In a city that’s obsessed with all that’s hot and new, gracefully aging restaurants are a rarity. However, there are a handful of notable dining institutions that have been operating for decades without flexing or bending with changing times and trends — save for price adjustments here and there. The restaurants on this guide have been quietly and confidently serving mostly the same menus in largely unchanged dining rooms since day one, and their legions of devoted diners wouldn’t have it any other way. Here now are 17 Los Angeles restaurants that are stuck in time in a very, very good way.Read More
17 Los Angeles Restaurants That Are Stuck in Time
Delightfully dated menus served in spaces with history and character
Opened by Jay Fiondella back in 1959, Chez Jay is as lively as it ever was. It’s perfectly acceptable to just stop in for a stiff drink, but the enticing atmosphere begs to be enjoyed over a meal of steaks or seafood, or better yet, both.
Chinois On Main
Considered to be the birthplace of Asian fusion cuisine since opening in 1983, Chinois on Main combines Chinese flavors with California ingredients and French technique. The signature Chinois Chicken Salad is an absolute must for all diners. Throw in an order of the duck-stuffed spring rolls for good measure.
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Roberto and Giovanna Somma’s Italian spot has been going strong for nearly four decades. The Naples-born duo serve up classics like the Calamari Posillipo (sauteed baby squid) and the Spaghetti Della Casa made with chopped shrimp sautéed with shallots, cognac, cream, and tomato sauce. It’s like an upscale Italian restaurant from a 1970s Scorsese film.
Crowds have been descending upon Barone for dependable Italian-American fare since it opened in 1945 (though it’s moved locations multiple times, landing in this building a few years ago). Most every table has an order of mozzarella sticks and a rectangular Neapolitan-style pizza to share. But for a real blast from the past, dig into the veal saltimbocca “Monteleone Style,” pounded veal cutlets stuffed with spinach and prosciutto.
This dinner-only institution had been around since 1963. Cozy up to a booth and settle in as a tuxedoed waiter takes orders. Start with the vitello tonnato, thinly sliced roasted veal served cold in a tuna sauce, before moving on to pasta and proteins. Apparently Matteo’s was a favorite of Frank Sinatra, and it looks like it hasn’t changed much since the Rat Pack frequented the restaurant.
This is the kind of place that is as much about the scene as what’s on the table. A favorite among a certain set of celebrities, don’t be surprised if there are paparazzi hovering outside the restaurant. Order a big salad, preferable the Cobb with beets, avocado, tomato, eggs, blue cheese, and bacon, and gab with a girlfriend while on the lookout for Jennifer Aniston.
Drawing from 20 years of experience working in sushi bars from Tokyo to Lima, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa opened Matsuhisa in 1987. There are straightforward sashimi, sushi rolls, and tempura, of course, but it’s the “Matsuhisa Special Dishes” that set this institution apart from the countless sushi counters in town.
Musso & Frank Grill
The oldest surviving restaurant in Hollywood, Musso & Frank remains a popular spot for tourist and locals alike. Strong drinks, especially the martinis, are a main draw, though the American-Continental fare does a good job of giving guests a sense that they’re in a time warp.
Homesick Ohioans have been heading to Burbank for a taste of Cincinnati chili, a dish of warmly spiced meat sauce served over spaghetti, since 1946. The orange seats surrounding the U-shaped counter are as comfortable as ever. Save room for a slice of pie for dessert.
For a taste of classic New York Italian fare in the center of Los Angeles, there’s the dependably solid Marino. It’s hard to go wrong with the fettuccine lobster, followed by the pollo vesuvio, a roasted chicken with garlic and white wine.
Jeon Ju Korean Bibimbap Restaurant
Sizzling stone bowls heaped with steamed rice and a rainbow of vegetables and topped with a wobbly egg are the specialty at this Koreatown stalwart. While there are a couple of bibimbap varieties listed on the menu, the one with kalbi (marinated beef) is the most flavorful. When the bibimbap first arrives at the table, hissing and searing like it means business, leave it be so that a nice, crisp crust can form.
Prime rib and live jazz is what it’s always been about ever since The Dresden opened in 1954. Most nights are filled with the regular crowd, but every so often a Swingers fan pops in to see how money the place really is.
Yang Chow Restaurant
The Yang family opened the original restaurant upon arriving in Los Angeles from Hong Kong in 1976. Even though there are well over 100 items on the menu, every customer that comes through the doors orders the same thing: “Slippery Shrimp,” an ocean-dwelling cousin of General Tso.
Pho 87 has been dutifully serving the downtown community since opening its doors for business. There’s pho on the menu, of course, in addition to a smattering of classic Vietnamese offerings like broken rice and egg rolls.
Stoney Point Bar & Grill
Take a drive across the Colorado Street Bridge to Pasadena’s San Rafael neighborhood for continental cuisine at Amedeo Contantino’s 1994 classic. Groove to piano tunes and fill up on Fettuccine Fantasia (chicken sun dried tomatoes, and mushrooms) and sand dabs in a creamy lemon sauce.
Located in the heart of Old Pasadena, El Toreo has been family owned for more than four decades. Come here for huge portions of classic Mexican fare paired with imported Mexican beer. Vintage photographs and a retro jukebox gives the little cafe an old timey feel.
Family-owned and operated since 1955, the specialty here is cook-your-own steak for just $8.95 at lunch. The Venetian-themed interior is dusty, dated, and dingy, but truth be told, quite charming too.