If you read our interview with writer Nathan Edmondson then you already know that downtown mainstay Nickel Diner – as well as their popular maple bacon donut – makes repeat appearances in the new series of Marvel Comic's The Punisher. But would you like to hear what an ex-U.S. Marine turned self-appointed vigilante thinks about Nickel Diner, as well as six other L.A. restaurants?
Here, Frank Castle himself breaks it down.
Bigmista's BBQ. He's a moving target, like me. But meat and fire – what more could you want? And better meat, you won't find anywhere in LA. I find him in the farmer's markets. Hollywood, Atwater, Century City. He's opening a joint downtown soon. I'll have to offer my patronage, and street protecting from the thugs. 3250 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles; bigmista.com.
Nickel Diner is bright and tourists and locals filter in and out; I can hide in plain sight there as other customers stare at me, trying to figure out which TV show I did a season on. In LA, having a familiar face is its own camouflage. Haven't tried the doughnuts here – but black coffee, eggs, and the banter with one person who knows my not-so-secret-secret makes this my morning home. 524 S. Main St., Los Angeles; 213-623-8301.
When I need to ghost, Neptune's Net out in Malibu is a lot of a protein for very little nonsense. Sit and stare at the water and forget about dancing brass shell casings and spilled blood, or take the oysters, burger, or shrimp to go – fresh seafood smells up my FOB (forward operating base) in the metro tunnel, but it's not like I have a lot of guests. 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; 310-457-3095.
Hugo's in the Valley. Bad on exits – two forward, a tight kitchen, not a place to get into a gunfight – but good on atmosphere and healthy grub. The angled windows mean I can see out, but outsiders can't see, identify, or aim at me. Coffee or chilaquiles here, maybe a taco to go across the street at Hugo's Taco Stand, and I can be anywhere in town quickly I need to be quickly – fueled up for a gunfight, well fed for a street war. 12851 Riverside Drive
Valley Village; 818-761-8985.
Jones on Santa Monica in Hollywood. The heart of the song and dance of L.A. I couldn't care less about, but where no one recognizes me because they're all looking at themselves. Jones has the beer, the private booths, and the classy food to make this a choice meetings spot, even if some of the meetings end up with a 9mm round in a kneecap. 7205 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-850-1726.
Once I had to take someone out at Spago. I sat first through a meal. As casual as L.A. is, I still find it misery to sit anywhere that a T-shirt full of blood stains is frowned upon, so I dressed up. The meal – and the vodka cocktail the waiter insisted upon – were worth it. An unfair reminder of the life I left behind; a moment in heaven, torture, since I'm bound for the other place. 176 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; 310-385-0880.
O'Brien's Irish Pub in Santa Monica. Great whiskey. Easy to escape out the back door. Easy to hide and Willie can handle himself in a fight, and would fight for me if it came down to that. This is the nicest food I'll enjoy in a week and it's by a neighborhood where I'm not likely to find any Dos Soles – the occasional nutty gunman, perhaps, but I know how to deal with those, and Willie will keep my tab open while I'm at it. 2226 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica; (310) 829-5303