I’ve long had a running list of legendary LA restaurants that I’ve intended to visit. The only problem is that it keeps growing! Every time I visit one, I discover another that I need to add. I know it’s a good problem to have but as a completist I feel like I’ll never get to them all. Especially, after reading George Geary’s latest book LA’s Landmark Restaurants which features over 50 notable spots in the Los Angeles area.
I’ve been a fan of Geary’s since his seminal LA’s Legendary Restaurants and his more recent Made in California which both highlight a range of historic restaurants native to the Golden State. In LA’s Landmark Restaurants he returns to showcase a number of eateries that have achieved landmark status like the famed Philippe the Original and Tail o’ the Pup.
So what makes a restaurant a landmark? Often it’s longevity. An eatery like Philippe’s that has served generations of visitors certainly is significant. Other time’s it’s uniqueness. Who doesn’t want to order food from a giant hot dog? Or it could be it’s cult status. When every Hollywood star considers it a must to be seen at the Mocambo it’s certainly gained landmark status.
Of course, you can’t visit the Mocambo today as it closed in 1958, but that’s what makes the book so fun. It’s not simply a dining guide to LA’s oldest eateries and it’s not merely a tribute to the hot spots of yesteryear. Instead, it’s a love letter to those restaurants that helped shape LA. The eateries featured have had a cultural impact on the landscape and influenced the dining trends of generations of Angelenos.
I know they’ve influenced me. Ever since I learned to drive, I’ve been seeking out these historic spots and each visit brings me a better understanding of the place I hold so dear. Reading LA’s Landmark Restaurants felt like a conversation with a kindred soul. Geary’s love of these historic dining spots is clearly evident as he profiles their history, atmosphere, employees, clientele and even recipes.
Before reading LA’s Landmark Restaurants I thought I had a thorough knowledge of the area’s legendary eateries but, I soon learned I was wrong. Sure, I was very familiar with places like Cole’s, Tom Bergin’s, Pann’s and even the long gone Little Joe’s but, imagine my surprise when I came upon page after page of places I had never even heard of! Now, the Derby, The Dal Rae and The Bull Pen have been added to the places I must eat at.
So, here’s a toast to George Geary and his wonderful book, LA’s Landmark Restaurants. May he continue to share his love of local landmark eateries with us and may I one day visit all that remain!