As we are oft to do, Charles Phoenix and I took another one of our kitsch spins around LA and environs this past weekend. We were dressed smartly for the occassion, at least from the ankles down:

Our first stop was at Johnnies Pastrami on Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City:

Johnnies hasn’t changed a lick since it was built in 1952. Counter, stools, booths, jukebox, etc. are all original.

This was confirmed by the man himself, Bob Bass, who built and still owns Johnnies, and who has eaten lunch at his regular table every day since.

I’ve always loved restaurants that park a loaded pickle bowl before you as soon as you sit down.

Charles and I pondered the menu.

But I always go for the same thing, the 1950’s-grilled-to-soda-shop-perfection cheeseburger:

The french fries snap when you sink your choppers into them.

The cole slaw, eternally shredded a tad long, drips with creamy sweetness.

Charles and I were perfectly positioned behind the pie rack.

And although we stared at the bulging slices throughout the meal…

…we had to save room as we always make a donut shop stop on our driving trips.

Circus donuts are good…

…but I much prefer Spudnuts. Which makes sense as judging from the drink station, I think lottery tickets may be bigger business for Circus than donuts.

Next we went deeper into Torrance and hit King’s Hawaiian Bakery on Sepulveda. King’s is not only spectacular for the entrance to the dining room…

… but because of what we go there to buy.

Here I am experiencing a moment of panic upon seeing empty shelves.

You would be too if you knew this was what was inside of the packages we were looking for.

Thankfully, we got the last six loafs of the Rainbow Butter Bread.

All day long we passed beautiful architecture:

I wish all Baskin Robbins still looked like this one on Crenshaw Blvd.:

Nothing great architecturally about this IHOP but it’s spectacular that a horse is used to sell pancakes.

Though I guess it makes as much sense as a bear selling wheel alignments:

There was much beautiful signage along the way.

Although not as dramatic as the previous photos, I always enjoy a sign that employs peculiar use of quote marks:

If “On The” are the two most important words you can spotlight about your burgers, I’m sticking to Johnnie’s. Also featuring two words is the name of this Thai joint:

What a great day! Dinner, thankfully, wasn’t until 10:30 pm.


Photo credits: Denny McLain and me.

14 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – My Saturday Drive/Food Fest With Charles Phoenix – Torrance and Inglewood, CA.”

  1. Salrteest

    My inner architecture junkie is drooling.

    Somewhere back in my memory is rainbow bread! Did I see it at Easter some year in the past?

    • Allee

      Though dreaming about it often, I’ve never seen packaged rainbow bread before this. It seems so logical to make though, so I can’t imagine that King’s is the first instance of it. But it’s the first I know of.

  2. Laurie

    Thank you for documenting your food fest day. It looks like you dined in heaven. I think the food pyramind should be replaced with that vertical pie display case you sat in front of.

    The little round bush top to the right of the OPEN sign at Phuket Thai looks like a naturally occuring asterisk. I wonder what it means. OPEN *

  3. Brian Bostron

    Fun. I have never seen rainbow bread. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  4. Derinda Lesher

    I am so envious of you two!!! Looks like so much fun and I love the adventure of it all. There is no place like southern California – especially the LA area. I love it!!!

  5. Ellen Bloom

    Saw Charles on Sunday and he RAVED about your field trip!!! I LOVE that you take a photographer with you to capture the highlights!!

  6. N. Joyce Crenshaw

    Hey Allee! You were right down the street from me when you passed the Phuket Thai restaurant. Next time you are eating through the neighborhood you should stop at the Wee Man’s Chronic Tacos (if you are into tacos) on the corner of Torrance and Pacific Coast Hwy. They are always busy there. Even closer to me so you would have to visit for sure. I am at Catalina and Garnet, Redondo Beach.

    Love ya!!!

    • Allee

      Will totally check out Wee Man’s Chronic Tacos. if only for the name of the place! Will let you know when the wheels spin in that direction.

  7. Suzy Beal

    Hi, I shared this story (and your rainbow bread photo) on my [url=http://www.facebook.com/LAResidentTourist]L.A. Resident Tourist[/url] Facebook page. I’m from the South Bay originally so it was doubly hard to resist! Before the Brolly Hut was built, there was an abandoned farm with a rusty windmill on that site (to go along with all the bean fields and cow pastures that co-existed with the commercial pop landmarks in SoCal until well into the ’70s.) Thanks for posting, as they say. 🙂