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Restaurant-Loving Angelenos Dined Out Even on Thanksgiving 1930, Adding Diversity to the Menu

Are you sure your Southern California ancestors gathered 'round the table and ate a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in 1930? Do you have photos as proof? According to Time Out, Angelenos eat out more than any other residents of any other city in the United States. With a rich history of ethnic and cultural diversity, there were many different cuisines from which to choose. Looking back through local newspapers, it appears that the Los Angeles area offered numerous eclectic restaurants in the early 20th century. November 1930 was one year into the Great Depression, but that didn't stop dining establishments from advertising in The Los Angeles Times, luring potential patrons with special $1 meals and exotic menus.

At the Paris Inn Cafe on Market Street across from City Hall, a New England-style dinner was $2 but included singing waiters. The Cafe Vienna on Fairfax near Beverly offered a 12-course dinner for $1.25, which included turkey, duck, goose, or chicken. A seven-course dinner featuring American and Chinese dishes was available at Ara's Chinese Cafe on Wilshire Boulevard. Taix French Restaurant (one of LA's oldest restaurants) offered a "better than ever" special course dinner. This could be eaten in the main dining room for $1 or in a cozy, private booth for $1.25. The Pig 'n Whistle—which reopened and then closed during the pandemic—boasted 12 restaurants in LA, Hollywood, and Pasadena, with dinner served until 9 p.m. Mexican dishes like enchiladas and tamales were served with turkey at Casa Verdugo and Loomis' La Casa Pico.

One more intriguing and prominent ad was for La Palma Patio Cafeteria on Grand Avenue downtown. Thanksgiving dinner promised "luscious food prepared by women cooks—the tastiest ever. The latchstring is out—a true California welcome

awaits you. Large tables for the family or a cozy table for two." Hmmmm: the food or the cooks were luscious?

A Restaurant and Resort Thanksgiving Weekend in 1930 Southern California

If you had the finances and wanted to make it a four-day holiday, you could take a white-knuckle ride on the Mt. Lowe Pacific Electric Railway and stay at the Mt. Lowe Tavern, which offered "A Different Thanksgiving in Bracing Mountain Air."

Mount Wilson also touted an alpine dining experience: "Eat Thanksgiving Dinner Above the Clouds." The Mt. Lowe ad depicts a refined, Art Deco-style couple savoring the "crisp mountain air," oblivious to the Depression and impending Dust Bowl migration.

Henry Huntington bought the railway and combined it with his Pacific Electric Railway. Huntington couldn't find investors; by 1936, the resort was in bad shape due to torrential rains, flooding, and a lack of visitors. Formerly touted as Southern California's most popular tourist attraction, the Mt. Lowe Railway and resort closed in the late 1930s, a victim of the Depression and natural disasters.


Jenny Hawran
Jenny Hawran

This is so fun to look back at this! I'm all for the singing waiters! Thanks for sharing.


Fascinating insight into Thanksgiving celebrations over the years

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