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The Nickel: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

The last time I was at the Nickel, I asked for a bowl of plain, steamed polenta. The waitress stood there, pencil unmoving, waiting for the punch line of the joke. There was no joke — polenta was what I wanted — but it didn't take long for me to crack. The pulled-pork hash, poached eggs on the side, was really, really good. The Nickel is the hub of its extremely urban neighborhood, where half-million-dollar condos abut crowded SROs, and it is uniquely equipped to satisfy both the loft people in the market for brioche cinnamon toast or grilled salmon with quinoa, the burger guys in at lunch and the old-timers who have saved their quarters for a plate of ham and eggs. The surreal menu painted on the wall is a relic of the early 1950s, those chandeliers are floor lamps glued to the ceiling, and the stack of fried catfish with corn pancakes and pecans at suppertime is worth a visit before you hit the many delightful bars in the neighborhood. You may have heard of the Nickel's bacon-maple doughnut, a lovely thing glistening with what Dr. Dean Ornish might interpret as pure evil. We're getting paranoid just thinking about it. 524 S. Main St., dwntwn. (213) 623-8301, 5cdiner.com. Tues.-Sun., 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 6-11 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking or nearby paid lot. MC, V. Diner.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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Nickel Diner

524 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

213-623-8301

www.nickeldiner.com


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