The classic diner -- Formica surfaces, greasy-good fare, sassy waitresses, and all -- has long held a special place in the restaurant culture of Los Angeles. In a city this laidback, no matter what food trends come and go, casual diner standards like burgers and shakes have enduring appeal. Plus, diners' vintage vibes tap into a nostalgia for Los Angeles of the early- to mid-20th century, a time characterized by both exuberant innocence and hardboiled noir.
Amazingly, many original diners from the period still have their doors open, while new-to-look-retro spots have spun the diner concept for the new century, offering updates on comfort food classics while capitalizing on ever-cool décor hallmarks like vinyl booths. For modern takes on the retro diner, you might head to downtown's Nickel Diner (maple bacon doughnuts-yum!), Los Feliz's Fred 62 (to-die-for patty melts), or The Standard, Hollywood hotel's 24/7 Restaurant (burgers with a side of Hollywood hotshots). But for the real deal, here are our top picks for quintessential diners that have been slinging the good stuff for decades.
-- Emily C. Brands and Rachel B. Levin, www.thepurplepassport.com