*once a week, every week, I embark on a new adventure to check off one of my many LA bucket list items. Follow along my journey being a tourist in my own town and get in on the action!*
If you’re all read up on your local Los Angeles news or you’ve signed in to any one of your social media accounts, you’ve probably heard or read something about historic Clifton’s Cafeteria recent grand re-opening in Downtown Los Angeles. This has been a highly anticipated event since 2010 when the news that developer Andrew Meieran had taken on the space – originally built in 1932 – as a renovation a project. A mere $10-14 million renovation project, that is. As of October 1st we have Clifton’s Cafeteria back in all of its original “golden days” glory – complete with 5 stories of seating, 5 bars, stuffed wild animal vignettes, hidden caves, eclectic details, Natural History Museum-esque decor and all.
Clifton’s has been open now for a little over a few weeks and has already served more than 15,000 people – a number that seems absurd until you’ve discovered that at it’s peak Clifton’s used to serve 15,000 people dinner A DAY.
My exact words upon entrance into the 10,000 sq foot part Grand Californian, part Disneyland, part Natural History Museum, part Rainforest Cafe space were: “this is… magical”. Growing up I was a huge fan of Rainforest Cafe and everything Disney related, but even today anything kitschy and kind of crazy can captivate my heart with the greatest of ease.
Clifton’s Cafeteria is one of those places you can truly appreciate solely based on the space’s rich history and fantastic preservation (thanks to Meieran), it’s undeniably unique approach to decorating, and the amount of man power it takes to run the business and feed so many mouths. There’s an insane amount of things to love about Clifton’s, such as the giant redwood tree that shoots up through the middle of three of the 5 floors, the taxidermied bison there to welcome you as you enter the 2nd floor, the several bar locations, the “caves”, and of course the 250 lb meteorite that’s on display. The crazy thing is though, the trees, animals, etc. are only a few of many more things to enjoy about Clifton’s. The cafeteria for example, YES, THE ACTUAL FOOD, is not to go unnoticed. Chef Jason Fullilove and his kitchen staff of 50 have done a wonderful job creating items that may come from a cafeteria but aren’t lacking in taste, luster, or looks. Just take a glance at the carvery station or the dessert options and you’ll understand why.
What: Clifton’s Cafeteria
Where: DTLA | 648 S. Broadway Los Angeles CA 90014
11am – 9pm Cafeteria
11am – 2am Monarch Bar
Saturday and Sunday
10am – 9pm Cafeteria
11am – 2am Monarch Bar
6pm – 2am Gothic Bar
*be on the look out for updates because as they continue to expand and open more parts of the space the hours will vary!
Tip: Eat first then roam. Better yet, grab your food, go to the bar, and then roam.
Bonus Tip: If you had a recent craving for Jello, you now know where to find it. AND… you can buy said Jello at Clifton’s for just $.35 until November 4th!
Extra Bonus Tip: Read this fantastic, more in-depth, thought-provoking article written by Farley Elliot of Eater LA if you’d like to explore the question of what the Clifton’s of 2015 should look like.