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Dining Out:

Barney’s Beanery a classic hangout

March 14, 2009|By Christine Putnam

It was the sort of luncheon group that makes every historian and journalist squirm with the regret of being unable to transform into that proverbial fly on the wall.

It was a unique moment in the White House when then-President George W. Bush hosted President-Elect Barack Obama, and former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter for lunch and private discussions on such topics as national security to raising children in the public eye.

Fortunately, parents lack that fly on the wall ability as well, otherwise my cousins and I seated around a table at Barney’s Beanery in Burbank on a recent Saturday night might have eaten in silence. OK, national security never came up in our conversation, but nothing was off limits. Of course, what was discussed at the Beanery, stayed at the Beanery.

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Greg, Wendie, Julie and I found Barney’s Beanery to be the perfect hangout to catch up and enjoy some classic American comfort food. A close relation in décor to the original Beanery in West Hollywood, the new Burbank location has all of that quaint roadhouse charm including car parts and license plates. Add a huge plasma screen television in the center of the restaurant with comfortable seating, dozens of small flat screens at the booths, karaoke, and Nintendo Wii sports games, pool tables and a killer bar, and you finally have a trendy retreat in our city.

John “Barney” Anthony opened the original Barney’s Beanery in 1920 in Berkeley, but moved seven years later to its current West Hollywood location. Still part of Route 66, travelers, upon arriving at the Beanery, exchanged their home state license plates for a pint of beer or a bowl of chili. In fact, you can still exchange a few license plates for a bowl of chili!

Besides the roadhouse décor, what makes Barney’s Beanery unique in today’s restaurant climate is the sheer size of the menu. The 12-page newspaper is packed with every possible American comfort food. There is not only something for everyone, but at least a dozen variations.

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