Beadle’s. When I was a child, my grandmother took us to Beadle’s, and it
seemed a province of the elderly, a world buffered by wallpaper and carpeting,
and piped-in organ music. We’d join the line in a long, wood-paneled hallway that
had the feel of a tunnel or chute and led us to the trays and napkin-wrapped silverware,
and the snow-packed salad bar with its rainbow array of gelatin salads. Beadle’s
has since moved to a new location in Pasadena. But the food, “1950s all-Americancafeteria,”
is just as good. Some of my favorite things: the macaroni and cheese; the turkey
with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy; corned beef and cabbage. The confetti
Jell-O, a fantasy aggregate of different colors of Jell-O cubes sunk in a lemony
gelatin made opaque with sour cream. And, of course, a bottomless cup of coffee.
825 E. Green St., Pasadena, (626) 796-3618.
Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–7:45 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11
a.m.–7:45 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking.
AE, D, DC, MC, V. American. MH $
Cole’s P.E. Buffet. Seventy-five years before anybody thought to dress
a squab salad with raspberry vinegar, Los Angeles was known across the country
for French-dipped sandwiches, sliced roast meat layered on a French roll that
had been sopped in meat juice. Dank old Cole’s, which is the oldest restaurant
in Los Angeles and looks every week of it, has the best French dip: roasted brisket
or pastrami, carved to order, dipped and served on a crusty roll. 118 E.
Sixth St., downtown, (213) 622-4090. Mon.–Sat.
9 a.m.–7:30 p.m. (bar until 10 p.m.).
Full bar. Street parking. AE, MC, V.
Sandwiches $5.29–$7.29. American. JG ¢
Cora’s Coffee Shoppe. This tiniest café, a former favorite hang of surfers,
pier fishermen and idlers, has been annexed by owner Bruce Marder to the high-end
Capo and transformed into a smart little patio café. Inside are glass cases packed
with pastries and frittatas, a couple seats and about enough room to turn around
in. More likely you’ll eat on the pretty patio, under a bougainvillea arbor overlooking
Capo’s parking lot. The food is fresh, shares Capo’s excellent ingredients and
is, according to the menu, “organic whenever appropriate.” Try the “rotisserie
tacos de carnitas,” huevos rancheros, orange-flavored pancakes and daily specials
— short ribs with porcinis, perhaps. 1802 Ocean Ave., Santa
Monica, (310) 451-9562. Breakfast, lunch and
dinner Tues.–Sun., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Closed
Mon. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, MC,
V. Meal-sized dishes, $5–$14. American. MH
Dish. With lots of light, lots of room and smart, friendly servers, Dish
is a prime example of the new American coffee shop. Located in the small foothill
village of La Cañada, the look is scrubbed-California-farmhouse, the ingredients
are fresh, and the all-American menu showcases our national love of sugar, salt,
meat and crunch. Have eggs or fluffy cornmeal “jonnycakes” along with applewood-smoked
bacon, sausages from Shreiner’s, the local German butchers, or thick slices of
baked ham that’s been encrusted with gingersnaps and brown sugar. For lunch or
dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Dish burger — a fat, juicy, meaty thing in
a grilled-till-crisp sesame bun. 734 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada, (818) 790-5355.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily 7 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot
parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.95–$15.95. American. MH $$
The Griddle Cafe. On a Sunday morning, the Griddle is really loud: clattering
pans, a hundred shouted conversations, amplified rock & roll bouncing off the
high ceilings. Coffee comes to the table in squat plunger pots, and the jumble
of bottled condiments on each table could stock a supermarket shelf. And the woman
next to you at the counter is eating a stack of berry pancakes so large that it
looks like three large pizzas piled on top of one another and smothered in powdered
sugar. The enormous pancakes are available blanketed in cinnamon streusel, or
spiked with Kahlua and Bailey’s, or smothered under an improbable mass of whipped
cream and crumbled Oreos, and they are not the best pancakes in Los Angeles, but
they are good enough. 7916 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles,
(323) 874-0377. Breakfast and lunch, Mon.–Fri.
7 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Beer. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, MC,
V. Food for two: $12–$18. American.
John O’Groats. The restaurant is named after a town at the northernmost
point in Scotland, but the menu is pretty much all-American, with baking-powder
biscuits, fluffy omelets, smoked pork chops, and stretchy buckwheat pancakes dotted
with fresh blueberries or pecans. And although there seem to be no actual groats
on the menu — which is kind of a relief — the steel-cut Irish oatmeal with bananas
and heavy cream is fine. 10516 W. Pico Blvd., West
Los Angeles, (310) 204-0692. Breakfast and
lunch daily, dinner Wed.–Sat. Beer and
wine. Street parking. MC, V. Entrées
$9–$14. American. JG ¢
The Kitchen. Here is the quintessential Silver Lake canteen. Its former
subtitle — “Lunch to Late Night” — reflects the circadian rhythms of its neighborhood
clientele. The interior is Early East Village — deep colors, battered tables,
crumbling cement, loud music. The service tends toward the casual and offhand,
which belies the big-hearted, darn good food — try a bowl of quite viable cioppino.
4348 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake, (323) 664-3663.
Open Mon.–Thurs. 5 p.m.–mid., Fri. 5
p.m.–1 a.m., Sat. noon–1 a.m., Sun.
noon–10 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking.
AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $10–$18. American.
Marston’s. At breakfast, Marston’s serves exactly the sort of food a missionary
might crave after a stint in rural Peru: thin, buckwheat-based blueberry pancakes,
nut-crammed macadamia pancakes and thick, applewood-smoked bacon. 151 E.
Walnut St., Pasadena, (626) 796-2459. Breakfast
and lunch Tues.–Fri. 7–11 a.m., 11:30
a.m.–2:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Dinner Wed.–Sat. 5:30–9:30 p.m. Beer and
wine. Lot parking. MC, V. Entrées $5–$11.
American. JG $
Metro Café. Metro Café is basically an informal Serbian restaurant disguised
as an American diner, or at least an American diner that sometimes serves a Serbian
dish or two. On Tuesdays, the chefs make a big pot of Serbian white-bean soup,
flavored with ham imported from a European deli in Santa Monica; sometimes there
is carrot-ginger soup instead. There may be spareribs grilled with lots of garlic;
a grilled trout; or sarma, a mixture of chopped meat and rice wrapped in capsules
made of collard greens. Or a heap of long-braised pork shoulder that splits the
difference between Serbia and Kentucky. 11188 Washington Place,
Culver City, (310) 559-6821. Breakfast and
lunch seven days, 7 a.m.–3 p.m., dinner
Tues.–Sun. 6–10 p.m. No alcohol. Parking
in the Travelodge lot. AE, MC, V.
Lunch or dinner for two, food only,
$12–$24. American Serbian. JG $
Philippe the Original. The place is so much a part of old Los Angeles that
sometimes it feels as if it isn’t really a part of Los Angeles, as if it belongs
to an older city without chrome. The French-dipped sandwiches of lamb or beef
are wet and rich, with something of the gamy animal pungency of old-fashioned
roast meat. 1001 N. Alameda St., downtown, (213)
628-3781. Open daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
Beer and wine. Lot parking. Cash only.
Sandwiches $4.70–$5.20. American. JG ¢
Pie ’N Burger. This is the best neighborhood hamburger joint in a neighborhood
that includes Caltech, which means the guy next to you may be reading a physics
proof over his chili size as if it were the morning paper. When compressed by
the act of eating, a Pie ’N Burger hamburger leaks thick, pink dressing, and the
slice of American cheese, if you have ordered a cheeseburger, does not melt into
the patty, but stands glossily aloof. 913 E. California Blvd.,
Pasadena, (626) 795-1123. Mon.–Fri. 6 a.m.–10
p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–10 p.m., Sun. 7
a.m.–9 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking.
Cash only. Entrées $5–$10. American. JG
The Pines. The pancake, the occasional Pines special called a tortilla
cake (the batter is enriched with masa, cornmeal and ground hominy), tastes the
way you’ve always wanted a tortilla to taste, warm and soft and sweet as corn,
fragrant, slightly burned around the edges. Picture it striped with yellow from
a three-egg omelet, white from biscuits ’n’ gravy, and sandy brown from a half-pound
or so of well-done fried potatoes, a weighty analogue to the nouvelle presentation
of a Michael’s or a Le Dome, but no less carefully done. 4343 Pearblossom
Hwy., Palmdale; (661) 285-0455. Breakfast and
lunch seven days 7 a.m.–2 p.m. No
alcohol. Lot parking. Breakfast for two,
food only, $8–$15. Cash only. American.
Beadle’s. When I was a child, my grandmother took us to Beadle’s, and it