One bit of American culinary culture that I truly adore, is the diner. If you grew up with the diner experience, you probably take its charm for granted. But for someone that didn’t have this truly distinctive American novelty, a diner makes me feel like it’s 1955 and I’m Marty McFly in a scene out of Back to the Future. As a kid growing up in Japan, the diner is probably the image that would pop into my head if someone mentioned the word “America”. But this all-American fixture is becoming harder to find. In Los Angeles or New York, you’re more likely to find a 21st century hipster hangout or gastropub, which I also really enjoy even though that feeling of Americana is missing. But never fear, the classic American diner is alive and well in Los Angeles if you’re willing to look in an unlikely locale. Located inside a Ford Dealership in the San Fernando Valley, you’ll find the Galpin dealership’s pride and joy, Horseless Carriage Restaurant.
Stepping into this diner is like stepping back in time. Inside, it feels like a different era; an era when people used to actually care about their appearance eschewing ripped jeans and sweats in public. The cleanliness and care in this place alone shows how much pride the staff takes in their restaurant. Some of the normal diner wear and tear we’ve accepted, like ripped booths, is missing. In fact, the place is immaculate. Even the art deco light fixtures match the design on the wall mirror adjacent to them. When you enter, the waitress will greet you with a genuine “hon’.” When you settle into your booth, you’re bound to see characters typical of the clientele, like the group of elderly ladies meeting up for an after-church lunch. As if a Hollywood set designer was on the job, there delicious looking pies, cakes and coffee behind.the counter, all punctuated by an American flag near the cashier.I was enjoying the surreal feel of this retro American diner, so much that I didn’t mind being thirsty all afternoon after eating the salty, canned corned beef hash that sat alongside my poached eggs. Being swept up in the nostalgia, I committed another faux pas and actually ate a buttered English muffin without hesitation–something I never order nor eat. The star of the show was definitely my husband’s pancakes that came with toasted pecans. They were cooked perfectly and their fluffiness alone would have earned entry into a pancake hall of fame, had one existed.
While I don’t need a new car, I do need to go back for a taste of one of those pies!