Clifton’s Cafeteria – Los Angeles, CA
I meant to post this earlier but Maya’s been sick! So I got a little distracted. She’s got a terrible hot spot and has been in distress over it. She’s doing better but isn’t 100% yet. Hoping she heals fast!
Now… onto this post! Last weekend Jake and I made a little trip up to LA and visited with Alyssa (who used to write for this blog!) and her family. She suggested we all meet up at Clifton’s Cafeteria in Downtown Los Angeles. I had never been before and had seen it on Yelp and couldn’t wait to check it out.
I loved the look of Clifton’s building. It definitely looks like it from another era!
Clifton’s was once part of a chain of eight restaurants. This location (founded in 1931) is the oldest surviving cafeteria style eatery in Los Angeles and is the largest public cafeteria in the world. Each location was known for having its own theme and for aiding people who could not afford to pay for their meals. Clifford Clinton, the founder of Cliffton’s, never turned away any hungry people. The original restaurants were founded during the height of the Great Depression and made it a point to never turn anyone away, even if they had no money. How’s that for cool! (source: Wikipedia)
This is to the left when you first walk into Clifton’s.
Also right near the front was this small model of Clifton’s. There were a few of these little diorama scenes. I love mini things like this. You can see on the left side it says “PAY WHAT YOU WISH”. Back in the day patrons only paid what they felt was a fair price for their food.
At Clifton’s, it is cafeteria style. They have a TON of different options to choose from!
Tiny salads. HOW CUTE ARE THESE. I love that each one has a different small container to hold the salad.
I was also amused to see the tuna salad in a tin can. Very clever.
Giant pot pies in mason jars. You have a choice between turkey and beef (not shown).
In the back there’s a hot food line where you can order a variety of things. This is a small selection of that menu.
There were also pizzas.
They also had a variety of breakfast items available (which I didn’t photograph) along with a case of muffins.
Very important station…. DESSERT.
So many dessert options…
I had a hard time choosing.
There was also a carving station featuring roast beef.
Along with roasted turkey and meatloaf! There was also a station that had other hot foods, like cornbread pudding, roasted veggies, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, etc.
Check out this neat bread display!
I ended up not being able to resist getting a turkey pot pie. I loved the giant dome of puff pastry on top of the mason jar. Since the pot pies are in a mason jar, there is no bottom crust. If you like eating the crust with your pot pie, you may want to do what Alyssa does and stuff the crust down into the pot pie innards. Me? I just ate it separately. The bottom is almost like a turkey soup with lots of pieces of turkey and fresh vegetables. I thought it was quite tasty! Jake ate some of it and wished the innards were a bit thicker, like a gravy rather than a soup.
Jake opted for breakfast and tried out the chilaquiles, some breakfast sausages, and bacon. He saw they made their own sauce for the chilaquiles and used cotija cheese on top so was interested in trying it. He ended up not really liking it all that much, unfortunately. He wasn’t really into their sauce. The sausages were good though! Nice, thick, and had a good seasoning on them.
Jake and I both really enjoyed the macaroni and cheese. They give you a very generous scoop of macaroni and then top it with bread crumbs and some micro herbs. It was quite cheesy and creamy. I enjoyed the flavor of it and I also liked the little “crunch” from the bread crumbs on top.
Jake also got a basket of french fries. He was assuming the portion would be much smaller than this. They make a fresh batch of french fries when you order them and put some seasoning salt and herbs on top. Yum!
I ended up picking the pecan pie as our dessert. This leaned towards a nuttier pecan pie with a little less of the gooey filling. I liked that there were a TON of pecan in this pie since nuts are my favorite part! Excellent piece of pie.
After our lunch we roamed around inside of Clifton’s. There’s a pretty woodsy-outdoors feel to the place with the fake trees and forest scene on the walls.
This is another look at the second level. Wood everywhere!
There was even a little waterfall inside on the second level.
Hello, Mr. Buffalo.
In the back bar area there is this giant tree! I loved the lighting and the tree!
Up on another level there was a closed off area (probably for special events) that had a bit more taxidermy to look at.
This is one of the other bars. Check out those antler chandeliers!
One more diorama that I saw down in the cafeteria area.
I got a real kick out of exploring Clifton’s. I loved all of the kooky decor, the woodsy feeling inside, and the vast array of food options. What a cool place!! I’m so glad Alyssa suggested it and that we were able to spend a little time with her and her family.
648 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014
On the way back to our car (we used the ParkWhiz app and scored all day parking for $4) we passed by this shop. The name of it amused me.