The insider’s view of Downtown’s culture, food, drinks, and the people who shape it.

Uncle John's Cafe: Cajun Cravings

Uncle John's Cafe: Cajun Cravings

There are days when you just crave the spicy, salty, tangy flavor of Cajun food. There are days when a Whole Foods salad for dinner doesn’t quite cut it. There are days when you feel like getting your hands down and dirty. There are days when you feel like you’ve worked hard and damn it, you deserve a good meal!


…And when you’re having one of those days, look no further than Uncle John’s (because let’s be honest, nobody’s got the time to line up for Boiling Crab).

As soon as you are done parking your car along Grand Ave (and obsessively checking your meter to see if you’ve put in enough money), you are greeted by the amiable smile of a man (who I’m assuming is Uncle John), whose face is plastered on an unassuming signboard at the front of the restaurant.

Uncle John’s prides itself for being an American-styled diner that post-face-lift. It has all the best elements that is typically associated with a diner. Comfort food, friendly servers that make you feel right at home, great music, and all in all, a warm environment that people can simply bask in, to enjoy a meal with friends without any frills. A diner is a place that you go to in your pajamas, in the middle of the night, without having to feel out of place and Uncle John’s is a place for precisely that.


Uncle John’s also differs from a typical American-styled diner in multiple ways. Let’s start with the most shocking of them all: meet the person responsible for the Face-lift, 30-year old Shirley. You would expect the owner to at least somewhat resemble the man in the logo but boy, are you in for a treat! Vivacious and extremely hospitable, Shirley is the 4th owner to have taken over Uncle John’s. A year and a half ago, Shirley moved back to Los Angeles from Germany.


“I wanted to open a restaurant and my mom’s friends were trying to sell this place. I took one look at it and I knew immediately that this was the one,” she asserted with great tenacity. All the previous owners of Uncle John’s added something extra to the diner, akin to their signature, before they left. Some of the additions include Chinese food and new, more innovative dishes to the standard American Diner menu. On top of adding a modern twist to the overall look of the place, Shirley decided to introduce Cajun night.


Cajun night is available Mondays-Saturdays 5.30pm to 10.30pm. Think: a whole sack of seafood soaked in garlic butter, lemon pepper and Cajun sauce with a choice of spice level ranging from mild to extra spicy. Everyone gets a bib and a pair of gloves because, oh yes, it will get messy. There is nothing quite like sharing a light-hearted conversation with great friends while peeling a prawn. It finally becomes distinguishable the friends who really cook, from the ones who pretend to cook but do not know their ways around a crawfish. The Cajun spices throw in a real kick and yet are not too strong that you still taste it in your mouth the next day. For the rare oddities that do not enjoy the Cajun flavor, Uncle John’s has got you covered. They have a wide selection of fried seafood that come with the tastiest fries that can be customized with either lemon pepper, Cajun, or simply plain. The habanero chicken wings are also an option for the non-seafood eaters. The meal is then finished off with a thai-tea float and the whole experience is absolute perfection.


Dine at Uncle John’s to enjoy delicious Cajun food while feeling right at home. The smile of contentment belonging to the man in the logo is a fairly accurate foreshadowing of the customers’.

Written and Photography By Amanda Gunawan

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