Rocketing Back to Dreams of the '50s

Johnny Rocket's is an American dream. It is as if a Norman Rockwell painting had come suddenly to life, or a Technicolor soda shop had leaped off the screen onto Melrose Avenue (7570, to be precise). The phone number is (213) 651-3361.

The charm of the place is that it is so lively that while you sit there eating your paper-wrapped hamburger, drinking your cherry Coke and tapping your toes to the music on the 5-cent jukebox you almost believe that we were once this innocent.

Behind the counter everybody smiles. When the right song comes onto the jukebox, perfect strangers get up and do the hop together. When they sit down, all 20 people sitting at the counter applaud. Everything is clean and white and spick-and-span, and for as long as it takes to eat a hamburger, you actually believe in the dream.

The food will take you straight back to the '50s. The hamburgers are not great, but they're big and topped with lots of stuff, and they only cost $2.40. Cokes come in four flavors, the fries are hot, and when you order a piece of pie (apple or cherry) the waitress says, "Ooh--yummy."

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