Eat Like it’s 1957

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.

The Drapers’ and Whitneys’ booth

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.

Rod's Grill Mad Men
They look much more stylish than we did in our travel comfies, but at least we didn’t fight. 🙂

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.

1944 cash register

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.


29 Comments on “Eat Like it’s 1957

  1. That sounds like an exciting visit, a larger than life experience… just the kind of thing I love to experience! That will definitely be on my list if I ever get to L.A. Great post, Julie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Aixa! I hope you make it out there. I know you will love it. Driving on Route 66 is fun too. So many things have changed that it’s nice some of the old historical places are still there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I LOVE these kinds of places!! The older I get the more, and more, nostalgic I get for things that remind me of my childhood. A definitely a simpler time. We are periodically in LA so will try to check this place out one of those times. If you’re into the whole retro diner, and off-the-beaten-path, kind of places to eat you should check out Road Food Good Food by Jane and Michael Stern. They have some other guides as well. We’ve eaten at so many cool, delicious places across the country using this guide.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. I enjoy seeing areas of interest that take us back into the 50s and 60s. I traveled some of Route 66 a couple of years ago in New Mexico and and Arizona but haven’t taken the time to write about it yet. I just happened to stop at a small town cafe and discovered that’s where the creators of “Cars” penciled the movie’s basic concept. I didn’t make it to California on that trip but I need to get back there in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That sounds like a great trip. I look forward to reading about it. Before the movie “Cars”, I had never given much thought to how the creation of interstate highways affected America and its small towns. That is really cool that you happened upon that cafe!


      • Thank you. I wanted to travel some of Route 66 and could not locate it at first until we started seeing the old historic road signs. We then traveled some of it, which led us to the cafe and then down the road to a little motel area where some antique vehicles were located – depicting some of the “Cars” main characters like Tow Mater and Doc. That was cool.


  4. Wonder how did I miss on this post!!!! Wow, looks like a fun experience for y’all! 🙂
    And yes, this definitely will be on my list if I ever get to L.A. Great post, Julie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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