Memories of Lost L.A. Eateries

Johnny\'s Shrimp Boat

Call me L.A. selfish, but I am greatly opposed to creating a “Best of L.A.” list, especially for our foods & restaurants. I cringe when local magazines print their “Best Of” issues, and here’s why. Growing up in L.A., I’ve accumulated over 40 years of my own best and worst food knowledge based on countless miles of adventure, explorations, accidental discoveries, bouts of food poisoning, word-of-mouth, patience, and just plain old trial and error.I measure those countless miles traveled as highly treasured experiences that have forged my strong bond with this city while nurturing many friendships and relationships with many good people who live and work here.  I don’t mind giving an occasional tip to someone who seems like they’d really enjoy and appreciate a place as much as I have, But when I picture some trendy-trippers or jet-set hobos dropping in on my town with a sense of entitlement to instant gratification, skimming the city’s cream of the crop while posing like regulars without paying their dues, or when I read about new to L.A.  transplants asking “Where do I find  Boston Style This”,.. or  “Chicago style that” it all makes me quite buggy. But that’s just my trip. Most “Best Of” lists include well known gastronomic treasures that have been discovered and rediscovered by new generations of fans, but in my humble opinion, cherry picking the town denies you the opportunity to actually LIVE it, and denies our town any chance of at least trying to form a sense of community. So, don’t look for any shortcuts from me, I will rarely reveal my favorite L.A. eats. I say, walk the streets, get out there on your own and find what makes you happy. Besides, most recommendations can be very over-rated.

I am glad however, to provide my own little nostalgic list of “Long Gone” local favorite L.A. eateries that made my life a happy one throughout the years.

These places have now faded away into the graveyard of L.A. memories, But if you happen to recognize any of these, hey- you’ve got (had) great taste! For some reason, most of my favorite joints were non-fancy dives, “Comida del Pueblo” as my Dad would say.

1. The Original Johnny’s Shrimp Boat2nd & Main St., Downtown L.A.

You’ve heard of the red carpet? This place had a “Wino Carpet”. You literally had to step over them to get into this tiny shed where a bunch of Asian guys furiously flung battered shrimp around clouds of grease. You’d order fried shrimp to go and the paper bags would be transparent by the time you got home. I remember eating my short ribs, gravy & rice with a slice of buttered bread sitting in the family car while watching the boxers across the street go upstairs to the Main Street Gym. The original owner’s kin opened another Johnny’s Shrimp Boat stand that still operates today. It’s OK, but not like the original.

Photo Above is of the Original Johnny’s Shrimp Boat on Main St., Downtown, circa 1970’s.

2. Thrifty’s Coffee ShopWhittier Blvd. & Ferris Ave., E.L.A.

Good God. The Logjammer Breakfast. The Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Sauce, A La Mode. The Strawberry Shortcake with whipped cream, all indescribably delicious! When I’d finally get up from their food counter, I’d go into the store itself and whatever was left of my allowance I’d spend it on Comic Books and Hot Wheels®.

 3. Chicken BoyBroadway & 4th, Downtown L.A.

When my parents would take me downtown, or “EL Centro” as everyone called it (funny- I remember downtown always being called “The Center”, so the Eastside really is…., sorry! I digress..) We would often eat at Chicken Boy’s. Huge pieces of hot, spicy, crunchy juicy fried chicken with a mound of tangy cole slaw and fluffy rolls with honey. Back in those days, everybody could just walk into the movie theaters on Broadway with outside food, so you’d be watching the movie with the whole place smelling of everybody’s Chicken Boy Fried Chicken dinners.

4. Sid & Hy’s8th  & Olive Street, Downtown

Hot dogs made in heaven. A little 8 foot shack where these two crazy old white guys worked side by side plucking hot franks and buns straight from a steaming hot box, slathered hot chili, onions & mustard on, hand squeezed fresh orange juice or made you a chocolate egg cream, and handed it all to you in about a minute after you’d ordered, for about three bucks.

5. Orange JuliusVarious locations

Whatever happened to this Orange Juice and Egg batter concoction? Damn- It was good! They even had a cool little Devil head Logo,

6. KmartWhittier Blvd. City of Commerce.

I don’t know about other Kmarts, but ours had a Deli/Snack bar with the greatest giant Submarine Sandwiches as well as Jell-O, pudding cups, Slurpies and all sorts of neat crap. I’d often be shopping with my Mom when the voice on the P.A. would announce, “Attention Kmart shoppers, Come to the Flashing Blue Light at our Deli right now and get two delicious Submarine Sandwiches for $1.00!” We’d all make a bee-line!


7. Bill’s ParadiseBeverly Blvd. & Hendricks Ave., Montebello.

Unbelievably good late night comfort food. Menu favorites were the “Four Finger Dog”, and the “Bill’s Special Burger”. The running gag was that the waitress was giving you “The Eye”. When actually, she really only had one eye. Not funny. Some people are going to hell for that. There’s a sort of new incarnation of it today in the original location, but again, not the same.


8. Yee Low DeliAtlantic Square, Monterey Park.

The best freaking deli style Chinese food I’ve ever had. I have drool dreams to this day of their Black Bean Chicken, Egg Rolls, big thick Chow-Fun Noodles and Chinese Chicken Salad. If I had a Time Machine, I’d use a trip just to visit this place again.


9. Cha Cha Cha PanaderiaWhittier Bl. near McBride Ave., E.L.A.

Everyone has their favorite Pan Dulce joint, but this one was legendary in our neighborhood. Every one of their breads was a delicious, fluffy treat. For about $2.00 you’d carry home two big, hot steaming bags of finger lickin’ good sweet bread and bolillos along with a box of “La Abuelita” chocolate for Mom to make. And that night, we’d eat like Aztec Kings.


10. Sears Candy CounterOlympic & Soto, Boyle Heights.

Who could make up their minds while choosing from that sweet selection of candy deep within the bowels of the Sears Roebuck store. While my Mom was upstairs buying my clothes in the “Husky Boys” section, I’d be downstairs blowing my pinchi allowance on chocolate covered raisins, coconut bars, popcorn and video games.


This entry was posted in Food, Pendejadas, Rant, Reviews by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697

126 thoughts on “Memories of Lost L.A. Eateries

  1. Just came across this post and it brings back lots of memories. My parents had a business where we had Limo’s and back in 1990 or so, we took the limo down to Johnny’s Shrimp Boat. It was a special day for me – either a birthday or a graduation or something – I can’t quite remember. We ate the shrimp standing next to the limo and people would walk by wondering who was inside. I loved watching them take the shrimp, batter it up, and drop it into the oil. Good memories.

  2. Memoman Orozco’s tacos on
    Soto and Pomeroy streets was definately the bomb. The the hot dog stand selling hot dogs in the day for .18 cents was also the best! Ah so sad these icons are gone!🌮🌭

  3. Late to this post as well, but for what it’s worth…my grandpa ran Bill’s Paradise until the mid-90s. I used to run around the kitchen and the back spaces as a kid when I visited him during the summers, chipping away ice buildup from a machine in the back that was always breaking down for horchatas or Orange Julius and getting fat from the tacos and burgers. The women in that kitchen could COOK man, I tell you what.

  4. B bag was Great! Whittier Blvd just west of Garfield. My dad grew up in bell gardens and they used to eat there all the time. Used to have a jukebox outside in the early days. They opened in 1956 and the same lady owned it until late 90’s. Combo green burrito with shredded beef would blow your mind. We moved to AZ in 93 and we would still go back to b-bag every chance we could. Taquitos were good and special quesadilla with pastrami. 2ND best was Plaza Guadalajara in Downey.

  5. Since 1977′ i was introduced to what to this day’ people swear to keep coming back ‘ in Huntington park ‘ last taco shop’ but the original closed down 2 yrs ago’ was next to mariachi plaza and birria jalisco’ on 1st these were the best tacos al carbon’ and the caldo de res was their signature plate’ tacos El Apache’ to this day are the bomb. Huntington parks apaches is on gage ave and Stafford st across lupitas bakery.

  6. What about the B-Bag on Whittier near Garfield ? they closed in 2001 but had been there since the mid 60’s. They made the best Green Chile burritos and Taquitos with real guacamole..not the watered down stuff from olvera street. They made the best beans, the secret was they used the beef broth and of course manteca.

  7. Orozco’s tacos was around the corner from where I grew up on Marengo and Soto.

  8. Wow, the greatest taste bud memories… The GREEN BURRITO😅 Whittier and Rosemead Boulevard. As an 11-year-old, I got addicted to spicy hot. Unless I’m missing something, No one seems to serve those spicy roasted green chilies, Anaheim chiles I guess. But when you go to Mexican restaurants in New Mexico it’s all over the place.

  9. My father worked at that Sears – I have many wonderful memories of that store.

  10. El Rodeo (Sunset Blvd.) had the BEST CHILI COLORADO 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
    Travelers Restaurant (on Temple St.) had the BEST in the world…CHICKEN ADOBO.
    Pioneer chicken on Sunset/Echo Park had the tastest cole slaw. Back in the day BURRITO KING was the best!
    Sure do miss Philippe’s lamb sandwich and cole slaw, cheap coffee….such great memories growing up in L.A. Cortez Elementary, Virgil junior high, and Belmont high school. Diehard Dodger, Laker fan even though I have lived in Oregon since 1991. No blazers for me.

  11. I loved, loved, loved “thee apple pie w/vanilla sauce, a la mode w/a sprinkle of cinnamon/ sugar” from Thriftys. Nothing like it. What about the corned beef on rye sandwiches w/cole slaw & a kosher pickle from “Eddie’s Deli” in Atlantic Square”, a great genuine Jewish deli, then downstairs shopping at J.J. Newberry’s.

  12. Thanks to all of you for your continued comments and for keeping these wonderful memories alive!

  13. There used to be a place next to the Kmart in East LA called Eddie’s Sandwich Shop. Ate there more than a few times with my family, great food but long gone.
    Just recently I was at an estate sale in the area and actually found an unused matchbook from the place.

  14. I just read this story and saw the picture that little boy walking in is me. My mother and I used to go to downtown L A every weekend.I looked forward to getting my one dollar shrimp 🍤 in that brown paper bag.

  15. I remember Ho Ho’s restaurant very clearly. The food was not only good it was reasonably priced. In fact it was down right cheap. My wife and I and our six kids would go there at least once a month back in the early 70’s. The people that ran the restaurant were very friendly and always paid my wife, who is Japanese, and I great compliments on how well our kids were behaved. I really miss that place and that era.

  16. does anybody remember cistos BBQ sandwiches on Whittier blvd about a half a block West from the BBag. they had a BBQ Beef sandwich that was marinated in BBQ sause with chili mixed in. They would fall apart and they where $3.95 in 1968.
    they where only open from 10am to 2:00pm daily.
    Cisto was a fan of the horse tracks, and the pictures on the wall of somebody’s feet at the track with there losing tickets torn up and thrown on the floor.
    He was a real funny guy, but really nice.

  17. That person with 10 best was right on left out Clifons Cafetaria on Broadway LA natine here in El Chuco no place like LA chinese on San Pedro St What about Manuals and the 50cents movies downtown

  18. Does anyone have a photo of Orozco’s Tacos on the corner of Soto and Pomeroy Streets from back in the day! Their’s a webpage on Facebook titled Southern California Nostalgia, I mentioned Orozco’s Tacos but it would be nice if someone had a photo. The Taco Nazi still lives if only in our memories! RIP Huero!

  19. Best place of the past, The Original Shrimp Place was by central market . Sorry to say better than Johnny’s shrimp boat. They had the best shrimp and fries, and their chili sauce for the shrimp

  20. My first job as a teenager was YeeLow Deli in Monterey Park—it was the bomb to work there; as an employee, one would get a meal of whatever you wanted—I loved the Chow Fun—miss it so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *