Mad Men Restaurants: Los Angeles Edition

Mad Men‘s seventh and final season kicks off on Sunday. Unlike previous seasons, much of the action will take place in sunny Los Angeles. We’ve talked about where Don Draper and friends have dined and should dine in New York. Now, we’ve rounded up sumptuous suggestions for where we’d like to see the Sterling, Cooper & Partners crew dine in the City of Angels, circa 1969, including The Galley, Lawry’s The Prime Rib, The Smokehouse, and more.


Restaurant: Dal Rae
Location: 9023 E. Washington Boulevard, Pico Rivera, California
Now and then: Your favorite mid-century classics reign supreme at the Dal Rae, which began serving diners at this location in 1958. Its truly retro and not-at-all ironic menu features the staples that defined upscale American cuisine for an entire generation, including Chateaubriand, Rack of Lamb, Pepper Steak, and Cherries Jubilee. Known for their world-class hospitality, the Dal Rae is operated by brothers and second-generation owners Kevin and Lorin Smith. Recognizable from afar thanks to its neon, atomic-age signage, the Dal Rae features live entertainment in the piano bar.
Tasty tidbit: The Smith brothers note, “The Dal Rae is where the drinks are strong enough for Roger, and the steaks are man enough for Don.”
Classic dish not to miss: Steak Diane, Lobster Thermidor, Veal Oscar, and the tableside Caesar Salad, just to name a few.
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Restaurant: The Derby
Location: 233 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California
Now and then: The Derby opened in 1922, but became The Derby in 1938, when it was purchased by legendary jockey George Woolf (known for riding Seabiscuit to victory over War Admiral in 1938). Walking through the doors of The Derby is definitely a stroll back in time to the heyday of California’s 1930’s horse racing culture. Pristine yet unfussy, this meat mecca attracts a hip crowd of all ages who appreciate a great steak, a stiff drink, and live music. Woolf’s ghost is said to haunt the establishment, spinning his favorite bar stool at closing time. A nostaglic Pete Campbell would definitely appreciate a meal at The Derby.
Classic dish not to miss: The Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon that made The Derby famous and Noni’s Brashioli.
Book it!

Restaurant: The Galley
Location: 2442 Main Street, Santa Monica, California
Now and then: Santa Monica’s oldest bar and restaurant, dating back to 1934, The Galley boasts a colorful interior that is a delightful contrast to its traditional menu, yet both are equally inviting. Operated by the always-entertaining Captain Ron, the restaurant features memorabilia from the 1934 movie Mutiny on the Bounty, including the boat’s steering wheel, which hangs from the ceiling. The Galley serves a more extensive menu than it did decades ago, offering an array of steaks, seafood, and chicken dishes. A spot at The Galley’s lively South Seas Bar remains one of the most coveted for cocktail enthusiasts.
Tasty tidbit: Bartender Anna would most like to serve Joan Harris. And, John Slattery is a regular at The Galley.
Classic dish not to missSteamed East Coast Clams served with clam broth and drawn butter, along with Shrimp Cocktail and the Top Sirloin Steak.
Book it!

Restaurant: Lawry’s The Prime Rib
Location: 100 North La Cienega Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California
Now and then: A pioneer of the single-entrée — including the ‘choose-your-own-cut’ — dining experience, Lawry’s is famous for several aspects of its service, from its storied carts and spinning bowl salads, to servers’ uniforms that are literally straight out of 1938, as well as its signature Prime Rib. Established in 1938, Lawry’s The Prime Rib was started by Lawrence L. Frank and Walter Van De Kamp and remains family run to this day. The restaurant is said to be the birthplace of both the doggie bag and the practice of starting a meal with salad. Based on the success of the original location, there are Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurants across the country and around the world (in case you can’t make it to Los Angeles).
Tasty tidbit: President and CEO (and 3rd generation operator) Richard R. Frank says, “We would’ve loved to have served Peggy, a real go-getter and ahead of her time! She most definitely would’ve passed on daintier cuts of prime rib and gone for our 24 oz. Diamond Jim Brady.”
Classic dish not to miss: The Prime Rib, the signature Spinning Salad, and the savory Yorkshire Pudding.
Book it!

Restaurant: The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel
Location: 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California
Now and then: The setting for memorable movies, including California SuiteHannah and Her Sisters, and The Way We Were, The Polo Lounge has likely hosted more stars than the Dolby Theatre. Beginning business on July 11, 1941, The Polo Lounge immediately specialized in celebrity hospitality. Charlie Chaplin is said to have had his own booth, which remained unseated when he wasn’t there. Marlene Dietrich was refused entry when she insisted on wearing slacks rather than a skirt as was the dress code. Strangely, the lounge even played a role in convicting key players in Watergate. The Polo Lounge and its contemporary American fare remain, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a magnet for Hollywood’s biggest names, as well as bright young ingenues, such as Megan Draper.
Classic dish not to missThe McCarthy Salad, named for polo player (and attorney to Howard Hughes) Neil S. McCarthy.
Book it!

Restaurant: The Smokehouse
Location: 4420 Lakeside Drive, Burbank, California
Now and then: Beautiful downtown Burbank boasts some of the world’s biggest studios — and this legendary restaurant became an industry favorite as a result. A casual, family-style eatery showcasing American and continental cuisines, The Smokehouse has long been a popular hangout for studio bigwigs as well as the fictional Larry Sanders. Established in 1946, it was relocated to its current location three years later. The Smokehouse’s website notes, “In the sixties, it was common to come in for lunch and find the place filled with costumed cowboy and Indian extras having lunch.” This is definitely the kind of place television department head Harry Crane would take Don for a midday meal.
Classic dish not to miss: The Smokehouse Prime Rib and The World’s Greatest Garlic Bread, among others.
Tasty tidbit: With offerings including the signature Deep Dish Martini and Porterhouse and New York strip steaks, along with loaded baked potatoes, Israel Aviles of The Smokehouse says, “Don would be a character that might eat in a place like ours.”
Book it! 

Restaurant:  Yamashiro
Location: 1999 North Sycamore Avenue, Hollywood, California
Now and then: Ground was broken on the building Yamashiro occupies in 1911. Created as an exact replica of a palace located in the Yamashiro province mountains near Kyoto, Japan, it had several identities before opening as a restaurant in 1960. Yamashiro is known for its unmatched views of Los Angeles, and, according to its website, the restaurant and its grounds have been featured in many film and TV productions since the 1920s, such as Kill Bill. Several celebrities, including Richard Pryor, lived in apartments on its grounds for a time. The original menu was less authentically Asian than what one would dine on today and featured Beef Stroganoff and that sixties staple Rumaki. Still, we’re quite sure Bert Cooper would have been eager to kick off his shoes and soak up the authentic Japanese decor and detail.
Classic dish not to miss: Seafood Tempura and Sake.
Book it!

Have you dined at any of these Mad Men-era Los Angeles restaurants, now or then? What other LA eateries do you think the mad men and women should visit this season? Weigh in here or over on Facebook, G+, and Twitter.


  1. Carolynn jacoby says

    My fiancé went to USC in the 60’s and I remember fondly going to Lawrys. As a newlywed, I made sure to have many Lawrys seasonings in my pantry and still do.

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