It's entirely possibly that Downtown's Nickel Diner is the first place in L.A. to serve one of this year's iconic foods, the bacon donut, already much beloved in more progressive cities like Portland. This coup should merit a visit to the retro-styled diner, but woman cannot live by donuts alone, so it's a good thing that the rest of their breakfast dishes are equally delicious. It's easy to warm up to a place where the server plunks down a free amuse of three donut holes, including a bacon one, before you order.My test of a first visit to a restaurant is whether I have trouble choosing between two or even three things on the menu. At the Nickel, I vacillated between Cameron's Puppy Pile, with pancakes, an egg and chicken apple sausage, or a salmon/leek scramble, or polenta with maple syrup and bacon. I ended up with the bacon/spinach/garlic/goat cheese scramble which is served with a side of creamy polenta (or potatoes). Beth enjoyed the Puppy Pile; the coffee was sturdy and they offered Beth a refill to go, which seemed very kind. On a busy Christmas shopping Sunday, parking near Main St. is nearly impossible due to the adjacent wholesale toy district; next time I'll have to ride my bike and work off the hearty donuts, polenta and bacon.
It's also a refreshing change from breakfast in Silver Lake -- although one of the diners is a dead ringer for Jake Gyllenhaal, The Nickel has just a sprinkling of hipsters and little attitude -- a very promising sign indeed.
Right now, it's open Wednesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch, but starting in January, it will be interesting to see what the Nickel cooks up for dinner as well.