Comments on Merrill's Comments 8/24/00:
Pacific Dining Car - The 1998 Zagat Survey estimates a dinner with one drink and the tip at $41 per person.
Jerry's Famous Deli - delis tend to be overpriced, like Zagat lists Jerry's as a $16 meal.
Tommy's - The first and last Tom-whatever Burger I tried was years ago, maybe in Manhattan Beach, maybe just west of Aviation Bl. The chili was so bad I never tried another Tom-whatever Burger again. Merrill's talking about Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburger which must be better.
In-N-Out Burger - Zagat calls it a $7 meal. I avoid hamburger and fries, but their $1 burger was OK. It helps to know the non-menu, ordering language, like "animal style."
Additional American Fare - I believe the last Tiny Naylor's in the South Bay (on Sepulveda Bl at 110 FreeWay) closed years ago. I remember Tiny and Denny's for the high-fat, high-calorie breakfasts, not as a place for a meal.
Norm's - I remember Norm's for well-valued breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials in prime time, but some specials may be available 24 hours. Meals include soup and salad, but I usually request two soups. Some specials also include dessert. When ordering a steak insist on a thick steak done rare or medium rare. If you say anything else you'll get a thin steak that only comes well done. Make it clear to the server that you'll send a thin steak back to the kitchen. Practice saying the above a few times before you enter the restaurant. 8/24/00 - I've mostly been to the Norm's in Torrance on Hawthorn Bl, but there is a new, untried one on PCH, just EAST of Crenshaw Bl. Johnnie's Pastrami - is listed as a $10 meal.
Spire's - Merrill didn't mention Spire's, and I don't know the hours. There are two in Torrance and one in Carson. They're a step down from Norm's, maybe a step up from Denny's, have daily specials, and some specials did include soup and salad and dessert (?). Their menu confuses the terms 'grill' and 'griddle,' as can other restaurants, and the staff doesn't know the difference. Expect 'grilled' items to be 'griddled.'
Other Late Night Classics - lists seven other restaurants in the L.A. area which I don't recall trying. If you go, watch where you park, it's very easy to get a parking ticket in L.A.