Arturo's Mexican Restaurant | Los Angeles Conservancy
Arturo's Mexican Restaurant
Photo by Lisa Gruber

Arturo's Mexican Restaurant

Located on a busy stretch of Western Avenue in Harbor City, Arturo's Mexican Restaurant feels a little out of place. Not because there aren't any other restaurants around, but because it looks more like a Mid-Century Modern post-and-beam house than a restaurant.

Excepting its garish turquoise paint on posts and beams alike, Arturo's would not look out of place perched on a residential hillside, perhaps designed by an architect out of the USC School of Architecture. The building is a one-story, Mid-Century Modern-style restaurant framed of wood and clad with stucco and floor-to-ceiling windows.

It has a flat roof with wide overhangs sheltering the windows and its multiple entry doors, which are the same bright turquoise as the wood members and are lit by hanging globe lamps. Additional globe lamps light the restaurant's interior and shine brightly through the main façades to entice potential diners in from the outside.

Carefully sculptured landscaping lends a Japanese garden-like feel to the exterior, and softens the straight horizontal and vertical lines of the building as a whole.

Arturo's has been in continuous operation at the same location since 1960, treasured by longtime residents both for its cuisine and its clean Modern lines. And why not—as Chris Nichols observed, "It's like eating Mexican food in a Case Study house."

Mel's
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Mel's

A great example of Louis Armet and Eldon Davis early Googie designs, showing their use of angled rooflines, dramatic signage, and other space-age elements that would become even more angled and dramatic in their later work.
Photo by Jessica Hodgdon/L.A. Conservancy

Waxman House

An adaptation to its steeply sloping lot, the Waxman House is more vertical than horizontal and reflects architect J. Barry Moffitt's own distinctive mark on the methods and materials of Modernism.