Eating on the Run: Los Angeles' Fast Food Stands

Over the past eight years, I’ve documented over 250 of the hamburger, hot dog, teriyaki and taco fast food eateries scattered throughout greater Los Angeles. Called "joints," "stands" or "shacks," these small, independent, freestanding eateries, with little, if any, on-site seating, struggle to survive in the face of increasing land values, stringent building, zoning and health codes and changing tastes.

Los Angeles is a city in a constant state of flux; there can be considerable change in the short span of eight years. During that brief time, quite a few of these remnants of a vanishing part of Los Angeles history have closed, their structures abandoned or demolished. Others have undergone one or more changes of name and/or extensive renovation by virtue of having come under new ownership, in a last-ditch effort at self preservation or to accommodate the neighborhood’s change in demographics. Menus which featured hamburgers and hot dogs seem to have given way to those featuring tacos and burritos, while former purveyors of such Mexican fare now feature teriyaki and other Asian specialities. Thus, "Red’s of Hollywood" (while retaining the distinctive giant hot dog perched on its roof) is now "Thai Town Express;" "Orange Bee Jay" has been converted to "Machos Tacos;" "Rocky’s Famous Hot Dogs" now specializes in Asian food under the name "Sweet Home Grill;" "Grizzly Burgers" became "El Pollo Picasso" before becoming "LA Ribs, Inc.;" and the hamburger-serving "Grill on Hill" now operates as "KUKU Teriyaki."

While the clock inexorably runs out, these colorful local neighborhood purveyors of fast food continue to fill the orders of hungry Angelinos eating on the run.

gerald panter