Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Re-Engergzing DTLA Dining Options @ Nickel Diner (Downtown)

Downtown Los Angeles has seen its better days in the glorious 50's and 60's where Alfred Hitchcock was so in love with the beauty of the city, he insisted that some of the scenic shots and interior filming be done right here in the middle of downtown LA. Remembered Biltmore Hotel in the movie "Vertigo"? I am just wondering whatever happened to the good old days?

Downtown has seen its worst after the glorious golden days. When I was younger passing Little Tokyo, my parents would never stopped here because it was just too ghetto and very dangerous. Skid Row wasn't just one street, it was all over majority of the city.

With downtown seeing some revitalization, there are plenty of reasons for new hope as trendy bars and lounges begin to open up and mixing in with some of the old landmark joints we have come to associate with the heart of Los Angeles. One of the very new place that opened up last year was Nickel Diner. It was very ambitious as it wanted to open up a diner to not only become the sensation in all of LA, but more importantly to serve the locals that lived in this part of downtown.

The great thing about this place opening up in an areas otherwise would have been used by skid row residents, was that it gave downtown another positive establishment for people to dine in. It attracts the hipsters that frequent the financial and art district, who all love coming down here for their unique awesome baked goodies and a twist to the good old American cuisine.

The two female co-owners have decided to opened up this restaurant with menu that represents old fashioned American home cooked meal with eggs being the center piece of most major dishes on the menu . If you check out their website with the menu posted, you will see that the co-owners have playfully named some of their dishes after some street lingos or terminology. It's very subtle, but you'll to look for it deeply on the menu.

There is something about this place that brings high energy and unseen spirits that feeds into you where you can feel it. I looked up the walls and ceilings with some old painted murals from a previous restaurant that existed before Nickel Diner. It's bustling and always on the go. Every moment is not wasted on the staff that worked here. Funny thing, my waitress and hostess was one of the co-owners. In fact, both of them was on hand working on a Saturday afternoon busy to ensure everything is going smoothly.

Some of the old vintage signs above the kitchen that existed from the previous restaurant

After I pursued the menu a while further, I decided to get one of the their egg scrambles with salmon, leeks, roasted tomatoes, sour cream, and chives mixed in. The plate was accompanied by potatoes and wheat toast with their homemade jam. I didn't exactly know how runny the egg would be, but it wasn't overcooked and left it just right. The flavors to the salmon didn't leave any fishy smell to the egg and worked very well with the roasted tomatoes that was among the egg scramble.

Egg Scramble with Salmon, Leeks, Roasted Tomatoes, Chives and Sour Cream ($9.75)

One of the big startling surprised I have learned before coming here was that the pastry chef that was hired had previously worked under Thomas Keller. So I was a bit excited to see some of the amazing baked pastries that would be offering here. The co-owner that was serving our tables had made its round of showing some of the wonderful that are on display for today. I saw a chocolate cover ding dong with lemon margarine with a 5 cent icings that caught my eye.

Baked Goods on the Tray for display

Of course I just have to take one home with me. Too bad it didn't have the 5 cent icing on top of that chocolate ding dong.

Chocolate Ding Dong with Lemon Margarine ($2.75)

One of the most popular ordered item in Nickel Diner was their famous Bacon covered Donut. It had all the nice little bacon bits chopped up and place all over the glazed donut you see below. Whether or not it's a artery stuffer, you just have to live a little to fully enjoy this yummy treat.

I can't wait to come back here and try out more of their bacon donuts and other pastries items. The breakfast was worth trekking for at brunch. They do also served salad and sandwiches for lunch. I have a good feeling their breakfast items and baked goodies are the hit of this establishment.

Even though I later figured out the co-owners were my hostess and waitress, I was treated to excellent service and they were on the constant move to make sure everyone not only enjoyed their meal, but the experience as well. Sometimes that the dining experience get lost even if the food was good. I'm glad they were able to balance it equally when I was down there. Definitely want to try out their lunch menu items when I'm there on the next go.

Bacon Covered Donut ($2.25)

Before I left, I looked up the upper wall above the front door. There was a poem that was left for the restaurant before the remodeling. The co-owners decided to leave it and serve it as a great reminder.

The Poem above the front door

This place has all the charms that kept its remembrance from yesteryear. The diner is slowly trying to change its perception of downtown can have one of its own place serve great food. It may not happened overnight, but its getting there as their customers are continue to stop by for either breakfast or brunch. The diner will eventually open for dinner, but for now it will closed 3pm daily until dinner service begins.

Oh, by the way. Why is this place called Nickel Diner even though nothing cost 5 cents in this establishment? Apparently it's a nickname for the place because it's around the corner from 5th Street. Get it? "Nickel" diner!

Nickel Diner
524 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 623-8301


Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

oh i have fond memories of that bacon donut and the salmon and leek dish. oh yum. try their pulled pork hash next time. its pretty ridiculously delicious.

Right Way to Eat said...

Hi Choisauce,

Thanks! I actually wanted to try the pulled pork hash too. I'll definitely make another trip to this place. It's too crowded on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe Sunday!

dining table said...

I have seen that place. When I saw that, I was so surprised. They have many kinds of foods to offer and it is all so delicious looking. It is a great place for food tripping.