AirTalk for January 24, 2013

MAP: Dining out old-school style in Los Angeles (Photos)

Lawry's the Prime Rib

Lawry's the Prime Rib

Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant in 1938. Lawry's original location was on La Cienega Boulevard where the current Lawry's sits.

Lawry's the Prime Rib

Courtesy of Lawry's the Prime Rib

A view of the Lawry's carving cart. Lawrence Frank, co-founder of Lawry's, invented the carving cart in 1936. 

Lawry's the Prime Rib

Courtesy Lawry's the Prime Rib

A greeter at Stear's Pacifica restaurant in LA. Stear's Pacifica was located on La Cienega and was a sister restaurant to Lawry's.

Dal Rae Classic American Restaurants

Sven A. Kirsten

The Dal Rae is located in Pico Rivera, CA (near the intersection of Washington and Rosemead Boulevards).

Classic Dining by Peter Moruzzi

Gibbs Smith

Peter Moruzzi makes your mouth water with a lavishly illustrated trip to the finest historic eateries in America. What's your favorite L.A. eatery?

Peter Moruzzi

Peter Moruzzi

Picture of author Peter Moruzzi.

While trendsetters and foodies might relish seeking out the latest celebrity chef-owned eatery or unearthing the next best-kept-dining-secret, for some meals, only a classic restaurant will do – one whose food, décor and beehive-crowned waitresses have stood the test of time.  These are the fine dining establishments that never let us down, nor does their signature dish: Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine’s, prime rib at Lawry’s,  Zombies at Don the Beachcomber.

There are a few key elements to mid-century classic dining: the white tablecloths, the dark, buttery leather booths, the film noir lighting. The wacky theme décor – north woods cabin, Polynesian Tiki hut, French Quarter bordello. The banquet rooms, where generations of families might have celebrated birthdays, graduations and weddings – and perhaps still do.  And of course, the food: steaks, shrimp, baked potatoes, wedges of lettuce, jumbo-sized cocktails, flaming desserts.

Peter Moruzzi’s new book celebrates iconic mid-century restaurants from Miami to San Francisco, Chicago to New Orleans, with intoxicating photographs and mouth-watering menu descriptions.  Although many of them are long gone, this world is far from extinct – here in Southern California you can still dine out ‘Mad Men’ style at old-world joints like Musso & Frank’s, The Smoke House and Pacific Dining Car, or impress a first date by singing along with Marty and Elayne at The Dresden Room.

What’s your favorite classic watering hole?  Which bygone restaurants do you miss the most?  Tell us below.


Peter Moruzzi, author of "Classic Dining: Discovering America’s Finest Mid-Century Restaurants" (Gibbs Smith), author of pictorial histories including "Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground" (Gibbs Smith)

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