There are restaurants whose customers won't let them close, and the 70-year-old Galley in Santa Monica is one. When its owner died 15 years ago, a customer bought the place just to keep it going. So the Galley continues much as it always has, serving an unapologetically old-fashioned range of steaks and seafood in a room cluttered with hokey nautical gear.
A lot of people can remember "living" at Tom Bergin's Tavern in Los Angeles for some hazy period of their lives. Like a village pub in Ireland, it serves as a community living room--one with a brick floor and walls the color of crude oil, full to the brim with jovial suds drinkers and fans of its Taven Burger.
Taylor's Steak House has been a Koreatown beef-eater's haven for two generations. Eight years ago a La Canada-Flintridge branch opened, and it has acquired a comfortable patina of age. Taylor's diners know what they want: a decent drink, a solid plate of broiled cow and not the slightest bit of trendy edginess.
Chez Jay in Santa Monica is what you might call festively informal, with sawdust and peanut shells on the floor, an awning over the bar and Christmas lights year-round: It's a great, down-to-earth place to have brews and talk about life without feeling like a grousing loser. It serves pretty good steaks and seafood too.
Woody's Wharf has been a Balboa Peninsula party place since 1965, moving steaks, seafood, happy hour snacks and oceans of booze to ever-thirsty Newport Beach--especially the sailing crowd who can tie up their boats right at the restaurant dock.
Even on weeknights, Father's Office in Santa Monica tends to have a crowd, drawn in part by a long list of upscale beers. But another reason to come to this plain, narrow room is its outstanding bar food --mostly its tapas (Spanish cheese, olives and cured meats)--as well as its most famous item, the bacon, arugula and blue cheese Office Burger.