DTLA: Clifton’s Cafeteria Opens Tuesday, September 22
Clifton’s Cafeteria opens on Tuesday, September 22 after being closed for a number of years. I was invited to the ribbon cutting and was able to get a sneak peek at all the fabulous things inside. When I was a kid, I went to Clifton’s almost every week and it was an agonizing decision to choose between mashed potatoes or corn. These days, it’ll be an even tougher decision to decide which bar to visit. That’s right, Clifton’s will feature five different bars. The goal for the main bar, Monarch, is to be open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. while the cafeteria will be open 24 hours. So technically you can do a bartender’s breakfast and roll in after last call and get a beer at 6 a.m. When it opens next week, the hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. I suspect it’ll rapidly move to the expanded hours as demand hits the place.
I was excited to hear there’s going to be a tiki bar along with another bar and steakhouse on the top floor. And down in the basement, a modernist style bar like the Aviary in Chicago. I’m already plotting my bar crawl within a building.
Monarch will be loads of fun since they’ll have housemade sodas and can make ice cream floats and phosphates. Boozy or not, it’ll be the place to be.
There’s a fake 40 foot redwood tree on the second floor. I always ate on the second floor as a kid and I was delighted to spot (well, it’s hard to miss) the tree. I love kitsch of all sorts and the new Clifton’s does not disappoint. It’s like eating in a (way cooler) natural history museum.
Chef Jason Fullilove runs the kitchen which expects to serve 1500-2000 people a day. When I told him I ate at Clifton’s every week as a kid but didn’t expect the food to be the same, he said I’ll be surprised because a lot of the old recipes will remain the same. Like jello! They’re just a bit updated for modern tastes. I’ll say!
Obviously being the kid that agonized over sides, I made a beeline over to check them out. I have to say there’s some fancy creamed spinach that I’ll happily eat all day, every day. But the great thing about being a grown up is now I can order all the sides and not just one.
Grabbing that tray, I wanted to put everything on it. I had a nifty Waldorf salad with long curls of asparagus and a nice dressing, moaned over the chili and wondered which meat to get from the carving station. Plus there’s pizza and a huge dessert section.
To be honest, I don’t think I ate dessert as a kid at Clifton’s. It wasn’t and still isn’t my thing but I have to say the jello is mighty fine. Or if you want to go with cake or pudding, those are great too.
Now about that bar crawl…I’ll have to do a follow up on the drinks when all the bars open at Clifton’s.