I'm watching "Columbo" for the first time and did not realize what a great jumping-off point for Los Angeles restaurant history it would be.
The show premiered in 1968 and ran for 10 non-consecutive seasons. It focuses on the archetypal bumbling detective, so there are a fair number of real-life diners and lunch trucks on the show - sustenance for the man on the go - but the thesis of show seems to be, broadly, that wealthy people are insane, and can't stop spending money ... so many high-end restaurants are depicted too.
The very first episode (not counting the TV movie or the theatrical productions) goes to two restaurants: 9000 and Tail o' the Pup.
9000 was a very trendy restaurant in the 1960s and '70s, when, apparently, most the of the building that contained it was occupied by music industry executives. The building, built in 1964, doesn't necessarily seem to have anything overtly cool within now - there is a restaurant on-site, but it's on the ground floor, whereas 9000's view was awash in top-floor glitter.
9000 was owned by Stephen Crane, a king of mid-century Hollywood nightlife. His most famous restaurant was The Luau in Beverly Hills, which was opened at the height of the tiki rage in 1953 and somehow managed to stay hip into the '70s. Stars like Dennis Hopper would go there, I imagine to indulge in some nearly-ironic Hollywood decadence (everything's a performance), and the teenage children of Hollywood royalty would go there to drink, knowing that if they wore the right clothes they wouldn't get carded. (Candice Bergen wrote about that in one of her autobiographies, and now I can't find a link to the section. If anyone can, I'd be most grateful!)
Stephen Crane worked hard at this restaurants, turning The Luau into a chain of Sheraton-affiliated restaurants, but he'll probably be remembered most as two-time ex-husband of Lana Turner and father of Cheryl Crane, who killed her and her mother's abuser, Johnny Stompanato. She later worked at both The Luau and 9000.
I can't think of an equivalent contemporary restaurant. Providence is expensive, but not buzzy. Some restaurants are featured on reality shows, making most of the clientele tourists. Maybe Nobu Malibu is the closest comparison to 1970s 9000 Restaurant.
Next time: Tail 'o the Pup, opened by two world-class, self-taught dancers.