All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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Nick’s Cafe is as close to a real diner as anything else Los Angeles has to offer since the tragic demise of Phil’s Diner. For my money, to call yourself a diner, you have to be an actual train dining car, otherwise, you are a coffee shop or, as Nick’s refers to themselves – a cafe. Still, there are a few joynts around that get that diner vibe down while still being a brick & mortar facility – like Millie’s, for example. Nick’s is another. Located on the north side of downtown (north of Chinatown) & east of Elysian Park, it is in an area that feels sorta desolate & industrial.
It is really easy to miss so definitely have the address in hand when you go to find it. There is a small parking lot in the rear & a huge, dirt lot across the street. Nick’s is only open for breakfast & lunch and accepts cash only. HERE is a peek at the menu.
Nick’s is patronized primarily by cops so, despite the sketchy neighborhood, this is one safe place to dine. There is outdoor seating but the setting out there is pretty unimpressive so I recommend eating at the counter.
Those are my parents sitting to the right of the woman in the orange. While the interior is pretty standard cafe fare, if you sit there, you have the opportunity to interact with Nick’s feisty hostess. Look at her practically photo bombing my efforts to document the interior:
Again, those are my parents behind her. She is awesome but let me give you one word of warning – do not ask her for hot sauce! At least, do not ask for it if you have not yet sampled their house-made salsa that is on the counter in large carafes.
She will tirelessly bust your balls if she sees you using any other hot sauce and, in fairness, their salsa is damned good!
And the food? Great diner fare. I haven’t tried too many things on the menu but what I have tried – I enjoyed. Like this tuna melt:
And the Scrambled SoCal:
And here is a peek at a bacon cheeseburger:
And while I haven’t had these Chilaquiles – but they looked so good – I am definitely getting them next time!
I love this place. Solid food, obscure location, great look, a hostess that makes you feel welcome while giving you a hard time (and it isn’t that bullshit kitschy schtick some restaurants have their waitresses employ) & great prices! You should definitely check Nick’s Cafe out!