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12 Best Diners in Los Angeles

Hash browns at Nick's Coffee Shop & Deli
Hash browns at Nick's Coffee Shop & Deli
C. Chiao

A diner in Los Angeles may have many iterations, but its basic identity is unmistakable. Breakfast is available at all hours. There's usually countertop seating with swivel chairs upholstered in leather, or booths for groups and the unhurried. A server will call you "hon," perhaps "sweetie" if she's so inclined, considering neither race nor age -- not yours and certainly not hers. You're guaranteed table access to a cluster of condiments -- ketchup, jams, hot sauce, maybe a small jar of salsa.

As much as we might enjoy chasing what's new or bacon-flavored, there's little that can replicate the luxury of having comfort food cooked fast and your drinks refilled even faster. It's our original nook away from home, long before we sought coffee chains for a caffeine fix.

Here in L.A., diners can inspire the kind of loyalty normally reserved for sports teams. You'll root for your favorite, sometimes irrationally, through limp hash browns, watered-down coffee and greasy eggs. We get the loyalty -- and the community. Check out our picks for the best in L.A., where the food, service, coffee and counter chairs are as good as they get.

Eggs Benedict at S&W Country Diner
Eggs Benedict at S&W Country Diner
C. Chiao

12. S&W Country Diner

Although there have been plenty of changes in the neighborhood over the years, S&W Country Diner stays a constant. Unless you're a regular, you might find the service just polite enough. The menus strewn on each table are probably as old as the diner itself, requiring you to unfurl the bottom edges for a better view of, say, the types of French toast combos available. And you likely won't be offered coffee if you don't ask. None of this matters much when you consider that a relatively quiet space is not easy to come by at restaurants in downtown Culver City. You'll read the latest issue of Time, taking your own time not to rush your breakfast, maybe of eggs Benedict with lemon chicken breast on English muffins. 9748 Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 204-5136.

Spicy fried pork chops at Uncle John's Cafe
Spicy fried pork chops at Uncle John's Cafe
C. Chiao

11. Uncle John's Cafe

This Chinese-American diner used to go by the name Uncle John's Ham & Eggs, until its newer location on Grand led to a rechristening as simply Uncle John's Cafe. Regulars prefer pan-fried pork chops, showered with sliced scallions and green chiles, over steak to pair with eggs. The two dozen or so entrées, including chasu BBQ pork and eggs, come with toast and home fries or, better yet, steamed rice. If wonton noodle soups or burgers with fries don't appeal, there are off-menu items, too -- like chow fun -- available upon request. 834 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 623-3555.

Blackened catfish sandwich at the 101 Coffee Shop
Blackened catfish sandwich at the 101 Coffee Shop
C. Chiao

10. The 101 Coffee Shop

The degree to which you can witness this diner in its element probably is in direct relation to how late you stop by the place, which is open daily until 3 a.m. Past standard dinner time, the diner becomes a clubhouse for transplants and tourists cast in sepia lighting. It's housed on the corner of an updated retro-designed Best Western Hotel two blocks away from the 101. As you wait for your food, you might catch snatches of conversations from nearby tables on the vagaries of being new to the city. You'll shift your focus, easily and gladly perhaps, once the blackened catfish sandwich, served with both french fries and sweet potato fries, comes around. Attesting to the roots of chef and co-owner Brandon Boudet, an Angeleno by way of New Orleans, the fish is skillfully pan-fried, crisp at the edges. L.A. is in his repertoire now, as the menu shows a house-made corned beef hash special with organic eggs and an eggless huevos rancheros made with tofu instead. 6145 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 467-1175.



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