My criteria for the restaurants here is that they are 1979 or older, although there are a few exceptions, and that they are within about an hour’s drive from downtown L. You will find classic steakhouses, Googie diners, pastrami delicatessens, walk-up hamburger stands and more. As of December 2017 the list is at just 406 places, spread as far south as the bottom of Orange County, east to San Bernardino and north to Santa Clarita. In 2 years since I published this list, it has received nearly half a million reads!
When the restaurant has a web page I provide that, but if not I share a link to a review, Yelp or Wikipedia. That shows me how much people care about our vintage restaurants.
Philippe’s, like Cole’s, also claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich by accidentally dropped the crunchy roll into gravy.
(1915) Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain Originally opened as a drugstore in 1899 by a man named Kellar Watson, it was first located on Glassell St.
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.
It is a traditional diner/cafe, with bar attached, featuring wood paneled walls and both counter and booth seating.
According to realty records the building was constructed in 1932, but it formally became a steakhouse in 1954.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.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.