A Culinary Tour of Wilshire
I grew up in the 1950s and '60s on the southwest end of Beverly Hills, near Roxbury Park. It was a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in.
We could walk everywhere... to the park, to Wilshire Boulevard for shopping at Saks, I. Magnin's, and Haggerty's department stores, to school. We would often walk to many of these places from our duplex on South Bedford Drive. Most of my memories of Wilshire Boulevard have to do with restaurants on the south side of the street.
Wilshire at Spalding Dr., Beverly Hills: Starting at the west end, we frequently had Sunday breakfast at Armstrong Schroeder's Restaurant. It was on the southeast corner of Spalding Drive and Wilshire. My Dad just loved the kippers and scrambled eggs there. I remember it being an old-fashioned place with straight-backed wooden booths and colorful linoleum.
In the mid-1960s Armstrong Schroeder's closed, the building was remodeled, and it became the first Nibbler's Restaurant. I remember the architecture of this new restaurant being different from the usual coffee shop/Googie style. It was brick with lots of smoked glass... very low-slung and attractive.
This was a big hangout for all the kids from Beverly Hills High School, just a few blocks away. It was a classy coffee shop, plush carpet, low lights, and cushy booths. Later, Nibbler's opened another restaurant in an office building on Wilshire at Gale Drive. This restaurant survives today, although with a different owner.
Further east on Wilshire at Rodeo Drive was Milton F. Kreiss' Coffee Shop, part of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Architecturally, this was a very glamorous place. It was all gold-mirrored with a curved lunch counter and lots of shiny black accents.
In addition to being a restaurant, you could buy all sorts of sundries here... costume jewelry, cosmetics, magazines, and other drug store items. I remember coming here often during my high school years, sitting in the camel/gold booths, facing the mirrored walls. They had great Chinese food from the "Yik" oven.
Also, you could see very colorful characters sitting at the counter, reading the Racing Form and Daily Variety. Once in awhile I would see movie stars frequent the magazine rack, like Humphrey Bogart and Frank Sinatra.
This was a busy corner…just south of the hotel was Romanoff's Restaurant and Dunhill Smoke Shop. There was also an "MFK's" in downtown Palm Springs.
On the southeast corner of Beverly Drive at Wilshire was Blum's Restaurant. The original Blum's was in San Francisco. I really don't remember eating any food other than ice cream at Blum's.
They were famous for their coffee-iesta treat, vanilla ice cream in a large, footed dish topped with their crunchy toffee honeycomb candy and hot fudge sauce. The interior of this restaurant was pink, white, and gold. It had a very San Francisco/turn of the century look.
It was a big event when Santa Claus in his sleigh of reindeer was strung across Wilshire Boulevard during the Christmas season at this intersection. Santa is still a Beverly Hills tradition. I look for him every year along with all of the other grand decorations along Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
On the northeast corner of Wilshire at Le Doux Rd. was the ever-famous Dolores' Drive-In. This place was well known way before I was born. The car hop service was legendary. I remember the building being a semi-circle, with copper walls and a copper turret in the center of the circle.
We had many favorite items at D.L.'s, such as the Cherry Lime Rickey drink, along with the Jumbo Jim hamburger with extra "Z" sauce, Suzie-Q fries and their famous Frieda Schroeder cake with hot fudge sauce.
This great hangout was replaced by an office building in the late 1970s. I believe there is a Red Lobster chain restaurant on the first floor. Dolores' Restaurant lives on, however, in its other location in West L.A. on Santa Monica Blvd. at Purdue Avenue.
My slice of Wilshire Boulevard has changed quite a bit in the last forty-five years, but it's still an impressive stretch with glitzy and prestigious stores, restaurants, and boutiques. Locals still stroll the street to window-shop, greet neighbors, and enjoy the mild climate.