Not every diner looks like the iconic version depicted in Edward Hopper’s classic painting, “Nighthawks.” Now you’ll find many different settings in which to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the occasional late-night meal. Learn about 10 of the most interesting new school diners in Los Angeles, most of which opened in the 21st Century.
The 101 Coffee Shop lives inside the Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel, right by a 101 freeway onramp, and previously went by Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop. The prior incarnation is famous for a Swingers scene where Vince Vaughn schooled Jon Favreau on “beautiful babies.” Chef Brandon Boudet and business partner Warner Ebbink took over the diner in 2001, straddling the line between old school and new school. The look is decidedly old fashioned, but the born-on date and menu are modern. The Googie-style restaurant features faux wood counters, tan booths, stone walls, and drop-down globe lanterns. Popular menu items include buttermilk pancakes, burgers, and meatloaf. Boudet comes from New Orleans, so you’ll find po’ boys. This is California, so you’ll also find blackened tofu and fried carrot salad with burrata, baby kale, and avocado vinaigrette.
6145 Franklin Ave., Hollywood
Chef Ari Taymor and front of house partner Ashleigh Parsons, who piled up national press at Alma in Downtown L.A., teamed with The Standard, Hollywood, on a new Sunset Strip version in early 2016. Inside, you’ll find powder blue tables, brown booths, stylish chandeliers, and decorative cacti. Plenty of dishes will sound recognizable on the page, but Taymor typically adds distinctive twists, either with ingredients or presentation. Ubiquitous avocado toast hosts shaved vegetables and horseradish crème fraiche. His chicken club incorporates smoked meat, avocado, and pickled onion. Dinner brings more elaborate combinations. Lamb is grilled over eucalyptus leaves, which sounds like a koala’s dream, and comes with eggplant, plum, and shiso, They’ve also smartly allowed some signature Downtown L.A. dishes to migrate west, including English muffins with uni, burrata, and caviar; and seaweed and tofu beignets with yuzu kosho and lime. Diners craving retro delights can snag dishes like brown butter waffles and patty melts at brunch.
8300 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
Patti Peck revamped Village Coffee Shop, the last stop for sustenance on the rise to the Hollywood sign, in 2012. Architect Barbara Bestor spearheaded the design for Beachwood Café, which includes pine beams, marble counter and tables, and colorful blue and yellow tiles. Signature Geoff McFetridge wallpaper sports panels of mod flowers, diamonds, and surfboards. Signs pronounce "GOOD FOOD GOOD MOOD," which may have something to do with the case of pastries and pies by the register. The menu at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is teeming with global touches. Breakfast builds on scrambles and griddled “morning glory” with quinoa Muesli. Lunch revolves around salads, sandwiches, and bowls. Dinner is Beachwood Café’s most ambitious meal, spanning from French coq au vin Provencal to Japanese somen with seared yellowtail and chile vinaigrette.
2695 N. Beachwood Dr., Hollywood
The Salvage District is a small slice of Downtown L.A. just south of the 10 freeway, and Blue Star is the micro-neighborhood’s clear-cut culinary choice. This restaurant pre-dates a Portland donut shop by the same name. The contemporary American diner sports a grey and blue color scheme. A dining room contains black cushioned banquettes. A black bar arms taps with craft beer, which makes sense since Don Tahara from Little Tokyo’s Far Bar took over in 2012. An open-air patio hosts a corrugated metal fence lined with vintage auto signs, wall-to-wall potted plants, and wood picnic tables with tan umbrellas. Sandwiches and salads dominate at lunch, though the chorizo burger with guac and habanero aioli is the star. Don’t sleep on the specials board either, or a happy hour menu that touts high-value wings and flatbread pizzas. Note free parking in the lot next door.
2200 E. 15th St., Downtown
Chef Fred Eric co-founded this colorful Los Feliz diner in 1997, naming the 24/7 restaurant Fred 62 for his birth year. A yellow and green striped awning, bright yellow patio furniture and green facade with yellow accents yields to an intriguing interior. Grab a seat at a sleek wood counter, banquettes, or booths with two-toned brown cushions. White walls host portraits of celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and Laurence Olivier. The menu advertises an array of egg dishes, pancakes, waffles, and French toast “from the griddle,” along with salads, burgers, sandwiches, and “freshwiches” with rice paper subbing for bread. Nightly chicken pot pie is available from 6-11 p.m. and includes Monday’s Make ‘n Bacon, Wednesday’s Chili Cornbread, and Friday’s Jumbo Gumbo. Fred’s TV Dinners are available nightly from 5-10pm and include The Partridge Family, pan-fried chicken with corn pudding, mashed potatoes, and mini waffle & gravy; and All In The Family with roasted NY steak, mashed potatoes & tater tots, roasted fall roots, drawn butter, and fleur de sel. A simple tuna melt is also possible, as are “punk tarts.”
1850 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz
Good Girl Dinette, Diep Tran’s "American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food" emporium, resides on a side street in skyrocketing Highland Park. The glass-fronted space features brick and white walls, olive green chairs, orange banquette and counter seating, and overhead strings of colorful paper birds. The setting hints at old school Americana, but the menu is modern Vietnamese. Grandpa's Porridge consists of boiled brown rice, Napa cabbage and herbs. Choose from beef neck bone, white meat chicken, or a mix of mushrooms and shallots. Other popular choices include caramelized ginger chicken wings, black pepper pork confit, bacon & pate banh mi, and Grandma’s pho with proteins like beef brisket or tofu with lemongrass chile oil; and. Tran has also become something of a pie doyenne in NELA, so be sure to seek her chicken curry pot pie or sweet, market-driven wedges.
110 N. Ave. 56, Highland Park
LGO Hospitality took over longtime favorite Callahan's Diner in 2014. Now known as Ingo's Tasty Diner, the space is dinner directed and includes a long wood counter, dark cushioned booths, solar system lights, and olive green and dark green walls with framed silhouettes of people dancing and drinking wine. A blackboard menu advertises wine, beer, and purveyors they "Support + Believe," including Coleman Farms, Ford’s Gin, Pudwill Berry Farm, and Harry’s Berries. Sandwiches come on local Bub & Grandma’s bread. A bright red La Rotisserie oven sits behind the bar and yields Jidori chicken, leg of lamb, and English-cut Prime rib. Burgers feature prominently, including a “farmer’s daughter” burger with Strauss grass-fed beef, dijonnaise, fol epi, and sauerkraut. Small plates “from the garden” may include spicy char-grilled broccoli and crispy Brussels sprouts with goat cheese dipping sauce. On the way out, snag a complimentary salted chocolate chip cookie.
1213 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
David Dickerson, Kimberley Roussel, and Errol Roussel expanded on the success of their mod Hollywood original by bringing Kitchen 24 to West Hollywood in 2011. This larger location features a huge patio lined with planters and pink and brown color pattern. A bar with speckled white counter and pink cushioned stools gives way to a dining room with white walls, brown booths with white and pink accents. A coffee bar dispenses vanilla bourbon lattes and Cubanos, serving drinks in pink coffee cups. Comfort foods predominate, whether it’s steak and eggs, Poncho’s chilaquiles, or a fried chicken skillet with cornbread, mashed potatoes, and chicken gravy. Kitchen Favorites start at 11 a.m. and include chicken Parmesan, meatloaf with wild mushrooms, and grilled salmon with the oh-so-California combo of spinach, kale, and arugula. Cupcakes rotate daily, whether it’s Monday’s Sweet as Pie, sweet potato cupcake with toasted meringue topping; Wednesday’s Raspberry Beret; devil’s food cupcake with raspberry buttercream; or Friday’s Butterscotcharelli, butterscotch cupcake with butterscotch frosting.
8575 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
When Kristen Trattner and Chef Monica May opened The Nickel Diner in 2008, they were instrumental in helping to kickstart a downtrodden Downtown L.A. neighborhood. Now the partners run a culinary beacon. The space features hand-painted menus that the owners uncovered during construction, plus red booths and a semi-open kitchen that showcases short order cookery. 5th and Main, named for the diner’s address, features spicy BBQ pork hash topped with a pair of poached eggs. Later in the day, grab a gooey patty melt with molten Fontina, caramelized onions and Dijon sauce on griddled rye. Before 3 p.m., score a BLTA or chicken salad on wheat with candied pecans, apples, pesto, and pickled onions. Dinner ratchets up the comfort factor even further, delivering double-stuffed chicken with hazelnut stuffing, buttermilk-brined pork chop with sweet potato tots, and spaghetti and meatballs. Save room for a signature maple bacon donut.
524 S. Main St., Downtown L.A.
Winsome is a sleek diner from The Spare Room co-founders Marc Rose and Med Abrous, located at the base of a renovated condo tower called The Elysian. Their peacock logo apparently references peacocks that used to roam Echo Park. The space is similarly chic, with a curved counter facing an open kitchen, comfortable cushioned booths and banquettes, Phil Dike’s “Sunshine in Echo Park” mural, and an airy back patio. Executive chef Jeremy Strubel’s modern, seasonal cooking more than keeps pace with surroundings. Potato rosti features a buttery, crusty potato pancake topped with a molded sunny-side-up egg and a choice of toppings. Bloomsdale spinach, asparagus, avocado, and basil tahini is a particularly satisfying combo. Indulgent duck egg toast comes slathered with nduja (spicy, spreadable sausage), Reading raclette, and oregano. Dinner brings braised beef cheeks with heirloom carrot “tagliatelle” and ribeye. Swing by the pastry case for flaky matcha conchas, bruleed caramel rye brownies, and monkey bread.
1115 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park