The Old Place Cornell Restaurant, A Cozy Escape from Los Angeles
March 19, 2023
Y’all… I have found the perfect little escape from busy LA life! From the moment we arrived at The Old Place I knew it was special. It quickly became a favorite weekend treat for my husband and I to go for brunch, dinner, a glass of wine or a coffee date.
Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, just a short drive from Malibu, The Old Place Restaurant is a hidden gem that will take you back in time. This cozy restaurant has a rich history dating back to 1909 when it was first built as a general store and post office. Today, it serves delicious food off the wood-fired grill to hungry bikers and visitors who enjoy the charming and enchanting well-known little restaurant.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with antique signs and vintage decor adorning the walls (and a peacock roaming the grounds!). The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, making you feel right at home. And spoiler alert, the cinnamon rolls are DELICIOUS!
The Old Place Cornell Restaurant is located in Cornell, California. Basically, it’s a small town nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, between Agoura Hills and Malibu.
Distance from Malibu: 15 minute drive
Distance from Agoura Hills: 10 minute drive
Distance from LAX: 50-60 minute drive
Distance from Downtown Los Angeles: 50-60 minute drive
The drive up to the restaurant is absolutely stunning – winding roads, lush greenery, and beautiful scenery. It couldn’t believe how quickly we escaped the city and drifted away to the beautiful mountains.
The canyon is a popular route for motorcyclists. So you’ll see plenty of bikers in leather parked at The Old Place enjoying the scenery, which is fun to experience!
They don’t call it “The Old Place” for no reason. The Old Place history dates back to 1909. She old, old!
The restaurant was originally built as a general store and post office for the town of Cornell. But as the town began to shrink in size, the building fell into disrepair.
Thankfully in the 1960s, a man named Tom Runyon saw the potential in the building and transformed it into a restaurant. He kept the original tin ceiling and wood-burning stove, giving the restaurant a charming rustic feel that has been maintained to this day.
Tom Runyon eventually, with help from the whole family, built the two other buildings on the property; the Mail Room (a small private dining space) and Cornell Winery. His son, Morgan Runyon, proudly continues the tradition today running the property.
The Old Place Restaurant
The restaurant itself is rather cozy and small, with a capacity of only 45 people. The majority of the indoor space is taken up by a gorgeous long wood bar, which was salvaged from a saloon in Nevada.
The dining room is dimly-lit with rich wood walls that are decorated with pictures and vintage memorabilia. The inside dining room remained closed for quite some time during the COVID pandemic. Thankfully it is now back open for inside dining.
Image via oldplacecornell.comImage via oldplacecornell.com
The blessing from that closure, however, is that that it allowed them to build a lot of spacious outdoor seating on the lot! There are now picnic tables, nooks and benches where you can enjoy your meal if you order from the restaurant. On a nice day, the outdoor seating in the beautiful scenery is lovely! Plus, you’ll be able to see the friendly resident peacock that roams that grounds and says hello to visitors!
The Old Truck Coffee Shop
If you’re in the mood for a coffee or espresso, be sure to stop by the renovated Old Truck. It’s adorable! It’s located right next to the restaurant, and serves delicious coffee on the weekends featuring locally-roasted 10 Speed Coffee Roasters.
The Old Truck Coffee Shop Hours:
9am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday
The Old Place Menu
The menu at The Old Place Cornell Restaurant is small, but mighty! The focus of the menu is classic American fare, with a particular emphasis on steaks and wood-fired meat. The Old Place is known for their wood-fired grill, which adds an incredible depth of flavor to the dishes.
They claim on their website that they don’t have a freezer! So everything is fresh. But it also means that they do their best to estimate quantities, but sometimes run out of popular items.
Full-service dining inside the restaurant is currently available for dinner only with two seating times, 5pm and 7pm.
The indoor menu offers a few additional items to the outdoor dinner menu, like the Littleneck Clams and the Cast Iron Chocolate Lava Cake.
The outdoor menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You’ll stand in line and order from the outside of the restaurant through the takeout window. They give you a number and you’ll return to grab your food and enjoy it anywhere on the property.
Keep in mind that the portions are large! Most dishes are shareable.
Breakfast is served 9:30 AM – 2 PM on Weekends
Breakfast / brunch is my favorite experience at The Old Place!
You can grab a coffee from The Old Truck (we’ll talk more about this) or a MAN-mosa from the restaurant which is a large beer-mosa and soak in the sun on the grounds. Definitely try the cinnamon rolls if they haven’t sold out! They’re gooey and warm and delicious!
Breakfast Menu Highlights:
House-Made Cinnamon Rolls — with with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting, Pecans & Almonds – MUST ORDER
Steak & Eggs Oak-Grilled Sirloin — Served with Potato Wedges and Toast
Breakfast Menu Prices:
Breakfast dishes range from $14 – $21
Lunch is Served Until 4pm Friday – Sunday
The Old Place lunch menu consists primarily of sandwiches, which are all made on their fabulous oak-grilled sourdough bread. The sandwiches and sides come in large portions you could easily share this as a meal for two and add an extra side.
Lunch Menu Highlights:
Pulled ChickenSandwich — White Sage Marinade, Rosemary Aioli
Oak-Grilled Four Cheese Sandwich— Parmesan, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Blue Cheese Aioli
On the same property, next to the restaurant you’ll notice Cornell Winery. Sadly, the winery has recently closed with a heartfelt letter from the owner posted on the website. We always enjoyed grabbing a flight of wine or a bottle of champagne from the super friendly people working inside who were always happy to make recommendations.
I’m curious to see what happens with this beautiful building and wish all the best for former owner, Tim “Behr” Skogstrom.
The Mailroom at The Old Place is a small separate structure serving as a private dining room that seats up to 12 people. This unique room is steeped in history, as it was originally the sorting table for the Cornell post office before it became a poker room for Tom Runyon and his friends.
New goal: Gather friends and reserve The Mailroom for a birthday or special dinner. How fun would that be?!
Good to Know Before You Go
Are cash and card accepted?
The Old Place accepts cash, Mastercard, American Express and Visa.
Do I need a reservation to dine at The Old Place Cornell Restaurant?
Reservations are not needed for outside dining, but are highly recommended for inside dining as the restaurant is quite small and fills up quickly.
Is there parking available?
Yes, there is parking available in the lot next to the restaurant.
Can I bring my kids?
Yes, the property is family friendly.
Go Enjoy a Relaxing Day at The Old Place!
The Old Place Cornell Restaurant is a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else, and a nice break from the business of the LA area. From the delicious food (hello cinnamon rolls) to the serene and simple old-time atmosphere, it’s truly a gem. Be sure to check it out – it’s worth the drive!
Plate & Compass is a food and travel blog written by Hannah Falkosky. After quitting her job and spending 8 weeks in Europe on just a few thousand dollars, she found her love for budget travel and sharing tips to help others explore the world.
She also spent 15 years working with award-winning chefs and developed a love for artful food and cocktails. Hannah is now based out of Los Angeles, and when she’s not traveling she makes it her mission to explore the best restaurants and cocktail bars while living life to the fullest.