Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nickel Diner: What L.A. needed was bacon donuts

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.
Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon


weezermonkey said...

!!! I didn't get an amuse of donutholes when I went there!

I'm jealous!

mattatouille said...

did you get any inspiration from my post? the same scramble, and of course, the now-famous bacon doughnut. nice review.

mattatouille said...

oh btw Pat, I was telling Josh (b/c he gave me a copy for my birthday) that Eat LA is easily the finest guide to food in LA I have ever seen. In fact, it may be the best food guide of any city, period. Great job and I look forward to using it year-in and year-out. I plan on doing a post about it on my blog soon.

Pat Saperstein said...

Thanks for your comments about the book, Matt! No, I didn't see your post, but I read Josh's after I ate there and noticed he had the same thing too -- that must be one of their most popular dishes!

bbeyes said...

NIce pic of the hipsters!!! :)
Next week I am going to try to walk down there for lunch. I'll let you know how it goes.

L.A. Story said...

Oh. My. God. You've inspired me to embark on yet another donut-palooza around L.A.

Dazy said...

We don't go dine-in there regularly since it is not close to our place. I make it a point to come every time I'm in the neighborhood. We get filled up and usually have leftovers to take home.

Charles Rosenberg said...

Nickel diner is in the heart of skid row. The name of this place is a slap in the face to the homeless people who congregate on the sidewalk outside. I wonder how many of them have gone in looking for something to eat for five cents. As far as I can tell there is nothing to eat at that price.