Busy Bee Cafe engenders memories of poodle skirts and soda shops with an evocative mix of '50s décor and classic American fare. Loaded skins kick off the nostalgic menu with a selfless gesture, as potatoes shed their outer layer to be piled with jack and cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and dipping sauce ($5.99). Busy Bee Cafe's Reuben sandwich is a crowd favorite, with a mouthwatering stockpile of corned beef or pastrami, garnished with heaps of sauerkraut, coleslaw, potato salad and cheese, and doused in tangy thousand island dressing ($9.95). A Busy Bee Cafe's specialty, the chicken fried steak dons a contradictory moniker in a futile attempt to throw voracious diners off their mission to devour its mix of grilled and battered beef, topped in homemade country gravy ($12.99 for dinner). Classic ice-cream sodas deliver a velvety blow that knocks palates back to the olden days of lunch counters and Eisenhower Halloween costumes ($4.45).
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.
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.