Sure, you’ve got your go-to family restaurants, places where the kid’s menu comes with crayons and the Mac & Cheese is made by Kraft. (Island’s anyone?) But if you’re ready to broaden your mealtime horizons plus introduce your kids to a little LA foodie history, we’ve rounded up some old-school eateries the whole fam can enjoy. From the home of the original french dipped sandwich (which has been in business since 1918!) to our favorite counter-only burger joint, these iconic restaurants offering yummy grub and plenty of retro atmosphere.
Introduce your kiddos to Jewish deli food at this downtown institution, which has been serving its famous hot pastrami on rye since 1947. Believe us, the #19 (pastrami with Swiss, coleslaw and Russian dressing) is worth the wait. And wait you will—at least on weekends or during the lunch rush when it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to score a seat. For that reason, you'll want to arrive early or at off-hours.
Wondering what to feed little ones who aren't big pastrami fans (yet)? Like any good deli, Langer's has a menu as long as War & Peace. There's also a kids menu (everything's $8 and includes a beverage) offering a hot dog, PB&J, spaghetti and more. Plus, there are pickles. All the pickles.
704 S. Alvarado
Philippe the Original
Don't let the name fool you. Phillipe, which has been around since 1918, isn't some fancy, white-napkin restaurant. Instead, it's a friendly order-at-the-counter spot that's famous for being home to the original French-Dipped Sandwich. While your kid may not be ready for the house specialty (or the pink pickled eggs), they can opt for PB&J or a cheese sandwich and enjoy the atmosphere—which includes sawdust on the floor, long communal tables, old-school phone booths and a candy counter in the corner. Note: It's cash only.
Bonus tip: Avoid going before a Dodger game when the restaurant is sure to be packed.
1001 N. Alameda St.
Original Pantry Cafe
Prepare for pancake perfection. The golden, fluffy flapjacks topped with a perfect pat of butter are one of the big draws at this 24-hour coffee shop. Open since 1924, The Pantry (as it's known to locals) has maintained its popularity thanks to generous portions, moderate prices and fast, friendly service (which translates to: "hasn't changed in at least 50 years"). While the regular menu is meat-heavy (think hamburger steaks, pork chops and the like), you can order breakfast any time of day. And what kid wouldn't love pancakes for dinner? As with most other old-school establishments, this one's also cash only.
877 S. Figueroa St.
Original Tommy's Burgers
Founded by Tom Koulax in 1946, Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers has long prided itself on serving up fresh, 100 percent all-beef burgers, topped with an extra thick slice of tomato and layered in Tommy's signature chili. The menu is purposefully limited to keep quality high and lines moving quickly—just burgers, hot dogs, chili, a few breakfast items and killer fries. And while there are quite a few Tommy's locations, only the original Original Tommy's at Beverly and Rempart offers a truly retro experience to share with your kiddos.
2575 Beverly Blvd.
Dinah's Family Restaurant
In case you had any doubts, the name says it all: Dinah's is a family spot, with big round booths and a robust kids menu. While they're famous for their fried chicken (which you can also get in a tub to go), you'll also want to make sure to try the creamed spinach. Loaded with butter, cream and bits of bacon, it hardly counts as a "vegetable" but today's standard, but it might—just might—turn kids onto the leafy green stuff. (Try this recipe if you're looking for a post-Dinah's alternative.) For dessert, the famous apple pancake is a must. Order at the beginning of your meal so it's ready right on time.
6521 Sepulveda Blvd.
The Apple Pan
This charming diner has been feeding hungry Westsiders since 1947 and there's no slowing down now. Known for its classic burgers, homemade pies and counter-only seating, Apple Pan makes you feel as though you've traveled back to a much simpler time. Menu musts include the hickory burger, crispy fries and (of course) fresh apple pie. Because space is limited, you'll probably have to wait a bit, but you'll be glad you did. Kids will love sitting at the counter, ordering Coke that comes in a paper cone and checking out the old-time cash register. Note: The register isn't just for decoration—it's where you'll pay the bill at this cash-only joint.
10801 W. Pico Blvd.
–Shannan Rouss & Jennifer O’Brien
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