Monday, May 18, 2015

Mega list: L.A. oldest restaurants

Via Eater L.A., it's The Los Angeles Beat's "master list" of the oldest surviving restaurants in Los Angeles (and a few in Orange County). In nine-point type it came out to nineteen copy and pasted pages. I'm kind of appalled how few I've been to and am thinking about making it a mission to hit as many of the other ones as possible.  The ones I've actually been to:
  • Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain (South Pasadena) - several times, and they have a great joke section of the gift shop.
  • Greenblatt's Delicatessen (West Hollywood) - I'm not really a deli place, I think I ended up their after a nearby screening or some other event.
  • El Coyote (Los Angeles) - It was a go-to place when I was temping in Hollywood and my boss would decide she was taking me to lunch. Both of us could get stuffed for twenty bucks. El Coyote is your basic rice and beans combo hot plate Mexican place. Good food, although I've heard terrible things about their margaritas.
  • Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner (Buena Park) - Part of Knott's Berry Farm. Great greasy fried chicken and berry pie.
  • Lawry's Prime Rib (Beverly Hills) - Years ago with some co-workers.
  • The Derby (Arcadia) - A number of times with relatives (my family's from Arcadia). Once co-owned by jockey George Woolf, who planned to make it his next career after retiring from horse racing, before his tragic death in a racing accident. The restaurant has maintained its horse racing theme with a spectacular collection of memorabilia. I recommend the bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
  • Sycamore Inn (Rancho Cucamonga) - The go-to place for company lunches at a place I worked for in Ontario years ago. I think it was owned by our company President's father-in-law or something like that. Don't remember much about the food.
  • The Smoke House Restaurant (Burbank) - Again, a place I went to years ago, so I don't remember much about it. It's adjacent to the Warner Bros. lot, so I've drove past it countless times when I live in Hollywood.
  • The Apple Pan (West L.A.) - Went there once with the Brother. We were seated pretty quickly, but there were a lot of people standing around waiting for a vacancy and I'm not sure how long I'd be willing to wait. The food was great and I blogged about it here.
  • Factor's Famous Deli (West L.A.) - Again, not a deli person. Someone else picked it. 
  • Bob's Big Boy (Burbank) - If I had to pick a favorite burger place, it would probably be Bob's. In addition to the classic burgers, they have great onion rings and their Thousand Island dressing is also legendary. There were a lot more Bob's when I was growing up; today the only ones I still know about in Southern Cal are Burbank, Downey and Rowland Heights (off the 60 Freeway). When I lived in Hollywood I used to go to the one on Wilshire, but it closed down to make way for a car dealership lot, so I had to start going over the hill to Burbank. There isn't one in my area - hard to believe I haven't had their food in almost three years. May have to head out to Downey one of these days.
  • Miceli's (Hollywood) - One of my bosses took me there for lunch one day, warning me that the waitstaff were probably older than both of us combined. She was right. There's also another location over the hill on Cahuenga, near Universal Studios.
  • The Hat (Alhambra) - When I lived in San Dimas I used to go to the one in Walnut. Great, greasy pastrami and onion rings. One of those places that gives you so much food you feel like you're going to bust, but the food's so good it's hard to leave any on the plate.
  • Taylor's Steakhouse (Downtown L.A.) - I've been to the one in La Canada once, for my brother's birthday dinner. Exceptional food and service.
  • McDonald's (Downey) - Like a lot of people, I've eaten at countless McDonald's. I'm not sure if I've ever been to this location, maybe I'll swing by to check out the old-time architecture when I'm in Downey for a Big Boy.
  • Art's Delicatessen (Studio City) - See previous comments about delis and places I've eaten at once. Hugely popular with the entertainment industry crowd.
  • Lucy's El Adobe Cafe (Hollywood) - Across the street from Paramount Studios in a not-great part of Hollywood. A place that I've wound up at a couple times at the suggestion of other people. Okay food from what I remember.
  • Clearman's Northwoods Inn (San Gabriel) - I've raved about this place before. It's my family's favorite go-to place for any special occasion. Amazing food and service. Known for their cabbage salad and cheese bread. They sell the cheese spread at their restaurants and if you grill it, it tastes exactly like at the restaurant. They were selling it at Ralphs for a while, but I haven't seen it lately. If you find it at the store, it's totally worth the price. I haven't been to the other locations on the list (Covina and La Mirada) but I checked them off anyway.
  • Gardens of Taxco (West Hollywood) - Went there a few times years ago because I had a friend who was crazy about this place. There was always a wait and they would serve extremely potent margaritas in the lobby while you waited, so a lot of people were bombed before they were even seated.
  • Rainbow Bar & Grill (West Hollywood) - Went there years ago to see local bands I can't even remember. Don't really remember it being a restaurant rather than a club. But I was there, so I checked it off.
  • El Compadre (Hollywood) - Went for lunch with some co-workers once. Don't remember being wowed by it, despite my love for Mexican food.
  • Moffet's Chicken Pie Shop (Arcadia) - Have taken out some food items but haven't eaten there, so I'm including it in this list but not checking it off. Their sit-down menu looks delicious.
  • Gladstone's (Pacific Palisades) - Great food, great location, right on the beach on PCH.
So much yum.

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