Dear John’s in Culver City transports diners back to the 1940s in style

Dear John’s in Culver City, one of the most happening scenes in Los Angeles, has an expiration date on its merrymaking. The restaurant was originally opened in 1962 by Actor Johnny Harlowe, encouraged (as the story goes) by his pal Frank Sinatra. Operators changed over the years, the space emptied, and the building was scheduled for demolition in April 2021 to make way for a new development.

Then three accomplished new owners — chefs Josiah Citrin and Hans Röckenwagner and entertainment executive Patti Röckenwagner — decided to give the place an extended farewell in grand Rat Pack-era tradition.

For the tuxedoed servers, heavy-pour martinis and continental cooking that’s far better than it needs to be,this is a bash worth attending. The menu is pure midcentury nostalgia: shrimp cocktail detonated with horseradish, oysters Rockefeller, a must-order chicken Parm that gushes like chicken Kiev, and, of course, tableside Caesars.

The rousing final chapter of Dear John’s landed the institution on this year’s list of the 101 Best Restaurants in L.A., chosen by critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega. Join the fun while you can.

11208 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 881-9288, dearjohnsbar.com.