red Camaro convertible to film a segment for his show, which premieres at 10 p.m. Monday. “These diners, drive-ins and dives are places from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that people remember going to,” says Fieri. “Family-owned, community- supported restaurants, these food establishments have endured time and lived through changes and transitions. We are there to highlight the specialties.” Although much of the food served is American, there are no ethnic barriers. “The paint may be peeling off the wall, and the linoleum worn out, but they have to have good food – and that means a quality product made correctly,” Fieri says. A roadhouse you may have passed many times on Pacific Coast Highway but never stopped at, a coffee shop at the end of Ventura Boulevard where they line up for breakfast on the weekends, a Cajun place with the friendly name of Uncle Darrow’s. We call them dives in the most affectionate way – meaning they feature good, inexpensive food, have a history of pleasing customers and may be undiscovered, except by regulars in their own neighborhoods. But they won’t be undiscovered for long. A Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” hosted by restaurateur Guy Fieri, is shining a spotlight on these American treasures. He recently cruised down Pacific Coast Highway to Patrick’s Roadhouse in Santa Monica in his ’67 fire-engine- “Guy has a larger-than-life personality, and we wanted to give him a show that would allow him to interact with a wide variety of people,” said Bob Tuschman, senior vice president of the Food Network’s programming and production. “We think he will bring out the appreciation for food and Americana that we all have for this food and these places.” “There are so many emotions about this show, stories behind (the places), people living their passion,” said Fieri, adding that the show was an outgrowth of a popular, extremely well-received one-hour special he did last year on the same topic. For this series, Fieri generally interviews the owner for a couple of hours, then spends four or five hours cooking and talking to customers for what is boiled down to an eight-minute segment. “The shows are not scripted; we don’t write anything ahead,” he added, noting that they showcase his style. “They allowed me creative flexibility – it was a pretty real-deal production.” You may recognize Fieri, the owner of four restaurants in Northern California. He won the Next Food Network Star contest in 2006 and is in his second season hosting “Guy’s Big Bite,” which airs at 10 a.m. Sundays. We followed Fieri in his food travels and discovered some favorite dives of our own. Here are just a few. Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3692 [email protected]
PATRICK’S ROADHOUSE / 106 Entrada Drive / Santa Monica / (310) 459-4544 When Guy Fieri popped into Patrick’s Roadhouse on Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica last month to film a segment for his Food Network show, “It was a weird feeling for me,” noted Silvio Moreira, the restaurant’s current owner. “He said, `Hi, my name is Guy – what’s up with this place?”‘ They cooked an incredible Getty Burger together, and some other items, and then Fieri bit into the burger. “You should have seen Fieri’s face. He absolutely didn’t like it because it contained caviar. It’s one of those comic moments – and the camera is running.” It probably won’t make the cut on the show. The Roadhouse began its life in the early 1900s as a Red Line train depot, said Moreira. It then went on to become a hotel and, allegedly, a brothel and eventually housed a hotdog stand called Roy’s. In 1974, while Bill Fischler was walking on the beach with his kids, he walked across the street, bought a hotdog at Roy’s that was the worst hotdog he’d ever had and bought Roy out on the spot. “Bill was cooking the next day,” said Moreira. He renamed the place Patrick’s Roadhouse after his youngest son, who’s an actor now (in movies such as “The Black Dahlia” and “Muholland Dr.”). “Today the dining room with antique furniture looks like a poor man’s Getty Museum,” Moreira said. After Bill died 10 years ago, his daughter, Tracey, took over, but four years ago Moreira became the owner/manager, with the family still involved. “Although Bill is gone, I still feel his presence around here. Bill gave me my first job (as a waiter 17 years ago) in the United States – I’m from Lisbon, Portugal – while I was studying at Santa Monica College,” Moreira said. The restaurant has endeared itself to many over the years due to the “personality of the owners, the quality of the food, the ambience and the view,” he said. “It’s a super-friendly place. It is like the set of `Cheers.’ Funny enough, we had Ted Danson in here recently. He ordered an egg-white vegetable omelet – and said, `It was spectacular,’ and he cleaned up the whole thing.” Arnold Schwarzenegger also frequents the place with wife Maria Shriver and their children – and his favorite dish is the Governator Special, a farmer’s breakfast with all kinds of meats, vegetables and potatoes scrambled together with eggs. BOBBY’S COFFEE SHOP / 22821 Ventura Blvd. / Woodland Hills / 818-225-1324 When it was opened in the late ’40s by the late Robert Perkins, a World War II vet, Bobby’s Coffee Shop was located on a dirt road on the far west end of Ventura Boulevard. Fifty-nine years later, it’s become a Valley institution. Warren Akop of Glendale, the current and third owner, attributes the restaurant’s longevity to its friendliness. “The environment is like a neighborhood place to hang out, and customers feel like it’s home,” he noted, adding that “about 60 percent of the clientele is 45 years or older. It’s nothing fancy – just plain American coffee-shop food that resonates with locals for breakfast and lunch seven days a week (6 a.m. to 3 p.m.) 364 days a year – Christmas Day is the one day of the year Bobby’s is closed. “Some regulars eat here five to six times a week,” Akop said. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll likely find a long line outside by about 10:30 a.m. “You might have to wait five to 10 minutes for one of the 100 seats” – 14 at the counter, the rest at tables. Breakfasts range from $4.99 (french toast with eggs) to $6.50 (vegetable omelets), but most popular is the $5.50 ranch breakfast (it used to be 99 cents in the ’50s) that includes two eggs, hash browns, three strips of bacon, toast and unlimited coffee, tea or iced tea. “A local television station (KTLA) has twice named Bobby’s as a best value breakfast (choice), noting you get your money’s worth here,” Akop noted. Richard Florczak of Agoura Hills, who has been frequenting Bobby’s for 20 years, said, “They have the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten.” “Steak-Cheese-Onion Philly Sandwiches are the most popular lunch item,” added Akop, along with the daily lunch specials. UNCLE DARROW’S CAJUN/CREOLE EATERY / 2560 S. Lincoln Blvd. / Marina del Rey / 310-306-4862 Uncle Darrow’s Cajun/Creole Eatery in Marina del Rey grew out of a wholesale pecan candy business that four cousins – Norwood J. Clark Jr., Ronald Washington, Ronald Smith and Samuel L. Small Jr. – started in Los Angeles in 1988. Packaged and sold under the Uncle Darrow’s Cajun Pecan Candy label, the product utilized a special recipe that had been in the family for generations, noted Clark, a Louisiana native. The quartet ended up in the restaurant business by default, parlaying their love of Cajun/Creole foods into a restaurant. It opened in Los Angeles in February 1994, shortly after the Northridge Earthquake. The tradition continued with a second location in Marina del Rey in 1999, a funky place with a large hand-painted mural of a bayou on the wall. You order at the counter, and the food is delivered to your table. The original location closed in 2002, after an eight-year run. “I think we’re popular, and have lasted, because we give you as authentic Cajun/Creole cuisine as you can get here in Southern California,” said Clark. “We also treat people with Southern hospitality. We don’t use any beef, pork or lard – because I lost a cousin at age 33 to a heart attack and another at 29 had a stroke.” Instead they opt for vegetable oil, chicken, turkey, farm-raised catfish, black tiger shrimp and oysters in their dishes. “When Guy Fieri filmed here last month,” said Clark, “he commented, `This is amazing. I’ve never seen a concept like this – Cajun/Creole fast-type dining.’ He loved the seafood boil – blue crab, crayfish and shrimp with red potatoes and corn on the cob.” To maintain consistency and flavor, the restaurant makes many of its signature creations, including red beans, jambalaya, gumbo and beignets in a 1,200-square-foot commissary in Los Angeles. Open for both lunch and dinner on weekdays (and breakfast on weekends), prices range from $5.95 to $23. Lunch (and breakfast) specials are also available and include items such as biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles, catfish and cheese grits. LOCAL DIVES, DINERS AND DRIVE-INS TO CHECK OUT BEAR PIT BBQ / 10825 SEPULVEDA BLVD. / MISSION HILLS / (818) 365-2509 Since 1954. Lunch and dinner. Known for barbecued beef sandwiches on garlic toast, ribs and barbecued chicken. BOB’S BIG BOY / 4211 W. Riverside Drive / Burbank / (818) 843-9334 A classic ’50s coffee shop known for burgers and “silver goblet” milkshakes. They have a classic car show in the parking lot on weekends. CASA VEGA / 13301 Ventura Blvd. / Sherman Oaks / (818) 788-4868 A Valley institution for Mexican food. Be prepared to wait up to an hour or more if you arrive during busy prime dining times. CASA BIANCA / 1650 Colorado Blvd. / Eagle Rock / (323) 256-9617 Since 1955. Dinner. Inexpensive pizza and other Italian fare. Go early, or you’ll have a long wait. CHILI JOHN’S OF CALIFORNIA / 2018 W. Burbank Blvd. / Burbank / (818) 846-3611 Lunch and dinner. Horseshoe-shaped counter. Serves chicken, beef and veggie chilis; hot dogs and tamales. DARBY’S / 20901 Sherman Way / Canoga Park / (818) 347-0231 Breakfast and lunch. Traditional greasy-spoon-style diner. Breakfast specials are popular. DU PAR’S RESTAURANT & BAKERY / 12036 Ventura Blvd. / Studio City / (323) 877-5876 Open 24 hours. Also a location in the Farmers Market in Los Angeles (and Thousand Oaks, but not open 24 hours). Tried-and-true coffee shop fare; known for its pies (fruit and cream pies). The restaurant is now owned by Biff Naylor, and the menu has been upgraded to include items like homemade crab cakes, fresh vegetables and fresh-ground choice chuck burgers. LAMPLIGHTER RESTAURANT / 5043 Van Nuys Blvd. / Sherman Oaks / (818) 788-5110 Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Known for omelettes, waffles, turkey reuben, burgers and club sandwiches. GIAMELA’S LAMPLIGHTER RESTAURANT / 9110 De Soto Ave. / Chatsworth / (818) 882-1877 (No connection now to restaurant of same name in Sherman Oaks). Coffee shop fare. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daily specials available. MEL’S DRIVE-IN / 14846 Ventura Blvd. / Sherman Oaks / (818) 990-6357 Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hamburgers and sandwiches are popular. PATY’S / 10001 Riverside Drive / Toluca Lake / (818) 761-0041 Around since 1949. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. A friendly neighborhood upscale diner with outdoor tables. Popular selections include scrabble (spinach, ground beef and onions mixed with eggs), fitness menu, patty melts and hamburgers (with ground chuck) and chocolate-chocolate cake. SITTON’S NORTH HOLLYWOOD DINER / 11329 Magnolia Blvd. / North Hollywood / (818) 761-3341 Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Popular are fried chicken, patty melts, chicken sandwiches, stuffed avocado shrimp salad, homemade soups, waffles, eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine. WON’S COFFEE SHOP / 14440 Gilmore St. / Van Nuys / (818) 780-8859 Breakfast, lunch and dinner; a 1950s-style diner serving Chinese-American food. Chow mein, chop suey, fried rice, eggs rolls and won ton soup are popular. FOR MORE, CHECK OUT THE DINERS, DELIS AND DIVES GUIDE AT LA.COM.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!