Diners in Hawthorne

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2431 190th St
Redondo Beach,
CA
US

Former owner and current namesake Joe Filkosky is responsible for many of the hearty breakfast platters still on the menu at Eat at Joe's. But it's John Wayne who gets the credit of one of the most famous. When the icon sidled in one day and asked Joe to cook him a special breakfast, the meal quickly landed on the regular menu—a belly-warming combination of two eggs over-medium with cheese, home fries, and a tortilla, all slathered with Spanish sauce and sausage.

Clientele aside, the interior of Eat at Joe's has barely changed a bit since it was founded. Much of the menu comes packaged in red plastic baskets, and the simple white tables are still laden with home-cooking classics such as burgers, chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, and roast turkey with stuffing. In the morning, diners start the day with hearty omelets and fresh-squeezed, decaffeinated orange juice.

400 N Pacific Coast Hwy
Redondo Beach,
CA
US

Serving broiled burgers and zestful french fries within a large, '50s-designed time capsule, Bob's Big Boy Broiler cooks all-American eats that pledge allegiance to filling unfilled stomachs. Those sniffing around the menu for spicy stews can send tongues swimming through Big Boy's famous chili ($4.29). Erase painful memories of living a single-stacked life by equipping yourself with Big Boy's original double-decker hamburger ($6.99), two patties of juicy ground beef, seasoned with a tangy special sauce. Other classic entrees include the bacon, lettuce, and tomato supreme ($7.99), unexpectedly topped with avocado, and the chicken parmigiana ($9.99), an Italian-seasoned chicken breast partnered with melted mozzarella. Remind yourself how good "I Like Ike" buttons used to taste by capping the meal with an old-fashioned dessert such as a thick ice-cream shake ($3.99) or a banana split ($4.59).

24021 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance,
CA
US

For 40 years, the iconic Kelly green exterior of Patrick's Roadhouse has lit up the roadside along the Pacific Coast Highway. Inside, dark wood and checkered floors join stained-glass lamps and hand-painted signs to create the look and feel of a well-worn and cozy haven for travelers. Featured on the Food Network's Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, the menu includes unique classics such as the sweet and savory Dijon plum burger, or the Rockefeller—topped with sour cream, jack cheese, mushrooms, and caviar. Fresh, organic produce acquired daily from the local farmers market piles onto stacks of fluffy pancakes, and slices of the Patrick's 'famous' banana cream pie launch into faces to round out meals.

106 Entrada Dr
Santa Monica,
CA
US

In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.

A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.

1650 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles,
CA
US

Food and nostalgia are synonymous at Dinah's Family Restaurant. Whether it's oven-baked apple pancakes, saucy ribs, or the restaurant's signature pineapple coleslaw, Dinah's team has made everything look—and taste—warmly familiar since 1959. Even the decor has barely changed since then. Its long marble bar, red-backed booths, and a retro-Sixties facade would not look out of place as an establishing shot in a Mad Men episode.

The real star at Dinah's has also stayed the same since day one: the fried chicken. In the decades since they debuted their fried chicken bucket, the cooks at Dinah's have spiced, breaded, and fried its poultry pieces for some 20 million customers—all the more impressive considering only 500 people lived on Earth in the 1960s.

6521 S Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles,
CA
US