The Best Diners In Los Angeles
Diner, coffee shop, greasy spoon—whatever you call it—it's a staple of classic American culture. When you think of diners, you imagine a cozy space with counters, leather-seated booths, and a never-ending pour of coffee. It's a throwback to the 1950s and Los Angeles is a haven for these spots. Our versatile joints whip up traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner fare at any hour of the day, long into those drunken nights out on the weekends. Oh and let's not forget about the homemade desserts (including pie!). Here's our list of our favorite spots.
Nick's is the epitome of a throwback greasy spoon. It's a quaint little diner that has an old school wooden counter and classic red booths. Framed portraits adorn any free space on the walls. Go here if you're having a hankering for a delicious, but no-frills breakfast food like a plate of eggs, sausage and hash browns or a large-and-plenty build-your-own omelette. (That doesn't mean though that the menu isn't still huge!) However, what makes people keep returning to this neighborhood spot is the friendly and warm service from the wait staff.
Nick's Coffee Shop & Deli is located at 8536 W Pico Blvd. in Pico-Robertson, (310) 652-3567
Waffles at Pann's (Photo by Emma Gallegos/LAist)
The first thing you might notice about Pann's is its movie-star looks (its Googie architecture and gorgeous neon sign come courtesy of Armet & Davis). Pann's has served as a film location, but not for the one you're thinking of. It's a dead-ringer for the coffee shop in Pulp Fiction, and some of the memorabilia from the movie is here. The diner, like many great American diners, was started by Greek immigrants after World War II, but the menu and the hospitality feel Southern. You can get po' boys, catfish or andouille sausage, but we like the chicken and waffles and biscuits. —Emma Gallegos
Pann's is located at 6710 LaTijera Blvd. in Los Angeles; (323)776-3770
Nat's Early Bite Coffee Shop
Nat's Early Bite Coffee Shop has been in the diner biz for over 30 years, serving up everything you could want from breakfast to dinner and homemade desserts. The spot is homey and you can get a comfy booth to dine in. They've got scrambles with chorizo, hotcakes, and even made their own jam. Plus, you get can muffins warm and straight out of the oven here.
Nat's Early Bite Coffee Shop is located at 14115 Burbank Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, (818) 781-3040
Fred 62 at night (Photo via Fred 62 Facebook)
It's great to know that there's a landing pad in Los Feliz where you can grab diner food at any hour of the day (since the joint never closes). Fred 62's classic retro vibe is reminiscent of the diners from the 1950s. It's the kind of place where you can grab an old-fashioned milkshake to go along with your breakfast dishes or a burger. Their menu has had a facelift recently, but you can still get items like the New Amsterdam breakfast sandwich and California omelette. And for the vegetarians, there are plenty of options including tofu chilaquiles and the fried mac n' cheese balls (yum).
Fred 62 is located at 1850 N Vermont Ave. in Los Feliz, (323) 667-0062
S & W Country Diner
When you step into S & W Country Diner, it makes you feel like you've been transported to a sleepy town in the 1950s. A large retro Coca Cola sign and a Route 66 sign hang on a pale green wall, surrounded by red leather booths. This adorable diner is the sort of place where you can get cheap meals. Try their homemade corned beef hash, grits, and biscuits with gravy or if you're feeling like having lunch, they have all the staples like BLTs and grilled cheese.
S & W Country Diner is located at 9748 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, (310) 204-5136
101 Coffee Shop (Photo by Loren Javier via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
101 Coffee Shop
This is one of the new crop of diners that popped up over a decade ago (like Swingers and Fred 62). It lovingly recreates that 1960's diner feeling with its menu and decor, but during the evening it feels a little bit lounge-y. The lights get turned down low, which gives even the regular folks that you've-seen-them-from-something vibe. If you don't make your living in front of the camera, try the brownie waffle sundae. —Emma Gallegos
101 Coffee Shop is located on 6145 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood; (323) 467-1175
This place is emblematic of the new downtown: like Cole's and all those lofts in the Old Bank District, it's been lovingly restored to its pre-war origins. But let's talk about the delicious food: we like the pulled pork hash with poached eggs and also the catfish with corn cakes and pecan sauce. The dessert platter is the main draw and includes the (rightfully) famous maple bacon donut and home-made versions of junk-food classics, like Pop Tarts and Ding Dongs. —Emma Gallegos
Nickel Diner is located on 524 S. Main St. in Los Angeles; (213) 623-8301
This is Los Angeles' version of "Nighthawks" channeled through Rae’s Restaurant (Photo by neonspecs via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
Rae's Restaurant: This is an old-school diner with old-school prices. It's your typical greasy-spoon, but we're especially big fans of the biscuits and gravy. You might recognize it from one of its many appearances in the movies. But be warned: it's a tiny space (and so is the parking lot), so the line can get long on the weekends. —Emma Gallegos
Rae's Restaurant is located on 2901 Pico Blvd in Santa Monica; (310) 828-7937
We wish we knew how to quit The Pantry. It may not be the best food in downtown, but we always end up returning again and again through its lockless doors. Maybe it's because it has such a grounding presence in one of the most rapidly changing areas of the city. Or maybe it's that pyramid of grilled sourdough bread slathered in butter that comes with every meal. The 90-year-old diner was bought up by former mayor Richard Riordan in 1981, who fell in love with its ruthlessly efficient service. We like the fact that you never know who you'll bump into particularly during the wee hours. (We're not referring to celebrities so much as the eclectic clientele, which includes people in costumes for whatever is going on down the street at the Convention Center.) —Emma Gallegos
The Original Pantry Cafe is located on 877 South Figueroa St. in downtown Los Angeles; (213) 972-9279
Breakfast Turkey Burger (Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
It's been a neighborhood hangout for almost a century, and now it's a mainstay for the late-night crowd spilling out from The Echo on any given night of the week. We've always loved the interior. As Dana Hollister put it: "The wood paneling…it looks like Milwaukee in 1972, and there’s something really fucking amazing about it!" But the food wasn't really quite there. That changed in 2012 when Hollister took over and overhauled the menu. We're fans of the chocolate caramel banana cream pie and A Burger For Breakfast, which is inspired by the McDonald's McGriddle. —Emma Gallegos
Brite Spot Family Restaurant is located at 1918 W Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park, (213) 484-9800
This motel coffee shop-turned-Warholian-diner is the perfect place to go after a late night out, and for what it's worth many famous or almost-famous people seem to agree. We always seem to end up at the Beverly Boulevard location after catching a screening at Arclight or the New Bev. The blue corn nachos, the peanut butter and banana shake and the jukebox selection always hit the spot. —Emma Gallegos
Swingers Diner is located at 8020 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles; (323) 653-5858 OR 802 Broadway in Santa Monica; (310) 393-9793