One of the saddest hospitality casualties of the pandemic was the closure of The Standard hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Built in 1955 and designed by famed LA architect Claud Beelman, the historic building is one of the best preserved examples of the Corporate Moderne style. Originally known as the Superior Oil Company Building, it was flipped into The Standard in 2002, and now enters its third life — this time as The Delphi.
Still a hotel and complete with a brand new ground-floor diner, Denae’s, there are plans for more food and beverage offerings in the coming months, including a re-opening of the famed rooftop slated for next summer. But so far, Denae’s has been enough to get the neighborhood in the door, partly because it works as an homage to the thriving diner culture of this city, and partly because the price point is in the ballpark of an actual diner, a welcome boon in an era of inflation and rising prices in all sectors of hospitality.
With a bright, vintage aesthetic — which leans a little @AccidentallyWesAnderson in the best way — the long hours and all-day breakfast have already turned Denae’s into a neighborhood hub. “A diner represents comfort and a place locals call their own, and we intentionally priced our menu to make it so our neighbors who live and work nearby can afford to frequent on a regular basis,” general manager Orcun Turkay says. “We see a large number of locals joining us for lunch if they work in an office nearby, and we want to be a dining staple, not just a special occasion restaurant. Plus, who doesn’t love breakfast anytime of the day?”
Like any good diner, the hours are long and accessible (6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily), and between the retro ‘50s style and the affordable food, it’s no wonder it’s become a spot not just for guests but anyone in the community to come and grab a meal. “A big part of our guiding principle is to be driven and focused on our community, and we live by that,” Turkay says. “Several of the design details, including the wood paneled walls and light fixtures, speak to a modern take on a classic Hollywood diner. And we really wanted to pay homage to Broadway Street, which is just a few blocks away, with our marquee above the bar.”
Where to Go for Lunch in Downtown LAAn array of pastries and LA’s original food hall are waiting for you
Next time you’re Downtown, head to Denae’s and get The Bradbury, a sourdough grilled cheese with ham, béchamel and an egg on top (their take on a croque madame) or the cinnamon-swirled Black Dahlia french toast. And here are a few other extremely classic LA diners for good measure. Add these to your list for comfort food and an old school atmosphere.
When I first moved to LA and didn’t have any friends yet, Astro was my bud. Open literally 24/7 (such a rarity anymore), the ‘70s-era color scheme, long wraparound counter, huge booths and super friendly service make it a must-visit for any diner fiend. Go-to orders: Western omelet, eggs Florentine or a juicy patty melt with grilled onions on rye. Come with a book if you’re dining alone — nobody will judge you and your multiple coffee refills.
We’ll give the valley its due for this iconic, car-hop era outpost from 1949. While Bob’s Big Boy has become a chain across America, this is the oldest remaining location and is noted for hosting a classic car show every Friday afternoon. Open 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. on weeknights and 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. on the weekends, this is absolutely the spot to get late night eats when you’ve overindulged on Martinis. Plenty of people swear by the breakfast sandwich, but the chili cheese fries, onion rings and “double decker” burger all get high marks as well.
Tucked inside The Beverly Hills Hotel, this classic soda fountain counter is definitely a local’s secret. Reservations aren’t accepted for the 19 bar stools, and the walk-ins only policy preserves the charm, whether you’re a guest or just in need of house made ice cream or a well-stacked club sandwich.
Another old school joint on the edge of town, Cindy’s has been a staple for Northeast LA since 1948. A few years ago, a Kickstarter to help save and restore the diner’s vintage sign easily hit its $16,500 mark, if that’s any indication of how the community feels about this place. Sweet potato biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, or brisket hash are all house specialties on the breakfast menu, served until noon daily.
Several friends cited Nick’s as their favorite diner in the city when asked about this list, and honestly, they might be right. Another spot that’s been going since 1948, Nick’s has a second location in Eagle Rock, but the Chinatown spot is the original. Go for the famous ham and eggs plate or one of the egg scrambles, with a generous glug of salsa on the side from a plastic bottle on the table. If you’re feeling extra hungry, add a half order of biscuits and gravy. No server here will blink if you order more than you really need.
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