The Place: The 2-9 Cafe, 2827 Hoover Street, Los Angeles; (213) 746-2929.
The Digs: The 2-9 occupies the interior and beautifully shaded porch of a Victorian in the West Adams district. Outside, a man in a cowboy hat dolefully tells his daughter that she has spent too much of his money this semester. With his girlfriend caressing his face as he eats, a 80s-era Tom Cruise's doppleganger beneath a backwards Trojans cap downs handfuls of sweet potato fries and slurps on a glass of soda. We order the fries too ($6 a basket) because Tom Cruise likes them so much. Inhabited by such shimmering collegiate stereotypes (the financially irresponsible princess, the top gunner), the porch scene could materialize in any college town.
The Verdict: The sweet potato fries are chewy and sweeter than Twizzlers. The accompanying ranch dressing doesn't taste so much like ranch as it does a combination of ranch and tartar sauce. Except for this sauce, there is nothing to dislike about this place. If you wish to watch a game, it will likely be on. If you wish to take your visiting parents to a dinner that does not involve such potentially polarizing fare as birria or barbecue, the 2-9 Cafe will be there with a tuna salad sandwich, hot wings, or a burger. Quiet bars with comfortable outdoor seating (if the 2-9, open only until 10 p.m., qualifies as a bar) are rare. This place could serve nothing besides warm Pabst and half-frozen tater tots and we would still pull up a chair.