A few things remain unchanged from the '80s. You still can't put Baby in a corner. It still takes a bolt of lightning to send a DeLorean back in time. Bacon is still the world's most delicious food—as well as cinema's most rebellious dancer. Such is the founding philosophy of The Breakfast Club Diner, a haven for 1980s nostalgia. The restaurant's walls are lined with movie posters, album covers, and other cultural mementos from the era—plus a modern mural where characters from Star Wars hang out at the beach off Coast Highway with the Dukes of Hazzard and other pop icons.
Despite the '80s theme, the menu is that of a quintessential Americana diner, and dishes up all the classics, such as ribbon-cut hash browns served alongside four-egg omelets, scramblers, and country-fried steak and eggs. Those hash browns also form the base of the diner's signature skillets, which layer ingredients such as the Athenian's diced gyro meat, feta cheese, and sautéed veggies. The diner's signature Crunchy Munchy french toast serves toast slices coated with frosted flakes alongside whipped cream and fresh fruit. Beyond the flapjacks and breakfast burritos, the chefs also grill burgers and assemble french dip sandwiches, rueben sandwiches, salads, and burgers for lunch.
When people say Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain has a checkered history, they’re talking about the ever-present tablecloths, which flaunt cheery red-and-white squares that whisk diners back to the 1950s. Here in the more than a century-old establishment, cooks still stack pancakes higher than the Statue of Liberty’s beehive hairdo as kids ogle retro candies such as Necco wafers, Sweethearts, and Clark bars. Come lunchtime, half-pound burgers sizzle on the grill, alongside toppings such as bacon and mushrooms.
Near a vintage Pepsi-Cola sign, soda jerks uncap bottles of root beer and scoop banana floats into glass boats en route to white leather booths or a sunny outdoor patio. The shop also summons nostalgia with its shiny jukebox, vintage postcards, and iconic storefront, which has been featured in films, commercials, and PSAs for time travelers.
The chefs at Filling Station have found success in a simple formula: comfort food plus a comfortable café in which to enjoy it. Guests bite into huge burgers or belgian waffles on the flower-lined patio and toast with beers beside the warm fireplace. This is a slice of what Filling Station's owners call "the good ol' days," and it's easy to get swept up in the atmosphere of nostalgia. A dog-friendly policy makes every meal a true family affair, especially since you can bring that cousin who doesn't go anywhere without his leash.
When Ronn Teitelbaum opened the first Johnny Rockets location in 1986, his goal was to create a restaurant where people could escape the postmodern blues of everyday life and experience a taste of time-honored Americana. The name itself is a nod to this ideal. It combines the star of a classic American fable, Johnny Appleseed, and a classic car, Oldsmobile’s beefy Rocket 88.
That explains why during dinners at the famous burger joints, you’ll see signs of simpler times, starting with the cooks and servers—dressed head to toe in white, including white paper hats, they look like they’ve fallen out of a wormhole from the 1950s ready to sling shakes and cook up some eats. Behind a stainless-steel bar lined with red leather stools they tend to their traditional diner fare, including burgers and melts with sides such as chili-cheese fries and onion rings. Riding sidecar to each meal is a collection of hand-dipped and hand-spun floats, shakes, and malts topped with whipped cream.
According to Zagat, the portions of breakfast plates at Broken Yolk Cafe can be "obscene"—although one could also consider them generous. Sometimes, these sizes are even considered a challenge. In 2010, Man Vs. Food's Adam Richman paid the restaurant a visit to tackle its infamous Iron Man Special: a 12-egg omelet, topped with chili and piled onto a 15-inch pizza pan.
Opened in 1979, Broken Yolk has spent decades fine-tuning its southwestern recipes—many enigmatically named for people such as "Betty" and "Tony G". Alongside steaming breakfast burritos and griddled buttermilk pancakes, the menu features nearly 20 omelets stuffed with fresh ingredients such as beef chorizo, avocado, and mushroom sauce. Shredded hash-browns are crafted from fresh potatoes, and the salsa is handmade each day. Until its official closing time at 3 p.m., Broken Yolk also serves sandwiches and half-pound Angus burgers. The local chain's six locations each feature their own private banquet room and secret underground passage to one of the other restaurants.