Review: Nickel Diner (Downtown, Los Angeles)

Our lives have changed a lot in the past month. We moved out to LA so I could start a new job as a pollster for a Democratic political consulting firm, and we found a beautiful loft in a historic office building in Downtown to call home.  Jon finished up his DPhil, and is commuting back and forth between Oxford and Los Angeles until we get married.

Downtown LA is an incredible place to live, but it’s certainly a place of stark contrasts.   For many years, Downtown was a seedy ghost town of abandoned old office buildings. It’s recently gone through a significant revival, due in part to creative reuse laws that made it easy to convert empty buildings to lofts. Some of the most amazing old vaudeville theaters and gorgeous architecture in the United States is crammed into a few blocks here. But, it’s also the location of LA’s “Skid Row” – the homeless capital of the United States. In Downtown Los Angeles, within three blocks, you have a sushi restaurant that only has $165 per person menus, and large homeless shelters that sleep hundreds. I haven’t yet found stats on the income inequality in this neighborhood, but it’s soul crushing.

DTLA is also a culinary hub, with lots of cheap grocery stores, and new inventive restaurants sprouting up all over the place. It’s also where LA’s Central Library is located, so a treasure trove of cookbooks are right around the corner from us.

So far, one of our favorite DTLA neighborhood spots is Nickel Diner. As the home of the legendary maple-glazed bacon donut, it might not sound like a gluten-free breakfast spot. But, from huevos rancheros made with corn tortillas, to omelets with sides of polenta, there’s a lot on the menu for gluten-free folks here. Today for breakfast, I had an egg scramble with smoked salmon, cream, and chives, with a side of polenta and maple syrup. Mmm!

This isn’t gourmet food, but if you’re looking for classic old-fashioned diner dishes with a modern twist, this place is fantastic.

Unlike the old days, you can’t get anything on the menu for a nickel, but at under $10 a dish, the prices aren’t horrible either.

I have a long commute to work, so my internal body clock is set to wake up very early. Normally, I find it annoying that I can’t sleep past 7am on weekends, but on the plus side, it means that Jon and I always get to Nickel Diner early enough to miss the weekend brunch crowds (pictured below)


Nickel Diner, 524 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA, (213) 623-8301

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