In these uneasy economic times, when food trucks materialize seemingly overnight and established restaurants can close their doors just as quickly, it's comforting to celebrate a local favorite that's been around for half a century. La Luz del Dia on Olvera Street turns 50 years old next week. And waitress Paula Garcia has been there for that entire time, having first started on the job in 1959. Next Thursday, September 17, you can toast them both, as the restaurant marks the occasion with live mariachis and half-price carnitas and tacos.

La Luz del Dia serves its Michoacan-style food, hand-made tortillas and carnitas, cactus salad and picadillo, in the Simpson Jones building, built in 1894. The restaurant was founded by Jack Berber and his cousin Francisco Cazares (their family still owns and operates the restaurant) at the suggestion of Christine Sterling, the socialite responsible for encouraging Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler to help refurbish the then-deteriorating neighborhood. The restaurant has been in operation ever since.

La Luz del Dia: W-1 Olvera Street, Los Angeles; (213) 628-7495.

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