Stepping through the doors of Rod’s Grill in Arcadia, California is like stepping into a time machine. It’s on historic Route 66 and hasn’t changed a bit since it opened in 1957. The turquoise vinyl booths, brick walls, and original light fixtures transport you back to that simpler time.
Having lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles for my first 34 years, sometimes it feels like I’ve seen and done everything there. Of course, that’s not true, and when we go back to visit I try to make a point of doing something new. Flying into LAX, and arriving very early, I looked into historic diners for breakfast and happened across many reviews of Rod’s. It was exactly what I was looking for; a place with lots of history and character.
As a bonus, many of the reviews mentioned the fact that it had been used as the location for a scene in Mad Men. I had a love/hate relationship with Don Draper while we watched the series, but it sounded fun to visit the “Howard Johnson’s” where Don and Megan had a huge fight. We were even able to sit in their same booth, but we didn’t order any orange sherbet.
Having been up since 2:00 a.m., we were both in need of coffee and Rod’s was really good. Served in retro speckled cups, it completed the throwback feel. Brett ordered a ham and cheese omelet with mushrooms and I got the guacamole breakfast sandwich, both with a side of hash browns. It was very flavorful, high quality diner food, and they didn’t scrimp on the ingredients. It’s not low-calorie.
The check was also old-school, and handwritten. When we went to pay, I was surprised to see that even the cash register was original. It was a 1944 model and weighs 120 lbs! The man helping us asked if I wanted to ring up our tab and of course I did. “It’s electricity free,” we were proudly told. As he gave us a complete history lesson, showing us the beautiful wooden cash drawer, and letting me push all the buttons, quite a line was forming. I was kind of embarrassed, but it was so nice of him to spend that time with us.
If you find yourself in the L.A. area, eating at Rod’s Grill is quite a treat. It’s not too often you are transported back to 1957.