small take-out pizza and spaghetti restaurant opened in 1960 by Domenic and Rose Bitonti. Eventually adding a sit-down dining room and a full Italian menu, the restaurant is still owned today by the couple’s three children. Though separate, much newer, branches of Domenico’s operate in Glendora and Monrovia, this restaurant has no connection to the Long Beach Domenico’s.
(1960) Jim’s Famous Quarterpound Burger 8749 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770. Vintage fast food burger joint on its second owner. Opened in 1960 on Valley Blvd in Rosemead, by “Jim” of course. Since 1997 they have a new owner, but they are still famous for their amazing & enormous banana milkshakes.
(1960) Paty’s Restaurant 10001 Riverside Dr, Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Remodeled retro diner patronized by celebrities. Near Warner Bros studios. Originally called Gaby’s, when former owner Cathy Baker bought it the name was changed to Paty’s. New owners bought the restaurant in 1999 and completely remodeled it.
(1960) Yamashiro 1999 N Sycamore Ave, L.A., CA 90068. Fine Japanese-style dining. Built in 1914, with romantic views and L.A.’s oldest structure- a 600 year-old pagoda.
(1961) Arthur’s Restaurant 8813 Lakewood Blvd, Downey, CA 90240. Authentic ’60s diner with wood paneled walls, olive green leather booths, wood laminate tables and original front sign.
(1961) Casa de Pizza 16161 San Fernando Mission Blvd, Granada Hills, CA 91344. Casa de Pizza was opened in 1961 in a strip mall on San Fernando Mission Blvd in Granada Hills by a Chicago couple who had come west five years earlier. Originally a simple Italian takeout pizza parlor, it expanded in 1965, adding eight tables and a decorating scheme of Frank Sinatra memorabilia. Apparently in the early ’70s Sinatra himself visited after hours, leaving a $900 tip and the permission that the restaurant could call the dining room “The Sinatra Room.” Today the dining room has doubled in size, adding more Frank decor, such as framed posters and record albums. The exterior has original ’60s river rock. The interior, though modernized over the years, is Italian bistro chic, featuring a trellis with plastic grape vines, built in booths and a raised alcove where a Frank Sinatra tribute band plays on Thursday nights.
(1961) Harold’s House of Omelettes 2440 E Thousand Oaks, Thousand Oaks, 91362. Harold’s House of Omelettes opened in Thousand Oaks, CA in 1961. Located in a strip mall with an old plastic sign, this cafe serves omelettes as well as burgers, sandwiches and Mexican food. The interior is country kitsch decor with a 1960s feel. Along with wood paneled walls and farmhouse style wallpaper, there are black vinyl booths. Opened by Harold Warner, a WWll vet and big band era drummer, who had started in the restaurant business as a cook at the Hollywood & Vine location of Du-Par’s restaurant in 1949 and then moved in the early 1950s to Thousand Oaks to begin a Du-Par’s there. Harold continued cooking at his own cafe until the late 1990s.
(1961) Hinano Cafe 15 W. Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292. Breakfast & burgers. Funky beach side shack that was one of Jim Morrison’s favorite hangs. Cement floors, loosely wood planked ceilings, pool tables & sawdust on the floor.
(1961) Mario’s Italian Deli 740 E Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205. Mario Tribuzi opened Mario’s Italian Deli in 1961 on Broadway Ave in Glendale, CA and it is owned by his son today. Known for their sandwiches on crusty rolls, this small Italian market has a long glass deli counter filled with Italian meats, cheeses, salads and pasta dishes and is extremely busy during lunch hours. With a handful of tables available for eating in, ordering is done at the counter. The interior is old school utilitarian, while the outside is trimmed with brick and features hand painted signs.
(1961) The Rock Store 30354 Mulholland Hwy, Cornell, CA 91301. Originally opened as a grocery store, it had been a stage coach stop in the 1910s. Rustic BBQ/Burger joint & motorcycle hangout. River rock facade and outdoor patio.
(1961) Roma D’Italia 611 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780. The first Italian restaurant in Tustin, opened in 1961, Roma d’Italia has been owned by the Corea family since 1968, after patriarch Dominic Corea, formerly a carpenter, took over the business. Still run by his children and grandchildren today, the restaurant specializes in huge servings of Italian comfort food, pizza, pasta and entrees, served on top of red and white checked tablecloths. In addition to a cool plastic mid-century sign out front featuring a cartoon chef flipping a pizza there are only a few original vintage architectural touches left after a 2011 expansion, including river rock in the entranceway and brick trimmed walls.
(1961) Uncle Bill’s Pancake House 1305 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Located in a 1908 built house. American breakfast and lunch foods.
(1962) Angelo’s Italian Restaurant 1540 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803. Angelo’s Italian Restaurant spent its first four decades under the helm of two separate men named Angelo. Opened in 1962 by Angelo Sabatelli, the restaurant was sold to Angelo Comas in 1979 who owned it until 2005. Though a recent renovation took away most of the vintage decor, the newest owner, Zack Frluckaj, has kept the original owner’s Italian recipes and expanded the menu.
(1962) Casita del Campo 1920 Hyperion Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Rudy del Campo was a Broadway and Las Vegas dancer who had a role playing one of the “Sharks” in the 1961 film version of West Side Story. The year after the movie was released, Rudy, with his sister and first wife, purchased a house on Hyperion Avenue in Silverlake and remodeled it to open Casita del Campo. Serving Mexican food, the restaurant is dark and romantic, the main room filled with knobby mid-century wood and red leather booths tucked under a wooden portico, Mexican-inspired art and a large bar with stools and ’70s era deco inspired stained glass. A brighter middle room has trees and foliage, while an outdoor patio features outstanding, brightly colored mosaic tabled. A theater in the basement mainly hosts alternative stage work and cabaret. Though Rudy passed away in 2003, the restaurant is still owned by his children and widow, Nina, who has been part of the business since 1965.
(1962) Chee Chinese Restaurant 850 W Willow St, Long Beach, CA 90806. Classic 1960s restaurant architecture and an amazing vintage sign. The interior is old school utilitarian with booths, wood laminate tables & Chinese decorative touches.
(1962) Chinese Garden 856 N Garfield Ave, Montebello, CA 90640. Sammy & Jane Mar opened Chinese Garden Restaurant on N. Garfield Ave in Montebello, CA on October 18, 1962. Serving Cantonese-style Chinese food, it is currently owned and operated by the Mar family. The exterior has 1960s river rock detailing and mid-century globe lamps, while the interior has been modernized over the years and has burgundy leather booths alongside standard tables and chairs, along with a few Chinese decorations.
(1962) Cupid’s Hot Dogs 20030 Vanowen St, Winnetka, CA 91306. A small chain started in 1946 in North Hollywood, this walk-up hot dog stand has two vintage locations left. Both have a great heart-shaped sign.
(1962) Dear John’s 11208 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230. American steakhouse. Classic, dimly lit ambiance; brick walls, leather booths, framed photos of famous “Johns.” In 2018 this restaurant was remodeled with new owners. Apparently much of the vintage decor was removed during this renovation and the restaurant closed the same year. It reopened again in June 2019 as a “pop up” with vintage decor, but is only temporary.
(1962) El Cholo 840 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, CA 90631. A second branch of El Cholo restaurant opened in 1962 on Whittier Blvd in La Habra, CA by Ron Salisbury, the son of the owners of the first El Cholo, George & Aurelia. The original El Cholo is the oldest surviving Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles and has been on Western Ave in Los Angeles since 1927. The interior of this La Habra location features dark wood booths, beamed ceilings, traditional Mexican decor and a big outdoor eating courtyard. Ron now owns the original restaurant as well.
(1962) Flo’s Airport Cafe Chino Airport, 7000 Merrill Ave #8, Chino, CA 91710. This simple bare bones cafe/diner with a greasy spoon-type character was opened by Flo Slack in 1962 at the Chino Airport. A popular spot for local aviators and workers, the menu features hearty breakfasts, American comfort food and a large selection of pies. The room is simple, with basic tables and chairs, a wood laminate eating counter with attached brown leatherette swivel stools, framed photos of aviation and military history on the walls and linoleum floors. Flo retired in 1975 and the restaurant has been owned by Paul and Donna Hughes since that time.
(1962) HMS Bounty 3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010. Kitschy nautical-themed bar & grill with red leather booths, a wooden bar & port holes in the walls. It originally opened in 1948 and was called the Gay Room because it is part of the Gaylord Hotel. It was remodeled with a very cool nautical theme in 1962 and renamed after the famous ship.
(1962) La Cave 1695 Irvine Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Old-school steak and seafood. Dark and romantic, located downstairs in a cellar. John Wayne was a regular.
(1962) Pepe’s 511 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803. Walk-up and drive-through fast food shack serving Mexican food, opened in 1962 by three brothers, Joe, Tony and Fred. The restaurant was apparently names Pepe’s to commemorate a nephew of the same name who was sent to fight in Vietnam that year. Food quantities are large and heavy on the cheese and grease. Eating can be done out front under a metal awning shading several bright yellow 1960s built-in picnic tables.
(1962) Ramona’s Mexican Food Products 13633 S Western Ave, Gardena, CA 90249. This is the second location of a fast food Mexican restaurant which opened in 1954 in Huntington Park. Ramona’s got its start in 1947 out of a house at Temple & Beaudry before opening their restaurants. This location still is amazingly vintage with beautiful tile work on both the exterior and throughout the interior, including the floors. The interior of the original Huntington Park location has been completely modernized, but both locations have their original plastic signs.
(1962) Sorrento’s Restaurant 2428 Western Ave, San Pedro, CA 90732. Sorrento’s Restaurant opened in 1962 on Western Ave in San Pedro. Located in a strip mall, it is a small, casual old school Italian-American restaurant with green leather booths, wood paneling, knobby wood dividers and a Italian-themed mural in a circular inlay in the ceiling. Founded by Vince Mattera, who passed away in 2011, it is still owned and operated by his widow, Angie, and his children.
(1962) Stox 9518 Imperial Hwy, Downey, CA 90242. Old school diner which originally started as a 20-seat hamburger stand in Huntington Park that opened in 1954. The exterior is original early ’60s, with a river rock facade and original signs. The interior appears to have not been updated since the late ’70s. There is an attached bar/lounge area with the intriguing name “The Crystal Room.”
(1962) Taix 1911 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Taix restaurant formally opened at this Sunset Blvd location in Echo Park, in 1962 as Les Freres Taix, but the beginnings go back another 25 years to 1927 when Marius Taix Jr. began serving chicken dinners at long, communal wooden tables at a restaurant in his father’s hotel, Champ d’Or, in the downtown French Quarter. Located at 321 Commercial Street, apparently, the previous restaurant owner in the old brick hotel had been arrested for serving alcohol during Prohibition, and that gave Marius Jr. the opportunity to take over the space, which he called Taix Restaurant. Marius Jr.’s sons continued the tradition, moving the restaurant to Echo Park in 1962 and eventually shortening Les Freres Taix to merely Taix. The exterior is long and spacious, designed to look like a French Chateau, with a cobbled pointy roof, several small towers with spires, a low brick wall surrounding the perimeter and a covered entrance on the side of the building. The inside is dark and romantic, consisting of a main dining room, several smaller dining areas and an attached lounge. The environment is filled with dark wood, rich carpeting, brick walls, tin ceilings and an elegant French country meets mid-century modern aesthetic.
(1962) Tamarack Inn 9257 Slauson Ave, Pico Rivera, CA 90660. The Tamarack Inn opened in 1962, on Slauson Ave in Pico Rivera, CA. Located in a rustic, wood cabin-like building constructed in 1925, it is the perfect description of a tavern- a dark bar with tables, serving a full menu, heavy on the burgers, steak and BBQ. The inside is completely made of dark wood, from ceiling to walls to floors to bar to tables, giving it a well-worn authenticity that is impossible to replicate. Decorations include snow shoes on the ceiling, stained glass windows imbedded in the walls which let in small shafts of colored light, and old photographs. The exterior, also heavy dark wood, conveys exactly what you will find inside.
(1962) Tops Jr 2407 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801. Small, old school walk-up fast food shack fronted with mid-century brick, serving pastrami, Mexican and American favorites. An offshoot of the Original Tops in Pasadena, opened 1952, but separately owned.
(1962) Twin Dragon Shanghai Cuisine 8597 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035 Mid-century style American Chinese food. Its exterior is ’60s modern and includes a fantastic Chinese pagoda-style entrance, but has modern remodeled interior.
(1963) Andre’s Italian Restaurant 6332 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Tucked away in a shopping center on 3rd Street, near Fairfax., serving Italian food, including pizza and pasta, dished up cafeteria-style in a serving line with trays. Opened in the early ’60s by “Andre of Beverly Hills” as the second location of his pricey Wilshire Blvd Italian restaurant, this was the inexpensive younger sister. The fancy Andre’s closed in the late 1990s, but this hidden gem survives. Inside is spacious, with basic booths and tables. Most of the vintage has been modernized, but it still has a little bit of that old time feel.
(1963) Casa Calderon 622 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Classic Mexican food in a building reminiscent of a castle, with a turret and large arched window, built by owners Calixto and Esperanza Calderon in 1963. The interior has minimal remodeling or redecoration and has an authentic Mom & Pop feel with original red and blue linoleum floors, mint green booths, pink walls and American colonial-style chairs. The Calderon’s daughter, Linda, now runs the restaurant.
(1963) The Castaway 1250 E Harvard Rd, Burbank, CA 91501. Classic American food. Opened in 1963 as a nautical-themed restaurant with a view; rebuilt in 1994 after arson. It is among the restaurants by Speciality Restaurant Corporation, started by David Tallichet, a pioneer in themed restaurants, who began building them nationwide in 1958. SRC started and continues to operate several other themed vintage restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including The Proud Bird (1967), The Odyssey (1970), Orange Hill (1972) and the 94th Aero Squadron (1973).
(1963) Chico’s Pizza 12120 Long Beach Blvd, Lynwood, CA 90262. Chico’s Pizza opened in 1963 as part of a chain of pizza parlors which were located across five states. Apparently it was once owned by professional wrestler Antone “Ripper” Leone, who refused to join the National Wrestling Alliance and then claimed to have then been blacklisted from wrestling. Today the owner is William Boardeau. The interior is very casual, with counter ordering, communal seating at long plastic covered tables, faux brick walls, paneled wood, ’60s hanging lanterns, video games and a separate room with pool tables. A great kitschy old plastic sign hangs out front and this place truly is trapped in time.
(1963) Cortina’s Italian Market 2175 W Orange Ave, Anaheim, CA 92804. Cortina’s Italian deli and market was opened in 1963 on Orange Ave in Anaheim, CA by brothers Tony and Victor DiDodo, who had relocated to California in the mid-’50s from Montreal, Canada. Still owned by the DiDodo family, this busy deli serves Italian food by counter service in a brick walled room, remodeled after a 2013 fire, with a drop retro-style ceiling, copper lamps and framed sports memorabilia. A market next door sells Italian products and fresh bread. A second location was opened in Orange, CA.
(1963) El Cid 4212 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029. The Sunset Blvd supper club, El Cid, opened in 1963 by Flamenco dancers Juan Talavera, Margarita Cordova, and her husband Clark Allen, has a long history. Though it was remodeled in the early ’60s to look like a 16th-century Spanish tavern, the building itself was constructed in 1915 as one of Los Angeles’ earliest silent movie theaters. In 1925 the theater became a theme restaurant called the Jail Cafe, and through faux windows in its stone, fortress-like exterior peered paintings of convicts behind bars. Waiters dressed as either prison guards or prisoners, and tables were individually located behind steel bars of prop jail cells, labeled on top with imaginary crimes. Between 1932 to 1961 the space once again served as a theater, first the Gateway and then the Caberet Concert Theatre, popular as a hot spot for both musical performances and plays. When it finally became El Cid in 1963, the menu became Spanish, specializing in tapas, paella, sangria and a wonderful dinner Flamenco show, performed on a full stage inside the dining room. The entranceway from Sunset leads down steep, winding stairs to a dark, romantic restaurant with brick walls, wooden floors, Spanish tile, hanging lanterns and an outside courtyard tucked into the hillside.
(1963) La Cabaña 738 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291. La Cabaña restaurant was opened on Rose Avenue In Venice, CA in 1963 by Nina and Carl Haro, and is run today by their children. Originally located in a small thatched roof hut-like building, today the exterior is white washed plaster with a river rock enclosed porch, 1960s plastic signs and a Mexican tiled roof. The interior is dimly lit and carries the mid-century Mexican restaurant look with more river rock, exposed brick, knobby wood posts and more tile. Mariachis are often on duty to serenade, while a tortilla maker molds homemade tortillas in view of restaurant patrons.
(1963) The Magic Castle 7001 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Upscale dining surrounded by vintage magic memorabilia at this members only magician’s club with a strict dress code. Opened in 1963 by magicians Bill & Milt Larsen and located in a large, chataeu-styled mansion built in 1909, it consists of a maze-like collection of multiple magic parlors and several bars, including a formal dining room. Filled to the brim with magic history, memorabilia and antiques, vintage magic posters line many of the walls.
(1963) Matteo’s 2321 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Opened in 1963 by Mateo “Matty” Jordan, who, with the last name Giordano, grew up across the street from Frank Sinatra in Hoboken, New Jersey. This elegant, upscale Italian restaurant was a regular hangout of the crooner, who had a corner booth (table 8) permanently reserved for him. Frank Sinatra’s mother was a mid-wife who delivered Matteo, and the two were life-long pals. Gangster Mickey Cohen, Milton Berle, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Blake and Phyllis Diller were regulars as well. With deep red leather booths and crimson walls trimmed with dark wood and lined with paintings, this white tablecloth restaurant is open for dinner only, but an attached bar area serves happy hour. A vintage sign hangs in front of the marble fronted building, which has a simple black awning.
(1963) Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlor 4115 Paramount Blvd, Lakewood, CA 90712. Me-n-Ed’s Pizza opened for business on Paramount Blvd in Lakewood, CA in 1963. It is part of a chain of franchise restaurants started by Russ Johnson and Ed Sandlin in Sacramento in 1958. The exterior of this Lakewood location features a vintage sign in the shape of a shield with javelin spears and the caption “Ye Olde Publick House.” Though I am quite sure they did not have pizza in Olde England, the British theme continues with the font on the front of the restaurant, a thatched wood awning and a Tudor meets 1960s front door with stained glass. 1960s globe lamps also hang in a line out front. The interior has long communal wooden tables, wood paneled walls, and more thatched wood awnings spanning much of the perimeter of the room. Ordering is done counter-style from a brick wall section where the pizzas are baked. The wall decor is sparse and suggestive of antiques, though confused in a delightful way. Another section called “Ye Olde Filling Station” allows one to order alcohol from a wall menu shaped like rolled parchment called “Ye Olde Brewmaster List” or other beverages from a list called “Ye Olde Fountain for Youth.” A small stage features blue grass bands on Friday and Saturday evenings to add to the cultural mish mash. In 2017 Me-n-Ed Pizza had 60 franchises, mostly centered in Central California, though I have no idea if any of the rest of them have this same cool ’60s feel.
(1963) Pasty Kitchen 3641 Katella Ave, Los Alamitos, CA 90720. Apparently the only restaurant in Orange County specializing in English Pasties (meat pies), Pasty Kitchen was opened in 1963 by an unnamed Michigan transplant and is now run by Jaramillo and Manual Garcia. Located in a small corner location with cash-only counter service and an outdoor patio with a few vintage ’60s umbrella tables, the exterior features hand painted signs and mid-century flagstone trim.
(1963) Pie ‘n Burger 913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106. 1960s diner with wood paneled walls, a long laminate lunch counter and colonial revival counter stools.
(1963) The Red Onion 736 Silver Spur Rd, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274.
Once a nationwide chain of 26 Mexican American restaurants, this Palos Verdes location is the only survivor, the rest had closed by the early ’90s. The first Red Onion got its start in Inglewood in 1949 as a 19-seat Sonoran-styled Mexican diner opened by Harry Earle, while a second location was opened in 1958 by his son Bart in Hawthorne and this third location opened in Palos Verdes in 1963. Owned by Bart’s son, Jeff Earle, since 1996, the interior is dimly lit with cozy carpeting, filled with dark wood, beamed ceilings, brick and crowded with framed art and antiques. The exterior has a paved brick entranceway and fountain,
(1963) The San Franciscan 2520 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505. The San Franciscan restaurant was opened on Sepulveda Blvd in Torrance, CA by Sam and Connie Failla in 1963. A classic mid-century steakhouse, it has kept most of its original interior intact, along with its exterior vintage signage and river rock entrance. Inside are crimson red leather booths, dark knobby wood room dividers, a long bar trimmed with brown leather, paneled walls and dark brown wooden captain’s chairs.
(1963) Sorrento Italian Market 5518 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230. Old school Italian market with authentic deli, opened in 1963 by Albert Vera, an immigrant from outside Naples, Italy and his wife, Ursula, a German immigrant. The deli is owner today by the couple’s son, Albert Vera, Jr. Serving deli meat sandwiches on crunchy rolls, Italian hot dishes and fresh bakery goods, the market is filled with imported Italian groceries. Outdoor picnic tables are available out back for eating.
(1964) Arry’s Super Burgers 1015 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. Casual hamburgers, pastrami and Mexican fast food in a non-descript mid-’60s building with an original vintage sign.
(1964) Carlo’s Pizza House 13230 Woodruff Ave, Downey, CA 90242. Opened by Italian immigrant Carmine Paolicci in 1964 and named for his only son Carlo, who runs the restaurant today, the menu is straight forward casual Italian American, serving pizza, hot submarines, calzones and some basic pastas. The space, located in the corner of a strip mall, is small and cozy and can be described as a pleasant hole-in-the-wall.
(1964) Chuck’s Coffee Shop 4120 E Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90803. This coffee shop/diner was opened by the gregarious Chuck Tinkler in 1964, blocks from the Pacific Ocean in the Belmont Shores area of Long Beach. Standing kitty corner at the crossroads of two streets, the long building is attention grabbing. Emblazoned in large hand-painted lettering is Chuck’s Coffee Shop- Home of the “Weasel”- Locally World Famous.” The Weasel is scrambled eggs topped with chili and served with potatoes and toast. The interior is basic and unadorned, with the exception of a black mid-century cone fireplace standing in the center of the room. The eating counter is horseshoe shaped laminate wood, while the ’60s vintage stools and booths were recovered in vinyl, likely in the ’80s, judging by the pattern. There is a full menu of diner-style American food, including breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches and some Mexican items as well. Chuck passed away in 2017, but the restaurant has been run by his daughter, Laurie Surface, since about 2015.
(1964) Dan Tana’s 9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Opened in 1964, in the space that previously held Dominick’s restaurant, Dan Tana’s was named for its new owner, a Yugoslavian former professional soccer player, who had done some acting on the side. Tana had also worked as a dish washer at Micelli’s restaurant (1949 on this list) and then as a maitre d’ at La Scala and Villa Capri (now the Rainbow). The building was constructed in 1938 for Black’s Lucky Spot Café, which had a lunch counter, but soon became Domenico’s Lucky Spot and then just Dominick’s until Dan Tana took it over. The small pricey Italian restaurant, with red walls and darker red leather booths, traditional checked table cloths and chianti bottle hanging from the ceiling, is an iconic celebrity-studded hotspot.
(1964) Foxy’s Restaurant 206 W Colorado St, Glendale, CA 91204. Diner in a cool A-frame building. Although the inside has been remodeled, vestiges of the ’60s remain with a cool river rock fireplace. Eating in the actual wooden, triangular A-frame section of the diner is unique. Their menu now is focused mainly on Southwestern food, but many breakfast choices too.
(1964) Fratone’s 9148 Telegraph Rd, Downey, CA 90240. Classic mid-century Italian restaurant serving mainly pizza and pasta. Exterior has ’60s brick and a heavy wooden door with colored glass inset. The interior still holds true to the 1960s flavor with original yellow linoleum floors, red flocked wallpaper, wood panelling, stained glass and padded booths. The decoration is old school Italian kitsch with red and white checked tablecloths, thatched awnings over the tables, fake plants and imitation Tiffany lights. Ordering is done at a window upon entering. Opened in a former grocery store by the Tesoriero family, immigrants from Sicily, the business is now owned by the original owner’s sons.
(1964) Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe 5536 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004. Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe was opened in 1964 by the late Lucy and Frank Casado. Serving Mexican food in a stylized mid-century adobe building, the interior has several separate dining areas along with a romantic outdoor courtyard featuring low river rock walls, old brick floor tiles and a rustic stone fountain. The inside features brick walls, polished Mexican paved floors, brown leather booths with wood laminate tables, a built in bar and hundreds of framed celebrity headshots covering the walls. Across the street from Paramount Studios it has been a casual celebrity hangout since it was built and was specifically known as a favorite of Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles.
(1964) My Hero 9514 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324. My Hero Submarine Sandwiches opened on Reseda Blvd in Northridge in 1964. It is a much beloved neighborhood Mom & Pop sandwich shop now on its 2nd owner. The interior is small and basic with wood paneled walls, gingham curtains, a few tables and a counter & stools eating set-up. Ordering is from a take-out counter. A “My Hero” wall features photos dedicated to harness racing & local Northridge sports teams.
(1964) The Talpa 11751 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. La Talpa Mexican restaurant opened in 1964 on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles, not far from the border of Santa Monica. It is small and family owned, having had several owners since its original opening. The exterior is covered in brick and has an amazing neon sign of a man in a sombrero taking a siesta under a cactus. The simple interior is decorated with festive murals and front facing stained glass windows. There are wood paneled walls, red leather booths and a cozy back room bar with additional seating.
(1964) Tartan of Redlands 24 E Redlands Blvd, Redlands, CA 92373. Opened in April 1964 by three brothers, Velmer, Al and Art Croteau, Tartan serves a casual American steakhouse menu, with burgers, sandwiches and full meat and fish entrees. With wood paneled walls, deep read leather horseshoe booths, knobby wood and a long wood laminate bar trimmed with black leather, the interior is a remarkably preserved mid-century restaurant. Since 2015 Tartan has been owned by Jeff and Lisa Salamon.
(1964) Twin Castle 4400 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, CA 91602. Twin Castle Drive-in was built in 1964 and is located on Vineland Ave in a North Hollywood strip mall. Used as a location in a 1977 episode of the Rockford Files called “Trouble in Chapter 17,” this casual fast food hamburger and burrito stand has a plexiglass take-out window with original round vintage picnic tables out front. The most interesting feature of this restaurant is its odd architecture. When viewed from the side, the roofline has a castle-like appearance, made of cement turrets. Also surviving on the side exterior wall are plastic shields featuring lively vintage dog mascots dressed in costumes- The Emperor, The Prince, The Duke, The Kaiser.
(1964) Vargas Mexicatessen 4608 Durfee Ave, Pico Rivera, CA 90660. With a hand painted sign announcing Tamales-Tacos-Burritos-Menudo, this store front deli opened in 1964 and serves Mexican food to go from a take-out window. Family run by Mike Vargas.
(1964) Victorio’s 10901 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606. In the same location since 1964, Victorio’s has been owned by Robert & Jaime Sandoval since 1984. A small, redecorated Italian restaurant with high ceilings, polished concrete floors and white tablecloths, the atmosphere is a bit more modern and polished than many of the old restaurants on this list. A small stage hosts lounge singers and small jazz bands.
(1964) Vitello’s 4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604. Vitello’s had a humble start as an Italian submarine shop when it was opened in 1964 by Sal Vitello, a transplanted New Yorker and bread baker. Bought in 1977 by Sicilian immigrant brothers Joe and Steve Restivo, they kept the name and added a full Italian menu. The Studio City location soon became frequented by celebrities, most notoriously by actor Robert Blake, who after dining at the restaurant in 2001 was tied to the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, which occurred in their car around the corner. Remodeled with a modern trendy vibe, Vitello’s holds little of its original vintage, but a jazz supper club upstairs brings cool music acts to the spot.
(1964) Ye Olde Lamplighter 255 E 40th St, San Bernardino, CA 92404. Located in a strip mall in San Bernardino, this steakhouse has had a few makeovers since its 1964 opening, but still has the dark, cozy vintage vibe. The exterior features shuttered windows, a brick entryway, hanging lanterns and a heavy castle-like door.
(1965) Bill’s Burgers 14742 Oxnard St., Van Nuys, CA 91411. Bill’s Burgers was opened in 1965 on Oxnard Street in Van Nuys by Bill Elwell, who still owns it and runs the grill today. It is a tiny, no-frills, walk-up hamburger shack with a few stools, a small red laminate counter and a table in the back. Located in a somewhat desolate industrial area, this little stand takes cash only and is open weekday business hours.
(1965) Captain Jack’s 16812 Pacific Coast Hwy, Sunset Beach, CA 90742. Opened in 1965 by surfboard pioneer & champion Jack Haley, this seafood restaurant still has a ’60s vibe with an exposed river rock exterior, a statue of a seafaring, peg-legged sailor on the front and original signs. With windows overlooking an adjacent canal, burgundy tufted leather booths, a piano lounge with a glowing fish tank, wooden ceilings, stained glass, port holes and tons of fishing ephemera, it has a cool, rustic nautical feel. Jack was a larger than life character who opened one of the area’s first surf shops in 1961 before opening this restaurant. He passed away in the year 2000 at age 65.
(1965) Cupid’s Hot Dogs 9039 Lindley Ave, Northridge, CA 91325. A small chain started in 1946 in North Hollywood, this walk-up hot dog stand has two vintage locations left. Both have a great heart-shaped sign.
(1965) D.J. Coffee Shop 265 E 40th St, San Bernardino, CA 92404. Located in a San Bernardino strip mall, D.J. has kept its original mid-60s aesthetic intact. An exterior neon sign is original, along with its orange plastic exterior font and thatched roof exterior. Serving American coffee shop cuisine and all-day breakfasts, the interior features wood paneled walls, a wood laminate counter with black bucket stools, original linoleum floors, and original booth seating.
(1965) Five Crowns 3801 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. Five Crowns restaurant is located in a 1936 constructed Tudor-style building that once served as an inn and getaway for Hollywood stars such as Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, Howard Hughes, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. After 1948 the building housed a gambling and prostition den called the Hurley Bell. Bought in 1965 by Richard Frank, a second generation restauranteur, whose father, Lawrence Frank and uncle, Walter Van de Kamp, founded the Tam O’Shanter restaurant in Los Feliz in 1922 and Lawry’s Prime Rib in 1938, the new fine dining Five Crowns restaurant was created to resemble an old English manor house with authentic antiques, paintings, an English steakhouse menu and waitresses in “serving wench” uniforms. Walter Van de Kamp suggested the name Five Crowns because the new restaurant would be the fifth created by the family, “and each was a jewel in our crown.” The interior features planked wooden floors, exposed brick, dark wood and white-tablecloth styled dining. The exterior has stained glass windows and a red British telephone booth in the front.
(1965) Franks Restaurant 916 W Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91506. Classic mid-1960s diner architecture. Button-tufted booths, wood laminate counters.
(1965) Mama Cozza’s Italian Restaurant 2170 W Ball Rd, Anaheim, CA 92804. Mama Cozza’s restaurant opened in 1965 on Ball Rd in Anaheim. Serving old school Italian food and pizza, they have kept the remodels to a minimum and still have a vintage feeling. The exterior is trimmed with cut river rock, while the interior has wood paneled walls, Tiffany-style hanging stained glass lamps, dark green leather booths and the prerequisite red & white checked table cloths. Sports memorabilia and photos are a theme here with items displayed for decoration throughout the restaurant. An attached bar area has additional booth seating.
(1965) Mexi-Casa 1778 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801. Mexi-Casa opened in 1965 on Lincoln Street in Anaheim, CA. Its first location was two doors down from where it resides today. The original spot became the El Conejo club and then Cuban Pete’s, both now closed. Today this old school Mexican Restaurant stands at 1778 W. Lincoln Boulevard. The exterior is brick and wooden trim with a heavy door. The interior is very cool and has a distinct ’70s vibe with wood paneled walls and a wood paneled bar, dark burgundy tufted leather booths, a massive brick fireplace, knobby wooden room dividers and wall insets made of cement breeze block, 1970s hanging lamps, laminate wood tables and ’70s colonial-style wooden chairs. This location was once the restaurant for the Kettle Motor Motel, and fits perfectly with the Mexi-Casa ambiance, which is well known for large servings and extremely inexpensive prices.
(1965) Mexican Village 3668 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004. The Mexican Village is an old-school family owned Mexican restaurant located on Beverly Blvd, just outside the border of Silverlake, often overlooked by those in the neighborhood. Opened by Abel Olivares in 1965, it is now run by his children, Abel Jr., Diana and Blanca. The interior is spacious, with tables and chairs, rather than booths, and features Saltillo-tiled floors and traditional Mexican decor.
(1965) Phoenix Inn 301 Ord St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Old-school Americanized Chinese cuisine, the interior of the restaurant was renovated and modernized in 2010. Thankfully the mid-’60s signs out front remain
(1965) The Prospector 2400 E 7th St, Long Beach, CA 90804. A 1849 Gold Rush-themed steakhouse with an attached bar. It has amazing exterior murals and signs, including wood cutouts and a wishing well. Inside is dimly lit with old school booths, wood paneling, tons of mining/Old West/cowboy decorations and a lounge featuring live music.
(1965) San Marino Grill 2494 Huntington Dr, San Marino, CA 91108. Family owned cash-only coffee shop opened by Walter Celic in 1965 and now owned by his children. It has kept true to its 1960s design with original exterior signs and an interior that seems untouched by time. It features a long wood laminate counter and tables, burgundy leather booths, stained glass hanging lamps, wood paneled walls, drop ceilings and clay tile floors.
(1965) The Steak Corral 11605 Washington Blvd, Whittier, CA 90606.
This is the last survivor of a kitschy ’60s steakhouse chain. Located in a low, ranch-style building, its mascot out front is a boy in a ten-gallon hat swinging a lasso. The old school Western touches are plentiful- horseshoe cutouts on the shutters, cow heads and rifles on the walls, hanging lanterns, child seats made from old saddles and even a wagon train over the salad bar, and amazing kitsch galore. The 1960s flavor remains with river rock walls, naugahyde booths and eating areas under shingled coves. Food is ordered cafeteria style and then brought by servers to the table and the prices are surprisingly old school too. The menu is obviously meat-centric, but there is a salad bar, baked potato bar and a great make-your-own-sundae bar too.
(1965) Tony’s Italian Deli 2012 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. This Montebello Italian deli was opened in 1965 by Italian immigrant Francesco Nanci and his wife Angelina. The storefront is basic, with a wonderful trompe l’oeil Italian village mural painted on one wall, some tables, chairs and a remodeled counter and floor, but the old school glass deli cases remain, as does the original plastic sign hanging outside the brick-fronted exterior. Serving fresh made Italian submarines, pizza, pasta and antipasto, a speciality is their 2 to 8 foot-long party submarines on freshly baked loaves of bread. The shop has been owned since 2001 by the couple’s daughter, Loredana Nanci-Piazza and her husband Salvatore.
(1965) Woody’s Wharf 2318 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663.
Waterfront sea food restaurant with wooden booths and a vintage pier-like feel. Great sign.
(1966) Al & Bea’s Mexican Food 2025 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033. Located in a small, brick fronted Boyle Heights shack, Al & Bea’s was opened by husband and wife, Albert & Beatrice Carreon, in November 1966. Serving fast-food Mexican from a pick-up window with a few picnic tables for on-site dining, a hand painted sign informs customers that their specialty is burritos. The business is now run by the couple’s son, Ryan Carreon. Both Al and Bea passed away within two months of each other in 2018.
(1966) Avila’s El Ranchito 6703 Santa Fe Ave, Huntington Park, CA 90255. Opened in 1966 by Salvador and Margarita Avila, immigrants from Guanajuato, Mexico, this Huntington Park Mexican restaurant started with five tables has now expanded into a chain of 12 other locations throughout Orange County. Festive and brightly colored with a Mexican motif and built-in wood trellis work, most of the ’60s decorating elements have been wiped out, but the large corner building was constructed in 1925, so the high interior exposed brick walls are able to reflect a little history.
(1966) Benjie’s Deli 1828 N Tustin Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705. Benjies Deli was opened in 1967 on Tustin Ave in Santa Ana by Brooklyn native Stan Weinstein. The restaurant took over the building of Squires Coffee Shop and was named after Stan’s father-in-law. It is a traditional and authentic Jewish deli with minimal remodeling. Its interior includes deep orange booths and counter seats, laminate wood counter top and tables, a deli case and an attached bar. It is now owned by the son of its founder.
(1966) Clearman’s Northwoods Inn 7247 Rosemead Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91775. A Yukon style dinner experience at a rustic-themed hunting lodge where the roof is bedecked with faux snow and its eaves hung with glistening faux icicles. The interior of this vintage restaurant chain gets even more interesting. Within its darkened cabin-like interior you will find wood beamed ceilings, red leather seating, stained glass as far as the eye can see and life-sized taxidermy bears. The first Clearman’s North Woods Inn was opened by John Clearman in San Gabriel, near the edge of Pasadena, in 1966, followed by another in Covina in 1967. A third location was added in La Mirada in 1989, which can be seen from the north-bound 5 freeway. Bowls of peanuts are placed on each table and signs encourage patrons to festively “Throw Peanut Shells on the Floor”. The menu is standard surf & turf with enormous portions, and this would be a place to come to order a steak as big as your face. A reasonably priced Happy Hour is held in the cool and woodsy bar area, with discounts on both drinks and certain appetizers. Celebrated for their cheese bread and cabbage salad, these may be the only menu items, besides a few other appetizers, that your vegetarian friends will be willing to eat.
(1966) El Matador 1768 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Opened in 1966 by Marcial Gallardo, an immigrant from Zacatecas, Mexico, this Costa Mesa Mexican restaurant was owned by its founder for nearly 40 years, until his death in 2003. A family feud about its inheritance followed, causing the eatery to be placed at public auction and allowing Greg and Jana McConaughy to pick up the reins in 2005. The couple remodeled the interior and exterior and doubled the restaurant in size by adding a second dining room. The result removed the majority of the vintage, though the history is still there.
(1966) The Horseless Carriage 15505 Roscoe Blvd, North Hills, CA 91343. The Horseless Carriage was opened in 1966 on Roscoe Blvd in North Hills, as a part of Galpin Ford, when the auto dealership relocated to its current location on Roscoe Blvd. It was the first auto dealership in the country to have a full-service restaurant on site. With large plate glass windows, an eating counter and teal-colored seating and booths, the restaurant functions as a diner, serving American favorites and all-day breakfasts. Though some of the original 1960s elements show through- the original terrazo floors, the built-in swivel counter seats and a couple exterior signs with mid-century font, much of the decor was modernized in the ’80s or ’90s, with etched glass booth dividers, imitation deco hanging lamps and patterned fabric booths.
(1966) La Dolce Vita 9785 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. La Dolce Vita is a pricey Northern Italian restaurant which was opened in Beverly Hills in 1966 by former Villa Capri (see Rainbow Bar & Grill, 1972) waiters Jimmy Ullo and George Smith. Both Frank Sinatra and actor George Raft were original investors. A Rat Pack favorite with exposed brick walls, a dark interior, red leather booths & white tablecloths, the interior is classically elegant, designed by 20th Century-Fox Studios art director Lyle Wheeler, a winner of five Academy Awards, and nominated for 17 more, responsible for 361 films, including Gone With the Wind, The Seven Year Itch and The King and I. The Kennedys were La Dolce Vita patrons, as were the Reagans and President Ronald’s favorite booth is noted with a plaque. Apparently Sinatra’s favorite booth was in the corner, by the bar, with a view of the front door, though another decoy booth bears his plaque. The restaurant has been owned by Alessandro Uzielli since 2003.
(1966) La Paloma 2975 Foothill Blvd, La Verne, CA 91750. La Paloma Mexican opened in July 1966 by Joe Parker, who already owned Mexican restaurants in San Bernardino. Today it is still owned by his family. Located in a former orange grove, its building was constructed in 1930 as Wilson’s Sandwich Shop and then enlarged to become Wilson’s Steakhouse from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. La Paloma’s interior features the original steakhouse’s wood beamed ceilings, wrought iron, red leather booths and stained glass taken from a demolished church. An amazing original 1960s neon sign stands out front.
(1966) Lupo D’Abruzzo 6032 Ball Rd, Buena Park, CA 90620. This family-style Italian restaurant was opened by Gaetano and Sia DiLisio in 1966, when this area of Orange County was still quite rural. Seeing the exterior plastic sign anchoring this restaurant to its spot in the strip mall where it resides, a passerby wound have no clue to the mid-century history hiding behind its plate glass windows. With red leather booths, laminate tables and a half wall of wood paneling, the entire room is covered with Italian-style el fresco murals painted in 1966 by artist Stefano Falk. The restaurant has been owned since 1998 by the owner’s son, Cesare DiLisio and his wife Laurie.
(1967) Brent’s Delicatessan 19565 Parthenia St, Northridge, CA 91324. Classic late ’60s Jewish deli with forest green & gold booths, etched glass, brick walls. They also serve a mean chocolate egg cream and are known for their decadent 7-layer chocolate cake.
(1967) Canton City 121 N Garfield Ave, Montebello, CA 90640. Cantonese-style Chinese food in a casual, 1960s constructed dining room. Although its original vintage sign was replaced and the inside of the restaurant is partly redecorated, the dining room still has an old-school feel with turquoise booths, a rounded, sunken ceiling, Chinese decorative elements and chandeliers thrown into the mix. A mid-century river rock exterior is still fortunately original. This is among the oldest Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. The Asian population in SGV, Chinese in particular, began increasing significantly in the mid-1970s and are now the leading demographic in many San Gabriel Valley neighborhoods.
(1967) Cask ‘n Cleaver 8689 E 9th St, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730. Opened in 1967 on the corner of 9th and Madrone Avenue in Ranch Cucamonga by Chuck and Linda Keagle, this classic steakhouse took over a 1930s orchard house, built by Konstany Stys, a folk architect. Stys was also responsible for building 15 houses in the Russian Village District of Claremont, CA during the Great Depression. Constructed of brick, wood and river rock, the roofline is cantilevered and supported by full logs as beams. The windows are crisscrossed with gingerbread house-style lattice and a pond with waterfall in the back creates a retreat-like feel. When this property was built, it was the only building amongst ranches and vineyards, but the neighborhood has grown into a suburban outpost. The interior is full of rich burgundy leather booths, 1970s Colonial-style chairs, brick work, wood ceilings and walls, but most interestingly, the rustic log support beams can be found throughout the restaurant. Apparently Cask ‘n Cleaver were one of the earliest restaurants in the area to adopt a Salad Bar, and it is still on the menu today. A Riverside branch of the restaurant which opened in 1969, closed in October 2017, while branches in Fallbrook (1997-2008) and San Dimas have closed as well.
(1967) Clearman’s Northwoods Inn 540 N Azusa Ave, Covina, CA 91722.
A replica of the 1966 San Gabriel branch. A Yukon style dinner experience at a rustic-themed hunting lodge where the roof is bedecked with faux snow and its eaves hung with glistening faux icicles. The interior of this vintage restaurant chain gets even more interesting. Within its darkened cabin-like interior you will find wood beamed ceilings, red leather seating, stained glass as far as the eye can see and life-sized taxidermy bears. The first Clearman’s North Woods Inn was opened by John Clearman in San Gabriel, near the edge of Pasadena, in 1966, followed by this one in Covina in 1967. A third location was added in La Mirada in 1989, which can be seen from the north-bound 5 freeway. Bowls of peanuts are placed on each table and signs encourage patrons to festively “Throw Peanut Shells on the Floor”. The menu is standard surf & turf with enormous portions, and this would be a place to come to order a steak as big as your face. A reasonably priced Happy Hour is held in the cool and woodsy bar area, with discounts on both drinks and certain appetizers. Celebrated for their cheese bread and cabbage salad, these may be the only menu items, besides a few other appetizers, that your vegetarian friends will be willing to eat.
(1967) Di Pilla’s Italian Restaurant 9013 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770.
Opened by Tonino and Guiseppina Di Pilla, who immigrated from Italy in 1958. In 1979 their daughter, Claudia (Miss Rosemead 1974), took over the business and still runs it today. The interior is perfectly old school Italian kitsch, with brick walls, wood paneling, burgundy leather booths and trellises galore. Plastic grapes and grape vines are strung from the ceiling throughout.
(1967) Dinahs Chicken 4106 San Fernando Road Glendale, CA 91204. Mid-century fast-food restaurant serving chicken & comfort food. Great period building with late ’60s font along with a giant chicken bucket on a pole that was supposedly a predecessor to KFC’s. Remodeled inside with a country, home style touch.
(1967) El Sombrero 3550 Santa Anita Ave, El Monte, CA 91731. Though this El Monte Mexican restaurant opened in 1967, the interior provokes a more modern, perhaps ’80s, chain restaurant vibe. With a banquet room, a buffet, karaoke and plastic laminated menus, it has a casual family feel.
(1967) J & S 887 S Garfield Ave, Montebello, CA 90640. This cash-only fast food Mexican food spot has been on Garfield Avenue in Montebello since 1967 and is open 24 hours, 7 days per week. Ordering is drive-through or from a pick-up window in the side of this little brick building. Built-in ’60s picnic tables (stainless steel outside and bright orange inside) allow patrons to eat indoors or outdoors. The interior is sparse, with brick walls, the orange tables and a couple of vintage video game machines.
(1967) Los Toros Mexican Restaurant 21743 Devonshire St, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Opened in 1967 on Devonshire Street in Chatsworth by Nicolas and Dolores Montaño, the original location of the restaurant was located further down Devonshire, but moved to its present location in 1971, formerly the Magdalena Mexican Deli. At that time, the restaurant boasted the first sit-down restaurant patio in Chatsworth. The menu is traditional family-style Mexican cuisine, and presently hosts a great happy hour. The interior features exquisite ceramic tile work throughout, including a gorgeously tiled bar, colorful murals, brick alcoves and red saltillo floor.
(1967) Los Cincos Puntos 3300 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, L.A., CA 90063. Market and authentic carniceria specializing in homemade tortillas, hand carved carnitas, tamales and other Mexican food served take-out counter-style. It is named Cinco Puntos (Five Points) because of the 5 points of intersecting streets at Chavez (Brooklyn), Lorena and Indiana. It has a market-style set up with a take-out counter and is a popular neighborhood favorite. Because of that, lines get long during lunch time. There are a few outside and indoor tables for eating.
(1967) Mario’s Tacos 9247 Whittier Blvd, Pico Rivera, CA 90660. This Pico Rivera neighborhood Mexican restaurant was opened in 1967 by Irenero “Mario” Jimenez, an immigrant from Huitzuco, Guerrero, Mexico, who passed away in 2013. Still run by his family, it features casual counter ordering and much of the decor has its late ’60s to mid ’70s personality intact. From wood paneled walls, Mexican tile, knick knacks galore, framed headshots of all of the American presidents, wooden Colonial-style tables and chairs, chandeliers, brick trimmed doorways and much more, it is eclectic and inexpensive.
(1967) Pinnacle Peak 269 W Foothill Blvd, San Dimas, CA 91773. Pinnacle Peak restaurant opened in 1967 on Foothill Blvd in San Dimas, CA on what was once Route 66. The site was long ago a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop. Located in a low, ranch style building with its name on a covered wagon out front & a cow statue on its roof, this casual restaurant bills itself as the working man’s steakhouse. Serving a meat heavy menu, there are no vegetarian entree selections, but there are a few side dishes that are meat free. Inside is dark with wood paneling, plastic red & white checkered tablecloths and decor with an Old West kitsch theme. The restaurant celebrates a “no neckties allowed” rule and ties are cheekily cut from the neck of its owner, confiscated & hung from the rafters with a name tag attached. There are hundreds of ties in every color and pattern, making an eclectic and fun collection. A second location of the restaurant opened in the town of Colton in 1970.
(1967) The Proud Bird 11022 Aviation Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045. American food, remolded in 2017 to be served food court style. Aviation history themed under LAX flight path . Gutted in a 1984 arson fire & rebuilt. It is among the restaurants by Speciality Restaurant Corporation, started by David Tallichet, a pioneer in themed restaurants, who began building them nationwide in 1958. SRC started and continues to operate several other themed vintage restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including The Castaway (1963), The Odyssey (1970), Orange Hill (1972) and the 94th Aero Squadron (1973).
(1967) Rufino’s 938 Euclid St, Anaheim, CA 92802. Rufino’s Italian Restaurant opened in a strip mall in 1967 in Euclid St in Anaheim. It still has much of its vintage exterior, including a facade of multi-colored brick and columns built around the front door displaying the restaurant’s name. A modern plastic sign was recently added as well. Inside is festive and kitschy with black & white checkered floors, vintage black leather booths divided by trellises strewn with plastic grape leaves and Tiffany-style hanging lamps. One wall is all brick while the others are covered in murals depicting Italian scenes, including The Last Days of Pompei.
(1967) Scarantino’s Italian Inn 1524 E Colorado St, Glendale, CA 91205. Scarantino’s Italian Inn was opened in 1967 on Colorado Ave in Glendale by Jesse Scarantino and wife Joan. The restaurant has been owned by their nephew, Jim, since 1977. This casual Italian restaurant has an exterior brick trimmed facade with the restaurant’s name across the front in original ’60s font, a wooden door and is adorned with two vintage lanterns. The interior is original 1960s as well, with wood paneled walls, brown leather booths, knobby wood room dividers and tables covered in traditional red and white checked table cloths. The Scarantino family were transplants from Rochester, NY, their parents had immigrated from Italy to Rochester in about 1908. Jesse’s older brother, Mike Scarantino, opened up the Pasadena restaurant Dino’s in 1949, in business until about 2006. A first branch of Scarantino’s was located on La Cienega Blvd., just south of Pico. It was owned in 1959 by their brother Gene Scarantino, who also owned the Scarantino Frozen Food Company in L.A.
(1967) Sugar Shack Cafe 213 Main St, Huntington Beach, CA 92648. Small cafe, one block from the Pacific Ocean, opened by Pat & Mary Williams in 1967. It became a family business and in 1979 their daughter Michelle and her husband, Tim Turner took over operations. Featuring a long eating counter of raw, varnished wood, green vinyl stools, red clay tiled floors and wooden eating tables, nearly every inch of the walls are covered with photos and surfing memorabilia. Michelle and Tim’s sons, Timmy & Ryan Turner, are Hall of Fame surfers who sometimes assist with the restaurant. The cafe opens at 5:30am daily for early breakfast and closes at 2pm, serving American-style burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads.
(1967) Taco Lita 120 E Duarte Rd, Arcadia, CA 91006. Opened as a franchise by Elias “George” Muniz and wife Dixie in 1967 as the 15th restaurant in a chain of Taco Litas, which had gotten their start in 1958, San Bernardino. With locations throughout Southern California (Ontario, La Habra, West Covina, Upland Pomona, San Gabriel and more) this Arcadia branch is the sole surviver. Serving Americanized Mexican fast food and beloved for their packets of hot sauce, the restaurant has become a neighborhood institution. The boxy, glass paned building is a model example of late ’60s fast food architecture. With bright orange, yellow and red tiled counter and floors, blue molded plastic seats and spectacularly mod plastic signage, its original surviving decorative elements are an amazing time capsule.
(1967) Zig’s 6821 White Oak Ave, Reseda, CA 91335. Zig’s opened for business on White Oak Ave in Reseda in 1967 by Arnold “Zig” Zigman and his wife, Mary. They also owned a full-service restaurant by the same name on Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills from 1974 to about 2011. This original location serves American diner food in a brightly-lit, utilitarian, late ’60s building with a red paneled roof. The interior features seating around a U-shaped counter and laminate tables with black vinyl booths.
(1968) Alpine Village 833 W Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA 90502. An eccentric collection of shops resembling an old European village surround this kitschy German restaurant in Torrance. Authentic, slightly weird and completely original, this sprawling old school place comes alive during Oktoberfest, but is relatively quiet most of the time. Serving traditional German food specialties and a giant selection of tap beer.
(1968) The Backwoods Inn 17884 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country, CA 91351. Rustic mid-century steakhouse with saw dust on the floor, wood, antiques & a bar built in 1978.
(1968) Brolly Hut 11205 Crenshaw Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90303. Spectacular vintage octagon-shaped building mimicking an umbrella, built in 1968 by architect Victor Miller, serving fast-food hamburger fair. Upside-down umbrellas serve as light fixtures, vintage mosaic tiles, built in orange and brown molded plastic tables and chairs, and an amazing original sign. The interior features expansive glass windows and ceiling beams that react the spokes of an umbrella. It was originally called the Bumbershoot Cafe, like Brolly, a slang for umbrella. Super cheap fast-food style breakfasts ordered from a take-out window & known for their pastrami.
(1968) Folliero’s Italian Food and Pizza 5566 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042. Founded in 1968 in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles by Italian immigrants Antonio and Marta Folliero, this small Italian restaurant has surely ridden the waves of time. The bistro has watched the neighborhood around them change from working class to poor barrio and finally to gentrified hipsterville, all the while serving up pizza, lasagna and other Italian favorites. The spot has been modernized for sure, for example, replacing the much better old neon sign with a new streamlined-font one, but the exposed brick walls and tiled floors have remained the same. The restaurant has stayed in the family and is now run by the couple’s daughter, Teresa Folliero.
(1968) Globe German Deli 1928 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Globe German opened in 1968 in a Costa Mesa strip mall. Its original owner’s name and story seems to be lost to history, as this deli market is now on at least its 6th owners in these 50 years. Rosy King & Friedel Adams-King were the third set of owners, followed by Winnifred and her husband, Randy and Michele Schultz and since 2015, Chris, his wife and son. But each new batch has kept the market much the same as when it opened. As a grocery, the store carries products from more than 16 countries specializing in German and Dutch items. It also operates as a German deli, serving more than half a dozen kinds of hot sausage, including bratwurst, knackwurst and kielbasa, hot meals such as goulash, schnitzel and rouladen, homemade sauerkraut and bottled or draft beer to wash it down. Meats and cheeses are displayed in long glass vintage deli cases and the little store stays happily in a place where time refuses to budge.
(1968) Lares 2909 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Lares restaurant is a long standing favorite on Pico Boulevard near 30th Street in Santa Monica. Originally a small coffee shop called Irene’s Cafe, it was bought by Jesse Lares, who had been working the grill down the street at Rae’s Diner, and his sister Aurora in 1968. They turned the coffee shop into a four table Mexican restaurant with living quarters upstairs for the siblings. The restaurant has expanded over the years, engulfing the living quarters, to two large levels with beamed ceilings, wooden tables and chairs and an ornately carved wooden bar, still run by the Lares family.
(1968) Lucy’s 4151 N Sierra Way, San Bernardino, CA 92407. This family-style San Bernardino Mexican restaurant was opened in 1968 by Daniel and Lucy Rodriguez. Probably last remodeled in the late ’70s to early ’80s, the vibe is casual with tan vinyl booths, laminate tables, cozy homestyle decor and some trompe l’oeil Mexican murals. The exterior is a free-standing, brick-trimmed house with a late ’60s wrought iron lantern topped the fairly new plastic sign. Daniel passed away in 2004 and Lucy’s is now owned by his son, also named Daniel.
(1968) Mitsuru Cafe 117 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Popular cafe located in what has been Japanese Village Plaza since 1984. Serving authentic and reasonably priced Japanese snack food, like red bean pancakes (imagawayaki) and shrimp/fish balls on a stick from a take-out window, there is also a diner serving traditional Japanese comfort food. The restaurant has original late-’60s knobbed wooden booths with brown leatherette padding, a drop ceiling and a long laminate eating counter. The exterior has a traditional Japanese wood slat facade and a modernized sign.
(1968) Mort’s Deli 18452 Clark St, Tarzana, CA 91356. Classic Jewish deli with original ’60s sign and brick fronted exterior. Inside there are green leather booths, laminate wood tables and also counter seating. A fabulous attached bakery called Bea’s is authentic, opened in the early ’60s, and has been at this location since the strip mall was built in 1968. Opened by Philadelphia born Mort Medway, who ran it for nearly 50 years before selling it to Lana Pavlik and Gary Drexler in 2012 and passing away the next year.
(1968) Pablo’s Taco Bender 1232 W Base Line St, San Bernardino, CA 92411. Opened in 1968 by Pablo Perea, this brick Mexican American fast food stand with a few picnic tables and window ordering is apparently particularly celebrated for their chili fries.
(1968) Polly’s Pies 136 N Raymond Ave, Fullerton, CA 92831. This is the original location of Polly’s Pies, now a 15-restaurant chain, specializing in homemade pies, American breakfast, lunches and comfort food. Opened by brothers Don and Eddie Sheldrake in 1968, who still own and run the restaurant, they took over the location of an earlier restaurant, Pie Pantry, which had previously occupied the building. Remodeled over the years, the interior unfortunately does not feature any of its 1968 vintage. This original location was recently in jeopardy of losing its lease when a new owner bought the strip mall where it is located. This restaurant has the kitchen which bakes the pies for all 14 other Polly’s Pies locations.
(1968) The Town Cafe 8722 Sunland Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352. The Town Cafe opened on Sunland Blvd in Sun Valley in 1968. This classic diner serves American food, but with a few Greek items on the menu, much like the typical east coast diners, which are commonly Greek-owned. The exterior, much like a circus tent, is bright and vibrant with 1960s colors of burnt orange, yellow and bright blue, trimmed by columns of mid-century river rock. A patio area, with a few umbrellas and some trellised plants, is sectioned off on the side of the building, near the large parking lot, underneath a big plastic sign declaring The Town Cafe a “family restaurant.” Inside the ’60s colors continue, with orange and red wall tiles behind the long curved breakfast counter and more of the vintage river rock. The booths were probably reupholstered in the 1980s, but still fit nicely into the coffee shop-style decor.
(1969) Burrito King 2109 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Burrito King was started by Julian E. Montoya, an immigrant from Colombia who learned about burritos while stationed in San Diego with the US Navy. In 1969 Montoya took over a failing taco stand on the corner of Sunset and Alvarado in the Echo Park neighborhood and began serving the fast-food burritos he had learned about. The stand eventually grew to 20 locations throughout Los Angeles, even expanding to Bogatá, Colombia and Houston, Texas. This original location, beloved by many, is the only one left in the chain, which has been celebrated in photo by many from ex-California Jerry Brown to Gram Parsons and his Burrito Brothers. Located on a corner, with a plastic sign and take-out window, there are a few stools for eating at a stainless steel counter.
(1969) The Cellar 305 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832. Classic fine dining.
A romantic cellar with cave-like brick walls designed by original Disneyland craftsmen.
(1969) Cricca’s Deli 876 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. Serving hot and cold Italian deli submarines and antipasto at this location since 1969, this little counter service sub shop has new owners, Kevin and Marla McHenry, since 2016. It was recently remodeled, taking out the vintage white and green checkerboard tiled floor and replacing it with trendy wood laminate and changing out the cool old exterior plastic sign with a modern one.
(1969) Don Cuco 3911 Riverside Dr., Toluca Lake, CA 91505. Opened in 1969 by Mexican immigrant Augusto “Cuco” Salazar, who had started out in 1966 owning a bar next door called the Bucaneer in Toluca Lake and sold it to purchase this lot to build a restaurant. The exterior of the building is dressed like a Spanish villa with faux brick, old fashioned lanterns and clay tiles roof. The dark interior is rich with gorgeous stained glass, tile work, wrought iron and red leather booths with knobbed wood partitions. Serving old school Mexican food.
(1969) Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ 8136 Sepulveda, Van Nuys, CA 91402. Simple, rustic feeling BBQ joint with wood paneled walls and booth-styled seating. There is also a small outdoor seating area with 1960s original concrete tables. It was opened by Johnny Greene from Texas, a former Piggly Wiggly delivery boy. The name came about because his wife used to tease him telling him, “You’re not a Piggly Wiggly, but a Hogly Wogly.”
(1969) Eat at Joe’s 400 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
No frills diner. Communal table seating.
(1969) El Abajeno 4513 Inglewood Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230. The word ‘abejeno’ means coastal dweller. El Abajeno is a cafeteria-style Mexican restaurant owned by the same family since 1969 on Inglewood Boulevard in Culver City. Meals are eaten in a remodeled dining room decorated with Mexican touches, such as tiled tables, exposed brick around the doorways, 1960s lanterns and a clay tiled floor.
(1969) El Colmao 2328 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006. El Colmao, located in the Pico-Union area, is the oldest surviving Cuban restaurant in the Los Angeles area. It was opened in March 1969 by Eduardo Sousa, who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro took power and seized the successful restaurant he owned there. After 1960, refugees leaving Cuba arrived in Miami in such great numbers that the US government offered a resettlement program to those interested in moving to other states. Between 1961 and 1966 over 14,000 exiled Cubans moved to California. Echo Park became a “Little Havana” area for a time and Cuban restaurants and bakeries were established, including Portos (1976) on this list. Today, about 80,000 Cuban-Americans live in the Los Angeles area, and another 40,000 live in surrounding areas. Located in a strip mall, with vintage sign and storefront still intact, the inside of El Colmao is basic, with little remodeling. The walls still have their original wood paneling and chandeliers hang from a drop ceiling. An eating counter is covered in faux marble laminate. The restaurant is now owned by Eduardo’s daughter, Nelsa Sousa de Vivar.
(1969) El Tarasco 316 Rosecrans Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. This tiny hut serving Mexican food can constructively be viewed as a hole in the wall. Opened by Celia and Moises Palomo, immigrants from Michoacan, Mexico, they opened a second location in El Segundo in 1977 that is still in operation. Celia passed away in 1997 and Moises in 1998. With tons of character, including walls covered in stickers, exposed brick, a wooden ceiling where posters, license plates and other ephemera are hung willy-nilly, the only anomaly is the eating counter made of polished marble- not the cool kind, but the kind found in bad home remodels starting in the early 2000s. With counter eating only, about a dozen black vinyl stool line both sides of the very thin room. The exterior is a festive bright yellow, with Mexican cartoon murals, located about 5 blocks from the ocean. There is rooftop outdoor table eating accessed by an outdoor side staircase.
(1969) Golden Ox 902 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. Typical fast food restaurant serving American and Mexican food, with an amazing vintage sign.
(1969) Harold & Belle’s 2920 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018. Crenshaw district Creole restaurant opened by New Orleans’ transplants Harold & Belle Legaux. It has been renovated several times; first in 1985 and then again in 2016. The interior is modern, with dark wood tables and hurricane glass lighting and a separate attached bar area.
(1969) House of Pies 1869 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. The last surviving House of Pies in Los Angeles is located on Vermont Ave and Franklin in Los Feliz and opened in 1969. It was part of a restaurant chain started in 1968 by the same man who founded International House of Pancakes. By 1971 there were 32 House of Pies franchises located in Southern California alone, and many more across the country. By 1980 this was the only surviving L.A. location. Housed in an old fashioned, cottage-like building, the architecture and inside lines of the restaurant are very late ’60s. The interior still has original remnants of river rock trim and angular windows, but the decor has been brought into the current century. Serving American coffee shop cuisine, they are known for their large selection of pies, which in their heyday stood at 60 varieties.
(1969) Hungry Harold’s 3453 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90043. Hungry Harold’s is a fast food take-out restaurant located on Slauson Ave in South L.A. It was opened in 1969 by Harold Lageaux Jr., the son of New Orleans transplant Harold & Belle Lageaux, who opened the Los Angeles Creole restaurant Harold & Belle’s the same year. The stand is a traditional greasy spoon, with a ’60s hamburger stand vibe. It has seen better days, but has grit and authenticity.
(1969) La Abeja 3700 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90065. La Abeja, which means The Bee in Spanish, opened in 1969 on Figueroa St in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is a small, authentic Mexican restaurant with wood paneled walls and ceiling, wood laminate tables and burgundy vinyl booths. Located in a rounded building on a corner, the exterior is covered with murals inspired by Aztec and Mexican themes and was painted by artist Leo Limón. The restaurant, is now owned by Rogelio Fonseca, but was opened as a corner store with attached kitchen by his parents Jose and Gloria. It caters to locals, serving homey Mexican food and menudo on weekends. It has no liquor license, but beer can be brought in. (August 2019: Owners have announced that La Abeja will be closing soon).
(1969) La Poubelle 5907 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068. Classic French bistro food in a space with a solid wooden bar, dim lights and European inspired decor.
(1969) La Villa Mexican Restaurant 15333 Crenshaw Blvd, Gardena, CA 90249. La Villa Mexican Food was opened by Israel and Elisa Becerra in 1969, a married couple who had immigrated to Southern California just over a decade before from Mexico. Located on Crenshaw Boulevard in Gardena, the restaurant eventually expanded to two other branches in Redondo and Manhattan Beach, but only this first location remains. Serving traditional Mexican food in a brick fronted and shingle-roofed building, the interior decoration leans towards late ’60s country cottage mixed with a Southwest flavor, incorporating natural wood and terra cotta tiled floors. La Villa is now owned by the couple’s youngest daughter, Maria Gardner.
(1969) Lancers Restaurant 697 N Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502. With a bright turquoise boxy, yet zig-zagged, roofline countered with bright red plastic letters spelling out this restaurants name, Lancers is classic late ’60s coffee shop architecture. Freestanding, but located in the corner of a shopping plaza on Victory Blvd in Burbank, it has retained most of its vintage integrity, with only minor remodels over the years, primarily in the carpets, wall decor and upholstery. The eating counter is still sided with wood laminate and the wall behind is brick orange tile trimmed with black. Known for their daily specials of traditional American diner food, it is popular with the senior citizen crowd. A separate lounge room in the back is a quiet place to get a cocktail away from the coffee shop clientele.
(1969) Shanghai Pine Garden 300 Marine Ave, Newport Beach, CA 92662. Shanghai Pine Garden opened on the Balboa Island in Newport Beach in 1969 by Cheong Lee, who had immigrated to California in 1964. The building still has the 1960s exterior with stone facade and a stylized Chinese roof. The restaurant serves American-style Mandarin Chinese cuisine in a recently remodeled dining room. The interior is modern with Chinese decorative elements. Cheong Lee’s son, Wing Lam, went on to open the popular restaurant chain Wahoo’s Fish Tacos.
(1969) Spaghetti Bender 6204 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663. Alongside the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach, this restaurant was opened in 1969 by Italian immigrant Lorenzo Pasini, wife Ailie and daughter Joyce Hoskinson, who still runs the restaurant today. The family had opened a series of Orange County restaurants beginning in the early 1950s, until they found success with Spaghetti Bender, which apparently was Lorenzo’s nickname back in Italy. The menu focuses on Italian pastas, entrees and antipasti with an old school country kitschy dining room that proudly (according to their website) hasn’t been remodeled since 1976. With wood beamed ceilings, red and white checked tablecloths and wallpaper busy with a print of mid-’70s fruit bowls, the decorating result is homey and comfortably perfect.
(1969) Taco Treat 74 East Live Oak, Arcadia, CA, 91006. Family owned fast-food Mexican served from a small take-out shack, built in 1950, with a cool old sign. They specialize in crispy, deep fried burritos. The original owner, Harold Morrow, who was also a South Pasadena postman, passed away in 2011. Taco Treat is now owned by his daughter. There are picnic tables on the side for eating.
(1969) The Warehouse 4499 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292. The Warehouse restaurant opened in 1969 on Marina Del Rey harbor by Burt Hixson with the intention of creating a themed tropical eating place in Southern California. He used salvaged wharf posts, intentionally weathered lumber, nautical ephemera, walls lined with whiskey barrels and furniture made from bamboo to create a rustic island vibe for this large waterfront eatery, which is still much the same as when it opened. Serving pricey seafood and steakhouse fare, they also offer a slightly more reasonable Sunday brunch buffet and a weekday happy hour.
(1970) Antonio’s Restaurant 7470 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Antonio’s Mexican restaurant was opened in 1970, by Antonio Gutiérrez, an immigrant from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Existing since before Melrose became a trendy shopping destination, the interior is dark, with an old school feel, including brown tufted leather booths, dividers made of knobby wood and wrought iron, saltillo floors, beautiful Mexican ceramic tile work and walls full of old photos. Though Antonio still often greets patrons, the restaurant is now formally run by his daughter.
(1970) The Baked Potato 3787 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. The Baked Potato opened on Cahuenga Blvd in Studio City, CA, in the area known as Cahuenga Pass in 1970. It is an intimate live jazz club known for specializing in serving entree-sized baked potatoes and a menu full of toppings. The space itself is very small, with wood paneled walls, a drop ceiling and small faux wood tables, closely jammed together. Black leather booths line the poster covered walls. 1970s stained glass lamps hang from the low ceiling. The stage is very low to the ground, so it is a great place to catch jazz greats and see them in a close-up setting.
(1970) Cactus Patch Restaurant 197 E High St, Moorpark, CA 93021. Quaint early ’70s diner with wood paneling and old west decor. Breakfast and brunch.
(1970) Casa Gamino 8330 Alondra Blvd, Paramount, CA 90723. The first location of a small Mexican restaurant chain opened by Cipriano Gamino in 1970. Other locations are in Inglewood (1981) and Anaheim (1996). A Pico Rivera branch changed owners and is now called Casa Camino. This original location has been remodeled, but the Inglewood restaurant still has a great late ’70s vintage feel.
(1970) Corsica Deli 8111 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga, CA 91040. This small Italian market, located on Foothill Blvd in Sunland, CA was opened in 1970 by Mary Paule Russo, who had relocated to Southern California from Montreal with her family as a child. With a hand painted sign in the colors of the Italian flag and colorful painted front windows, this small corner market also serves an array of hot and cold submarine sandwiches, along with lasagna, salads, cannoli and other Italian baked goods. With a long glass deli case and a vintage menu board straight out of the ’70s, its authentic and unpretentious.
(1970) Egg Heaven Cafe 4358 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90814. Egg Heaven Cafe opened in 1970, in a building that had been constructed in 1923 and had previously housed a dress shop and then a cafe called Dubs. Open early mornings to early afternoons, the menu consists of hearty breakfasts, sandwiches, burgers and salads and payment is by cash only. With an old plastic sign and a wood trimmed and glass corner location, this small coffee shop features a long breakfast counter decoupaged with an artistic collage. The walls are brick and wood paneled, the booths are grey vinyl and the painted ceiling tiles go back to a 1973 art contest that the restaurant sponsored for local artists.
(1970) Gondola Pizza 15840 Imperial Hwy, La Mirada, CA 90638. This beloved Orange County neighborhood pizza joint has been around since 1970, opened by Josephine & Sam Agrusa, immigrants from Balestrate, Italy. Located in a strip mall, it has had a little remodeling- a new plastic sign out front, new floors and counters- but its faux brick walls, a few old school hanging lanterns and some ’70s wooden and leatherette booths give the hint of a little bit of history.
(1970) Gulliver’s Prime Rib 18482 MacArthur Blvd Irvine, CA 92612. This fine dining restaurant is best known for its Old English manor house ambience and its huge cuts of prime rib, filet mignon, chateaubriand, pasta, seafood and other steakhouse classics. The decor is elegant, with multiple dimly lit dining rooms filled with bulky furniture, roaring fireplaces, brick walls, dark wood, thick carpeting, chandeliers and beamed ceilings. Apparently actor John Wayne was a customer and had a regular table. The vibe is decidedly similar to Tam O’Shanter (1925) or the Five Crowns (1965) restaurants. The logo and signage were created in 1970 by architectural firm Smith and Williams.
(1970) Hank’s Pizza 442 W Manchester Ave, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293. Located in a small, alleyway shack, a few blocks from the Pacific ocean in Playa del Rey, Hank’s Pizza opened in 1970. Tiny and casual, with walls plastered by movie posters, a few cafe tables sit both inside and on a brick paved sidewalk out front. This locally loved pizza joint serves a full menu, including pasta, subs and hamburgers. The outside sign and awning have been modernized over the years, but the neighborhood feel remains.
(1970) Holiday Burgers 15520 Devonshire St, Mission Hills, CA 91345. Holiday Burgers thankfully survives as an example of 1970 fast food architecture. From its sloped roof, to its plastic sign out front, these kind of buildings are a thing of the past. Inside, most has been remodeled, but a glance behind the counter reveals a wall of lovely 1970 tile, yet untouched. The menu is straight-up fast food, heavy on the grease, including massive pastrami sandwiches, reubens and french fries drowning in cheese, chili and more pastrami.
(1970) Le Sanglier 5522 Crebs Ave, Tarzana, CA 91356. Founded by Gil Pique and Alain Cuny on a small side street in Tarzana, CA, Le Sanglier is a pricey French restaurant with a dark, remodeled room and country French wallpaper and decor. Open for dinners only, the name of this white tablecloth fine dining restaurant translates to ‘the boar.’ The eaterywas purchased by Michael Khalatian in 2016.
(1970) The Odyssey 15600 Odyssey Dr, Granada Hills, CA 91344. The Odyssey restaurant opened in 1970, up in the hills above Rinaldi Street, west of the 405 freeway in Granada Hills. It is a special occasion restaurant, serving American steak, seafood and weekend brunch, often used for weddings, events or other group celebrations, with patios and sprawling views of the San Fernando Valley. It is among the restaurants by Speciality Restaurant Corporation, started by David Tallichet, a pioneer in themed restaurants, who began building them nationwide in 1958. SRC started and continues to operate several other themed vintage restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including The Castaway (1963), The Proud Bird (1967), Orange Hill (1972) and the 94th Aero Squadron (1973). Serving American steak, seafood and weekend brunch, the Odyssey is full of many separate sprawling banquet rooms, connected by winding outside paths with fountains and fish ponds leading to decks with romantic views. The interior has been renovated many times over the years and currently seems like a mish mash of ’70s, ’80s and ’90s decor, with hotel-like carpets, etched glass and gawdy chandeliers, but lacking true kitsch. It’s really all about the views.
(1970) The Old Place 29983 Mulholland Hwy, Agoura Hills, CA 91301. Completely wooden throughout, ceilings included, with a long wooden bar and a handful of carved wooden booths. Serving rustic comfort food in a converted country store & post office.
(1970) Pinnacle Peak 2533 La Cadena Dr S, Colton, CA 92324. Second location of the 1967 San Dimas location. This casual restaurant bills itself as the working man’s steakhouse. Serving a meat heavy menu, there are no vegetarian entree selections, but there are a few side dishes that are meat free. The restaurant celebrates a “no neckties allowed” rule and ties are cheekily cut from the neck of its owner, confiscated & hung from the rafters with a name tag attached. There are hundreds of ties in every color and pattern, making an eclectic and fun collection.
(1970) Rutebegorz 221 N Pomona Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832. Rutebegorz got its start out of a hippie coffee house, serving dessert, opened in 1970 by Paul Berkman and three college friends from Cal State Fullerton. The building itself was constructed in 1930 and was a doctor’s office for 40 years before it became the restaurant. Focusing on healthier vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as lean meats, such as chicken, turkey and fish, the menu is heavy with wraps, soups, salads and sandwiches, but also serves beer, wine and cocktails. With wooden tables, brightly colored murals, exposed brick walls and amazing vintage linoleum spread out over several rooms, the feel is light and eclectic, like its hippie origin. Two locations have opened in Orange and Tustin, after this original.
(1970) Zamora Bros 1503 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033. Zamora Bros was established in 1970 in Boyle Heights by Mauro “Chato” Zamora who immigrated to Los Angeles from Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico. Zamora started his business with a street cart, selling carnitas at local soccer matches and then opened this market and carniceria afterward. Located in the same building since its inception, the street name was changed from Brooklyn Avenue to Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in 1994 to honor labor leader Chavez, who died the year before. Though Zamora Bros is more of a market than a restaurant, carnitas, birria, chicharrones and other Mexican food can be ordered from a long take-out counter with chalk board menu and tables are available for eating on premises. The building, painted bright red, white and blue with a portrait of the Virgin de Guadalupe on the side, is brick trimmed and has a tiled front side walk.
(1971) Alfredo’s Granada 1100 W Victory Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506. Alfredo’s Granada Mexican restaurant was opened in 1971 on Victory Blvd in Burbank by Alfredo Bernal in the location of the former Sargents Restaurant. When Alfredo died in 2003, it was run by his family members until 2010, when it closed down and then re-opened yet again. Featuring early 1970s decor, olive colored booths, brick walls and a tile-roofed Mexican “hacienda” disguising the kitchen, it also has a separate attached bar area.
(1971) Angelo’s and Vinci’s 550 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832. Founded in 1971 by movie dancer and choreographer Steve Peck, in a building that had served as a produce market in early 1900s Fullerton, the atmosphere inside can best be described as eclectic. Jam-packed to the rafters with Italian inspired decoration & kitsch galore, the main dining room was decorated to appear as an outdoor square of an Italian village. With high cathedral ceilings, terra cotta brick and a cluttered palate of ephemera every single place you look, it is a throwback to the disappearing theme restaurants that were once common. Serving an Italian menu as well as a weekday express lunch buffet, the festive environment is also used frequently for parties and banquets.. Remodeled in 1992, the re-do actually helped uncover some of the early marketplace building’s early bones, adding to the vintage feeling.
(1971) Claro’s 19 Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91006. The second branch of Claro’s Italian market and deli originally opened in San Gabriel in 1948 by Joe Claro and his wife Mary. This second branch was started by their daughter Marylinda and her husband George Daddona in 1971. Basic brick-fronted building with awning and red linoleum floors, serving classic Italian deli and baked goods.
(1971) Giamela’s 216 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502. Serving nine types of Italian subs, piled high with toppings in both large and small, and accepting cash only, this branch of Giamela’s hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1971. The first Giamela’s was opened on Riverside Drive in Burbank in 1967 by Angelina Giamela, a transplant from New Jersey. Located in a small brick fronted hut, there are a half dozen red vinyl booths with laminate tables, a long skinny counter with stools, a thatched window for ordering and a couple wooden picnic tables out front and wood paneled walls.
(1971) Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers 11127 Venice, L.A., CA 90034. Located in a Westside strip mall, Howard’s is a simple old school fast food joint known for their burgers. With an original ’70s sign out front and a few orange molded booths with wood laminate tables and a bright orange venting hood over the grill, it likely looks very much like it did when it opened in 1972. Decor consists of old movie posters and a ceiling fan.
(1971) Italia Bakery & Deli 11134 Balboa Blvd, Granada Hills, CA 91344. This Granada Hills Italian deli, market and bakery was opened in 1971 by Philip and Maria Magnanimo and Benito and Gina DeGiosa. Serving Italian deli sandwiches, a few pasta specialties and antipasto, Italian cookies and other baked goods, it is currently owned by Maria Angela Magnanimo. Located in a San Fernando Valley strip mall, it has had minimal remodeling and still has its original glass deli cases.
(1971) Lucci’s Deli 8911 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92646. In 1946 Lena and Carl Lucci, Italian Americans from Pittsburgh, opened a candy store on Compton Blvd in Gardena which grew into Lucci’s Deli. Though this original deli closed in 1986, a Huntington Beach branch was opened in 1971 by the Lucci’s son, Bill Refice and his wife Jean. Today it’s run by Bill & Jean’s sons. Among hand-painted signs, vintage photos, wood trellises as room dividers and original linoleum floors, the feeling is old school. With original vintage glass deli cases holding Italian cold cuts, cheeses, salads and baked goods, along with aisles of Italian grocery products, ordering is done from a take-out counter. A few red & white checked tables allow for eating from the deli’s menu of traditional Italian-American pastas, including an All-You-Can-Eat-Spaghetti Monday and Italian hot and cold deli submarines and salads.
(1971) Olympic Cafe House of Breakfast 3728 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019. Located in a strip mall with counter ordering for breakfast and lunch. Unremodeled early-’70s room with wood laminate tables, orange medieval castle-like decor and wood paneled walls.
(1971) Pinocchio Italian Restaurant 3103 W Magnolia, Burbank, CA 91505.
Right in the heart of Burbank is a most endearing puppet-themed family restaurant opened in 1971 by Yugoslavian immigrant Mark Brankovich, who bought the already operating Monte Carlo deli in 1969 and built the attached Pinocchio restaurant next door two years later. Old-school Italian American food, ordered from a central counter, cafeteria-style, makes this a casual, yet fun experience. Pinocchio Restaurant has red leather booths, checked table cloths, mid-century tchotchkes and Pinocchio puppets displayed throughout. The Monte Carlo Deli sells authentic Italian products, many of which are hard to find west of Ohio. Wine is for sale by the bottle, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. The fun environment and inexpensive prices are part of the draw.
(1971) Shakers 601 Fair Oaks, South Pasadena, 91030. Classic American diner food served in a 1964-built googie structure designed by Armet & Davis for the Prebles restaurant chain. It became the Salt Shaker in 1971, but the name was changed to Shakers in 1975. It still has much of the original 1970s interior.
(1971) Spires Restaurant 22327 S Wilmington Ave, Carson, CA 90745. Spires is a chain of Southern California restaurants, serving coffee shop American food, founded in 1965 by Greek immigrant John Haretakis. The first location, now a Goldenwest Diner, was opened in 1965 on Euclid and Ball Streets in Anaheim. At its peek, there were 30 locations, but today there are only 8 locations left including Long Beach 1 (1979), Long Beach 2, Torrance (1976), Torrance 2 (1976), Tustin (1978), Ontario (1982) and Lawndale. All except the Lawndale location feature an octagonal shaped building, original plastic signs, wood paneled walls and vintage red tile on the walls behind the counter. These locations have not been remodeled and are very representative of 1970s restaurant interior decorating with brown or teal vinyl upholstered booths.
(1971) Way Station Coffee House 24377 Main St, Santa Clarita, CA 91321. Way Station Coffee House opened in 1971 on Main St in Newhall, CA. Though the outside is quite nondescript, with a bit of brick trim and plate glass windows, the inside is eclectic and interesting. This small, old school coffee shop & diner serves breakfast & early lunch. The interior features a long formica counter, brown vinyl booths, a drop ceiling and a crowded wall full of vintage license plates create an authentic early ’70s vibe. The business was started by Stanley Bronstrup, who passed away in 2014.
(1972) Carmine’s II Caffe 10463 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Run by the son of the first Carmine, who owned the Italian eatery once frequented by the Rat Pack. Remodeled interior & new sign.
(1972) Charlie’s Chili 102 Mc Fadden Pl, Newport Beach, CA 92663. First opened in 1967 on Balboa Island by Peter Torre, but moved to its present beachfront location on the Newport Pier in 1972. Though this remains the only surviving location, in the mid-’70s to early ’80s their were additional Charlie’s Chili locations in San Francisco, Costa Mesa, Laguna and Huntington Beach. Specializing in chili, the menu features many incarnations based on that theme, including tacos, burritos, chili dogs, chili omelettes and chili burgers. The inside has been remodeled over the years and now has a casual fast-food atmosphere with a modern feel. Since 1988 Charlie’s has been owned and run by the Farman family.
(1972) Chinese Friends 984 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Though this simple, unadorned storefront restaurant would never give it away by appearance, this remains one of the oldest surviving Chinese eateries in downtown L.A.’s “new” Chinatown area, which was established in 1938.
(1972) Dhaba Indian Cuisine 2104 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Located two blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, Dhaba Indian Cuisine opened in 1972 and according to my current information, stands as the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the L.A./OC area. Tight American immigration laws meant that only about 6,000 settlers from India immigrated to the United States between 1947 and 1965, and only a small amount of them then lived in Los Angeles. But between 1965-1975, when immigration laws became looser, over 100,000 East Indians arrived in the U.S., bringing their food and their restaurants. Dhaba Cuisine was opened in 1972 by Margaret Patel and she stills runs the business with her family. Inside features a basic dining room with wooden tables and chairs, along with simple decor and window treatments with traditional Indian motif. There is a romantic outdoor patio area with bamboo and foliage. (An interesting footnote: Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon wrote in her autobiography that she had worked as an employee here in the 1970s.)
(1972) Dick Church’s 2698 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Authentic 1970s diner with original orange tufted booths, wood paneled walls and counter, complete with vintage cigarette vending machine. Originally opened in 1947 as Baby’s Beef Burger. Serving American-style breakfasts and lunch.
(1972) Good Neighbor Restaurant 3701 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. The Good Neighbor restaurant opened in 1972 in a strip mall on the Cahuenga Pass in Studio City. It is a homey, casual Mom & Pop cafe with bright windows, checkerboard flooring and framed photos of celebrities lining the walls. Serving American-style breakfast & lunch foods, they close at 3pm daily.
(1972) The Hobbit Restaurant 2932 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869.
Unique upscale dining experience in an old home and wine cellar. Prix-fixe, multi-course.
(1972) Jenny’s Country Kitchen 13319 Telegraph Rd, Whittier, CA 90605. This unassuming little cafe opened in 1972 in a strip mall that was constructed in 1961. The interior has been pretty much untouched since then, with wood paneled walls, dark red and green vinyl booths and a wood laminate breakfast counter in the back. The menu is a heavy mix of both “real” Mexican food- chilaquiles, menudo made daily, nopales & eggs, machaca and the kind of vintage American diner food that has been written off by many modern restaurants- chicken fried steak, grilled Polish sausage, meatloaf, egg salad sandwiches, plus the usual suspects.
(1972) Jim’s Burgers #10 1901 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033. Part of the Jim’s Burgers chain, which began in 1958 in Bell. Amazing old school sign, interior plastic molded booths and exterior vintage umbrella tables. This building was constructed in 1953. Serving take-out style and drive-through fast food American and Mexican.
(1972) King Cole Pizza 612 S Lorena St, Los Angeles, CA 90023. Casual pizza parlor in Boyle Heights with a fun, kitschy interior and a castle-themed exterior. Definitely straight out of the early ’70s, with a funky rec room/vintage feel.
(1972) Little Onion 110 W MacArthur Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92707. The first location of Little Onion Mexican restaurant was opened in 1969 by Lorin “Lorenzo” in Hawthorne, CA. He then he moved the restaurant to Santa Ana in October 1972. Located in a two-level freestanding building with a clay-tiled roof, the inside is spacious and dimly lit, filled with rich colors, dark wood, rustic brick and beautiful Mexican tile. The vintage leather booths are either burgundy or dark brown, depending on which section, and the tables are early ’70s wood laminate. A separate bar area also features an eating section.
(1972) Lupe’s #2 4642 E. 3rd St. in East Los Angeles. This little East L.A. fast food taco stand was opened by Manuel and Adeline Portillo in 1972. With some built-in stools around the perimeter and a red, white and blue striped awning, this divey little hut is a neighborhood favorite. A mural is painted on the side honoring founder Adeline, who passed away in 2010.
(1972) Maxwell’s Cafe 3329 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066. This small bright blue cornerside eatery has a comfortable down-home, cabin-like feeling, with wooden walls, ceilings and a long wooden breakfast bar. The booths are upholstered in vintage aqua blue leatherette, bringing the feeling of a Southern diner. Serving breakfast and early lunch from 6am to 2pm, the restaurant closes for a few hours in the afternoon and then reopens from 6pm-10pm. The menu is heavy on breakfast items-French toast, pancakes, omelettes and filled out with salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps.
(1972) Moonshadows 20356 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265. Pricey ocean front restaurant. Its exterior remains the same, but its interior was remodeled in 2012.
(1972) Oomasa 100 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Ōōmasa opened in 1972 in the Japanese Village Plaza in L.A.’s Little Tokyo neighborhood. Opened by Masaharu Motoyama, a 24-year old Japanese immigrant, it was one of the earliest sushi bars in Los Angeles. At that time it was also the largest, with forty seats. The exterior is boxy, dark slated wood, while the interior has a long sushi bar as well as booths and is embellish with Japanese decorative elements. The first sushi bar in L.A., Kawafuku, opened in 1966 in the same neighborhood, but is long gone.
(1972) Orange Hill Restaurant 6410 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869.
Surf & turf. Elegant restaurant with wood beamed ceilings, white table clothes and sweeping views. It is among the restaurants by Speciality Restaurant Corporation, started by David Tallichet, a pioneer in themed restaurants, who began building them nationwide in 1958. SRC started and continues to operate several other themed vintage restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including The Castaway (1963), The Proud Bird (1967), The Odyssey (1970) and the 94th Aero Squadron (1973).
(1972) Prince O’ Whales 335 Culver Blvd, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293. Opened in 1955 as the Bowspirit, it was bought by Steve Mayer in 1972 and turned into the Prince O’ Whales. It claims to be L.A.’s oldest sports bar. Serves breakfast, lunch & dinner.
(1972) Rainbow Bar & Grill 9015 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Legendary 1970s-1980s Sunset strip rock hangout that was opened in 1972 by by Elmer Valentine (who also co-founded the Whisky-a-Go-Go and the Roxy), record producer Lou Adler and Mario Maglieri. The building had formerly been the spot of another Italian restaurant, the Villa Nova from 1944 to 1968, owned by Vincente Minelli, Judy Garland’s husband and actor Allen Dale. Stories say that The Rainbow was named in honor of Judy Garland. The history is thick between these walls and could fill a book, from Old Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe had her first date with Joe DiMaggio at Villa Nova) to being used as a hangout in the ’70s by rock stars Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon and Ringo Starr to the last meal eaten by John Belushi to a nucleus of the ’80s Sunset Strip’s metal scene and Motörhead’s Lemmy. The restaurant is un-remodeled with leather booths, a fireplace and memorabilia, best known for their pizza, they still serve a mostly Italian based menu.
(1972) The Rusty Pelican 2735 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663. The last remaining restaurant of a ’70s-early ’90s chain started by a Newport life guard in 1967; upscale sea food, waterfront location.
(1972) The Shack 185 Culver Blvd, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293. Serving burgers & bar grub in an old school wooden building one block from the beach, This well-worn bar/restaurant has a laid back vibe, with wood paneling, brick walls and a well-worn patio. The first opened of 6 other locations in Hawaii, Colorado & Santa Monica.
(1972) Suehiro Cafe 337 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Along with Oomasa, this is one of the oldest operating restaurants in Little Tokyo. It is located in the 1882-built Sperl building. Serving basic Japanese food in a small, diner-like room with booths, tables and an eating counter.
(1972) Tarzana Armenian Deli 18598 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356. Opened in 1972 by Rose Chelebian, this little market place and deli, serving Pita wraps, Soujouk, Lahmajun (meat pies), Falafel, Tabouli and more, may possibly be the oldest Armenian eatery in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. In 1972, even Zankou Chicken was another 12 years away from opening. Armenian immigration prior to 1979 was very light, but between 1979-1980 nearly 10,000 Armenians arrived in Los Angeles and in the 6-month period of late 1987-early 1988 another 10,000 arrived, the single largest arrival of an ethnic group after the late 1970s Vietnamese immigration.
(1972) Wind & Sea 34699 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629. Built on Dana Point Harbor in 1972 by Robert Mardian, who dropped out of law school to become a restauranteur, Wind & Sea’s decor centers on floor to ceiling windows providing panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and boats passing by. Serving an American-based menu, concentrating on seafood, the restaurant also promotes a Sunday brunch and happy hour menu.
(1973) 94th Aero Squadron 16320 Raymer St, Van Nuys, CA 91406.
Built next to the runaway at Van Nuys airport & full of aviation memorabilia. Steakhouse/American menu. Opened in 1973 by David Tallichet, a World War II Army Air Corps veteran, as a means to share his love of all things aviation-related. The restaurant was modeled on a rustic Normandy farmhouse. Tallichet chose a spot on the sidelines of the airport’s long, straight runway and named it after the 94th Aero Squadron, a much revered U.S. Army Air Service unit during the first World War. The reason many people fall in love with 94th Aero Squadron is the entertainment, which involves watching airplanes take off and land just beyond a chain-link fence separating the red-bricked patio area from the nearby runway. It is an enchanting vantage point to see the planes come racing through and brings an aura of excitement and romance. Van Nuys Airport was built just before World War I, in a field growing banana squash, and has evolved into the longest and busiest general aviation runway in the world, with more than 700 airplanes coming and going every day. It was used as a location to Casablanca and was the place that Norma Jean Baker, before she became Marilyn Monroe, was “discovered” doing a photo shoot and subsequently offered her first screen test. Amelia Earhart used this runway, as did the much celebrated pilot Clay Lacy, who still eats here frequently. Clay coined the term “jet set” after regularly flying Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack on a Learjet from this airport, equipped with a very necessary cocktail pouring service. There is a room dedicated to Clay and his lengthy aviation history. This is among the restaurants by Speciality Restaurant Corporation, started by Tallichet, a pioneer in themed restaurants, who began building them nationwide in 1958. SRC started and continues to operate several other themed vintage restaurants in the Los Angeles area, including The Castaway (1963), The Proud Bird (1967), The Odyssey (1970) and Orange Hill (1972).
(1973) The Cannery 3010 Lafayette Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92663. The Cannery Restaurant was built in 1973 by Bill Hamilton, founder of Clean Harbor Day, on the waterfront site of Newport Beach’s commercial fishing row, where Western Canners Company operated from 1934-1966. With an exterior of sheet metal to give an industrial appearance, the interior furthers the factory theme with exposed pipes along the high ceiling. That is tempered, however, by ocean views, colorful modern art, tile work, warm wooden floors and creative glass light fixtures in the shape of jelly fish and other sea creatures. The menu is heavy on seafood, with a few meat selections thrown in.
(1973) Great Western Steak & Hoagie Co. 1720 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. Small corner fast food shack with counter ordering and indoor/outdoor seating. Specializing in Philly cheese steak hoagies.
(1973) Inn of the Seventh Ray 128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd, Topanga, CA 90290. Romantic and pricey with a fairy tale, woodland atmosphere, brick paths and terrace, an abundance of outside seating, and a creek running through the property.
(1973) Izzy’s Deli 1433 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403. Opened in 1973 by Izzy Freeman, who was born in Brooklyn and raised after age 13 in Boyle Heights, Izzy’s father was a produce and deli vendor in downtown’s Grand Central Market. This 24-hour diner serves up classic American & Jewish favorites with many menu named for well-known longtime patrons. A celebrity “wall of fame” is highlighted with neon and features photographs and clippings of some of the regulars. The restaurant’s interior has had some remodeling over the years, but still keeps the ’70s integrity with wood laminate tables, brick walls, a wood paneled ceiling and the incredible orange knobbed wood lighting fixtures that have been in place since the deli opened. Izzy still hangs around the restaurant regularly to greet customers and friends.
(1973) Patrick’s Roadhouse 106 Entrada Dr, Santa Monica, CA 90402. Funky cafe near the ocean with a large, casual menu. Built from a red car depot station that had already been transformed into a hot dog stand & then merged with the next door motel. Filled to the ceilings with antiques.
(1973) Rib Ranch BBQ 4923 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.
Originally opened in 1970 in Sepulveda, CA by owners Lenny and Bernie, whose portraits are displayed in the vintage ’70s molded plastic sign atop the roof. It is a cool, all wood shack, rustic & authentic, with a down home feel and outdoor seating too. It’s obviously meat-centric, but veggies can opt for the mac ‘n cheese & potatoes.
(1973) Rosario’s Italian Restaurant 1343 E Carson St, Carson, CA 90745. Opened in a strip mall in 1973, this little Italian pizzeria is long, dark and narrow, with brick walls and trellises overhead hung with plastic grape vines. Underneath a drop ceiling are about a dozen laminate tables with bentwood chairs, carved wooden room dividers and a few vintage arcade games. The vibe is decidedly ’70s. Known and raved about for their pizza, it comes piled inches high with toppings so thick that the cheese, though very much there, cannot be seen below. Owned by Jim Bono, it was apparently his Dad who was the original Rosario.
(1973) Rosa’s Mexican Restaurant 322 PCH, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Rosa’s Mexican Restaurant was opened in 1973 on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach by Rosa Perez, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico with her husband in 1966. Though Rosa retired and sold the business in 2010, this small, bright and festively painted storefront restaurant has had the same chef since it first opened. The walls are covered with multi-colored murals, the ceiling is sky blue and the tablecloths are in deep primary colors.
(1973) Tony’s Pizza 2555 Huntington Dr, San Marino, CA 91108. This basic no-frills pizza parlor was opened in San Marino in 1973 by Tony Scott-Belli, an immigrant from Italy. The restaurant, now owned by Tony’s son, Michael, features counter ordering and is a casual neighborhood staple, especially with local high-school students. The interior is simple, with a few 1970s molded laminate booths.
(1974) Aki 11513 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. This traditional Japanese restaurant is still owned and run by the Hada family, who opened its doors in 1974. Located in the West L.A./Sawtelle area often referred to as Little Osaka, but officially dedicated as Japantown in 2015, the neighborhood has a long history of Japanese settlement, especially from the early 1900s to the 1950s when race-based restrictions prevented non-caucasians from buying homes in other areas of Los Angeles. Focusing on homestyle classics of Teriyaki, Sukiyaki, Katsu, Tonkatsu, Tempura and Sushi, the small restaurant, with olive colored leather booths, wood paneled walls, a free-standing sushi bar and elements of Japanese decor, maintains an authentic and non-trendy vibe that makes it popular. Aki may be the oldest surviving Japanese restaurant in the Japantown neighborhood, followed by Nanbankan (1978) and Hide Sushi (1979).
(1974) Astro Burger 5601 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Originally opened as a drive-through burger joint, Astro expanded its menu to include Greek food and vegetarian options. Basic fast food counter service and dining area.
(1974) The Chowder Barge 611 N Henry Ford Ave, Wilmington, CA 90744.
Located over some railroad tracks, down some stairs and in a somewhat hidden location, it is L.A. Harbor’s only floating restaurant. Built in 1934 as a support vessel for the film Mutiny on the Bounty, it was cemented in place and turned into a restaurant in 1974. With amazingly cheap food prices on burgers, fish & chips and of course tasty chowder, you can actually pull up on your boat, tie down your rig and have a strong drink at the bar inside while fantasizing that you are co-starring in an episode of Magnum P.I. The interior is straight out of the mid-’70s, complete with wood beamed ceilings and the prerequisite hanging cone fireplace. This is thankfully not a place to hobnob with tourists, but rather a place to experience local atmosphere and real flavor in a most intriguing setting- right on L.A.’s docks.
(1974) Cortez Brothers 16100 Old Valley Blvd, La Puente, CA 91744. Located in a little river rock fronted house with plastic signs, Cortez Brothers is part market, part restaurant. With red leatherette booths and red laminate tables, wall murals, a takeout counter and a CD jukebox, this is truly a neighborhood spot, serving homey Mexican food. Founded by Ignacio Cortes Correa and Rita Martinez de Cortes, it was owned by Rogelio and Carmen Cortez until 2019 and now has a new owner.
(1974) Cozy Corner Drive-in 426 N Harbor Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92703. Fast food hamburger joint with amazing vintage sign out front. 1970s vintage interior with turquoise booths and wood laminate tables.
(1974) DeFranko’s Submarines 7532 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Serving piled-high Italian sandwiches on crusty Italian bread along with antipasto and hot dogs, this little sub shack got its start in 1974, opened by Dru Alexander, who still runs the shop today. With five stools and a well-worn counter, even the menu board is straight out of the early ’70s. There are also long wooden picnic tables outside under a covered awning in the back of the shop.
(1974) El Farolito 201 S Bradford Ave, Placentia, CA 92870. El Farolito, which translates to the “light of hope,” was opened on Bradford Ave in Placentia in 1974 as the dream of Mexican immigrant family, the Sandovals. Still family owned, more than half of the 30-something employees are family members. Located in a small freestanding building, the interior is bright, casual and simple with clay tiled floors and walls lined with paintings of Mexican images.
(1974) Fiddler’s 12721 Glenoaks Blvd, Sylmar, CA 91342. Fiddler’s restaurant in Sylmar is a delicious time travel to 1974, the year this cozy coffee shop/diner opened for business. The restaurant first opened as a Fiddler’s Three, part of a chain of coffee shops with locations scattered throughout Southern California. When the chain closed, this restaurant continued on with new owners, dropping the ‘Three’ part of its name and thankfully never remodeling. With black tufted leather booths and laminate wood tables, the restaurant is trimmed unintentionally with enough ’70s decorating kitsch to imagine that time never passed. and that is a good thing. A diner counter looks out to brick walls and wooden sideboard and has original tan leather swivel seats attached. The menu is mainly American diner cuisine, with a few Mexican items thrown in.
(1974) Gilbert’s El Indio 2526 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Opened by Gilberto and Carmen Rodriguez in May 1974, Gilbert’s El Indio serves Mexican food in a stuccoed early 1970s building with brick trim, a Spanish clay tiled roof and a vintage plastic sign. Entrance is through the back, past “El Indio,” a well-loved life-sized wooden Indian statue. The ’70s feel continues with an interior of wood paneled walls plastered with photographs, stained glass lamps, wood laminate tables and burgundy colored booths. The cluttered decor adds to the ambiance and is a mixture of Mexican and Native American themes. The restaurant is still run by Carmen, her children and grandchildren.
(1974) George’s Drive-in 9910 Magnolia Ave, Riverside, CA 92503. George’s Drive-in opened in 1974 in Riverside, CA by George and Zaharoula Alexiou. It is an old fashioned fast food drive-in, enclosed in glass windows, serving burgers, Mexican food, ice cream and grinders. Outside picnic tables are available to eat at.
(1974) Mr Chow 344 N Camden Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Upscale Beverly Hills Chinese restaurant originally opened in London in 1968 by restauranteur Michael Chow. White table cloths and extremely modern/remodeled environment.
(1974) Neptune’s Net 42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265. Neptune’s Net is a casual ocean front seafood restaurant opened by Paul and Dolly Seay in 1974 on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA. Originally built in 1956 as a burger restaurant and gas station called Panorama Pacific at Solimar and nicknamed Jake’s Place, the restaurant side and kitchen area are part of the original building while the patio area and take-out windows were added after it became Neptune’s Net in 1974. The patio section, known as the “seafood side” features covered outdoor communal picnic table dining, while the “restaurant side” has interior plastic molded booths with tables, ceiling fans and large glass windows. All ordering, on both sides is done counter style.
(1974) Orange County Mining Co. 10000 S Crawford Cyn Rd, N. Santa Ana, CA 92705. This large theme restaurant was built as a tribute to the mining era along with its sister restaurant, The Pomona Mining Company (1977). With panoramic views, it was intentionally built to be resemble a rustic shack, filled with dark wood, stained glass, wagon wheels, stage coach lanterns and antiques to conjure the California gold rush period. Primarily focusing on pricier special occasion dinners and banquets, the menu is heavy on steak and seafood, though a Sunday champagne brunch buffet and happy hour level the playing field a bit.
(1974) Perry’s Pizza 6937 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92845. Casual family pizza parlor with separate video game room that’s been in business since 1974 in the Orange County city of Garden Grove.
(1974) Pietro’s Italian 6788 Brockton Ave, Riverside, CA 92506. Located in a Riverside strip mall with a big plastic sign and exterior brick trim, this little family Italian restaurant is a decorating time capsule from the mid-1970s with big tufted red vinyl booths and wood-trimmed walls. The servings are large and inexpensive.
(1974) Peppone 11628 Barrington Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90049.This Italian fine dining restaurant was opened in Brentwood in 1974 by Gianni Paoletti, an immigrant from Venice, Italy. The atmosphere is dark, elegant and dimly-lit with rich mahogany walls and beamed ceiling, deep red leather booths and Tiffany stained glass lamps at every table. The menu is pricey Italian, thick with sauce and large portions. Peppone’s exterior features a vintage plastic signed, topped with lantern.
(1974) Sagebrush Cantina 23527 Calabasas Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302. This popular Mexican restaurant and party spot was opened by Bob McCord in 1974, when Calabassas was merely a dusty, dry area off the 101 Freeway that once had a stagecoach stop. McCord had worked as a Hollywood sound man on the TV show ‘Death Valley Days,’ and while on location in Arizona he was in a small plane crash that killed the two co-workers who were with him. McCord survived with a broken back and broken ankle, but had to wait two days to be rescued. He used his settlement money to rent a storefront next to the historic 1844-built Leonis Adobe and created Sagebrush Cantina, a one room restaurant using a hot plate, a few tables and two employees. The storefront was built in the early 1920s by Lester Agoure. What is now the cantina’s parking lot once was the local jail. By the early ’80s the success of his Mexican spot was so great that he had expanded the restaurant to seat 800 people and had 150 employees. The large restaurant, features high wood beamed ceilings, a cement floor is filled with western-style props, a small plane hanging from the ceiling, saw dusted floors, model ships and a small train in the parking lot. McCord passed away in 2008.
(1974) Ye Olde King’s Head 116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. When Ye Olde King’s Head first opened in 1974 by British-born Phil Elwell and wife Ruth, one block from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, the neighborhood surrounding it was Skid Row. They took over the space of a dive bar called the Brass Bell and started a traditional British pub that grew to include a casual restaurant, tea room, outdoor patio and gift shop. Serving classic British food, such as bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie, fish & chips, Scotch eggs and pints on tap, there are dart boards and afternoon tea. The interior is a mixture of exposed brick, hardwood ceilings, a working fireplace and a wooden bar, the walls well-decorated with British memorabilia and antiques. A tea room has walls of vermillion and round leather booths of dark cherry red. Keith Moon, rambunctious drummer for the band the Who was kicked out of the pub in the mid-1970s for simulating sex on the floor in the bar area and trashing the toilets, while other well-known Brits like Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Cary Grant, Davy Jones, Graham Chapman, Ozzy Osbourne, Sid Vicious, Billy Idol have raised a pint here over the years. Phil and Ruth, retired in 2005 and Ye Olde Kings Head is now owned by Paul Boetcher and Donal Tavey. A Studio City branch opened in 2012, but closed shortly after three years.
(1975) Café Tropical 2900 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Small, funky corner cafe serving Cuban sandwiches, pastries & café con leche.
(1975) Carney’s 8351 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Burgers & hot dogs served in an old Pacific Railroad train car on the Sunset strip.
(1975) El Burrito 1095 W Colton Ave, Redlands, CA 92374. El Burrito got its start in 1949 Colton, CA when Robert L. Meister, a railroad worker, built ABC Drive-in to sell hamburgers, hotdogs, milkshakes and soda out of a 400-square-foot shack with a counter window and outdoor tables. Eight years later, in 1957, he realized that Mexican food was the direction he wanted to head in and changed the shack’s name to El Burrito. His son, Jim Meister, then opened a second El Burrito in San Bernardino (closed in 1999) and in 1975 opened this third Redlandse location as well. Located in a red painted brick building, it consists of a take-out window and outdoor seating. The original location closed in November 2015 and the Redlands El Burrito is the only one surviving, owned by Ted Nece, the grandson of original founder R.L. Meister.
(1975) El Compadre 7408 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029. El Compadre Mexican restaurant was opened by David Castro and Mario Jimenez on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood in 1975. Dark and atmospheric, with a mysterious old world hacienda feeling, the restaurant features dark red leather booths, wood beamed ceilings, wrought iron, stained glass hanging lamps, vintage knobby wood partitions and Mexican themed paintings on the walls. Known for their flaming margaritas, mariachi bands and homemade tortilla chips, two more locations were opened in Echo Park (2004) and downtown L.A. (2014).
(1975) The Kettle 1138 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. The Kettle restaurant was built in Manhattan Beach, CA in 1973 by Wally Botello on a lot of an Atlantic Richmond gas station. Wally owned the restaurant until 1976, when it was sold to A.J. Simms, who had started in the restaurant business by running the commissary at MGM Studios and then owned several Ben Franks restaurants in Los Angeles (one at 8th and Western & two in Hollywood.) A comfortable and casual 24-hour restaurant, it is known for the big iron kettle sign on its roof, emblazoned with neon and painted fire, as well as its American-style food and hearty all night breakfasts. Though it has been remodeled and expanded over the years, the inside still has a bright, homey atmosphere with wooden floors, booths, an eating counter and an outdoor patio. Located on a corner, a couple blocks from the Pacific Ocean, it is still run by the children of A.J. Simms.
(1975) King Taco #1 1118 Cypress Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90065. First location of the worshiped fast food taco chain that became the blueprint of taco shops nationwide. Started out of a truck in mid-1974 and expanded into a brick and mortar store six months later.
(1975) Moffet’s Chicken Pie Shop 1409 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007.
Authentic strip mall diner specializing in serving comfort food, particularly pot pies. Homey and decorated with ’70s country kitsch, from floral wallpaper to colonial American-style wood furniture and hanging stained glass lamps, its mirrored wall menu is still painted in the original ’70s hues of orange, brown and goldenrod. They also are known for their homemade dessert pies as well. Opened by Al Moffet, who with his brother Henry had run a successful chicken pie restaurant, Phillip’s, on Pine Street In Long Beach, which closed in the early 1970s. Henry opened Henry Moffet’s Old Fashioned Chicken Pie Restaurant in Bellfower, which closed in 2007.
(1975) More Than Waffles 17200 Ventura Blvd #109, Encino, CA 91316. Breakfast spot specializing in elaborate waffles and other morning favorites. Built in the Encino Town Center which opened the same year. Homey, country decor. The whole shopping center was remodeled in 1993.
(1975) The Nosh 9689 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Opened in 1975 as a franchise of the New York Bagel Nosh company, started in 1967, it was taken over by Lenny Rosenberg in 2000 and the word ‘Bagel’ dropped from the restaurant’s name. A casual, diner-style Jewish delicatessen, the exterior roofline still carries a hint of its vintage history. Owned since 2006 by Ron Magnin and David Laredo.
(1975) Paco’s Tacos 4141 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066. Paco’s Tacos is a full-service Mexican restaurant opened in 1975 on Centinela Ave by Paco Francisco. Located in a brick-fronted building with a Spanish tile roof, it has mid-1970s plastic signs out front. The interior features lively, fun interior decor with tile bordered walls, Mexican-themed murals, large fishtanks, stained glass, painted wooden ceiling beams and eclectic fishing and hunting ephemera hanging from the ceiling. A scene from the film Jerry Maguire was filmed here.
(1975) Roma Market 918 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104. Italian import market that opened in Pasadena in 1953 and began serving signature deli sandwiches in 1975. Modern exterior, authentic and cluttered interior. Not connected to the North Hollywood Roma Deli.
(1975) Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles 1514 N Gower St, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles was opened 1975 on Gower Ave in Hollywood, CA by Harlem, NY born Herb Hudson. Serving soul food and a unique combination of friend chicken served with waffles, Herb’s famous friends in the local music and TV businesses spread the word about his business to help it get established. The Hollywood location, which often has long lines, is the original restaurant, but it soon grew to a chain. The exterior is basic brick and wood, while the inside is casual, with a wood planked ceiling, tile floors, brick and wood paneled walls and framed photos of celebrities.
(1975) Salvatore Italian 125 N 6th St, Montebello, CA 90640. Traditional Italian restaurant opened in 1975 by Salvatore and Angela De Lorenzo, immigrants from Calabria, Italy. With 1970s Italian inspired decor, including red and white checked tablecloths, brown tufted circular booths, and a multitude of chandeliers, entrance is through a heavy wooden door in the restaurant’s brick facade with original plastic signs hanging out front. The menu features large portions of pasta, pizza, Italian entrees and calzones. Salvatore is still family owned by Joseph and Anthony De Lorenzo.
(1976) Biagio’s 24301 Muirlands Blvd, Lake Forest, CA 92630. With wood trimmed walls and a casual atmosphere, Biagio’s has been updated since it opened in 1976, but is still family-owned with a timeless quality. Serving pizza, pasta and Italian entrees, the vibe is family-style with all-you-can-eat spaghetti served on Sundays.
(1976) Chao Krung 111 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Chao Krung opened for business in October 1976 and is believed to be the second Thai restaurant to open in L.A., giving it the distinction of being the oldest remaining in the city. Owned by Supa Kuntee, who inherited it from her family and began cooking here in 1989, this Fairfax Avenue storefront restaurant has plastic signs and an awning out front. The dining room and Thai-themed bar were remodeled in 2016 and than has taken away the mid- ’70s vintage vibe, leaving the space with a slick, modern feel and taking away much of the space’s soul. The first wave of Thai immigrants began settling in L.A. during the late 1960s and the first Thai restaurant here opened in 1969 on 8th Street and Vermont Avenue. It was a little market with a few tables and long after closing, its name is lost to history.
(1976) Georgio’s Pizza 8414 Sunland Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352. This Sun Valley neighborhood pizzeria has been in business since 1976 and is more of a casual ’70s-style tavern, serving pizza, subs, calzones and pasta alongside bar drinks and pitchers of beer. Trimmed with faux brick, drop ceiling and pool table, the small room is flanked with a long bar, about ten tables and several TVs.
(1976) Kouraku 314 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Remodeled diner-like Little Tokyo cafe which stakes claim to being the first true ramen restaurant in the United States. Open late night hours.
(1976) La Barca 2414 Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007. Established in May 1976 by the Padilla family in the University Park area near USC, this traditional Mexican restaurant has been popular with students for decades. Located in a building that was constructed in 1904, there is a feeling of history in this restaurant that somewhat transcends the restaurant’s mid-’70s roots. Dark and atmospheric, its walls are painted to look like a Mexican courtyard, bricks and clay roof tiles added to give semblance of a village and its ceiling painted with clouds and blue sky. The restaurant is still owned by the same family and is now run by Guillermo Padilla who opened a second branch in Downey in 2012.
(1976) La Paz 514 Center St, El Segundo, CA 90245. This little store front Mexican restaurant is located in an El Segundo strip mall was opened by Jose and Josefina Mendez. The interior consists of several casual diner-style rooms with booths and vintage linoleum.
(1976) Le Roy’s Restaurant 523 W Huntington Dr, Monrovia, CA 91016. Straight out of the mid-’70s, this American diner features brown leather booths, a long laminate wood counter, country inspired light fixtures & an awesome sign out front.
(1976) Leo’s Mexican Food 16006 Inglewood Ave, Lawndale, CA 90260.
Opened by Leo and Josephine Presiado on Inglewood Boulevard in Lawndale, this Mexican restaurant first opened in 1948. It has been owned since 1967 by the couple’s son, Lionel, who constructed a new, larger building in 1976 and moved the restaurant seven blocks up the road. The inside is light and bright, with wooden tables, red saltillo floors and Mexican decorative touches, while the exterior features a Mexican clay-tiled roof, stuccoed walls and plastic signage. An eating patio is covered in wood trellis and has a central fountain.
(1976) Lulu’s Cafe 16900 Roscoe Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Family restaurant serving American diner food. Oddly shaped building with shingled roof, classic mid-1970s sign and ’70s stained glass and decorative touches throughout. It has a separate bar area inside called The Hanger, which is also vintage 1970s.
(1976) Mi Casita 8069 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga, CA 91040. Mi Casita opened in 1976 on Foothill Blvd in Sunland-Tujunga. This small Mexican restaurant features burgundy leather tufted booths, festive painted murals and red brick walls. Owned by Roe Rodrigez.
(1976) Moreno’s 4328 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869. In October 1969, Javier and Nora Moreno opened a little bakery on Esplanade and Chapman Avenue in the town of Orange and ran it for several years, eventually serving Mexican food as well. After outgrowing that first location, in 1976 they moved their little restaurant into a much bigger spot- an old Quaker church building and meeting house that had stood further down on Chapman Avenue since 1887. The couple’s intent was to create a romantic old world Mexican feeling restaurant with interior and exterior fountains, brick walls and fireplaces, saltillo-tiled floors and patio dining. After some basic remodeling, including adding Spanish arches, painting murals, landscaping and tile work, the current Moreno’s was born. Moreno’s architecture comprises the Quaker church’s original gabled roof and cupola, as well as a separate bakery area to purchase their well-known baked goods and tamales to go.
(1976) Olamendi’s 34660 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, CA 92624. First opened in San Clemente in 1973 by Jorge, an immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico, and his wife Maria Olamendi, from Jalisco, this Mexican restaurant moved to a bigger location in Capistrano Beach, three years later. Jam packed with vibrant art, incredible Dia de los Muertos puppets and ornaments hanging from the brightly colored rafters, there is also a significant amount of photos and memorabilia commemorating Orange County’s native son and one time resident Richard Nixon. The resigned president was a customer here for two decades, until his death in 1994. Also popular with surfers because of its beachfront location, the exterior is painted in technicolor as well. In 2012 the Olamendi’s also marketed their own brand of tequila and have recently opened a market in Laguna Nigel.
(1976) Pacific Diner 3821 S Pacific Ave, San Pedro, CA 90731. Pacific Diner was opened on Pacific Ave in San Pedro, CA in 1976 by Dennis and Paula Juett in a space that had previously held the Pilot Cafe as far back as the 1950s. The diner serves American-style breakfasts and lunches, out of a small house with L-shaped counter and large patio eating area. It is decorated with nautical touches, given its location a few blocks away from the ocean.
(1976) Palermo 1858 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Palermo restaurant opened by Anthony Fanara in 1976 and was originally located on Hillhurst Ave in a small 18-seat space. It moved to its current location on Vermont Avenue in 1982 where it expanded to 48 seats and then eventually to 180. The inside features burgundy leather booths, knobby wood booth dividers, deep red carpeting, Italian themed wall murals, a hallway full of framed headshots and arches built to appear as old Roman building columns. The exterior has plastic signs, a few outdoor eatings tables and an awning in the colors of the Italian flag.
(1976) Porto’s 315 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203.Busy Cuban bakery opened by Rosa and Raul Porto in 1976 out of an Echo Park storefront on Sunset Boulevard. It is one of the oldest eateries serving Cuban food in the Los Angeles area, after El Colmao (1969). After 1960, refugees leaving Cuba arrived in Miami in such great numbers that the US government offered a resettlement program to those interested in moving to other states. Between 1961 and 1966 over 14,000 exiled Cubans moved to California. Echo Park became a “Little Havana” area for a time and Cuban restaurants and bakeries were established. Porto’s Moved to Glendale in 1978 & to this location in the early ’90s.
(1976) Shibucho 3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057.
Traditional, yet pricey sushi at one of L.A.’s earliest sushi bars, opened several years before the ’80s trend. This restaurant has no menu and serves omakase only, meaning that you inform the chef how much you will be spending and the meal is created from that. The sushi bar itself has about 10 seats and there are a few tables, so reservations are highly recommended.
(1976) Spires Restaurant 21107 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503. Spires is a chain of Southern California restaurants, serving coffee shop American food, founded in 1965 by Greek immigrant John Haretakis. The first location, now a Goldenwest Diner, was opened in 1965 on Euclid and Ball Streets in Anaheim. At its peek, there were 30 locations, but today there are only 8 locations left including Carson (1971), Long Beach 1 (1979), Long Beach 2, Torrance 2 (1976), Tustin (1978), Ontario (1982) and Lawndale. All except the Lawndale location feature an octagonal shaped building, original plastic signs, wood paneled walls and vintage red tile on the walls behind the counter. These locations have not been remodeled and are very representative of 1970s restaurant interior decorating with brown or teal vinyl upholstered booths.
(1976) Spires Restaurant 1750 Sepulveda Blvd, Torrance, CA 90501. Spires is a chain of Southern California restaurants, serving coffee shop American food, founded in 1965 by Greek immigrant John Haretakis. The first location, now a Goldenwest Diner, was opened in 1965 on Euclid and Ball Streets in Anaheim. At its peek, there were 30 locations, but today there are only 8 locations left including Carson (1971), Long Beach 1 (1979), Long Beach 2, Torrance 2 (1976), Tustin (1978), Ontario (1982) and Lawndale. All except the Lawndale location feature an octagonal shaped building, original plastic signs, wood paneled walls and vintage red tile on the walls behind the counter. These locations have not been remodeled and are very representative of 1970s restaurant interior decorating with brown or teal vinyl upholstered booths.
(1976) Won Kok 210 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Chinatown restaurant with late-night hours serving dim sum and classic Chinese-American dishes. Unremodeled 1970s casual dining room with wood paneled walls and drop ceiling.
(1976) Yuca’s 2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Yuca’s was established in 1976 by owners Socorro and Jaime Herrera who turned an 8×10 foot shoeshine stand into a James Beard award winning taqueria, serving a small menu of tacos, burritos, tortas, hamburgers and hotdogs. With outdoor seating under a wooden canopy, the small restaurant is particularly recognized for their ochinita pibil, a slow-roasted stewed pork recipe of the Yucatan area from where the Herrara’s emigrated. A second location was opened in Pasadena in 2017.
(1977) Arturo’s Puffy Taco 15693 Leffingwell Rd, Whittier, CA 90604. Puffy tacos (sort of a bubbly, chewy deep-fried cross between a hard shelled taco and a soft one) are apparently a thing originating in both San Antonio, Texas and Whittier, California. The lineage goes back to Texas when the brother of Arturo Lopez, opened up Henry’s Puffy Taco in San Antonio, based on a recipe of their father, owner of Ray’s Drive-in. Arturo, who had moved to Southern California in the mid-’60s, opened up his own puffy taco restaurant in 1977, first in La Habra and then in Whittier. The Whittier branch is still going strong in a ’70s- style fast food building with red vinyl and white plastic booths, clay-tiled floors and a take-out counter. A patent for the unique puffy tacos was filed by Arturo in 1992, and the restaurant is still run by his daughter and grandchildren.
(1977) Brogino’s 2423 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. Cozy, old school Italian-American restaurant serving large portions of Italian entrees, pasta and pizza. The comfortable decor features wood paneled walls covered with photos, tan leather booths and murals on the ceiling & outside wall. It also has a bar with overhanging ’70s stained glass light fixtures.
(1977) Dizz’s As Is 2794 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Dizz’s As Is was opened by the Pitz family in 1977 on Pacific Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach, CA. Located in a 1920s house filled with a mish mash of 1920s to 1930s antiques and a romantic outside patio area, it serves a steak & sea food based menu. The name “Dizz’s” came about because the property had been purchased from a couple who were into the Timothy Leary hallucinogenic scene, conjuring up the idea of dizziness. The term “As Is” was added when the Pitz’s decided to use the eclectic mix-matched dishes and furnishings left behind by the LSD couple to decorate their restaurant.
(1977) El Migueleno Restaurant 2301 Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007. El Milgueleno was opened on Vermont Ave in November 1977 by Maria Montenegroon, an immigrant from El Salvador. It is one of the earliest Salvadorian restaurants to open in L.A., and it likely the oldest surviving one. The Salvadoran community eventually became established in this neighborhood beginning in the 1980s when hundreds of thousands of Salvadoran immigrants fled a violent civil war in their home country. This stretch of Vermont Ave received an official neighborhood name in 2012 and is known as the El Salvador Community Corridor. Serving large servings of Salvadorian favorites, this little storefront restaurant is basic, casual and no frills, with a handful of tables in a very basic room. The exterior is non-descriptive as well, located in a rectangular cement building with a long gated awning and plastic orange and yellow letters.
(1977) Fidel’s Pizza 307 N Avenue 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042. Simple Highland Park take-out pizza served from a house-like store built in the 1970s. Picnic table, porch front eating.
(1977) Foo-Chow 949 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tucked away on the edge of Chinatown’s Chung King Alley, a pedestrian walkway filled with old and dusty souvenir shops and newly created hipster art galleries, Foo-Chow restaurant appears very much as it did in the late ’70s, with the addition of a few colorful murals. Brightly lit and carpeted, with some Chinese decorative touches and some modern tables and chairs, the ambience is casual and family-friendly. The menu is basic mid-century Chinese-American, with large servings, good for left-overs. Besides being one of the oldest surviving restaurants in Chinatown, Foo-Chow is recognized as one of the filming locations for the 1988 movie Rush Hour, starring Jackie Chan.
(1977) Hu’s Szechwan 10450 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Hu’s Szechwan is a small, basic and casual Chinese restaurant, opened in 1977 on National Blvd in the Palms neighborhood of Los Angeles. With a simple dining room consisting of modern tables and chairs and a few Chinese decorations, it is family owned and run by brothers Derek and Eric Hu. The building was constructed in 1959, with an exterior trimmed in vintage river rock and plastic signs dating to the restaurant’s opening.
(1977) Mary & Robbs Westwood Cafe 1453 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Cafe with redwood planked walls, booths and a long eating counter, serving diner fare. The original vintage signs have been replaced.
(1977) Moun of Tunis 7445 1/2 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046.
Authentic Moroccan prix fixe served among exotic decor with belly dancers performing.
(1977) Pat and Lorraine’s 4720 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041.
Mid ’70s diner serving breakfast & lunch. It is infamous for being the location of the opening scene in Reservoir Dogs in which the characters dissect the Madonna song “Like a Virgin.”
(1977) Pomona Valley Mining Company 1777 Gillette Rd, Pomona, CA 91768. Perched high on a hill over the 10 freeway in Pomona, this large theme restaurant was built as a tribute to the mining era along with its sister restaurant in Santa Ana, The Orange County Mining Co (1974). With panoramic views of the Inland Empire, it was intentionally built to be resemble a rustic shack, filled with dark wood, stained glass, wagon wheels, stage coach lanterns and antiques to conjure the California gold rush period. Primarily focusing on pricier special occasion dinners and banquets, the menu is heavy on steak and seafood, though a Sunday champagne brunch buffet and happy hour level the playing field a bit.
(1977) Rothchild’s 2407 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. Zagat rated Italian fine dining in Orange County. Rothchild’s was first founded in 1977 as a wine & cheese shop by German immigrant Helmut Reiss, but with an added kitchen evolved shortly into a full-scale restaurant. With an interior rich with wood, white table cloths, oil paintings and an ornately carved wooden bar, the elegant atmosphere matches the prices. Family owned by Frank Fassero-Reiss.
(1977) Shinano 1106 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754. One of the oldest Japanese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. Traditional Japanese and sushi served in a dining room with booths, oriental decorative touches and private tatami rooms.
(1977) The Spot 110 2nd St, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. The Spot opened in 1977, one block from the ocean in Hermosa Beach, CA. Known as the oldest surviving vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles, it was bought by chefs Tonya and Maurice Beaudet in 1980 and has been owned by them ever since. With a great vintage appearing exterior, a bright red overhang, almost appearing circus-like and a neon sign in an art-deco type font, the interior, with hard wood floors and white washed walls, feels like a dining room in someone’s private home. An exterior patio, with walls of wood and paved with tile, feels rustic and relaxing.
(1977) Yang Chow 819 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Yang Chow opened in 1977 on Broadway in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, in a space formerly inhabited by a diner. The restaurant serves Mandarin and Szechuan style cuisine, and is known for their slippery shrimp. It was started by a family of five brothers, the Chan family, who have since opened two other branches of the restaurant in Pasadena and Canoga Park. The interior lacks any vintage touches and features a small, basic dining room with booths and photos on the walls.
(1978) Alex Di Peppe’s 610 Live Oak Ave., Arcadia, CA 91006. Opened by Italian immigrants Alessandro and Elsa DiPeppe in 1978, the first location of their restaurant was located on Las Tunas Drive in Arcadia, but in 2015 it relocated about a mile away. Serving large portions of Italian-American comfort food, the new location is in a strip mall with a big plastic sign. The interior is comfortably family-style with walls trimmed in brick, wooden tables and booths. The restaurant is still family run by the children and grandchildren of the original owners.
(1978) Bagel Nosh 1629 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403. Opened in 1978 by married New York City to L.A. transplants Pam and Jack Braun, the Bagel Nosh was originally a franchise of a New York bagel company which got its its start in 1967. Besides freshly baked bagels, the couple added a counter service deli serving traditional Jewish breakfast and lunch food and a casual sit-down restaurant, remodeled over the years.
(1978) The Bull Pen 314 Ave I, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. The Bull Pen restaurant opened on Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach in 1948. Family owned, it moved a total of 3 times before finally settling in its current space in 1978, a strip mall on Avenue I in Redondo. The exterior is simple brick with 1970s plastic signs and a thick wooden door with multi-colored bottle glass, a hint to the old school magic inside. Serving American steak house fare, prime rib, sea food and burgers, the dark interior is like a step back in time. Black leather semi-circular booths, a long wooden bar with black bucket seats, knobbed wood and stained glass chandeliers are all original. A visit here on a weekday afternoon found the seats at the bar nearly full of an older clientele day drinking with lunch.
(1978) Chicken Box 330 E Whittier Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631. Chicken Box Restaurant opened in 1978 on Whittier Blvd in La Habra, CA. Located inside a tiny house, this quaint country-styled chicken restaurant is fronted by a white picket fence and has interior gingham wallpaper. Food is ordered counter style, but there are front porch tables available for outside eating.
(1978) Jitlada 5233 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Located in a Hollywood strip mall, this Thai restaurant may be the 2nd oldest surviving Thai restaurant in Los Angeles. The first wave of Thai immigrants began settling in L.A. during the late 1960s and the first Thai restaurant in L.A. opened in 1969 on Vermont Avenue. It is no longer remaining. The oldest surviving appears to be Chao Krung on Fairfax, which opened in 1976. Small, cozy, two rooms with with drop ceilings and Thai decorations, it serves authentic Southern Thai cuisine. It is well respected by food connoisseurs and has very extensive choices. The front part of the menu is traditional Thai food, well-known by Americans, but the back part of the menu offers rare and authentic items. There is even a menu section called “Adventurous and Bizarre Foods” featuring Silk Worms, whole eels, whole squid and much more.
(1978) La Parrilla 2126 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033.
Opened in 1978 by Maria del Carmen Salas, an immigrant from Sinoloa, Mexico, this small Boyle Heights Mexican restaurant is filled to the brim with over-the-top festive decor, brightly colored murals and singing mariachis. The original late ’70s details are evident under the clutter, touches of knobby wood, a few original burgundy vinyl booths, alongside those added later, and brick work. The name La Parrilla is a style of Mexican barbecue-grilled meat and the restaurant is known for their parrillada plates, homemade tortillas and table side preparation of guacamole A second location of La Parrilla was opened in 1996 on Wilshire Blvd, in the Westlake neighborhood, near downtown L.A. and is on this list as well.
(1978) Los Tres Conchinitos 3111 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90031. Opened in 1978, Los Tres Conchintos (The Three Piggies) is bare bones and basic, a little freestanding Mexican restaurant in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood that’s open for breakfast and lunch and accepts cash only. This unadorned “hole in the wall” serves authentic menudo, birria, tamales along with other Mexican favorites. There’s also two other local Los Tres Conchinitos in Wilmington (1973) and Commerce (1980) but they appear to be unconnected.
(1978) Nanbankan 11330 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Traditional Japanese cuisine served in a small, remodeled room with a yakitori bar. Located in the West L.A./Sawtelle area often referred to as Little Osaka, but officially dedicated as Japantown in 2015, the neighborhood has a long history of Japanese settlement, especially from the early 1900s to the 1950s when race-based restrictions prevented non-caucasians from buying homes in other areas of Los Angeles. Nanbankan is one of the oldest surviving Japanese restaurants in the Japantown neighborhood, including Aki (1974) and Hide Sushi (1979).
(1978) Nick’s Pizza D’Oro 1145 Baker St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. First opened in La Palma in 1968 by Nicola “Nick” DiPietro, an immigrant from Abruzzi, Italy, this casual pizzeria was relocated to Costa Mesa in 1978. It still has a 1970s old school feel with brick walls and clay-tiled floors, red vinyl booths, red and white checked tablecloths and Italian style decor. Specializing in heart-shaped pizzas and enormous servings of pasta, this branch has been run by Nick’s son Phillip DiPietro since 2006. A Fountain Valley branch opened in 1983 and closed in 2019. A Huntington Beach branch opened in 1989 and is still in business.
(1978) Old World German Restaurant 7561 Center Ave, Huntington Beach, 92647. A kitschy restaurant resembling an old European village serving German & Austrian food. Taking up nearly a city block, the stores that make up the village all have German facades. The restaurant has multiple indoor and outdoor areas, including a bar, all decorated with the “old world” theme. There is a huge banquet area where they host Oktoberfest & other parties and a sprawling courtyard area where they host weiner dog races one Sunday a month.
(1978) Raul’s Mexican Food 13908 S Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250. Raul’s Mexican restaurant opened in 1978 by Raul Ornelas, also owner of Raul’s Casa Sombrero, a similar Mexican spot on Hawthorne Boulevard. With deep burgundy tufted vinyl booths trimmed with gold buttons, wood laminate tables, polished brick floors, knobby wood room dividers, wall murals and vintage lighting, the interior has had minimal remodeling since the restaurant opened. An original plastic sign with vintage font hangs out front. Raul sold the business to Gelberto Bermal in 2018.
(1978) Spires Restaurant 13451 Newport Ave, Tustin, CA 92780. Spires is a chain of Southern California restaurants, serving coffee shop American food, founded in 1965 by Greek immigrant John Haretakis. The first location, now a Goldenwest Diner, was opened in 1965 on Euclid and Ball Streets in Anaheim. At its peek, there were 30 locations, but today there are only 8 locations left including Carson (1971), Long Beach (1979), Long Beach 2, Torrance (1976), Torrance 2 (1976), Ontario (1982) and Lawndale. All except the Lawndale location feature an octagonal shaped building, original plastic signs, wood paneled walls and vintage red tile on the walls behind the counter. These locations have not been remodeled and are very representative of 1970s restaurant interior decorating with brown or teal vinyl upholstered booths.
(1978) Upland German Deli 983 W Foothill Blvd, Upland, CA 91786. First opened on Upland’s Mountain Avenue in 1977 by Johann and Katharine Schneider, the restaurant moved a year later to its present location on Foothill Blvd. Now on its fourth set of owners, Kristine and Edward Konefat, who immigrated to the US in the early 1960s, the little storefront restaurant, market and deli is thankfully still much like it was when it first opened. With linoleum floors, a faux brick wall hung with kitschy tchotchkes, a drop ceiling and a few checkered plastic-clothed tables, the strip mall location and the large portions of heavy German delicacies feels like a step back in time. Serving a traditional German menu including smoked pork, wienerschnitzel, many sausages and wursts, rouladen, cabbage rolls, spaetzle and sauerkraut, they also prepare European desserts such as cookies, tarts, strudel, sachertorte, stollen, and black forest cake. Many German bottled beers are available for purchase as well.
(1979) Avolio’s Italian Restaurant 15975 E San Bernardino Rd, Covina, CA 91722. Established in 1979 by Pietro Avolio, an immigrant from Pacentro, Italy, the restaurant has been run by his daughter Darlene since 2007. Serving classic Italians pasta, pizza and entrees the restaurant exterior and interior decor had been updated recently.
(1979) Big Jim’s 8950 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352. Low, ranch-style building, which holds a kitschy Western-themed American restaurant with wagon wheel light fixtures, a gold horseshoe embedded on the floor entrance, wood paneled ceilings, embossed glass and a copper wagon train over the salad bar. The neon horse on the exterior sign gallops, when lit.
(1979) Country Deli Restaurant 9901 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Bright & basic, no frills diner serving simple comfort food favorites.
(1979) Daglas Drive-in 20036 Vanowen St, Canoga Park, CA 91306. Take-out window sandwich & burger stand with attached diner area. Occupies a cool ’60s kitsch building with festive, carnival-like decorative adornments.
(1979) Fromin’s 1832 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403. This Jewish deli was opened in 1979 by Dennis Fromin, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in Chicago and still owns the restaurant today with a partner. His family owned delicatessens for four generations and in the 1960s moved back to California, where his father opened a restaurant in Encino. Dennis opened his own Century City deli in 1974, closing it to open Fromin’s five years later. The exterior still features the deli’s name in the original white plastic 1970s font, while the inside has had basic remodeling over the years. Though three other branches of Fromin’s were opened in the 1980s (Encino, Rancho Mirage, Simi Valley), this is the only surviving location.
(1979) Greco’s New York Pizzeria 6814 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. This Hollywood Boulevard hole in a wall has been serving up large greasy thin-crust slices of pizza since 1979 when it was opened by three brothers. The place is long and narrow with a few high tables and stools, the ubiquitous celebrity headshots and walls trimmed with tile in the Italian flag colors of red, white and green. Another newer branch is located a few blocks east, on the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga, but it has far less character.
(1979) Guido’s Restaurant 11980 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Italian food with vintage feel; red leather booths, exposed brick, hand-carved wood, fireplace, and great exterior neon signs.
(1979) Hama Sushi 213 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291. Located one block from the Venice boardwalk, Hama Sushi was one of the first sushi restaurants to open on the West Side of Los Angeles. Very popular and with both indoor and outdoor eating areas, it has been owned by Esther Chaing since 2004. The very first sushi bar in L.A., long closed, was Kawafuku, opened in 1966, while the oldest surviving sushi bar in the city appears to be Ōōmasa (1972) in Little Tokyo.
(1979) Hide Sushi 2040 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Opened by Takuo Kitano as a 12-stool sushi bar in 1979, Hide Sushi is one of the first sushi bars to open on the Westside, along with Hama Sushi, which opened the same year in Venice. Known for serving no-frills, affordable, but quality, sushi, the popular cash-only restaurant expanded over the years to include additional table seating. Hide is brightly lit and relatively modern with a surreal light box overhead featuring a blue sky with pink cherry blossom branches. Located in the West L.A./Sawtelle area often referred to as Little Osaka, but officially dedicated as Japantown in 2015, the neighborhood has a long history of Japanese settlement, especially from the early 1900s to the 1950s when race-based restrictions prevented non-caucasians from buying homes in other areas of Los Angeles. Hide Sushi is one of the oldest surviving Japanese restaurants in the Japantown neighborhood, including Aki (1974) and Nanbankan (1978).
(1979) Heart’s Coffee Shop 16918 Saticoy St, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Classic family owned ’70s-style diner with reasonable prices, a long wood laminate counter, burgundy and orange bucket stools and a tremendous heart-shaped neon sign out front.
(1979) Lomeli’s Italian Restaurant 2223 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247. This small, family-owned strip mall restaurant, located on Redondo Beach Blvd in Gardena, between Western and Crenshaw, was opened in early 1979 by 24-year-old Carlo Lomeli, who had taken over Big Joe’s Italian Restaurant a few months earlier, in December 1978. Cozy and comfortable, with rust-colored leather booths, wood laminate tables, trellised ceilings, framed paintings and an unpretentious ’70s vibe, the restaurant serves up large gooey plates of pizza and pasta and traditional Italian American favorites.
(1979) Pioneer Chicken 6323 E Florence Ave, Bell Gardens, CA 90201. One of the last two remaining franchises of the once extremely popular Los Angeles created fried chicken chain that began in Echo Park in 1961. At its peak in 1987 there were 270 restaurants. The remaining two locations both have original signs and architecture.
(1979) Thành Mỹ Vietnamese 9553 Bolsa Ave, Westminster, CA 92683. The history of Vietnamese restaurants in Southern California is rather recent. The first wave of Vietnamese immigrants arrived here after Saigon fell in 1975. They were often called “boat people” because many of them escaped in homemade wooden boats. In 1975 nearly 20,000 Vietnamese were accepted into California as refugees and were living at Camp Pendleton in eight different camps. Another wave of refugees arrived in 1978-1979. Many settled permanently in Orange County, where they started businesses, including restaurants. Thành Mỹ is the oldest surviving Vietnamese restaurant in the Los Angeles area that I have been able to locate so far. Opened by the Nguyen family in 1979 in Westminster, an area then surrounded by orange groves and strawberry fields, the area would eventually be called Little Saigon. The restaurant’s name was created by combining the first names of the owner and his wife. Located in the corner of a strip mall, Thành Mỹ is basic and modern looking inside, with a drop ceiling and Asian decorative touches, it serves Southern Vietnamese cuisine with over 200 dishes on its menu.
(1979) Tony’s Italian Deli 1124 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506. Small, corner deli serving sandwiches and Italian dishes in a small room with a few tables. The original 1970s sign still hangs above the roof.
(1979) Wendy’s Place 107 W Grand Ave, El Segundo, CA 90245. This small, no-frills, cash only American diner-style cafe is known as a regular spot for El Segundo locals. A simple neon sign out front proclaims CAFE, above an awning shielding a plate glass window. Opened in 1979 by Wendy Wallace, it has stayed in the family, now owned by Neil Wallace. With wood paneled walls and framed Norman Rockwell clippings, this eatery features a long breakfast bar, a few red vinyl booths with wood laminate tables, gingham curtains and an unretouched simplicity. Open early for hearty breakfasts, but closed on Mondays, there is a basic lunch menu served until 1pm on weekends and 2pm on weekdays.
(1980) Azteca 12911 Main St Main Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840. This Mexican restaurant was originally opened by Connie Skipworth in 1957 on Garden Grove Boulevard before she moved it to its current spot on the town’s Historic Main Street in 1980. It is jam packed with Elvis memorabilia in every available crevice, from floor to ceiling, and includes an Elvis-themed bar called The Crooner’s Lounge. The Elvis collection was added to the restaurant in 1993, when Connie’s nephew J.J. Jauregui inherited the business from his Aunt. He owned the restaurant, constantly adding to the collection, until 2014 and it has been owned by Jennifer Stewart since.
(1980) Casablanca 220 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291.
Casablanca restaurant was opened in 1980 by movie buff Carlos Haro, an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico who had worked as a radio DJ and nightclub owner south of the border. Located on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice, the spot serves classic Mexican food with a decorating theme based on the 1942 movie Casablanca. With a life-sized fiberglass statue of Humphrey Bogart, movie memorabilia covering the walls, movie-themed murals, cast autographs and props on display, the restaurant claims one of the largest collections based on the film in the world. The restaurant has been owned by Haro’s son, Carlos Jr. since 1982.
(1980) Continental Basque 316 W Rte 66, Glendora, CA 91740. Continental Basque was opened in 1980 by Jean and Elisabeth Sabarots, immigrants from the Basque region of Europe, a mountainous area in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain. This is the second oldest surviving Basque restaurant I’ve been able to find in the Los Angeles area after Centro Basco, located in Chino (1940). Most of Southern California’s Basque settlers arrived between the 1930s to 1960s to work in the area’s numerous dairies, then spread out far and wide from the South Bay to the Inland Empire, but many others assumed the traditional Basque occupation of sheepherding. Though California has the largest Basque population of any US state, the restaurants are not so common. Bakersfield has the largest concentration of Basque restaurants in the United States. Located on Route 66 in Glendora, Continental Basque has a few rooms, a brighter dining room with rust colored booths, wood and Basque-style decorating touches, an unadorned banquet room, where “family-style” Basque meals are common and a lounge that is decidedly vintage in decor, cozy with dimly-lit 1960s-’70s flavor, including a bar made of tufted rust-colored leather with wood laminate top, matching U-shaped booths, comfy tufted captain chairs, a chandelier made from deer antlers and a small stage for live music.
(1980) The Dragon 966 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006. The Dragon restaurant on Vermont Ave and the corner of Olympic in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, was opened in 1980. Serving Korean influenced Northern Chinese comfort food, it is well-respected in the local community as a special event restaurant, mainly because it features 15 private banquet rooms in addition to the main dining room. Opened by T.J. Wang, a man of Chinese ancestry who immigrated to Los Angeles from Seoul, Korea in 1971, he continues to run the restaurant today. The space is brightly lit and modern, with ornate Oriental decorative touches.
(1980) Genovese’s Italian Kitchen 2900 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801. Opened in 1980 in Alhambra, Genovese’s Italian Kitchen is a small casual neighborhood Italian restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. It was taken over in May 2019 by husband and wife chefs Hugo Molina and Aricia Alvarado.
(1980) Giamela’s 3178 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Small, casual neighborhood Italian submarine shop, serving subs, pizza and pasta, a branch of Giamela’s subs founded by Angelina Giamela on Riverside Drive in Burbank in 1967. The building was constructed in 1924.
(1980) King Taco #2 4504 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90022. This is the second location of the worshiped fast food taco chain now comprising 22 locations throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Built in 1980 in East L.A, this massive 4,000 square foot branch is considered the chain’s flagship store. The exterior signage is bright and attention getting, ordering is done through a series of exterior take-out windows and seating is available at outside picnic tables. Open 24 hours from Thursdays to Saturdays, the rest of the week this shop stays open until 3am. The first location, King Taco #1, is still surviving, opened in the Cypress Park neighborhood in 1975 by Raul Martínez.
(1980) Le Chêne 12625 Sierra Hwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91390. Out on the rustic Sierra Highway, midway between Santa Clarita and Palmdale is a tucked away, romantic special occasion French restaurant opened in 1980 by Juan Alonso. Located in an incredible stone building constructed as a gas station in 1923 by William Arch Dodrill, it has a castle-like feeling and appearance. With beautiful, leafy grounds and an outdoor seating deck, the restaurant sits adjacent to Sierra Pelona Ridge vineyard, also established by owner Juan Alonso. The restaurant is pricey, serving an extensive French menu and wine from the restaurant’s large underground wine cellars. The interior is simple and airy, with white walls and a lot of blonde wood, including a high wooden ceiling.
(1980) Lisa’s Coffee Shop 1530 W San Bernardino Rd, Covina, CA 91722. Lisa’s Coffee Shop opened in 1980 in a building that was most likely constructed in the early 1960s, with a Googie-style triangular roofline, a repurposed vintage sign and a brick-trimmed exterior. The inside is casual and comfortable, and filled with retro wall clutter, such as license plates and reproductions of vintage metal signs. There are original touches of vintage tile at the breakfast counter, which is fronted with mid-century wood laminate, and also in the attached counter stools, but the restaurant’s 1950s car culture theme is the 1980 re-created version, which is, of course, vintage itself now. Serving American breakfast and lunch, this coffee shop closes at 2pm daily.
(1980) Vito Restaurant 2807 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. This upscale Italian restaurant in Santa Monica was opened in 1980 by Vito, Roberto and Giovanna Somma, all immigrants from Naples Italy. Serving classic Italian entrees, pasta and antipasti in a dimly lit dining room trimmed with dark wood, white tablecloths, oil paintings and waiters in tuxedos, the atmosphere is subdued elegance
(1981) Casa Gamino 4937 W Century Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90304. This is the second location of Casa Gamino Mexican restaurant, first founded in 1970 by Cipriano Gamino in Paramount. This location, in a freestanding building, has had little remodeling and still has a late ’70s feel with brick work, a green leatherette upholstered bar, Mexican tile and stucco ceilings.
(1981) Dino’s Pizza 3520 Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505. Casual pizzeria with a lot of topping choices that opened in Burbank in 1981. The building has a decidedly vintage appearance and was built in 1961 with an odd shaped Asian-style thatched roof. Ordering is done at a counter and the dining area has a late ’70s appearance with walled-in patio, windows and indoor-outdoor carpeting.
(1981) Gladstone’s 17300 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
Ocean view sea food restaurant. Originally opened in Santa Monica Canyon in 1972.
(1981) Golden Deli Vietnamese 815 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Vietnamese food arrived in California after 1975. Though named a deli, this is actually a casual, unadorned, full-service restaurant serving classic Vietnamese food and cupcakes.
(1981) Jerry’s Coffee Shop 4817 E Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley, CA 93063. Named for Jerry Ann Summers, the woman who opened Jerry’s Coffee Shop in 1981, this American diner was bought by Taiwanese immigrant Yen Yang in 1987. With a hand-painted exterior sign, a few booths, tables and counter seating, this wood-paneled restaurant can best be described as a greasy spoon, or a hole in the wall, or as a wonderful place of unadorned, unremodeled character. Accepting cash only, this little slice of Americana keeps hours between 6am to 3pm. Those considering themselves high maintenance, best to stay away.
(1981) Joselito’s 2345 Honolulu Ave, Montrose, CA 91020. This Montrose location evolved out of a Mexican restaurant opened by Jose and Myrna Grijalva in Burbank in 1977, named after their son, Jose Jr.. The interior is shades of rust and brown booths, with Mexican tiled tables, wall murals and a cozy outside patio. A second location was opened in Tujunga in 2000.
(1981) Marino’s 17126 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower, CA 90706. Opened by Tom Marino in 1981, this family-run corner restaurant in Bellflower features a green awning, plastic sign, a stained glass front door and exterior brick trim. Serving large helpings of Sicilian- American food, the inside has been recently updated a bit with new upholstery on the booths, but still has an old school feel with wood paneled walls and old family photos on the walls.
(1981) Pioneer Chicken 904 S Soto St, Los Angeles, CA 90023. One of the last two remaining franchises of the once extremely popular Los Angeles-created fried chicken chain that began in Echo Park in 1961. At its peak in 1987 there were 270 restaurants. The remaining two locations both have original signs and architecture.
(1981) Versailles 10319 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034. Opened in 1981 by Cuban born immigrant Orlando Garcia, Versailles eventually expanded into a 5 restaurant chain, that is now run by his son William. Though not the oldest surviving Cuban restaurant in the city, that honor appears to go to El Colmao (1969), it may be the most recognized. Specializing in traditional Cuban fare- garlic chicken, empanadas, black beans, plantains, and more, the interior has been remodeled in a modern, casual way and features a long marble bar, chandeliers and eating tables.
(1982) Claro’s 1095 E Main St, Tustin, CA 92780. An Orange County branch of the family-owned Italian market and deli chain started in San Gabriel in 1948 by Joe Claro and his wife Mary that now total six stores. The second Claro’s opened in Arcadia in 1971, followed by four more stores in La Habra, Covina, Tustin & Upland. Following the other branch’s example this location is a tried & true old fashioned Italian market with a deli counter serving classic Italian dishes, freshly made cold cut sandwiches, antipasto and other salads. There is also a bakery with Italian cookies, bread and cannoli and aisles of Italian food products. Located in a vintage strip mall, the floors of the deli match the red linoleum of the San Gabriel store and also feature drop ceilings and vintage glass deli cases. All of the Claro’s are family run by Joe Claro’s grandchildren and their families.
(1982) Don Antonio’s 11755 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Don Antonio’s Mexican restaurant was opened in 1982 on Pico Blvd in West L.A., by Antonio and Amalia Hernandez, who had previously owned Gilbert’s El Indio (opened 1974) located down the same street in Santa Monica. This dark and cozy restaurant has red leather booths in one room and another “cave room” complete with wall surfaces and a ceiling that resembles stalactites. The exterior has a vintage feel with Mexican tile, river rock and saltillo roof tiles. There is a separate bar area and an outdoor patio with tables in the back. The amazing neon sign of a man in sombrero with mustache, that stood out front fell down in a windstorm in 2017 and was unfortunately not replaced.
(1982) Las Fuentes 18415 Vanowen St, Reseda, CA 91335. Opened in 1982 by Alejandro and Norma Morales, this colorfully decorated Mexican restaurant has been expanded three times over the years. Ordering is done at a counter and served when the order number is called. The decor is festive, with Mexican murals and bright folkloric art pieces.
(1982) Spires Restaurant 104 N Vineyard Ave, Ontario, CA 91764. Spires is a chain of Southern California restaurants, serving coffee shop American food, founded in 1965 by Greek immigrant John Haretakis. The first location, now a Goldenwest Diner, was opened in 1965 on Euclid and Ball Streets in Anaheim. At its peek, there were 30 locations, but today there are only 8 locations left including Carson (1971), Long Beach (1979), Long Beach 2, Torrance (1976), Torrance 2 (1976), Tustin (1978) and Lawndale. All except the Lawndale location feature an octagonal shaped building, original plastic signs, wood paneled walls and vintage red tile on the walls behind the counter. These locations have not been remodeled and are very representative of 1970s restaurant interior decorating with brown or teal vinyl upholstered booths.
(1983) Geoffrey’s 27400 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265.
Designed by Richard Neutra in 1948 as Holiday House. In 1983 it became Geoffrey’s, pricey surf & turf.
(1983) Gloria’s 7823 Pacific Blvd, Huntington Park, CA 90255. Gloria’s was opened by Juan Sanjuan in 1983, an immigrant from Mascota, Jalisco, Mexico and is now run by his family. Located in a freestanding building with stained glass windows, clay tiles floors and a large parking lot, this family-style Mexican restaurant is known for their parrillada, mariscos and ceviche. Featuring a live mariachi band Thursdays through Sundays, they also have a nightly happy hour.
(1983) La Capilla 1332 Sartori Ave, Torrance, CA 90501. Opened by the Munoz brothers in 1983, immigrants from the small village La Capilla, Mexico, this Torrance Mexican restaurant has black vinyl booths, wood laminate tables, ’70s faux Tiffany-style lamps hung above each table, a wooden bar and Mexican murals and decor throughout. The feel is unremodeled late ’70s to early ’80s.
(1983) Lascari’s 16255 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90603. Though this Whittier location first opened in January 1983, John and Gail Lascari first began their Italian deli business in La Habra in 1970 by opening Mario’s Italian Delicatessen. Serving Sicilian-style Italian cuisine and baked goods, Lascari’s is divided into a deli take-out area and a sit-down restaurant. The restaurant was last remodeled in 1995, so while not quite original vintage, it still has a dated feel.
(1983) Marix Tex Mex Cafe 1108 N Flores St, West Hollywood, CA 90069. With a California rustic vibe, Marix Tex Mex Cafe is surrounded by greenery and has the true feeling of Los Angeles in the early ’80s, from the font of its neon sign, to its bent wood-styled chairs to its retractable patio roof. The Texas meets Mexican concept was also on the revolutionary cusp of food culture back then, so now this once “nouveau” restaurant has finally crossed into vintage territory, a concept the L.A. Times labeled as Texican back in April 1985. Opened by Mary Sweeney and Vickie Shemaria, who had been an immigration attorney in San Antonio, the restaurant today additionally features a reasonable Happy Hour.
(1984) Covina Tasty 1063 N Citrus Ave, Covina, CA 91722. Covina Tasty claims to be the very first vegetarian fast food restaurant in America. Built in 1962 as a Tastee Freez franchise, serving soft serve ice cream & fast food, this location was bought by its current owner, Taiwanese immigrant, Mark Tsai in 1984. Tsai didn’t get approval from the Tastee Freez corporation when he removed meat choices from the menu and turned the restaurant vegetarian. After four years, Tastee Freez found out and suspended his franchise name, so he changed the name to Covina Tasty in 1988. Housed in a cool shack with a pointed Googie-esque roof and baby blue & white striped tile exterior, food is ordered and served through walk-up plexiglass pick-up windows. Picnic tables out front allow for outside eating, but a separate enclosed area has a cool ’60s vibe with orange and white vinyl booths and wood paneled walls. The menu consists of vegetarian fast food, including faux meats, and a substantial soft freeze menu as well.
(1984) Jay Bee’s Bar-B-Q 15911 S Avalon Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248. Jay Bee’s Bar-B-Q is located on Avalon Blvd in Gardena, CA. It was started in 1984 by BBQ restaurateur Jim Neely, known for his Interstate Bar-B-Q in Memphis and is now owned by his sister Beverly Neely. The restaurant is a little shack in an industrial area with a couple of picnic tables. Food is served through a plexiglass take-out window. The menu consists of Memphis-style barbecued ribs and chicken, a few types of meat sandwiches and a few side dishes.
(1984) La Bruschetta 1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024. This traditional Italian restaurant was opened on Westwood Blvd in 1984 by Angelo Peloni, an immigrant from Genoa, Italy. The interior features brick walls, a wall used as wine storage and table covered with white tablecloths.
(1984) Mijares 145 Palmetto Dr, Pasadena, CA 91105. Though Mijares has a long history in Pasadena, the current building dates to 1984, so because of its architecture is further down on this list than some might expect. The restaurant got its early start in 1920 as a tortilla factory opened by Jesucita Mijares, who immigrated to the United States after fleeing the revolution in Mexico. The little tortilla factory and restaurant moved to its current location in 1940, but was completely destroyed by arson in 1978. The current building, re-built in the same location, was contructed in 1984. The architecture and decor is early ’80s Mexican inspired. Jesucita Mijares passed away in 1988. A second location has since opened, also in Pasadena.
(1984) Paoli’s 21020 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. This dark little Woodland Hills Italian restaurant with separate bar area opened in 1984 and has an east coast feel. With walls cluttered in photos of patrons and a live piano player five nights a week, it is comfortable and homey. Specializing in pasta and Chicago deep dish pizza, recent owner Pete Efstataiou has also added some Greek selections to the menu.
(1984) Ristorante Genovese 214 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92867. Ristorante Genovese re-opened in 1984 on Tustin Street In Orange, CA, but it has a much longer history. Owned by Al and Margie Genovese, their family opened an earlier restaurant, Genovese Steak House, in Santa Ana, CA in 1947, formally owned by Al’s older brothers, Joseph and Michael. In the 1960s the restaurant moved to its present location in Orange, which had been built in the late 1800s as a farmhouse or barn. Eventually the steakhouse went out of business and the Genovese’s leased out the building to a Thai restaurant. When the Thai place folded, Al and Margie resurrected the family’s restaurant in 1984, serving home-style Italian food including pasta dishes and pizza. The exterior is brick and wood sided with a front patio, but the main outside attraction is a mish mash of signs, statues and lighting that have an eclectic and fun feel. Inside the small restaurant, between tufted red leather booths, a brick fireplace and a small bar are mountains of eccentric decor covering every bit of wall space. It is a collector’s paradise, filled with memorabilia and mementos, arranged in a cluttered way, with care. The restaurant, though being re-established in the ’80s has much more of a 1950s or 1960s aura.
(1984) Simply Wholesome 4508 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90043. Since 1984, Simply Wholesome on Slauson Ave in the Inglewood, CA area has offered veggie and vegan preparations of scrumptious down-home soul food delicacies, including vegan collard greens, mac ‘n’ cheese and Jamaican patties, right alongside its traditional meat options. A combination health food market and restaurant, this popular neighborhood spot is located in a cool, space-age Googie building designed in 1958 by the legendary Armet & Davis architectural team, creators of many of L.A.’s best-known midcentury coffee shops. With its sloping roofline, river-rock exterior and a jaunty spire pointing toward the heavens, Simply Wholesome will satisfy your history fix while simultaneously satiating your craving for cornbread, candied yams and black-eyed peas.
(1984) Wendill’s Chicken House 10337 San Fernando Rd, Pacoima, CA 91331. This odd hybrid restaurant had been in business at this location under the Wendill’s Chicken House name since 1929, but was taken over by a Thai owner in 1984, adding a distinct change to the restaurant’s menu. Originally opened as an American restaurant by Mr. and Mrs. J. Mesaros, it specialized in Southern fried chicken dinners. A mid-1930s newspaper clipping, which hangs on the wall today, pictures the same wooden shack restaurant flanked by neon signs, one in the shape of a chicken with the Wendill’s Chicken House name on front. Today, Southern fried chicken can still be found at Wendill’s, but the rest of the menu is classic Thai food. The interior is sparse, with vintage wood panelling and a scattering of tables. Some wonderful patterned 1970s linoleum was recently replaced, taking just a little bit of magic out of the restaurant’s strange lost in time feel.
(1985) California Pizza Kitchen 207 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. This is the original location of the chain that now has over 250 locations in 32 U.S. states and 10 other countries. Opened by attorneys Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield they corporatized non-traditional pizza for a mass audience.
(1985) Saddle Peak Lodge 419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302. Although the building has a 100+ year history, Saddle Peak Lodge itself opened in 1985. with a complete renovation to give it a rustic atmosphere.
(1988) Eagle Rock Italian Deli 1726 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. First established in 1949 at another location, the Eagle Rock Deli was bought by Nick Cafarchia in 1961 and then moved to this Colorado Blvd address in 1988. This take-out corner deli is tiny inside, merely a pathway between the glass deli cases, stocked with cheeses, meats, olives, salads and baked goods and a rack of imported Italian groceries, but they have been serving up some of the best East Coast Italian-style cookies, cannolis and crusty bread sandwiches around.
(1989) Clearman’s Northwoods Inn 14305 Firestone Blvd, La Mirada, CA 90638.
Technically not vintage, it is a great kitschy replica of its San Gabriel & Covina cousins. A Yukon style dinner experience at a rustic-themed hunting lodge where the roof is bedecked with faux snow and its eaves hung with glistening faux icicles. The interior of this vintage restaurant chain gets even more interesting. Within its darkened cabin-like interior you will find wood beamed ceilings, red leather seating, stained glass as far as the eye can see and life-sized taxidermy bears. The first Clearman’s North Woods Inn was opened by John Clearman in San Gabriel, near the edge of Pasadena, in 1966, followed by another in Covina in 1967. This third location was added in La Mirada in 1989, which can be seen from the north-bound 5 freeway. Bowls of peanuts are placed on each table and signs encourage patrons to festively “Throw Peanut Shells on the Floor”. The menu is standard surf & turf with enormous portions, and this would be a place to come to order a steak as big as your face. A reasonably priced Happy Hour is held in the cool and woodsy bar area, with discounts on both drinks and certain appetizers. Celebrated for their cheese bread and cabbage salad, these may be the only menu items, besides a few other appetizers, that your vegetarian friends will be willing to eat.
(1989) La Louisanne 5812 Overhill Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90043. Although this Creole restaurant and live jazz nightclub in Inglewood is newer than my 1984 cut-off date, this one falls into one of the exceptions on this list because of its vintage atmosphere, the building’s history and because it is one of the unique restaurants in this town. Opened in 1989 by Edwin Wheeler, born & raised in New Orleans, La Louisanne’s building was constructed in 1952 and occupied by Poor Richard’s Restaurant and Toy Shop, a special occasion restaurant catering to children and their birthday parties (from age 2 to 92), filled with toys, animated teddy bears and a model train running throughout. By the 1980s the building was a restaurant called 20 Grand which featured a reggae nightclub. Since 1989, La Louisanne has served jambalaya, oysters, file gumbo, crawfish etouffee, red beans & rice and other down south favorites with nightly live jazz music. While the exterior does not exactly show its vintage bones, the interior is dimly lit, and has a mish-mash of ’60s remnants mixed with a gawdy ’80s-’90s remodel.
(1991) The Prince 3198 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005. Although The Prince is not technically vintage, its location is. Originally opened in 1927 as an outside garden cafe, it became the elegantly French Windsor in 1949. Dimly lit, with red booths, wood & a horseshoe-shaped bar it now serves Korean.
(1994) George Petrelli Steak House 5615 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230.
Originally opened in 1931 by George Petrelli’s Uncle Joe and located across the street. This steakhouse moved to this location in 1994. The interior is cool vintage with an attached lounge area.
(1996) La Parrilla 1300 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Mexican restaurant just west of downtown in the Westlake neighborhood which has an authentic traditional vibe with burgundy leather booths. It is on the “newer” side of this vintage restaurant list, having opened in 1996 as the 2nd restaurant of La Parilla Boyle Heights (1978), but its location echoes with history. The building it is located in is a former home built in 1905 and once owned by Charlie Chaplin. The back part of the building is Storybook-style with curved thatched roof and is one of the oldest remaining buildings on Wilshire, back when it was called Orange Street. This place is worth a visit for good food and tasty pitchers of sangria.
(1997) Russell’s Cafe 30 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103. This entry was originally entered on this list as having opened in 1930, and this is a common misconception. Russell’s was a chain that began in 1930 and went out of business. This particular restaurant opened in the ’90s, using the Russell’s name. I am keeping it on the list to communicate the error. American food served at tiny cafe decorated with elaborate chandeliers, classic art work & crown molding.
(2000) Cantalini’s Salerno Beach 193 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey, CA 90293. This Playa del Rey restaurant was first opened in the early 1960s as Giovanni’s Salerno Beach by Giovanni Cimino, an immigrant from Salerno Beach, Italy. Though the exact year that he opened it seems to be lost to history, its legacy has continued uninterrupted, with only a slight name change in the year 2000, when new owner Lisa Schwab took over the business. The incredible mid-century neon Salerno Beach Italian Food sign still looms high over Culver Blvd and the brick-trimmed, red-shuttered exterior is still the same. The interior has remained much the same as well, dark, cozy, with wood planked ceiling, block glass windows and rich colors. The menu is traditional Italian, pasta, pizza, entrees and desserts.
RECENT CLOSURES (May 2015 to present):
(1918) Golden Spur 1223 East Route 66, Glendora, CA 91740. The Golden Spur is a classic mid-century steakhouse on Route 66 that started as a ride-up hamburger stand for patrons on horseback. According to realty records the building was constructed in 1932, but it formally became a steakhouse in 1954. At that time an amazing neon sign of a cowboy boot with spur attached was added out front. The interior features peaked wood beamed ceilings, a brick floored entryway and moss green leather booths. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY October 13, 2018 after 100 years in business.)
(1921) Pacific Dining Car 1310 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017. Upscale 24-hour steakhouse in a recreated and ornately decorated train car. Originally opened on the corner of 7th St and Westlake Ave in 1921 by Fred and Lovey Cook, it moved to 6th St and Witmer in 1923. More rooms and a larger bar area was added to the existing train car in the 1930s to 1940s. Ambiance is elegant with wood beamed ceilings, stained glass, chairs covered in deep green velvet, leather booths and luggage racks with vintage baggage in the main room to further carry the train theme. Prices are not cheap, but the atmosphere is also rich with history. It is still owned by descendants of the original owners. (Closed during Covid-19 pandemic. Much of the interior decor and the iconic cow sign was auctioned off. The owners say the closure may be temporary, so there is still hope for a return.)
(1926) Greenblatt’s Delicatessen 8017 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046.
Opened in 1926 by Herman Greenblatt, this brick-fronted Jewish Deli was originally located a few doors down, where the Laugh Factory now stands. Owned by the Kavin family since 1940, it has kept its vintage integrity with wooden booths and a long glass case filled with deli and bakery items. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY August 2021)
(1936) Tom Bergin’s Public House 840 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Opened for business in 1936 and has the 2nd oldest liquor license (dated 1935) in all of Los Angeles County. This place was originally located at the corner of Wilshire & Fairfax, where LACMA now stands, and was called Tom Bergin’s Old Horseshoe Tavern & Thoroughbred Club. It moved to its present location, a block away, in 1945. Tom was a former WWl Navy pilot and lawyer. He built this place to resemble the Irish pubs of his Boston youth that he sorely missed and he ran it himself until 1972. Inside feels unpretentious and echoes with history, with wood walls, brick floors, thick, multi-colored bottle-glass windows, and a sturdy, wooden horseshoe-shaped bar. The dining room has a triangular peaked Tudor ceiling, a big brick fireplace and more stained glass. The vibe is comfortably vintage and very laid back, except on St. Patrick’s Day, which, as you can imagine, is nuts. The ceiling in the bar is covered with thousands of paper shamrocks, inscribed with the names of favorite patrons, a tradition that started in 1957. Tom Bergin’s closed for 6 months in mid-2013, but thankfully a new owner picked up that old liquor license soon after. On a side note, patrons regularly smell cigarette smoke around the bar stool that was once Tom’s “spot.” An ashtray is kept there for old time’s sake. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2018)
(1940) Ricci’s Italian Restaurant 16601 Bellflower Blvd., Bellflower, CA 90706. Authentic, casual neighborhood Italian-American restaurant with a basic, old school feel and a deli counter in the front room. The last remodel appears to be late ’60s or early ’70s with orange leather booths, touches of wood paneling and textured gold glass booth dividers. (Although this restaurant has not closed & is still in operation, it moved to a new location in 2018 and there is no longer anything vintage about this restaurant, except the name. In good conscious I moved it to the bottom of the list.)
(1943) Twohey’s 1224 N Atlantic Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801. Twohey’s on the corner of Atlantic & Huntington Drive in Alhambra originally opened in Pasadena in 1943. This coffee shop/hamburger joint moved to Alhambra in the 1950s. Its current building was built in 1977. The logo “Little Stink-o,” with a clothes pin on his nose and tears down his face, was created in 1943 when the owner, Jack Twohey, heard a lady exclaim, “Oh Stinko” about the hamburger of the guy beside her, loaded with onions & pickles. (Closed April 2019, lost their lease at this location. In the process of relocating to South Pasadena and reopening)
(1944) Art’s Chili Dog 1410 W Florence Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90047. Art’s Chili Dogs is a small, but notable hot dog shack that has been located in South Central L.A. on Florence Avenue, near Normandie, since 1944. Opened originally several blocks to the West in 1939 by New York-born Art Elkind, the tiny stand serves up long revered chili hot dogs and chili tamales, with very few other menu options. A handful of interior stools with an eating counter, a take out window and a plastic menu board are all that occupy the small space, along with some black & white framed historic photos on the wall. An outdoor eating area with a few picnic tables is set up in the back next to the small parking area. Art died in 1990, after being a South Central fixture for over 50 years. He did not live to see the beginning of the L.A. Riots, which started on the corner near his restaurant in 1992. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2020)
(1946) Billingsley’s 11326 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Steakhouse opened in 1946 by Glenn Billingsley, a prolific Los Angeles restaurateur who was married to Leave it to Beaver Mom, Barbara Billingsley, from 1941-1947. It was originally called Billingsley’s Golden Bull and is said to be one of six other Golden Bull restaurants owned by Billingsley along with three Outrigger Polynesian locations. In 1974 Glenn and Barbara’s sons, Glenn Jr and Drew, bought the restaurant from their father. Dark wood & red leather booths. A 2016 remodel took away their classic plastic vintage sign. (Closed during Covid-19 pandemic. The website lists the closure as temporary, so there is still hope for a return.)
(1946) Casa Escobar 2809 Agoura Rd, Westlake Village, CA 91361. Vintage Mexican restaurant with a completely remodeled modern-style interior. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY September 2016)
(1948) Dominick’s 8715 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048. Upscale Italian opened as a private club and Rat Pack hang; has had several owners through the years. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 2015)
(1948) Billy’s Delicatessen 216 N Orange St, Glendale, CA 91203. Old school charm. An outside hand-sculpted ceramic wall of salami, cheese & other deli items is a draw. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY June 2015)
(1948) Ho Sai Kai 3723 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90018. Cantonese-style Chinese food served in a very basic, mostly unadorned, dining room in South Central L.A. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2017)
(1948) Du-pars 12036 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. Second branch of the Farmer’s Market diner; homey with leather & wood booths, chandeliers, ornate carpeting. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 1, 2018)
(1949) El Sarape 4023 Market Street, Riverside, CA 92501. El Sarape is a casual Mexican restaurant opened in 1949 by Robert Palma on Market Street in Riverside. In a low whitewashed brick building, the exterior is authentic, and includes the restaurant’s original neons sign, including a cactus and bull, as well as a solitary lantern by the door. With tufted red leather booths and dark wood laminate tables, the paintings adorning the walls were created by the first owner as well, who was also an artist. A 1972 fire destroyed several of Palma’s original murals, but he recreated the restaurant and owned it for decades after that. It is currently owner by Helen Garcia. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY May 2019)
(1951) El Patio Cafe 34226 Doheny Park Rd, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624. Brightly colored, quaintly decorated cafe serving classic Mexican food that was opened by Lucy Saunderson in 1951. Lucy got her start at a Greek restaurant, where she convinced the owner to let her take over for a few days a week. She eventually took over the business with a friend as Alice & Lucy’s restaurant and then it became just Lucy’s. When the location was demolished to build a freeway, Lucy moved the business and started El Patio Cafe in 1951. Located in a small bungalow with a great vintage sign, the interior has pink walls and a long pink eating counter. Currently owned by Lucy’s son, Jack, who took over the business in 1989. (Closed during Covid-19 pandemic, 2020)
(1951) Crab Cooker 2200 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663.
The Crab Cooker opened in 1951 on the Balboa peninsula of Newport Beach. Originally located on 28th Street, it moved to its current location on Newport Blvd, a former bank building, in 1961. Serving seafood in a casual environment, it is a popular restaurant, decorated with antiques and nautical knick knacks, including a full-size fiberglass shark hanging from the ceiling. (The original Newport Beach Crab Cooker CLOSED in 2018. A second location in Tustin, opened 1990, remains.)
(1952) Ming’s Chinese Food 17812 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower, CA 90706. Beautiful, original mid-century Chinese restaurant. The exterior of the building has Asian motifs, original signs, metal screens, a river rock wall in the entrance, and a red Chinese-style door. The outside wall is covered in gorgeous tiles of orange, red, and a graduating red/black color. Inside is like stepping back in time, with bright orange-red leather booths, dark wood laminate tables, wood ceilings and floors, along with Asian decorative touches. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2018)
(1953) Ye Loy Chinese Food 9406 Las Tunas Dr, Temple City, CA 91780. Old school Americanized Chinese served at a small restaurant with red leather booths, wood and traditional Chinese decorative touches. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 30, 2017)
(1955) La Palma Chicken Pie Shop 928 N Euclid St, Anaheim, CA 92801. A great neon sign, vintage booths, light fixtures, wood paneling; serving pot pies & comfort food. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2015 after its owner passed away)
(1956) The Arsenal 12012 W Pico Blvd, L.A., CA 90064. American bar food. The Arsenal has had many incarnations, but has been known as The Arsenal since 1956. Originally it had been a Spanish saloon called “El Arsenal” which was destroyed by a flood in 1916. In 1929 it was rebuilt as a speakeasy, featuring burlesque dancers, called “Le Hot Arsenal”. Then in 1949, as L’Arsenal, a French restaurant, it was destroyed again, this time by fire. It has had a few remodels over the years, but still has the original 1956 dining room. (Closed during Covid-19 pandemic, Sept 2020. Property is listed for sale. Hopefully this restaurant will see another incarnation)
(1956) Johnny’s Pastrami 4331 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018. 24-hour walk-up pastrami stand with original signs. Seating at a counter on the side. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 2015)
(1956) Mazzarino’s 12924 Riverside Dr, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Casual 1940s Italian pizzeria, at this location since 1956. Cool original signs; interior remodeled & redecorated. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2016)
(1957) My Brother’s Bar-B-Q 21150 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. Cozy country-inspired interior and a cool vintage sign featuring a large cow statue on top. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY February 2016)
(1958) Corky’s Restaurant 5043 Van Nuys Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Corky’s restaurant on Van Nuys Blvd in Sherman Oaks, CA was built in 1958 and was originally called Stanley Burke’s Coffee Shop. Designed by Googie architects Armet & Davis, the exterior of this American diner has river rock walls and a classic sweeping roofline. Though it has continually operated as a restaurant, the business has gone through several names changes over the decades, becoming Corky’s in the early 1960s to the mid-’80s and then the Lamplighter from about 1985 to 2010, changing back yet again to Corky’s. The interior had gone through several renovations as well, the first in the 1970s and then recently, bringing back the early ’60s retro style. Inside is a classic diner with wood laminate counter, mint green booths, brick floors, hanging globe lamps and the addition of geometric mod, multi-colored booth dividers. A separate cocktail lounge area, called The Cork, has an original laid back feel as well and had the added history of a young Billy Joel who used to play piano here in the ’70s. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 14, 2019. Lost their lease.)
(1958) Nino’s 3853 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807. SAD NEWS: Nino’s Italian Restaurant opened in Long Beach in 1958 and is set to close on August 12, 2016. Their original owners, Vincenzo “Nino” Cristiano passed away in 2014 and his wife, Inge, and his adult children, are retiring. They emigrated from Italy in 1957 and opened this restaurant the next year. Inside is old school with checked tablecloths, a huge river rock fireplace, mint green leather booths and a trellised ceiling. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY August 2016)
(1959) Pizza Buona 2100 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Small storefront restaurant in Echo Park serving pizza and Italian dishes. (CLOSED in the vintage space December 2015 and relocated at another location nearby)
(1959) Garfano’s Pizza 5468 Valley Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90032. Family run pizzeria near Cal State LA college. Original signs. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY October 2015)
(1960) La Villa Basque 2801 Leonis Blvd, Vernon, CA 90058. A mid-century Basque restaurant that was unfortunately gutted in 2011 and given a poor modern remodel. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2016)
(1960) El Indio Tortilla Factory 2523 Artesia, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. Casual family-owned Mexican food, with counter service and a no-frills dining area. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2016)
(1961) Gardunos 2206 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. Classic ’60s fast food architecture, with an amazing, brightly colored vintage sign and a dining area with brown vinyl booths.. Serving American & Mexican food. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY June 2018)
(1961) Mama Petrillo’s Restaurant 9082 Las Tunas Dr, Temple City, CA 91780.
Family owned Italian; vintage wood paneled walls, red leather booths, trellises over the booth areas, a boxed trellis ceiling and original sign. Opened by the Petrillo family in 1961 who had relocated from Rochester, NY the year before. This is not to be confused with Petrillo’s in San Gabriel. A branch opened in La Verne, CA in 2010. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY on December 31, 2019 due to owner retirement)
(1961) Ports ‘O Call Restaurant 1200 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, CA 90731. Opened as a waterfront Polynesian restaurant and originally surrounded by a man-made moat, the menu changed to steak and seafood in 1985 and has been remodeled. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY July 17, 2018. The restaurant was evicted and locked out by county sheriffs so construction can begin on a new, touristy & modern waterfront attraction, The San Pedro Public Market).
(1962) Viva Cantina 900 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91506. Viva Cantina Mexican restaurant opened in 1962 in the equestrian part of Burbank, CA on Riverside Drive. Consisting of two separate rooms with two bars, two stages and two patio areas, there are often multiple acts of live music going on at the same time. The restaurant decor itself is decidedly 1960s with dark wood paneled walls, slatted wooden ceiling, dark burgundy colored leather booths and mid-century lanterns. The restaurant’s setting next door to Griffith Park and the Equestrian Center, gives it a rural feeling and there is even an area to tie horses when their riders are in the restaurant eating. (Closed during Covid-19 pandemic, 2020. This restaurant has bounced back many times from closure, so anything is possible)
(1963) The Capri 4604 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Small, casual Italian restaurant owned by the same family until 1997. Remodeled a few years ago. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY September 2019)
(1964) El Arco Iris 5684 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042. Open feeling Highland Park Mexican restaurant with remodeled interior and old school vintage sign. Family owned for 4 generations. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY A 2017 due to owner retirement)
(1964) Pipers 222 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004. Long standing diner with cool architectural lines; its interior was compromised in a remodel. One vintage sign is left facing Beverly Blvd. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY October 2018)
(1965) Capitol Burger 4301 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019. Walk-up burger joint with great sign. No frills, back to basic. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 2019)
(1965) Le Petit Chateau 4615 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91602. French restaurant that looks like a mini castle, with partial river rock exterior. The interior is dark, with wood beams and a peaked thatched ceiling, olive green leather booths and wood detailing. The room is filled with French country knick knacks and the walls are vintage Tudor-style. This is subdued 1960s meets old world elegance. It is the perfect place for a romantic meal or a sequestered luncheon. A separate bar area is dark and old school as well. The food is fancy French, with relatively high prices. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 31, 2019)
(1965) Quickie Dog/Taco Quickie 7716 Eastern Ave, Bell Gardens, CA 90201. Mid-’60s drive-through/walk-up hot dog & taco stand that started in adjacent buildings & merged into one building built in 1967. Cool original signs & vintage umbrella tables. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY October 2017)
(1965) Tony Bella Vista Restaurant 3116 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505. Tony’s Bella Vista opened on Magnolia Blvd in Burbank in 1965. The cuisine is classic Italian-American with huge pizzas and pasta dishes. Inside is straight up 1960s East Coast Italian decor with red leather booths, knobbed wood booth dividers, built in stained glass, plastic grape leaves, a stone fireplace, gold-veined mirror, wood beamed ceiling and low lighting. The vibe is comfortable and relaxing. The plastic sign out front and the stuccoed exterior, with mid-century lanterns, is all original. Since 1987 the restaurant has been owned by brothers Angelo and Giovanni Ferialdi, who purchased it from its original owner. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY June 30, 2019)
(1966) The Admiral Risty 31250 Palos Verdes Dr W, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. Once a cool sea food house, just underwent an unfortunate remodeling. Ocean views. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY August 2019)
(1966) El Chavo 4441 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Classic Mexican. Dark and romantic; it is supposed to be Dolly Parton’s favorite L.A. restaurant. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY November 2015)
(1967) Casa Escobar 2500 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403. With its amazing mid-century sign looming over Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, Casa Escobar is one of the neighborhood’s few remains of what the westside once looked like. This restaurant was part of a chain of several Casa Escobar restaurants throughout the Los Angeles area, including Eagle Rock Plaza, Marina Del Rey, Malibu and Puente Hills, originally started by Juan and Rosa Escobar in 1946. This location and the Malibu branch are the only ones left, run by two separate descendants of the Escobar family. The menu is an American take on classic Sonoran Mexican food. Besides its lovely vintage exterior, the restaurant has thankfully hung on to its original interior as well. The lighting is kept on the dark side, barely illuminating deep red leather semi-circular booths, brick walls, a long wood laminate bar trimmed with padded black leather, late ’60s hangings lamps and original room dividers made from knobby wood with textured colored glass. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2021)
(1967) Lee’s Market 1908 E 110th St, Los Angeles, CA 90059. Small market in Watts with take-out window serving fried chicken, burgers, Mexican. (YELP reported this location CLOSED PERMANENTLY in 2018)
(1968) Pico Kosher Deli 8826 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. Deli serving Jewish kosher. Proclaims itself to be the very first kosher deli in Los Angeles. Great, worn vintage sign out front adds character. Green leather booths and tables. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY June 2021)
(1968) Sabroso 19714 Vanowen St, Winnetka, CA 91306. This Valley Mexican restaurant got its start in 1968, in a freestanding building with an odd church-like peak. With counter ordering, its not even close to fancy, but its solid. Serving beer and wine, not always common for a counter joint, the interior is unremarkable except for some painted murals and an outdoor patio that bring in a little life. The owner is listed as Jorge Schneider, but there’s no verification whether he’s the founder as well. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2020)
(1969) Francelli’s 3404 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90804. Small and basic red checkered tablecloth place serving basic Italian-American food. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY September 2019)
(1969) Jim Dandy Fried Chicken 11328 Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90044. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY early 2019)
(1969) Jim Dandy Fried Chicken 1824 W Manchester Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90047. Last two survivors of the ’60s-’70s national Southern-fried chicken chain. Cool signs. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY early 2019)
(1971) Benihana 38 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Japanese hibachi chain in an early ’70s Pagoda-style building in which a chef theatrically prepares food tableside. This was one of the first 6 restaurants in a chain of now over 100. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 2015)
(1971) Chu’s Kitchen 111 W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Chinese restaurant with recently remodeled modern interior. Still has original 1970s sign out front. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY early 2017 due to owner retirement)
(1971) Gardens of Taxco 1113 N Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046.
Classic Mexican food. Traditional prix fixe menu recited by a waiter was the mainstay for years, but a menu was recently added. Dark interior with red leather booths, vintage ambiance, and 1970s stained glass. (This restaurant closed in late 2017, however food is available through delivery/take-out)
(1971) Golden Star Chinese 150 W Whittier Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631. Old school ’70s wood paneled interior with stylized Chinese themed exterior. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY October 2018 due to owner retirement)
(1971) Van Nuys German Deli 16155 Roscoe Blvd, North Hills, CA 91343. Authentic German market and deli serving wurst meat sandwiches, strudel, potato salad and more. Owned by its second owner of German nationality. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 31, 2019)
(1972) Alexis Greek & Portuguese Restaurant 9034 Tampa Ave, Northridge, CA 91324. Mediterranean food in a basic dining room with murals of the Aegean Sea. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY July 2016)
(1972) Ciro’s 705 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033. Early 1970s rec-room vibe with wood paneled walls and tables, burgundy vinyl booths and a hand-painted sign out front. Serving authentic Mexican food. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY July 2017)
(1972) La Frite 15013 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403. Small, family owned French bistro with amazing original vintage sign, black leather booths, small round tables, dim lighting & a wooden bar. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY September 2017)
(1972) The Oyster House 12446 Moorpark St, Studio City, CA 91604. The Oyster House restaurant opened in 1972 on Moorpark Ave in Studio City. Specializing in oysters on the half shell, oyster shooters, fish & chips and other seafood, the environment is casual, more like a dive bar. The front exterior wall is trimmed with vintage river rock, it boasts an original plastic sign, and the front door is painted with a ship’s porthole. The interior is straight out of the early ’70s with wood paneled walls, drop ceilings, a long bar with black leather bucket seats and high tables for eating. The venue also features live music. (CLOSED as a restaurant PERMANENTLY July 2018 and remains open as a bar)
(1972) Wah’s Golden Hen 709 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Cantonese-style Chinese food served in a small storefront, remodeled restaurant. The original 1970s sign remains. Great, inexpensive Chinese food with large portions. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 2021 during Covid-19 pandemic)
(1972) Valentino 3115 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Expensive, award winning, fine dining Italian in a contemporary room. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 2019)
(1973) Buono’s Pizza 1432 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731. Opened by Italian immigrant Nicolaniello Buono, who transitioned his parents Italian deli into a pizzeria, it was apparently one of only two places in San Pedro that served pizza in 1973. Still run by Nicolaniello’s widow and children today, the environment of the restaurant is sparse and utilitarian, with a few tables, chairs and a take-out counter. (This location CLOSED PERMANENTLY in 2018 after the restaurant moved to a new location)
(1973) Belly Buster Sandwich Shoppe 1142 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803. Opened on Valley Blvd in Alhambra in 1973 and is a much beloved neighborhood staple. The new owner painted “since 1967” on the wall but my records show 1973. Serving hot & cold submarine sandwiches from a take-out window of a little shack that was originally built in 1932, there are picnic tables for eating under a covered patio. The original owners, Corky & Don, now own the original The Hat pastrami shop (est 1951) located down Valley Blvd at the corner of Garfield. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY July 2018)
(1974) French Quarter Restaurant 7985 Santa Monica, W Hollywood, CA 90046.
Quaint and over the top kitschy cafeteria-style cafe, meant to feel like New Orleans. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY July 2015)
(1974) Label’s Table 9226 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. This bare bones Jewish deli was opened in 1974 in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles by La Kaplan and Leo Haas with the concept of offering good deli food at less expensive prices in a no frills storefront. It has been owned by Bruce Krakoff since 1981, who can be commonly be found working the counter. Though basic, it has a genuine feel because it hasn’t likely been remodeled since it opened for business. In a brightly lit room with drop ceilings and ceiling fans, ’70s fast food style molded laminate booths in a faux wood finish stand in front of vintage glass deli cases installed in the same era. Ordering of Jewish deli meat sandwiches, bagels and lox, white fish, chopped liver, creamed herring, matzoh ball soup and the like are from the counter and either taken out or brought to the booths to eat. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 2021 during Covid-19 pandemic)
(1975) L’Affaire Café 11024 Sepulveda Blvd, Mission Hills, CA 91345. Romantic French restaurant with dark leather booths, wooden walls & ceiling and exposed brick. Brick exterior with original ’70s sign. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 2015 due to owner retirement)
(1975) Clancy’s Crab Boiler 219 N Central Ave, Glendale, CA 91203. Family-owned seafood restaurant decorated in 1890s style via 1975, complete with sawdust on the floor. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2015)
(1975) Original Pizza Cookery 6209 Topanga Canyon, Woodland Hills, CA 91367. The Original Pizza Cookery opened on Topanga Canyon Blvd in Woodland Hills in 1975. Though it many not look like much from outside, with a standard sign, located in the back of a strip mall, this place really is a hidden gem… Inside is pure old-school 1970s Italian American, with a darkened interior, lots of wood paneling, sturdy booths with wood dividers, sawdust on the floors, stained glass faux-Tiffany hanging lamps, tons of ’70s rustic brick and more, this place has a vibe that is authentic and hard to reproduce. A row of vintage cigarette machines and a waiting room with video games that were installed in the early ’80s add to the ambiance. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY May 2019 because of rising rents)
(1976) Conrad’s 861 E Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91101. Conrad’s opened in 1976 on Walnut Street in Pasadena. It is a classic, unremodeled mid-70s diner and a complete throwback to the decorating scheme of the year it was built. The exterior logo is in a bright orange mid-’70s font, while the interior features wood paneled walls, original lighting fixtures, beveled glass, wood laminate tables, rust colored tufted booths and an attached cocktail lounge. Serving classic diner food, a second “frozen in time” location opened in 1979 in Glendale and is still operating today. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2020)
(1977) Buchanan Arms Restaurant & Pub 2013 W Burbank, Burbank, CA 91506. Traditional British pub grub in a comfortable room with colonial-revival wooden chairs, exposed brick walls & red leather booths. It had an exterior “facelift” in 2015 and replaced its cool old 1970s sign with a new one. The inside still has a lot of its ’70s character left. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY June 2019)
(1977) Giamela’s Lamplighter 9110 De Soto Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Late ’70s diner-style restaurant with attached lounge. This location merged with Giamela’s subs in the early ’90s. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 2018)
(1977) Steer ‘n Ale 3644 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107. Still stuck in 1970s perfection, the Steer ‘n Ale probably has not had a bit of remodeling since the day it opened in 1977. With wood paneled walls, a red brick floor, circular booths of burnt umber vinyl, faux Tiffany hanging lamps, wood laminate tables, murals of cowboys and Indians and wooden colonial-style club chairs, this is the epitome of a ’70s family steakhouse, complete with day of the week specials and Friday fish and chips. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY February 2019)
(1978) Dong il Jang 3455 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90005. This is the oldest surviving Korean restaurant I have been able to locate in the area so far. With a small amount of early Korean immigrants arriving after 1905, there were only 650 Korean residents in Los Angeles by the 1930s. There was a larger influx in the mid-’50s after the Korean war ended, especially after 1965 when immigration laws loosened to the United States. By the late ’70s, most businesses in the Olympic Boulevard and 8th Street area were owned by Koreans and eventually become known as Koreatown. Today, Los Angeles has the largest Korean population of any city in the United States. Dong il Jang, which translates to “No. 1 in the East” was opened by Sung Woon Kim in 1978. Serving traditional Korean dishes and BBQ in a room with tufted maroon booths, a koi pond and Asian decorative elements, son Roy Kim runs daily operations. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY due to Covid-19 pandemic, August 2020)
(1979) Conrad’s 820 N Central Ave, Glendale, CA 91203. Conrad’s opened on Central Ave in Glendale in 1979. It is the second branch of another existing Conrad’s in Pasadena, which was built in 1976. They both serve American coffee shop/diner faire. This location is open 24-hours. Much of the interior is original late ’70s, with blonde wood paneled walls, a long diner counter of wood laminate, polished brick walls and unusual discotheque era paneled ceiling lights. The dining area has large semi-circular booths and 1970s chandeliers, but the upholstery looks like it had a late ’80s update. There is an outdoor eating area and an attached bar with dimmer lighting, more booths and wood beamed ceilings. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY due to Covid-19 pandemic 2020)
(1979) Enterprise Fish Co. 174 Kinney St, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Seafood. Second location of a 1977 Santa Barbara restaurant. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY due to Covid-19 pandemic, August 2020)
(1979) La Fuente 5530 Monte Vista St, Los Angeles, CA 90042. This small Highland Park Mexican restaurant was opened by Jose Abel Sapien in 1979 and has kept its late ’70s authenticity in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Located in a small house with original vinyl booths, laminate wood tables and old-world Mexican touches, such as iron lanterns, brick-edged porticoes and wood beamed ceilings. In 1993, the same owner opened another location of the restaurant, La Fuente #6 on Figueroa Ave in Highland Park, though not as old, it still has a vintage feel. His brother, Humberto Sapian, owns La Fuente #4 (1988) on Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY December 2019)
(1979) Maria’s Italian Deli 22620 Lyons Ave, Newhall, CA 91321. Located in the same store front in old town Newhall since 1979, Maria’s Italian Deli got its start by Maria and Ben Simione in 1973 at other location in Newhall. Part Italian market and part deli, there is an interior dining area with tables and a few outdoor seats as well. Serving Italian pastas, pizzas, subs and salads , Maria recently retired and the deli was taken over by her niece, Deanna Marie.
(1979) Paru’s 5140 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. One of the oldest surviving Indian restaurants in Los Angeles, after Dhaba Indian, which opened in 1972 in Santa Monica. A charming and romantic indoor/outdoor eating area are a surprise when entering from outside gritty Sunset Blvd. Originally established in 1975 in Washington DC, it moved to L.A. in 1979. Serving traditional vegetarian Southern Indian cuisine. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY March 2019)
(1979) Spires Restaurant 2590 N Lakewood Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90815. Spires is a chain of Southern California restaurants, serving coffee shop American food, founded in 1965 by Greek immigrant John Haretakis. The first location, now a Goldenwest Diner, was opened in 1965 on Euclid and Ball Streets in Anaheim. At its peek, there were 30 locations, but today there are only 8 locations left including Carson (1971), Long Beach 2, Torrance (1976), Torrance 2 (1976), Tustin (1978), Ontario (1982) and Lawndale. All except the Lawndale location feature an octagonal shaped building, original plastic signs, wood paneled walls and vintage red tile on the walls behind the counter. These locations have not been remodeled and are very representative of 1970s restaurant interior decorating with brown or teal vinyl upholstered booths. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY January 2019)
(1981) Harry’s Family Restaurant 920 N San Fernando Blvd, Burbank, CA 91504. Originally built in 1964 as a Denny’s restaurant, this 24-hour American-style diner became Harry’s in 1981. Designed by the renowned Googie architectural firm Armet & Davis, the building still features much of the original ’60s design, such as river rock walls, counter seating and a distinctive roofline. The turquoise colored booths and pale wood laminate counter were part of the early early ’80s “retro” remodel, but have already become vintage on their own. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY due to Covid-19 pandemic, 2020)
(1981) Las Hadas 9048 Balboa Blvd, Northridge, CA 91325. The early ’80s feel is still omni-present at Las Hadas Mexican restaurant, with a wood laminate paneled bar and a country kitchen decorating scheme with floral upholstered booths, airport lounge-style carpets and wood table dividers. A dance floor, with its own disco ball and ’80s neon tube lights, features mariachis on Tuesdays and gets festive on weekends. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY 2021)
(1982) Corrigan’s Steakhouse 556 E Thousand Oaks, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. Corrigan’s is an eclectic old west-themed steakhouse opened by Tom Corrigan in 1982 in Thousand Oaks, CA. Tom is the son of legendary cowboy actor and stuntman, Ray “Crash” Corrigan, who created the 1950s Western theme park “Corriganville” in Simi Valley out a working movie ranch. Corriganville opened in 1949 and was one of the first theme parks in the country, full of old Western sets that had been used in over 3,000 films. It was a major tourist destination, attracting as many as 20,000 people a day. Bob Hope bought the ranch from Crash Corrigan in 1966 and renamed it “Hopetown.” The area is now a park and nature preserve. Corrigan’s Steakhouae was built as a tribute to both Crash and Corriganville and features an incredible amount of Old West memorabilia including autographed pictures of western stars, movie costumes, a stage coach hanging from the ceiling, taxidermy, framed movie posters, and an interesting collection of mementos everywhere the eye can see. Housed in a low, corner building with brick trim and wagon wheels on the front, there is no obvious external clue to the coolness inside. The restaurant is large, with a large wrap around wooden bar taking up the center and booths and tables in different sections. The ceiling is wood beamed and pitched high, with a large brick fireplace and several exposed brick walls. (Temporarily Closed until February 2019 after March 2018 death of owner Tom Corrigan. New owners are intending to remodel the building, but keep the theme.)
(1985) Hop Louie Old Chinatown, 950 Mei Ling Way, Los Angeles, CA 90012. American-Chinese food. Originally opened as the Golden Pagoda in 1941, its building is a 5-tiered pagoda. It became Hop Louie in 1985 and still retains the original architecture and much of the old school decor. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY August 2016)
(1993) Gary Bric’s Ramp 7730 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505. Old school, dimly lit restaurant with an authentic vintage atmosphere and interior. Originally opened in 1962, it changed names and owners a few times before becoming the Ramp again in 1993. Sandwiched between ramps for the overhead 5 Freeway, this place is an incredible hidden gem. Serving steakhouse fare, with attached cocktail lounge. (CLOSED PERMANENTLY November 30, 2018)