6 Historic Los Angeles Restaurants That Are Still Doing It Right

These decades-old institutions are always worth a visit

April 9, 2024 6:39 am
black and white vintage photo of restaurant front with sign
Canter's Deli 1939

Each day brings a new restaurant opening in Los Angeles. While many won’t last, a few will someday join the ranks of the city’s iconic eateries, beloved by diners for generations. It’s hard to predict which restaurants will become part of the city’s lore, but there’s no doubt that great food, a good story and a few celebrity guests will help. These historic Los Angeles restaurants reside in the memories of thousands of Angelenos and still rank as some of the best places to eat in the city. Some are pricey while others fit into a college student’s tight budget, and all have become institutions in their neighborhoods and are regularly crowded decades after opening.

inside of restaurant with chandelier, lamps, tables with white tablecloth, glasses and utensils
Musso & Frank
Tina Whatcott Echeverria

Musso & Frank

Opened in 1919, Musso & Frank is practically synonymous with Old Hollywood, for it was here that scripts were reviewed and movie contracts signed. A who’s who of Hollywood could regularly be spotted, including Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Dining here is all about old time classics like lobster thermidor, lamb kidneys with bacon, prime rib with a baked potato or the favorite of silent film stars, the original fettuccine Alfredo. All of it should be washed down with a stiff drink, hopefully a Martini. Service is still provided by waiters in red jackets and bow ties, just like it was 100 years ago.

6667 Hollywood Blvd

Philippe The Original

The story goes that in 1918, Philippe Mathieu accidentally dropped a sliced French roll into a pan filled with the juice from roasting beef. Instead of remaking the sandwich, he used the roll to make the first ever “French Dipped Sandwich.” And while the menu at Philippe The Original is vast, this is the sandwich that has been enticing Angelenos for more than a century. During a busy week, Philippe’s sells 20,000 French dips.

The prices are reasonable at Philippe’s, making it easy to order several of their house made sides like coleslaw, potato salad and kosher pickles to accompany your sandwich. And while you can take the food to go, dining in completes the experience. Don’t leave before sampling their signature hot mustard.

1001 N Alameda St

giant column building with weather vane, multi colored chairs and orange umbrellas
Original Farmers Market
Wendy Lee

Original Farmer’s Market

Layers of history permeate the Original Farmer’s Market. Started as an outdoor market selling produce in 1934, it evolved into a permanent indoor market, and restaurants, shops and services were added over time. The oldest restaurant in the market, Magee’s Kitchen, is well known for their corned beef sandwiches. In 1938, the family-friendly diner known for comfort food, DuPar’s, opened its first location here as well.

Today, there are more than 30 places to dine, ranging from Singaporean fare to Korean BBQ chicken. For those not looking for a full meal, there are plenty of snack options including donuts, ice cream and candy. Be sure to check out fresh peanut butter being made at Magee’s Nuts.

6333 W 3rd St

outdoor strip of restaurants, palm trees, nighttime, neon signs
Greg Zabilski

Canter’s Deli

This classic Jewish deli opened in 1931 and is still managed by the fourth generation of the Canter family. Early in its history, there were several moves and expansions, but its current location in the former Esquire Theater has been its home for 70 years. At times, Canter’s has been the go-to late night spot for celebrities, while local politicians often stop in to make their case to voters.

Many consider Canter’s Deli’s pastrami sandwich to be the best in Los Angeles. Other favorites include matzo ball soup, stuffed cabbage and, of course, the house made dill pickles. In front you’ll find a bakery chock full of fresh breads, cakes and pastries, too.

417 N Fairfax Ave

Tam O’Shanter

Tam O’Shanter is the oldest restaurant in Los Angeles still being run by the same family in the original location. This Scottish-themed establishment features dark wood furniture, dim lighting and fireplaces in every room, resulting in a cozy vibe that’s hard to find in LA. Entrees are all about the classics — thing a large plate of prime rib with mashed potatoes and gravy and Yorkshire pudding. If you’re looking for something specifically Scottish, try the rarebit, toasted bread slathered in melted cheddar cheese. And this is certainly the place for Scotch lovers, as they have more than 250 varieties. Not much has changed here in the past 100 years, and that’s exactly why it remains a favorite. 

2980 Los Feliz Blvd

Cielito Lindo

The city of Los Angeles began more than 200 years ago as El Pueblo de Los Ángeles, a section of the city better known today as Olvera Street. This festive pedestrian street is lined with Mexican shops, historic sites and eateries, most notably Cielito Lindo. Started in 1934, this tiny spot is best known for taquitos with avocado sauce, a recipe perfected by the founder, Aurora Guerrero, 80 years ago. A selection of burritos and agua frescas round out the menu.

23 Olvera St


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