A Guide to L.A.’s Old-School Restaurants

Relive the city's Golden Era at these famed haunts, where the history is as much of a draw as the food.


LAweek (1)Welcome to L.A. Week on First We Feast. As part of our continuing initiative to devote more coverage to Los Angeles, we'll be running special features all week to explore the city's ever-evolving food scene—from its most vaunted chefs, to its gritty underbelly.

L.A.’s dining scene might be in the midst of a full-scale renaissance, but its oldest restaurants remain just as popular as the farm-to-table brunch spots and the Peruvian fusion kitchens. Los Angeles is a city that respects—maybe even clings to—the faded glamor of its Golden Age, and it celebrates that era’s institutions accordingly. On any night of the week you’ll find ancient Hollywood restaurants that are still overflowing with patrons, all looking for a trace of a long-lost L.A.—in the bottom of a martini glass, or the down the side of an aged leather booth.

Beyond the nostalgia factor, these O.G. dining destinations offer a welcome rebuke to L.A.'s shallow stereotype. In a town built on an ephemeral entertainment industry and inhabited by a transient crowd of models/actors/whatevers, there’s something deeply satisfying about a restaurant with a sense of history, a crowd of geriatric regulars, and a maître d’ who knows your name (and is always glad you came, etc. etc).

At these ten venerated L.A. dining spots, the food is still really good (well, mostly), but the backstories are even better. Read on to discover the 11 best places to get a taste of Los Angeles, as it used to be.

Click to start the list
  • Dale

    The original Lawry’s restaurant was and is the Tam O’Shanter Inn located at

    2980 Los Feliz Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90039
    Phone: 323.664.0228

    and they’ve been at it in the same location for *90* years. I am flabbergasted they were not included.

    • Louise

      Yup I was thinking of the same thing!

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