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Adventures Features Restaurants

Hit the Road and Check Out Some of the Oldest Restaurants Along California’s 5 Freeway

Photo: Facebook

Food has a storied history filled with people who turned their dreams into household names. Growing up, everyone knows the spots, eating at them is almost a rite of passage. Our experiences create the tales that help these landmark spots become legend. Along with famous menus, these restaurants also retain a retro appeal, adding to their city’s character and standing as time capsules for your palate.

With restaurants that go back nearly 100 years, California has enough food history to keep you fed for a lifetime. Indeed, with so much to offer, one could road trip the full stretch and feel as if they’ve visited numerous states. Two major freeways serve as the main arteries within the Golden State, the 101 and the 5, allowing passage through its ever-dynamic landscape. 

Spring is here, which means more folks will be loading up their car and hitting the road. With a long history, landmark restaurants are great ways for visitors on-the-go to experience new places.

To add some adventure to your upcoming road trip, I’ve made a list of the oldest landmark restaurants along California’s 5 Freeway. Go get your grub and history on for the price of one.

Photo: Facebook

GARY BRIC’S RAMP (Now Renamed The Ramp Bar & Grill)

Location: Burbank, CA

Year opened: 1962

Address: 7730 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

Located under the 5 Freeway since it opened in 1962, this old school steakhouse began as a popular spot for local airport workers. In 1993 it would gain the name it became famous for when Gary Bric purchased it. A hands-on owner, Bric would bartend three nights a week. With a passion for service, Bric was also a council member for the city of Burbank and its mayor for a year. Retaining some of the original’s flare, the spot is now known as The Ramp Bar & Grill. There you’ll find mostly Italian cuisine, along with a healthy selection of seafood and steaks. 

Photo: Michael Walsh

PECOS BILL’S BAR-B-Q

Location: Glendale, CA

Year opened: 1946

Address: 1551 Victory Blvd, Glendale, CA 91201-2940

This small landmark is famous for its big barbeque flavor. Founded and family-owned since 1946, Pecos Bill’s BBQ serves dripping deliciousness using only three ingredients: bread, meat and sauce. Located near Griffith Park, you can grab your fill for under $10 and enjoy it at one of the park’s picnic areas. Just be sure to grab plenty of napkins because these sandwiches take saucy to higher levels. 

Photo By: Facebook

GIAMELA’S SUBMARINE SANDWICHES

Location: Los Feliz, CA

Year Opened: 1964

Address: 3178 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Serving tasty Italian sub sandwiches, pizza and pasta since 1964, Giamela’s was started by New Jersey transplant Bill Giamela. Moving to LA, he brought along his passion for sub sandwiches. A favorite menu item of customers is their pepper steak sub sandwich with melted cheese. Today, there are three locations, each owned by a Giamela.

Photo: Paul Narvaez

ASTRO FAMILY RESTAURANT

Location: Silver Lake, CA

Year opened: 1957

Address: 2300 Fletcher Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90039

This famous diner boasts an equally famous sign. It was originally named Donley’s Diner, then Conrad’s, before becoming Astro Family Restaurant in 1974. It was designed by well known SoCal architect firm Armet & Davis, who are also behind many notable post-war Los Angeles landmarks. Today, Astro still boasts an extensive menu filled with diner classics like omelettes, hotcakes, waffles, burgers, as well as seafood and steak entree options.

Photo By: Facebook

LANZA BROTHERS MARKET

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Year Opened: 1926

Address: 1803 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90031

This legendary Italian market is a whopping 96 years old. During those days, Los Angeles had developed a small Italian community in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood. While LA’s Little Italy is but a distant memory for long-time residents, the spirit still lives on in Lanza Brothers Market.

Photo: Instagram

STEVEN’S STEAK & SEAFOOD HOUSE 

Location: Commerce, CA

Year opened: 1954

Address: 5332 Stevens Place., Commerce, CA 90040

This family-owned landmark has been fine winin’ and dinin’ for 70 years. Steven’s Steak & Seafood House stands as one of the few fine dining options in the city of Commerce, CA. In addition to offering delectable cuts of meat and savory seafood, the establishment also offers live entertainment in their very own outdoor arena. You can fill your belly, book one of their seven banquet halls and enjoy fine wine all in the same night. 

Photo: Dinerwood: Los Angeles Diner Reviews

OZZIE’S DINER

Location: Commerce, CA

Year opened: 1957

Address: 7780 East Slauson Avenue, Commerce, CA 90040

Still retaining its retro-glam, Ozzie’s Diner is yet another historical gem located in Commerce, CA. Words sprawled above the establishment’s awning emphasize the passion behind the diner’s longevity, “Serving Great Food Since 1957.” Hungry patrons frequent Ozzie’s for their homemade style Latin and American cuisine. Aside from edible diner classics, they also have a lively sports bar.

Photo: Facebook

CHRIS & PITTS #6

Location: Downey, CA

Year opened: 1953

Address: 9243 Lakewood Blvd, Downey, CA 90240

Owner Chris Pelonis has been serving his original barbecue recipes to hungry patrons for over 70 years. Starting with one location in Lynwood, California, Pelonis’ famous Texas-style wood-fired bbq would expand the business into 15 total locations, with three still open today. Family-owned and operated, their bbq is so popular, you can purchase it online and in select stores. Reviews say that the beef rib is a standout. If you’d rather wait for the real deal, be sure to add Chris & Pitts to your road trip hit list.

Photo By: Alex M

ARTHUR’S RESTAURANT

Location: Downey, CA

Year Opened: 1961

Address: 8813 Lakewood Blvd Downey, CA 90240

This small drive-thru eatery was opened in 1961 by owner Arthur Fast as an Orange Julius stand before becoming the landmark it is today. Not only has it been under the same ownership since it opened, much of the staff have also worked there for decades too. They specialize in American and Mexican breakfast classics like biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles and omelettes to name a few.

Photo: Mxreb0

CLUB 33

Location: Anaheim, CA

Year opened: 1953

Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

Located in the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Club 33 is Disneyland’s most exclusive dining experience. Previous rumors detail its members only requirements which include a whopping $25k initiation fee followed by $10k per year for continued access. Unsurprisingly, they focus on a fine high-end dining experience. If you can somehow finesse your way through its secret entrance, or got it like that and can afford the membership, Club 33 is definitely worth checking out; if not for the food, for its rich history.

Photo: Loren Javier

PLAZA INN

Location: Anaheim, CA

Year opened: 1955

Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

Otherwise known as the Red Wagon Inn, this famous Disneyland landmark was opened in the summer of 1955. The opening attracted a line of 3,000 hungry patrons looking to experience the theme park’s fine dining. The Disney experience will work up a healthy appetite and the Plaza Inn has more than enough to satisfy any hunger pangs. From a famous breakfast buffet to American classics like smoked mac-n-cheese and Mickey-shaped sweet honey cornbread, Disney’s Plaza Inn is definitely a great alternative to the membership-only Club 33.

Photo By: Joe Schlabotnik

TOMORROWLAND TERRACE

Location: Anaheim, CA

Year Opened: 1967

Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

As the name suggests, this famous eatery is located in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. It was opened in 1967 and features an outdoor cafeteria-seating setting. You can view the magic of Disney’s attractions while taking a quick load off to enjoy favorites like lobster rolls, chicken nuggets, and fried shrimp.

Photo: Facebook

LA CHIQUITA RESTAURANT

Location: Santa Ana, CA

Year opened: 1950

Address: 906 E Washington ave Santa Ana, CA 92701

This Cal-Mex treasure is over 70 years old. With a loyal-customer base, many patrons have been enjoying their authentic food and homely vibes their entire lives. It’s been sustained for so long due in part to the support of local activists. If you’re looking for real deal Mexican food be sure to make a pit stop on your road trip at La Chiquita Restaurant.

Photo: Beyond My Ken

EL ADOBE DE CAPISTRANO

Location: San Juan Capistrano, CA

Year opened: 1948

Address: 31891 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Recognized as a California State Historical Landmark, El Adobe De Capistrano was opened in the summer of 1948 by Clarence Brown. With a Mexican-Californian aesthetic, the space is infused with over 70 years of love for serving hungry customers. If you’re headed south on the 5 freeway towards San Diego, be sure to stop by El Adobe De Capistrano to prepare your palate for what lies beyond the border.

Photo: Facebook

EL PATIO CAFE

Location: Dana Point, CA

Year opened: 1937

Address: 34226 Doheny Park Rd, Dana Point, CA 92624

TexMex enthusiasts should look no further than this 85 year old family-owned eatery. El Patio Cafe was originally opened in 1937 by then owner Lucy Saunderson before being relocated to its current location in 1951. As a popular tourist spot, Dana Point culture is encapsulated in the flavors of El Patio Cafe, which include original recipe shredded beef tacos, tasty halibut tacos and more. Many consider this the best Mexican restaurant in town.

Photo: Facebook

TONY’S JACAL

Location: Solana Beach

Year opened: 1946

Address: 621 Valley Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Known as one of the most authentic north of the border Mexican restaurants, Tony’s Jacal is legendary in the surf town of Solana Beach. It began in a neighborhood home as a place for locals to stop by for a hot meal. As word of their delicious Mexican food spread, so did its popularity, eventually becoming the landmark it is today. 

Photo: Facebook

RED TRACTON’S STEAKHOUSE

Location: Solana Beach

Year opened: 1948

Address: 621 Valley Avenue, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Founded in 1956 by Harold “Red” Tracton, this famous steakhouse was originally located in Los Angeles. Several building changes over the years would lead to its current San Diego-area location, which it has retained since 1988. Notably, the restaurant was near the popular Hollywood Park race track, attracting fans looking for quality dining following horse races and taking on a jockey-esque aesthetic in the process. Today, in their Solana Beach location, the nearby Del Mar Thoroughbred Club helps the restaurant maintain the tradition. The menu has changed little over the years, still offering top notch cuts of steak and seafood, along with many steakhouse classics to choose from.

Photo: Facebook

EL INDIO

Location: San Diego

Year Opened: 1940

Address: 3695 India St., San Diego, CA 92103

The world’s first taquitos originated in San Diego from this family-owned historical gem. Serving hungry San Diegans since 1940, El Indio began as a handmade tortilla factory before growing to feed workers from neighboring businesses during World War II. Today they serve Sonara-style Mexican dishes passed down through generations. 

Photo: Facebook

HOB NOB HILL RESTAURANT

Location: San Diego

Year Opened: 1944

Address: 2271 First Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 

In the spring of 1944 this San Diego Landmark opened. Going by Juniper Cafe at the time, it was a modest 14-stool lunch counter. Growing over the years, it would change names to Melody Cafe then Dorothy’s Oven before eventually becoming Hob Nob Hill Restaurant. There you’ll find original-recipe American classics like eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy, hamburgers and patty melts.

Photo: Facebook

FILLIPI’S PIZZA GROTTO

Location: San Diego, CA

Year opened: 1949

Address: 1747 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

Fillipi’s Pizza Grotto has served delicious Italian food for over 70 years. Rich in family traditions, what started as a single Italian Market named Cash & Carry Italian Foods in San Diego grew into numerous locations throughout nearby cities. Today you can not only grub on Italian classics but an assortment of juicy rib options. A picture of their original menu can be viewed here

Photo: Facebook

LAS CUATRO MILPAS

Location: San Diego

Year opened: 1933

Address: 1857 Logan Ave San Diego, CA 92113

What may seem quaint on the outside, has all the right ingredients inside. Las Cuatro Milpas, largely regarded as one of the best (if not thee best) Mexican restaurants in San Diego. Opened in 1933, it’s nearly a full century old at 89 years of age. That’s a whole lotta grub. Even today, there’s always a line of loyal locals and curious tourists outside. 

Photo: Facebook

NAPOLEONE PIZZA HOUSE

Location: National City

Year opened: 1958

Address: 619 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950

Serving quality pizza for decades, Napoleone Pizza House was opened in 1958 by three brothers-in-law. It became a staple not only because of famous slices, but also due to the family and community-oriented spirit that kept it going. Aside from pizza, they offer a wide range of Italian dishes. Fun fact: Rock And Roll Hall of Famer Tom Waits was once an employee.

The dope thing about road trips is that there’s always something new to explore if you’re down to take a little detour here and there. So much history and cool things have been achieved over the years, not to mention countless types of food to try. I definitely recommend checking out these restaurants if you wanna add some delicious adventure to your next road trip.

Categories
Adventures Culture Entrepreneurship

The Oldest Black-Owned Restaurants in Major Cities Across America

Photo: David

Black History Month allows us to reflect on stories and people that have set examples of what’s possible. With a closer look at the past, we find that a vision, and the right support, help to make the impossible possible.

In honor of remaining steadfast in working towards a dream, I wanted to highlight some of the oldest Black-owned restaurants in major cities across the US. With roots steeped in traditional slave and Southern foods, the founders shown below spread the taste, feel and culture of soul food all over the map.

Along the way, they’d push the cuisine to new heights, laying the foundation for many of the comfort foods we love today.

Photos: Twitter & Harold And Belle’s

LOS ANGELES

Harold & Belle’s

In September of 1969, Southern hospitality and eats by way of New Orleans opened up in Los Angeles’ Jefferson Park district. The restaurant was named Harold & Belle’s, after husband and wife founders Harold Legaux and Mary Belle. Wanting to share the Creole flavors of their hometown, Legaux started in a small kitchen, serving only po’boy sandwiches, filé gumbo and red beans & rice.

After his passing, his grandson, Ryan Legaux and his wife Jessica, would step in, refining Harold & Belle’s into the dining experience it is today. In 2019 they celebrated their 50th year of operation.

Los Angeles has lots of wonderful Black-owned restaurants to choose from. Click here for additional options.

Photos: Ajay Suresh & Su–May

HARLEM, NYC

Sylvia’s Restaurant

Sylvia’s Restaurant has been keeping the spirit alive since 1962. Founder Sylvia Woods, also known as the “Queen of Soul Food,” started cooking at the age of six. A search for a better life would convince her and husband Herbert Woods to take their hopes to Harlem.

Woods’ could never predict that a waitress job would manifest into a life changing offer. With her then boss wanting to pass down the business, Sylvia’s Restaurant was born. Now a legendary landmark, people from far and wide visit Harlem to experience Sylvia’s 55 years and three generations worth of soul food excellence. 

New York is overflowing with Black-owned restaurants to support. Click here for additional options.

Photos: TonyTheTiger & Facebook

CHICAGO

Harold’s Chicken

This South Side Chicago treasure was opened in 1950 by Harold and Hilda Pierce. At the time, white restaurant owners avoided opening locations in Black neighborhoods. With an under-served community, Pierce saw an opportunity to fill the vacancy.

Harold’s Chicken would become one of only a handful of Black-owned franchises serving South Side Chicago. In the beginning, they only sold chicken feet and dumplings. Since then, they’ve grown to offer chicken dinners and wings, along with a variety of seafood and sides. Their fried chicken is cooked to order, so diners can be confident in tasting the freshness. You can now find locations outside of Chicago in many cities around the US.

Chicago has many other Black-owned restaurants to discover. Click here for additional options.

Photos: Restaurant News & The Busy Bee Cafe

ATLANTA

Busy Bee Cafe

You may want to have some time on your hands for this busy landmark. Opened in 1947 by Lucy Jackson, Busy Bee Cafe developed a reputation for fresh Southern eats. Challenges faced years later would cause the restaurant to change hands before finding current owner Tracy Gates.

Gates re-injected some much needed soul and turned Busy Bee Cafe into what’s considered the “best fried chicken” in Atlanta. From famous patrons like Martin Luther King Jr. to Barack Obama, this spot is truly legendary.

Atlanta is a major US hub for African American culture with lots of Black-owned restaurants to grub at. Click here for additional options.

Photos: Eugene Kim

OAKLAND

Lois The Pie Queen

Always promoting the spirit of family and love, Lois The Pie Queen would come to be known as “Mom” by customers. Unsurprisingly, Lois learned how to make her signature pies from her mother. A love for cooking would define her life: later when given an opportunity to open a restaurant along with her husband Roland, also a cook, Lois chose Sacramento Street in Berkeley, CA.

Knowing her pies were popular within the church community, Roland named their restaurant, Lois The Pie Queen. Together, they began a 50-year journey which still exists today. Serving down-home specialties like short-ribs, candied yams, black-eyed peas, cornbread muffins, and many more, the restaurant is now run by Lois’ son Chris Davis. 

Oakland is an important historical piece to African American history and has many Black-owned restaurants to experience. Click here for additional options.

Photos: Ben Schumin & Skeejay

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Founders Ben and Virginia Ali popularized this Black-owned eatery using the same original secret chili recipe that’s still used today. Much like the name suggests, the chili is fresh and homemade while the wider offerings consist of American classics like chili dogs, burgers and banana puddin’.

Since 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl has been a faithful remedy to D.C.-area residents’ hunger. The location still sports a retro aesthetic, retaining the warmth of yesteryear. What’s even better is that you can bring a bowl of Ben’s Chili home by ordering online.

Not only has Washington, D.C. been a pivotal spot in the push for civil rights, it also has some of America’s best Black-owned restaurants. Click here for additional options.

Photos: thisisit.com & Facebook

HOUSTON

This Is It! Soul Food

With an infectious jingle and straight to the point name, This Is It! Soul Food has been a recognized name in Houston for more than 50 years. I even recall watching the commercials growing up, which played frequently to everyone’s amusement.

Still family-owned, it was founded in 1959 by Frank and Mattie Jones. The legendary spot is now operated by their grandson Craig Joseph. If you’re looking for foods originated from Southern cuisine, including smothered pork chops, ham hocks, oxtails, chitterlings, and black-eyed peas, search no further than This Is It! Soul Food.

Houston is a soul foodie’s dream and has lots of Black-owned restaurants to try. Click here for additional options.

Photos: Facebook & GatorFan252525

DETROIT

Raven Lounge & Restaurant

With a legacy that spans over 56 years, The Raven Lounge & Restaurant has seen it all. It’s one of the oldest blues clubs in Detroit, opened in 1966 by Sam Watts and Myrtle Freeman. They joined the Great Migration towards the mid 1900s, which saw many African Americans leave the South in search of opportunity.

Although lesser-known, The Raven Lounge & Restaurant has persisted throughout Detroit’s tumultuous history. Their piping-hot fried fish comes in several varieties and is served up with other favorites like hot-water cornbread and melty mac and cheese. Live performances are held Thursday through Saturday from 9 PM to 2 AM.

A Black music mecca, Detroit has no shortage of soul. To check out what other food options the city has to offer click here.

Photos: Krista & Facebook

NEW ORLEANS

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

Opened in 1941, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant would go on to become a historical landmark and focal point not only for food, but music, entertainment, culture and civil rights in New Orleans. The upstairs was a meeting place for Martin Luther King Jr. and other Freedom Fighters during the Civil Rights Movement. It started as a sandwich shop founded by Emily and Dooky Chase Sr. and grew into a sit-down Creole restaurant after son Dooky Chase Jr. and his wife Leah Lange Chase took over.

Introducing one of the first African American fine dining restaurants in the country, Leah Chase would later be called “The Queen of Creole Cuisine.” The restaurant remains family-owned and operated to this day.

New Orleans is well known for its culture, music and food. Check out a list of Black-owned restaurants that be hard to pass up in The Big Easy. Click here for additional options.

Photos: Facebook

SAN DIEGO

StreetCar Merchants Chicken Bar

Only a mere eight years old, Streetcar Merchants is one of the oldest Black-owned restaurants in San Diego. Founded in 2013, owner Ron Suel is considered a pioneer in the scene, helping to pave the way for other restaurant hopefuls. They serve an all-day menu that specializes in Southern cuisine. 

The Black-owned restaurant scene is fairly new to San Diego. To support this burgeoning community, click here.

It’s amazing to learn about the history of these landmarks. Each had to endure the challenges of discrimination and building something from the ground up. The love each restaurant poured into their food put a spell on customers, leaving many in a life long trance. If you happen to find yourself in one of the above cities and haven’t tried these historical staples, you’d do yourself a favor by stopping in for a tremendous meal.