Whenever we note that a new restaurant is doing something exemplary, there’s a reader who writes in to say:
“No, La Dolce Vita has the best ______.”
He does this often, and he doesn’t even work for them.
So we went to La Dolce Vita. It did not disappoint. And on top of that, it just turned 50 years old.
Which got us thinking: What are the best restaurants in our fair city that have stood the test of time?
There are more than you’d think. Here are 25 of our favorites.
Eastside Market and Italian Deli | Est. 1929
The Order: A delicious meatball sandwich smothered in marinara.
Cielito Lindo | Est. 1934
The Order: Taquitos fried to a crisp and smothered in tangy avocado sauce.
Casa Bianca | Est. 1955
The Order: One of the best thin-crust sausage pizzas in town.
Greenblatt’s Deli | Est. 1926
The Order: A corned beef sandwich so good it survived the Great Depression. Comes with spicy mustard and a fine bottle of Italian wine (Seriously, what deli has this good of a wine shop in it?).
Chez Jay | Est. 1959
The Order: You’re coming here to drink. The food at Chez Jay isn’t the best, but if you must, try the chicken quesadilla.
Tommy’s | Est. 1946
The Order: A double cheeseburger with pickles and a tomato slice. You must go to the original though, on Beverly.
The Order: Minced meat, cold shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and shredded iceberg in a crunchy corn shell.
The Dresden | Est. 1954
The Order: Veal piccata and whiskey. But you’re really here for the Lounge, where the boys in Swingers go to hear Marty & Elayne. Actually, forget the food; just hit the lounge.
Taylor’s Steakhouse | Est. 1953
The Order: The dry-aged NY Strip with stringy onions on top and a cup of piping hot French Onion soup to start. Then some bottles of Malbec (yes, plural).
Canter’s Deli | Est. 1931
The Order: Matzo ball soup and hot potato knishes.
Langer’s Deli | Est. 1947
The Order: The Number 19 (aka the best damn pastrami sandwich in the country). I’m sure there are other good things on the menu, but this calls me like a siren.
The Apple Pan | Est. 1947
The Order: A hickory burger with melted cheddar, crisp iceberg and dripping in tangy hickory sauce. Crisp french fries. An apple pie a la mode. (Although the tuna salad sandwich is the sleeper here).
Pink’s | Est. 1939
The Order: A hotdog that protrudes healthily beyond the bounds of its soft bun and comes topped with cheese, chili and God knows what else.
Tom Bergin’s | Est. 1936
The Order: A burger with large onions and a pint of Guinness.
The Galley | Est. 1934
The Order: Clam chowder and the surf n’ turf.
HMS Bounty | Est. 1922
The Order: A hamburger and a Tecate.
El Cholo Mexican Restaurant | Est. 1923
The Order: The smothered beef and tortillas with chili con carne, por favor.
Tam O’Shanter Restaurant | Est. 1922
The Order: Most likely the prime rib, but I get the fish and chips. They’re beer battered and golden crispy, and I love the peanut slaw.
Dan Tana’s | Est. 1964
The Order: This is more of a scene than a quality joint, so in these situations, it’s best to go deep fried. We like the eggplant parm.
Philippe’s | Est. 1908
The Order: The French Dip, as this is the spot where it was born. You order the roast beef sandwiches from the cafeteria-style counter. And while you can choose how you want it, if you say anything besides jus and hot mustard, you’re dead to us.
La Dolce Vita | Est. 1966
The Order: Start with an old fashioned and the arancini, then get the osso buco and a super Tuscan.
La Scala | Est. 1956
The Order: The chopped salad, which (believe it or not) they invented. It’s chopped so thin you really don’t need a knife, and the garbanzo beans really complete it.
Musso and Frank | Est. 1919
The Order: Most folks go for the steaks prepared the way your granddaddy would like them. But don’t sleep on that chicken pot pie.
Casa Vega | Est. 1956
The Order: Some guacamole to start and then the oven-style burrito with chicken served wet, with the salsa roja and melted cheese all over and pooling around it.
The Pantry | Est. 1924
The Order: A ham and cheese omelet and a side of biscuits and gravy.
Editor’s note: We left off the Pacific Dining Car because the price was well above the quality of experience. Then there’s the Polo Lounge, which was left out because the guy who owns it is a less than savory character.