The car is as important to Los Angeles as pinstripes are to the Yankees. It’s also a vital part of food marathoning. Since the first food marathon back in 1996, the time spent driving to each restaurant- reminiscing, joking, plotting the course of least traffic- is as enjoyable as the time spent eating at each restaurant. On the 6 Freeway Food Marathon, driving time was probably five times longer than eating time.
So with this level of importance and my general love of cars, I put together a list of which cars most aptly represent local restaurants:
McDonald’s is the most famous fast food restaurant and the Ford Mustang is its car equivalent. Both are fast, both come in famous reds, both have sold millions, and both are classics. They changed the way food and cars were thought of after their respective successes. They also are still around today, adapting to the changing times, fighting to stay relevant.
On the burger flip side there’s In-N-Out- unquestionably the best fast food burger in California. The Chevy Bel Air is it’s car equivalent. Just as the In-N-Out double double sports a pair of patties, the Bel Air is famous for its pair of rear fins. The Bel Air is harder to find than the Mustang, which can also be said for In-N-Out vs McDonald’s.
Musso & Frank Grill is one of the oldest restaurants in LA and the Ford Model T would have to be its car equivalent. Although the Model T is famous for the process by which it was made (thus making it closer to McDonald’s), its age is what ties it to Musso & Frank.
The Cheesecake Factory is all about grotesque size (and recently, sexual harassment). What better car equivalent than the Hummer? I avoid Cheesecake Factory for dinner and Hummers in parking lots. I’m not sure which are cheesier, the cheesecakes or the guys driving the Hummers.
The Ivy is an expensive restaurant that’s built to be photographed. The Ferrari Testarossa (made famous by Miami Vice) is its car equivalent. They’ve both spent a lot of time in front of the camera, both are operated by men in pink shirts and neither are wise investments in this economy.
Last but not least is one of the most famous landmarks of LA- Pink’s Hot Dogs. Although a pink Cadillac is the obvious choice, I think a dirty old limo is a more appropriate car equivalent. The car is always long, like the line at Pink’s. The car smells bad, like you after eating Pink’s. Both exemplify the outsider’s perception of Los Angeles vs the reality of Los Angeles- it seems glamorous but it’s really just big and dirty.