This is an old (1934) photo of the entrance to Padua Hills restaurant, which was carefully maintained and intact for decades. This is very much what the place looked like when my parents took my sister (and her friend Frank Zappa) and me for dinner there long about 1960-1961. I told you about this gathering earlier in this blog, when I described the cheese enchiladas and the Mexican hat dance moves.
On the way up the winding foothills road to the restaurant, you'd maneuver through steep hills and turns, push up and on past an occasional yucca, and the earth was in some places a rich red, a feldspar, that was a good coloring for the work of ceramicists, so the potters would sometimes hoe and scrape there to take away a shovelful or bucketful for their works down in town. As you approached the doorway in the photo, in the summer days sometimes you could catch scent of the sweet smells of foothill shrubs (mazanita, sage, others) combined on the air, lifted and carried aloft by the warm thermals and directed by gentle breeze to collect and then waft through the side opening (at the end on the left to the wood entrance door). This aroma would eventually move out and down through the columnade walkway. A lovely welcoming, beckoning scent, which grew in intensity until you reached the wooden door to pull open, as if the whole place were throwing its arms open wide to genuinely welcome you. Inside, as you moved closer to seating at the large heavy colonial wood tables, the air was full of a rich mixture of spices and the smell of beef cooking off its fat. My mother didn't really enjoy Mexican food, nor did my dad because of his constant digestive problems (he preferred steak, or meat and potatoes anyway), but they liked the atmosphere of the place so it was easier for my sister to persuade them to carry us all there. My sister had turkey mole and it's likely that Frank did, too.