Los Angeles’s Oldest Surviving Restaurants


I made a map of Metro Los Angeles’s oldest extant eateries based on a piece written by Nikki Kreuzer for The Los Angeles Beat titled “Offbeat L.A.: The Oldest Surviving Los Angeles Restaurants… a Master List of the Vintage, Historic and Old School.” The Los Angeles Beat piece seems to have received a fair amount of feedback and also includes restaurants in Orange County and the Inland Empire. Many are not in their original locations and operating under a slightly different name but it’s still really interesting.

This map and article, however, are not endorsed or affiliated by the staff of The Los Angeles Beat. I am indebted to Kreuzer for her work, however, and for the additions provided by readers of The Los Angeles Beat.

Some of the restaurants I like a lot — especially the old checkered tablecloth Italian places that send Gordon Ramsay into conniptions. Many, though, are relics of an era when vegetarians like myself were regarded as morally louche and thus subjected to the cucking stool, pillory, or worse. Their meat-eating peers, meanwhile, feasted on exotic grotesqueries like tuna Jell-o, ham and bananas hollandaise, and beef suet and in some cases the menus still cater to these inscrutable, antiquated palates. Inclusion on the map, in other words, is based only upon age is neither an endorsement of quality nor renouncement.  Besides, even the restaurants at which I may never eat are still important for their architecture, decor, neon or incandescent signage, mascots, history, and general documentary truths, so bon appetit!

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiand Twitter.

Art Prints

20 thoughts on “Los Angeles’s Oldest Surviving Restaurants

  1. dear johns was converted into some hipster-wannabe tequila bar. they left dear johns sign up for whatever reason.


  2. Thank you, Eric. This is wonderful. I’ll keep this map bookmarked. I know and admire Nikki Kreuzer and her dedication to photographing and researching historically significant places in California, too. Nice work


  3. Hey there,
    Was wondering where you were able to get the data for this? Or if you happened to do it all yourself, if you would be willing to share it? I’m in a GIS class and would love to create my own representation of this information!


  4. This is a great resource, as I love discovering LA’s historic food joints in my occasional trips back there. Thanks for posting!… You should consider adding Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe in Victorville (http://www.hollandburger.com/). Though there’s been one major change of ownership, this place was originally founded on its current spot on Rte 66 in 1947.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Perhaps I’ll expand to San Bernardino County in the future… I need to expand my map first. Also, if/when I explore Victorville for California Fool’s Gold, I’ll definitely check out Holland Burger! I added it to the map (realizing that I have a few historic restaurants located beyond Los Angeles already).


  5. Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park 1970, oldest vegetarian restaurant in the United States.

    Also German Cold Cuts in Woodland Hills (aka European Cold Cuts) from 1973? (Has one table to sit at.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I added Follow Your Heart to the map. I’m not sure how I overlooked them — I ate a sandwich with Vegenaise for lunch! At least they were already on the Vegetarian & Vegan Los Angeles Map. Also, I added German Cold Cuts, which apparently opened in 1974. Thanks for these tips!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s