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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pancakes in the Hills

By Tom

Last weeks excellent post by Beth made me think about the state of pancakes in my hood. I love pancakes, whether at the Retro coffee shop at the Beverly Hills hotel (I'd eat first) or at Jan's restaurant on Beverly in West Hollywood (bring your own maple syrup). Further west on Beverly is BLD about which no less than Andy Tauer raved and on Pico in West LA is John O'Groats which you'd better get to before 9 if you don't to face a line.

I'm going to let you in on what might be the best and worst kept secret breakfast spot in Los Angeles: the Village Coffee Shop in Beachwood Canyon, just beyond the Hollywoodland Gates. The canyon is the home of the Hollywood sign, and on any given Sunday you will find people standing in the streets taking photos. Be kind, don't honk. The city has set it up that there isn't a place to get a better picture really, with gates and motion detectors to keep people from getting too close, so a picture from the drive is best.

The area was one of the first developments in LA, back when the sign read "Hollywoodland". Years later the last four letters and the illumination was lost but the neighborhood remained, including the cafe and the shops and grocery store just inside the stone gates. Noted architect John Lautner redid that grocery store years ago; you can buy books about the area along with Dinty Moore Beef Stew. As for the Coffee Shop, I don't think anything but the prices have changed from the 50's (and for LA it's really quite reasonable) and that's a good thing. The coffee is real, the iced tea is fresh brewed, the portions are large and there's an admirable lack of irony in the place. The waitresses call you "hon" and mean it. I hope you tip them well.

I want to loop in some esoteric foodie related smell here so I can seem clever but here isn't one. The best I can think to type is that perhaps this is a modern day version of a James M Cain novel; one could imagine Mildred Pierce learning her trade here, footsore from the long walk from Franklin Avenue or later her pies in the display case. It smells of of Mildred's, and there's no better portrait of LA than that.

Image source, austinchronicle.com

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the bit of history on the hollywoodland sign and hood. i did't know all that, and that plus your description of the diner make me want to visit. btw, if you're ever in dallas, you must go to the mecca on harry hines. i hope it's still there (moved from dallas in 2001). but last i went, it was much as you describe your diner - the waitresses had amazing beehives and that same great "hon" thing going on. love that place.

cheers!
minette

2:49 PM EDT  
Blogger StyleSpy said...

Come see me in Austin, Tom. There's a place just up the street that makes pecan-cinnamon pancakes. Soooooo yummy.

9:55 AM EDT  

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