Best Jungle Look: The Safari Room
The old-school themed restaurant was a peculiarly mid-20th-century American institution, wherein a straight-up steak house operated within an exotic, painstakingly dressed setting. In the bleak, post–Trader Vic’s era, Glendale tiki shrine Damon’s Steakhouse is perhaps the highest-profile survivor. But deep within the darkest heart of the San Fernando Valley (well, the Granada Hills–Mission Hills cusp, really) there lies a stunning example of the form — the long-running, Afrocentric beauty known as the Safari Room. The exterior resembles nothing so much as a postapocalyptic stack of whitewashed bricks, and the witch-doctor-emblazoned signage leads one to expect a crummy dive bar. But one glimpse inside the door reveals a trove of mid-century exotica: a tall row of spears, ceremonial masks and tribal shields. Divided between a long, dark bar and cocktail lounge on the left and a dining room on the right, packed with black, leopard-skin-trimmed banquettes, the Mogambo motif is magnificently executed throughout, up to and including some formidable weaponry (the high-caliber elephant gun mounted on the rear wall was reportedly the original owner’s hunting piece). The only thing lacking is some big-game taxidermy. And the food is first rate, with every sauce, dressing and gravy “proudly” prepared on site. Getting stranded in the jungle has never been so enjoyable.
15426 Devonshire St., Mission Hills, (818) 893-9768.
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