Diners in Signal Hill

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Cool cats and hip chicks are kept well fed in this 1950s-inspired car-hop restaurant that boasts weekly live entertainment and an extensive menu of traditional diner cuisine dutifully delivered by servers on roller skates. Sustenance-seekers can cozy up in the brightly colored booths made from classic cruisers and nibble on far-out fare such as the Frisco bacon avocado burger on sourdough, soulfully stacked with jack cheese, thousand island dressing, and a side of french fries ($9.95). Frisco's also features a variety of Greek, Mexican, and salad-centric dishes. Slurp up a classic root-beer float (up to $3.95) and watch squares, hexagons, and squiggly lines shake a tail feather to the sounds of Tony and the Carhops during weekly performances of timeless 1950s tunes.

4750 E Los Coyotes Diagonal
Long Beach,
CA
US

Originally founded in 1936 in Glendale, California, Big Boy?s flagship location initially bore the name Bob?s Pantry after owner Bob Wian. At a diner?s request, Bob piled two beef patties onto a bun to create the Classic Big Boy?an original double-decker hamburger that would become so popular that the small burger stand would eventually grow into a franchise of more than 100 U.S. locations. Legend has it that Bob named the creation after one of his most loyal customers: a 6-year-old boy in droopy overalls who would one day ascend to mascot stardom.

Though the menu has since expanded to include sandwiches, homestyle dinners, and breakfast, the eatery still serves its namesake burger stacked high with two patties, american cheese, shredded lettuce, and a special sauce. A large, overall-clad statue stands guard at every location, reminding patrons of the restaurant?s humble beginnings and that children will turn to stone should they not eat enough cheeseburgers.

24021 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance,
CA
US

The large, red sign outside Jack's Whittier Restaurant looks like something out of the '60s or '70s. In reality, the eatery's roots formed much earlier; signs throughout the recently remodeled interior remind visitors that the it has in fact been in business since 1933. The throwback coffee shop and diner serves a medley of classic American food throughout the day, including burgers, fried chicken, and breakfast dishes such as three-egg omelets and buttermilk pancakes. To cap off the sense of Americana, servers also man an ice cream parlor where they scoop out frozen treats to make milkshakes, sundaes, and banana splits for dessert.

13221 Whittier Blvd
Whittier,
CA
US

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.

321 W Katella Ave
Anaheim,
CA
US

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.

116 E Chapman Ave
Orange,
CA
US

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.

201 N Glassell St.
Old Towne Orange,
CA
US