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


Nickel Diner

Nickel Diner

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A traveling family of five sits at one of the booths at Nickel Diner on 5th and Main. They gorge on the all-American feast before them: white bread sandwiches, burgers, strawberry pop tarts, red velvet cake and cans and cans of Diet Coke. Little can distinguish one plate from another as each sandwich lays buried under a heap of shoestring fries. Their table matches the others for lunch around the L-shaped diner. Nickel Diner, established in 2008, may appear to be the typical hash house, with its egg breakfasts, patty melts and coleslaw but certain items on the menu cannot hide their Los Angeles heritage. Dishes like the Lowrider, a burger with poblano chilies, picked onions and spicy aioli, or the Fried Chicken Drumettes served with bacon jam on a bed of polenta, would only render confusion in other parts of the country. In LA, Nickel Diner is an institution.

Nickel_Story_2
Nickel_Story_2

Photo courtesy of Zagat

Nickel_Story_1
Nickel_Story_1

Photo courtesy of Zagat

The term “upscale diner” may be an oxymoron of a category to place Nickel Diner under but few else seem to fit. Despite their proximity to Skid Row and owners’ willingness to serve any and all, the food sets the seemingly average diner apart.

Even a basic BLT finds its pizazz at the diner. Instead of the boring and nutritionless, iceberg lettuce, the diner dresses the classic white toast sandwich with arugula. Next they add avocado and their creamy, spicy aioli, transforming the sandwich from a safe lunch order into a surprising treat. Even their fries on the side come lightly spiced and salted for an extra boost in flavor.

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Nickel_Story_3

Photo courtesy of Zagat

Anyone around the country can eat at an IHOP but only Downtown Los Angeles can dine at Nickel Diner.

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Nickel_Story-4

Photo courtesy of Cecilia Barrozo

Written by:
Cleo Tobbi
Photographed by:
Featured Image Courtesy of Zagat

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