For nearly 60 years, Colombo's has occupied their small parcel of land in the area of Los Angeles called Eagle Rock. Dwight D. Eisenhower built the 5 (I-5) yet Colombo's kept on serving food. Los Angeles kept growing north and south and still Colombo's made everyone feel welcome.
Walking into Colombo's is like walking onto a movie set portraying old LA. Red half-moon booths line the walls under original paintings in ornate frames. (All of the paintings are for sale with price tags clearly visible). Small tables dot the space between the booths.
I've eaten here four times and never had a bad experience. I've been seated quickly, served soft drinks quickly, but never felt rushed as I looked over their multi-faceted menu.
For my first visit, I played it safe. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan so that I could compare it with other dishes I've eaten around the country. This was easily the best I've ever had. Their sides are delicious, too, as is the bread they serve table side.
Live music is a special touch. I live in Nashville where even the local yogurt shop has live music on the weekends. It's everywhere. I've become accustomed to live music. However, I'll never forget one night at Colombo's. Instead of a small jazz trio or combo, they hosted a pianist and a solo vocalist. I wish I had written down their names and searched for them online. They played and sang as one person. They must have performed these standards a thousand times. I was so captivated that I kept requesting songs (My table was in arm's reach of the tip jar). I couldn't stump them... no matter the genre.
Colombo's feels old because it is. If you are eating before sunset, you'll know every time a new guest arrives. When the door opens, light explodes in to the windowless restaurant. The darkness is cozy, private, intimate.
Colombo's feels old, but that doesn't mean Gordon Ramsay needs to storm in and change anything. (Hey Gordon, just send them some new carpet... it's looking a little worn in the high traffic areas.)
My only complaint about the restaurant is parking. The lot doesn't look (or feel) like it's been paved since they opened in 1954. There are very few spaces and most guests will have to park on a nearby residential street and walk a block or so to eat there. I've never been to Colombo's when the lot wasn't full.
Full disclosure: The radio station with which I do frequent business gave me several gift certificates to this restaurant since it was close to my hotel. My only expenses were for tip and tax. (I would've paid to eat here and look forward to eating again if I return to this part of LA)
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