Even with the recent influx of top restaurants opened by heralded chefs all around town, some of LA’s best have stuck around serving classic staples. A city that is a mecca for foodies and health nuts, still has a smattering of truly iconic offerings, from deli sandwiches, burgers, dessert and more. In no particular order, here are some guilty pleasures that all Angelenos have craved at some point in their time in the City of Angels.
The Apple Pan’ Hickory Burger & Apple Pie
This legendary diner on Pico Blvd. has stuck to its original décor, limited menu and seating since 1947 serving burgers, sandwiches, fries and fresh pies. Step through their double-screen doors and await your turn to sit at their U-shaped counter where veteran waiters swiftly prepare your orders and whip up your food in no time. Start your meal with crisp fries then move onto to the adored Hickory Burger, which is slathered with their secret sauce, and then finis with a fresh slice of apple pie.
Diddy Riese’s Ice Cream Sandwiches
Diddy Riese Cookies opened its doors in 1983 and has drawn in crowds who wait in line in anticipation for their high-quality cookies, brownies and ice cream. Known for the original custom-made ice cream sandwich, first featured in 1995, choose from a variety of ten freshly baked cookies and twelve flavors of Dreyer’s premium grand ice cream. Stop by for a late-night craving or place your order ranging anywhere from one dozen to 100 dozen and beyond.
Pink’s Hot Dogs
Pink’s is a landmark hot dog stand located in Hollywood, started in 1939 by Paul and Betty Pink, the parents of the current owner/operators, Richard, Gloria and Beverly Pink. The iconic Hollywood spot started as a push-cart and now has grown into a stand that seats 80 people and has its own valet attended parking lot. The ultimate mom and pop stand is a haven for the rich and famous, and amongst its 35 varieties of hot dogs even has numerous items on their menu – like the Brando dog and Giada De Laurentiis dog – named after celebrities. Stop by for one of their signature 9” dogs or mouth-watering burgers.
Roscoe’s House’s Chicken and Waffles
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is a soul food restaurant chain founded by Herb Hudson in 1975. As its name suggests, the LA-institution is known for their sweet and savory fried chicken and waffles combo like the Herb’s Special or Obama Special. The chain which serves, breakfast, lunch or dinner, currently has seven locations and looking to expand in the near future. What was thought at first as a strange combination of food items, is now a LA-must and remains popular with all natives.
Chicken Parm At Dan Tana’s
Founded in in West Hollywood in 1964 by Dan Tana, the Italian restaurant, which is famed for its celebrity clientele and being open late, has been and continues to be an insider’s place for Hollywood royalty. Just steps away from the Troubadour nightclub, the old-school Italian restaurant is known for its dark red booths, checkered table-cloths and Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant is also known for its delicious cuisine by chef Neno Mladenovic, who has served stars from Frank Sinatra to Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, including the famed chicken parmigiana, New York steak and veal scaloppine. Make sure to make it to the bar and say hello to one of the restaurant’s longest employed staff members, bartender Michael Gotovac, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary this year.
Smoked Brisket at Bludso’s
Bludso’s Bar & Que
Kevin Bludso’s passion for finger-licking BBQ came from his family lineage of perfecting slow-smoked meats going back five generations. Starting with his first location in 2008 in Compton, Bludso’s quickly garnered local and national attention for one of the best BBQ joints in Los Angeles. Kevin then opened a second location in Hollywood in 2011 and an outpost in Melbourne serving fan favorites like the smoked brisket which is smoked for 16 hours or the Bludso’s tray which gives hungry guests a full overview of what they are about.
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery
Since 1925, Bay Cities has specialized in homemade, authentic Italian specialties, like their freshly made pasta, bread, and rolls. The iconic Italian deli is also a gourmet market, where you can find all types of domestic and imported groceries, including cheese, wine and even housewares. Open 9am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday, stop by for a mouthwatering lunch at their full-service deli and try their signature Godmother sandwich, best with the works.
Philippe the Original
Philippe Mathieu opened one of L.A.’s most historic restaurants Philippe The Original (known as Philippe’s) in October of 1908, but it wasn’t until 1918 when true history happened. While making a sandwich for a customer, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced French roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. And, so was born the French dip sandwich. The house specialty consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey, ham or pastrami and is served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. Guests can add cheese and ask for it single or double-dipped, or wet along with adding their Philippe’s Hot Mustard, which is prepared weekly.
Langer’s Delicatessen and Restaurant
Located across from historic MacArthur Park, Langer’s was founded in 1947 and serves one of the best pastrami sandwiches in the USA. Today, Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant operates six days a week (Monday-Saturday), 8am to 4pm by Norm Langer, his wife Jeanette, and daughter Trisha. Serving a full deli menu, their #19, a hot pastrami on crispy-crust hot rye topped with Swiss cheese and coleslaw, continues to be the favorite order
Sang Yoon, the chef and proprietor of Father’s Office, has been credited for trailblazing the gastropub movement in L.A. and beyond. Father’s Office is known for its signature craft brew selection of over 55 local and small-batch varieties and the proprietary “Office Burger”. The simple and casual restaurant, modeled after Spain’s tapas bars, opened in 2000 on Montana has become a staple for great beer and burgers. Recently, Father’s Office launched two new desserts, the black & tan sundae – made with house “brewed” old Rasputin ice cream – and bacon bourbon caramel corn – served in specially designed Father’s Office Cracker Jack-style boxes.
Din Tai Fung
Originally founded in Taipei, Din Tai Fung offers traditional steamed dumplings that made that put this eatery on the map. Their menu also features items such as pot stickers, noodles and wontons, fried rice, soups, fried noodles, and truffle dumplings – a new introduction to Din Tai Fung for Southern California. Along with a selection of nine dumpling options, they also serve Asian-style cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages including boba drinks and slushies in a variety of flavors.
Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who covers restaurants, bars, travel, sports and other lifestyle topics. View his work at www.jaroneashkenazi.com, or connect with him on Twitter: @JaroneAsh.