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Famous Eateries in L.A. County

Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy has been a popular fast food restaurant in Pasadena for the past thirty years. Open from 6 am to 2 am every day, Lucky Boy provides all varieties of fast food. A fast food restaurant to the point, minus a drive through, Lucky Boy is located on the east side of South Arroyo Parkway, across the street from Trader Joe’s. This establishment is open every day of the year, minus Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Los Angeles Times described the fast food joint perfectly by saying, “If you desire monster breakfast burritos, burgers, bacon, bacon, and, um, bacon, then Lucky Boy is the place for you. Those with delicate constitutions or an aversion to grease should steer clear or at least grab some Rolaids before eating at this fast food legend.” Word for word, this description brings a mouth-watering image of Lucky Boy. This vender is especially known for its massive breakfast burritos, among its hamburgers, fries, and sandwiches. Customers will order these humongous feasts, no matter what time of day. LAist, a critic company spoke of these burritos by saying, “The teenage boys come in for the humongous breakfast burrito, stuffed with hash browns, eggs, cheese and loads of bacon. The breakfast of champions.” In addition, the old school toasted buns and well cooked meats and onions were mentioned. Without a doubt, the best meal of the day is breakfast at Lucky Boy.

To the citizens of Pasadena, Lucky Boy is considered a landmark and a must stop for all tourists. Due to its welcoming hours, Lucky Boy has brought in countless customers, ranging in all ages.

El Adobe de Capistrano

            I have had the opportunity to have eaten at El Adobe de Capistrano once and must say that the food there is pretty good, but that is not the reason that I am writing, the reason that I am writing is that during my nice lunch at El Adobe (that what they call it for short) I noticed a sign that said National landmark. When I say this I immediately thought, “ Wow, never knew that a restaurant could be a national landmark.” I made a mental note to look up El Adobe de Capistrano and was pretty pleased at what I learned and I hope you are too.

            El Adobe de Capistrano has been operating since 1948 and is in a building that consists of two historic adobes near Mission San Juan Capistrano. But that is not the only reason that the restaurant is famous and a national landmark, it was President Richard Nixon’s favorite place to eat. He frequently sat down to eat a good hardy lunch and at some times even for dinner. While in office President Nixon whose nearby house in San Clemente was known as the Western White House, made many visits to the restaurant. When El Adobe first opened it served continental cuisine, but after Nixon’s comments about their exceptional Mexican food the restaurant changed their menu and began serving only Mexican cuisine.

            The adobe that takes up the Northern side of the restaurant was built to house Miguel Yorba in 1797. The southern section of the building was used as the justice court and juzgado (jail), which now serves as a wine cellar. The building has been used as a post office, store, and stage depot. The home of Miguel Yorba may have been built by his father, Jose Antonio Yorba II. In 1910, Georgia Mott Vander-Leck purchased the two adobes and latter combined the two to be her house and store. On July 8, 1948, Mr. Clarence Brown opened the El Adobe restaurant for the wedding and reception of the First Commandant of Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, General Fagan.

             The adobe has had several additions creating a place where many social events take place, such as a chapel and a wide area that has a detachable roof built by Roland Olsen.

            The El Adobe de Capistrano is a very unique piece to have. It has gone through so many transformations. The adobe has been around since the times of the Spanish serving as a home for one of the Spaniards, it has been a rest stop for the journey from Los Angeles to San Diego, and has now been transformed into a restaurant that is famous for its Mexican food that was adored by President Nixon.

            It is a piece of Los Angeles’ history that should never be forgotten

Fat Burger

            In 1952, Lovie Yancey created something unique. A culture. A phenomenon, if you will. She created the biggest, juiciest hamburgers anyone had ever seen. So obviously, there was only one name for them – Fatburger.
            Half a century later, while other places are just discovering taste, we're still making hamburgers the way she did. Fresh lean beef, not frozen patties. Cooked-to-order, just the way you want it, every time.

            The only thing Lovie loved as much as hamburgers was music. So you'll hear some of the best music ever blasting from kickin' new jukeboxes: Rock'n'Roll, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Classic Soul that'll keep you groovin' in your chair long enough to finish that big juicy burger. We'd love to tell you about the late night talk show hosts and rap stars who've made us the happenin' place—but our attorneys won't let us. (And, of course, restaurant critics keep naming us the best burger in town, but you don't care about those guys.)

            Now here's just a few things to make you drool over your keyboard: onion rings made from real onions. Hand-scooped, real ice cream shakes. Great tasting chili. And fries cooked in 100% cholesterol-free oil. All served with a smile. Fatburger. Distinctive seasonings and attitude since 1952.

            They offer a variety of sizes ranging from small to extra-extra-extra large (24 oz.). You can add a wide variety of condiments such as: eggs, chili, bacon, and cheese. The signature taste is the black pepper put on the beef patties. Fatburger’s shakes are made out of real ice cream.


In 1948, the first In-N-Out Burger was founded by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park. Harry's idea of a drive-thru hamburger stand where customers could order through a two-way speaker box was quite unique. In that era, it was common to see carhops serving those who wanted to order food from their car. Harry's idea caught on and California's first drive-thru hamburger stand was born.

The Snyder's business philosophy was simple: "Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment." These principles have worked so well over the years that they are still the company's fundamental philosophy.

           Quality, freshness, and service were very important to Harry and Esther. Their sons, Guy and Rich, learned the business from the "ground floor". From an early age, Guy and Rich worked at In-N-Out, learning the principles that were to become the cornerstones of In-N-Out's philosophy.

It was almost three years before a second In-N-Out was opened. By the time of Harry Snyder's death in 1976, there were only 18 drive-thru locations. Rich took over as President at the age of 24, and with Guy's help, established a commissary at the Baldwin Park Headquarters. This new facility allowed In-N-Out to have total quality control over all In-N-Out ingredients. In addition, they created the In-N-Out "University", where new managers are trained and the In-N-Out formula for success is consistently reinforced. While Rich was President, In-N-Out grew from those 18 locations in 1976 to 93 locations at the time of his death in 1993. Guy Snyder became Chairman of the Board and CEO in 1993.

            As Chairman of the Board, H. Guy Snyder, (the H. stands for Harry, named after his father) led In-N-Out into the future with continued expansion throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. Guy carried on the same tradition that was set in 1948 by his parents, stressing the same basic values that helped make In-N-Out so successful. While Guy was Chairman of the Board, In-N-Out grew from 93 locations to 140 at the time of his death in 1999.

The atmosphere of enthusiasm for serving customers the freshest quality hamburgers and french fries can be seen all the way from the many store locations to the office Associates.

Though times have changed, little has changed at In-N-Out. The menu-burgers, fries and drinks-is still the same basic menu customers have enjoyed since 1948. Everything is still made fresh to order. There are no microwaves or freezers. Customers may observe french fries being made from hand-diced, fresh, whole potatoes. And the shakes are made from real ice cream.

There have been a few modifications in recent years. The original In-N-Out offered only drive-thru and walk up service. Most of the newer In-N-Out Burger locations provide indoor and outdoor seating. Aside from building improvements, though, In-N-Out has retained the basic traditions that have made it a favorite for 60 years.

In-N-Out remains privately owned and the Snyder family has no plans to take the company public or franchise any units. All Associates are treated like family. Many Associates have been with In-N-Out for over 20 years, some even worked with Harry and Esther in the early years. These relationships and the commitment to the company's philosophies continue to make In-N-Out a very special place to work.

At In-N-Out Burger, quality is everything to them. In-N-Out makes everything the old fashioned way. Their commitment to quality starts from their burgers. They grill them 100% fresh pure beef. They are free of additives, fillers and preservatives. They own and operate a world class patty making facility. Their lettuce is hand-leafed. Their American cheese is the real thing. They use the plumpest, juiciest tomatoes. All of the ingredients are delivered fresh to the stores. They bake their buns using slow-rising sponge dough. And they make your burger to order. They even cut the potato and cook your french fries from scratch in 100% pure, cholesterol-free vegetable oil. To top it all off they make shakes from real ice cream.

The Hat

The Hat is a Southern California restaurant chain known for it pastrami sandwiches.  The first “The Hat” restaurant opened its doors in Alhambra of 1951, and the restaurant recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.  Its original location is across the street from what was the historic Garfield Theatre on Valley Boulevard and Garfield Avenue.   The original location was scheduled to be demolished in 1981, and the site was scheduled to be rebuilt with a retail strip mall.  However, the restaurant business and site were purchased by the San Marino based Conzinere Family and they saved the operations.  They continue to own and operate the business under C&J Foods Company, Inc., and brothers Joseph Conzonire and Ronald "Corky" Conzonire run the business. Corky's son, Joe Conzonire, is president of the company and runs the day-to-day operations of the company.

Since their acquisition, the restaurant chain has now expanded to ten different locations covering the greater Los Angeles area.  The original locations were in the San Gabriel Valley.  However, the locations now include Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Bernardino counties, and include the cities of Brea, Glendora, Upland, Pasadena, Temple City, Monterey Park Rancho Cucamonga, Simi Valley and Lake Forest.  While expanding the locations, the owners have kept the signature retro style neon sign format that includes a chef hat and the words “World Famous Pastrami.”  Customers currently consume about 15 million pounds of pastrami per week in sandwiches that contain approximately ½ pound of pastrami in each sandwich.  In addition to the pastrami sandwiches, the menu includes hamburgers, French fries, chili and other base items.  All of the food is served in to-go packaging, although paper plates are provided for those customers whishing to eat at the locations.

The pastrami meat is made from raw beef navel or brisket that is cured in brine and seasoned with a dry rub made rub allspice, paprika, garlic, black pepper, cloves, coriander and mustard seeds. It's smoked, steamed, and sliced thin for sandwiches. The Hat restaurants (and most restaurants in Los Angeles) serve the sandwich on a French roll.  This is different than New York and traditional Los Angeles delicatessens that serve the sandwiches on rye bread.  In addition to the bread difference, The Hat pastrami is sliced very thin, where traditional delicatessens typically slices the pastrami thickly.

            The Hat restaurants, while expanding to new locations, have kept the same format and menus.  The restaurants are designed to be family friendly and to maintain the original design concepts.  .  The updating of the restaurants, while maintaining the nostalgia, has helped attract previous customers back to the restaurants.  Several of the new locations include drive-through windows to accommodate the Southern California customer desires.   The current owners take pride in maintaining the traditional menu and service format.  This has kept generations of Southern California customers returning to experience the pastrami and chili fries

Tito's Tacos

            Located at 11222 Washington Place in Culver City, California, Tito’s Tacos has been open since 1959. A family owned business, Tito’s Tacos was recently in a New York Times article interviewing Melissa Wilson, the great-granddaughter of the founder, about moving into the family business. In addition, Lynne Davidson, Vice President of Tito’s Tacos was awarded Small Business Advocate of the Year by California Chamber of Commerce. Tito’s menu is not very extensive, offering tacos, burritos, and enchiladas; however, long lines are constantly present outside of this restaurant, as it is famous for having some of the greatest tacos in Los Angeles.

Original Tommy's

Tom Koulax, the son of Greek immigrants, founded Tommy’s in 1946. Tom took part in other business ventures before starting the stand at Beverly and Rampart. It took some time for the stand to gain traction, but by the mid 50’s Tommy’s had gained a reputation as one of the best burgers in Los Angeles. In order to accommodate the growth that the stand saw in the 60’s the whole lot that we see today was bought out and the second service station was put up.

There were several imitators of the Original Tommy burger. This led to several legal battles and eventually they came up with the slogan, “If you don’t see the shack, take it back. “

The format of the burger stand at Tommy’s is very simple; you go to the counter, pay for your food while you receive it and then go to the counters alongside the building to eat. You can see the food being made while you order it. You can see the giant bin of chili sitting on the grill. One of the ways in which Tom sped up the production of food was in his invention of the tomato slicer. It was a slicer that cut through the tomato and put it into even slices.

Throughout the 70’s Tommy’s expanded as a chain with 30 new  locations by 2006. They spread throughout Southern California and into Las Vegas. The Koulax family owns all of the chains and they do not plan on selling franchise licenses.

The Chili is allegedly made out of an all beef con carne base with water, flour, and secret spices. The chili tops almost every food item on the menu. There is the holy trinity of chili meals, which is the double chili cheeseburger, chili dog, and chili cheese fries.

Tommy’s does not advertise except for the occasional tv spot, or a brief flirtation with radio in the 90’s. Instead they have relied on word of mouth advertising.

Pie and Burger

            Opening in 1963, Pie and Burger has become one of the most prominent restaurants in Pasadena. Located off of Lake on California, it remains in the same unassuming building it was in when it opened. Not a whole lot has changed about the place actually. It’s current owner, Michael Osborn group up eating Pie and Burger while at his grandma’s house in Pasadena. When he bought the place he changed very little. He kept most of the staff and chefs. He only added a veggie burger and some breakfast items to the menu. Osborn grew up a little further away in Arcadia. He began working at Pie and Burger in 1972, while he was at USC. He has been at Pie and Burger ever since. He loved his burgers and strawberry pie.

            Pie and Burger has remained a steady juggernaut in the world of Pasadena burger eateries. The swivel chairs and the Formica counter are still there from the beginning. One waitress has been there since the beginning in 1963, and one chef has been there since 1971. It was only until its demise last year that the Herald Examiner newspaper rack was removed.
            The grill at Pie and Burger is also the same as it was in 1963. Consistency in the food has been the key for the restaurant. The Cash register is the same old school one they have been using for decades. You can see the buttons worn out on the keypad.

            Pie and Burger has received several positive reviews through major publications. “A good metaphor for this restaurant is kind of like an ugly/quiet girl who can sing like Whitney Houston. You just don't expect it.” It made the Zagat list and is highly rated no matter who you talk too. This place is an institution of Pasadena.

            There are a few things that have changed about the place. You know it’s a good party if they tell you it is going to be catered by Pie and Burger. The catering service is probably the biggest, most modern change of the place. They started catering in 1997.

El Tepeyac

El Tepeyac is a Southern California restaurant known for its Mexican style cuisine and family friendly environment.  The first “El Tepeyac” restaurant opened its doors in downtown Los Angeles of 1942.  Originally named El Tupinamba Café, the restaurant was founded by the Rojas family.  El Tepeyac then moved to Lincoln Heights and renamed La Villa Café.  In 1952, the family made its move to Boyle Heights, where it would be known as El Tepeyac Café.  The fifty plus year old El Tepeyac is famous for their “Manuel Special”, a five-pound burrito.   The idea of the Manny Special was created when Manny bet someone that the person could not finish one of his burritos.  Manny won the bet, and a tradition was born.    

The restaurant was originally started by Manuel’s parents.  Following the untimely death of his father, Salvador Rojas, Manuel and his mother Rebecca took over the restaurant operations and developed it to become the neighborhood restaurant of Los Angeles for all who come.  Manuel continues to own and operate the business under the influence of Manny’s daughter.  Manuel commented on his family and restaurant’s history, in a signature sarcastic fashion, “My mom was the boss for 43 years, but she died and my daughter is boss. I’m a slave.”

A few years ago, El Tepeyac became nationally renown for their enormous burrito and its challenge.  In 2009, the restaurant was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food”.  When taking on Manny’s Challenge, contestants have one hour to consume the colossal five-pound burrito.  Since that episode has aired, new customers have come from many areas outside of Los Angeles.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was raised in Boyle Heights and attended Roosevelt High School, made El Tepeyac the last stop on his reelection tour that was televised locally.

Now 77 years old, an age at which most are retired, Manuel starts the kitchen at 3AM everyday and stays through lunch.  His generous and carefree personality leads to customers continuously coming back and passing down the tradition from generation from generation.   Every day he welcomes his customers with a kiss for the ladies and a hug for the men.

Located on a hill-top street in Boyle Heights, across the street from a Catholic Church, the restaurant has a warm felt and relaxed atmosphere that hits the spot when you are in the mood for a lazy Sunday lunch.  El Tepeyac prides itself on its service, however, nothing compares to a visit from Manuel himself.   Including the Manny Special, El Tepeyac is known for their famous burritos.  These include the Hollenback and The Okie burritos.  Ingredients are always fresh and that gives the restaurant a family style effect.   

            El Tepeyac has been a historic trademark for Angelenos for over fifty years and show no signs of slowing down.  The restaurant is designed to be family friendly and to maintains the original design concepts started by his parents.  Manuel and his daughter take pride in maintaining the traditional menu and service format.  This has kept generations of Southern California customers returning to experience the burritos and Mexican cuisine.



Andrew Fogaros,
Dec 22, 2011, 11:24 AM
Andrew Fogaros,
Dec 16, 2011, 5:13 PM
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Andrew Fogaros,
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Andrew Fogaros,
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Andrew Fogaros,
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