Hello! As usual — sorry that I haven’t been blogging with great frequency. Rest assured that I am still eating, and documenting. I just don’t seem to stick the landing.
Speaking of landings — today’s post is about planes. Or — it’s about places where you can eat while you watch the planes land at LAX. (You can also eat Thai food while watching planes land at the Santa Monica Airport, and — of course — I’ve been there, too. But I didn’t eat the insects.)
A few months back I read that LAX-adjacent restaurant Proud Bird was planning to close its doors forever on Nov. 21st, due to money/bureaucratic problems. It sounded like a cool place — almost every aerospace luminary has dined there at some point — so my parents, Sam, my sister Dana and I decided to check it out this past Sunday. In theory, its last weekend in existence.
I say “in theory” because they just received at least a month’s reprieve. So I’m posting this to encourage you to go CHECK IT OUT, because Proud Bird is super cool.
Why? First of all, it is RIGHT next to a runway. So you gets an awesome view of planes landing… either from the back lawn, or from your table.
I took that picture from my seat… inside the restaurant. I mean, come on. Amazing.
And the orange plane on the lawn? (Probably a recreation of…) The plane that Chuck Yeager used to break the sound barrier! That plane fell out of a bigger plane, you guys! I saw it in a movie! (In “The Right Stuff,” specifically.)
Even if you are looking in the OTHER DIRECTION at all the model planes on the lawn, you cannot help but see planes landing.
If you like taking pictures of planes landing, you will find endless possibilities.
You get the point. Planes landing. All the time. Everywhere. (And not TOO loud.)
“And how was the food?” you ask. First of all, they served hot rolls. Quality bread. I believe it was sourdough. (Bread is not always the case these days, guys! … At least in LA.)
Somewhat hilariously, everybody’s meal came with a cabbage salad element… even the pasta seemed to have cabbage salad in it.
That said, I liked my chicken a lot.
The food had a sort of catered-wedding vibe, which is not surprising because, as it turns out, Proud Bird is actually a large venue that hosts a lot of weddings, office parties, and Tuskegee Airmen events. It’s also a museum — not just the planes outside, but also tons of pictures and small models inside, lining the halls and dining rooms.
I’m hoping Proud Bird can officially get museum/landmark status, because… it’s just chock-full of historical goodies.
Do you want to see a model of the Spruce Goose? I mean, do I even have to ask?
Do you want to see a picture of a wing-walker, c. probably 1920s?
That plane is made of cardboard and string, you guys. And she’s hanging off of it by ONE HAND. There’s no net.
That’s what people did for fun before iPhones, I guess.
Do you want to see a picture of a plane assembler who stopped me short because she’s super pretty and it turned out it was a before-she-was-famous Marilyn Monroe?
Do you want to see planes coming in for a landing under a full (or at least full-looking) moon, above historic old planes? Duh, you do.
We opted out of dessert at Proud Bird, because we decided to go all-in and venture over to Encounter, a restaurant at LAX you are probably familiar with, because it’s located in a very famous-looking building, but you’ve probably never actually BEEN there because — you know, you only go to LAX for travel-related reasons. (Also, I believe it was closed for renovations for a long time.)
When you get to Encounter you’re greeted by an elevator that is somewhat small (the 5 of us squeezed in), and it takes you straight to the restaurant. During the ride, you are treated to colorful ceiling lights and some strange, 1960s-ish music.
And then you get out, and it looks like this —
Considering that both of these restaurants have a 1960s thing going on, they are basically on different ends of the spectrum. Whereas Proud Bird has that astronauts-ate-lunch-here panache, Encounter feels like it was designed for late night swingers waiting for the next flight out.
And lava lamp enthusiasts.
The views were panoramic, but in the dark it was more about watching the lights glitter than the planes land.
We ordered cheesecake and apple tart. I liked the caramel (I think) design around the tart.
But it wasn’t really about the dessert, anyway.
I know that going to LAX is a bit of a schlep for most of us, but it feels kind of crazy/adventurous to go for no reason but to kick back, watch the planes, and eat. There’s also an In ‘N Out near LAX that famous for plane-scoping, as well as Dockweiler Beach — also the only beach in LA that allows firepits. So you can make s’mores as the planes take off over you!
Okay guys, promise you’ll check out Proud Bird while you still can. It’s a piece of history. And part of why it’s open for another month is that it was totally packed with well-wishers last weekend! So your fun-times trek could make a difference in this big crazy world.
I’ll try to be back soon… but until then — safe travels, my friends. And good eatings, of course.