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Mel’s Drive-In: The Most Famous Drive In Restaurant in the World

Mels Drive In

You’ve heard of Mels Drive-In. It’s the most famous drive-in restaurant in the world. Here’s why you want to be sure you put eating at Mels on your things to do in Los Angeles bucket list.

We’re talking about the Mels on Sunset Strip and off the Hollywood Walk of Fame in this post, but the original Mels dates back to San Francisco in 1947. This was the location that was used filming the 1973 movie, American Graffiti. Located on Van Ness Avenue, it has unfortunately since been torn down.

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Mels Drive-In Sunset Strip

The most photogenic of the Mels Drive-Ins is the one located on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. It, and the now closed Johnie’s Coffee Shop Restaurant, are two of the few remaining structures built in the once famous Googie architcture style.

The Sunset Strip location has a rich history. Previously it was the ionic Ben Franks coffee shop that was a hangout for rockers in the sixties and seventies after their gigs on the strip. It was the headquarters for teens during the famous Sunset Strip Riots in that era. It’s been rumored that the group Buffalo Springfield was formed in the parking lot… and their famous song “For What It’s Worth” was actually about the Sunset Strip Riots. Other famous musicians that frequented Mel’s included Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, The Monkeys and Bob Dylan.

In 1977 the joint became Mels Drive-In. Mel’s Sunset is still a great place to spot celebrities. It’s also a great spot to kick off your LA travel adventures. For music lovers it’s central to the legendary music clubs: The Roxy, The Whisky A Go Go and the Viper Room. The famous drive in restaurant is also close to all of the attractions on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (note there is another Mel’s there as well) and all of the tourist attractions there as well as the world’s most expensive shopping district: Rodeo Drive.

food photography
The Sunset Strip Mel’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the only one in the chain with 24/7 hours.  As a note, while we see it spelled as Mel’s in a number of places on the web, the official spelling of the drive-in restaurant chain appears to be Mels, without the apostrophe.

West Hollywood
8585 Sunset Blvd

1660 N Highland

More photos after the break…

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Mels Drive-In is one of the few remaining buildings in the iconic Googie architecture style.

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