UPDATE: Temporarily closed for renovations.
May open late 2013 or sometime in 2014
Located in the Historic Core part of downtown, Clifton's is a staple of the neighborhood. I had first become aware of Clifton's as a child, having frequented its former locations in the LA suburbs of Lakewood and West Covina. Unfortunately, those saw their last day and gave way to shopping mall retail. Boo-hoo! At least, but the original has survived.
Come here for what can be called classic, hearty American food. Bring your appetite!! Choose from a great assortment of main and side dishes here-usually of the meat, potato/pasta and vegetable variety. Deciding on what to get can be a task - at least for "open-gusto" types like me. Overall, the service and attitude is expected to always friendly and casual- just like being at home (well, for those with good,non-dysfuctional homes). Servers always offer to cut off fresh beef,ham or turkey roast for you. I, try to lay off the heavy meat and get a combo of salads and pastas.
Favorite Dish: Pictured is the delicious turkey pot pie, with tres leches cake and a tamarindo (Mexican) drink. I had Chicken Chipotle with red potatoes and peppers. Very filling and delicious for $5. If it were at a full-scale restaurant, this would easily be $15 or more. Note that this is a unique dish that may not be offered everyday . Usually any chicken or similar main dish will be featured though, and will be just as excellent.
When I visited LA in November 2012 Clifton's was closed and under renovation. Check their website for updates
Clifton's Cafeteria has been operating in downtown Los Angeles since 1935, it was the 2nd restaurant that Clifford Clinton opened (CLIF from his first name and TON from his last), his 1st restaurant Clifton's Pacific Seas closed in 1960 and from the pictures I've seen appears to be even more kitschy than the remaining cafeteria and it's forest decor complete with faux evergreen trees, mooseheads and stuffed critters. Pacific Seas was opened during the Great Depression and Clifton's Cafeteria just after the depression, the owner's policy was to never turn anyone away even if they didn't have any money. Clifton's website has a nice history of the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: The food here is pretty standard cafeteria fare, you go through the line with your plastic tray and pick out what grabs you. I had roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and a piece of strawberry pie for dessert. The roast beef looked just like my mom used to make for Sunday dinner, unfortunately it wasn't quite as good. If it's great food you are after, then I'd say give Clifton's a miss. But if you are looking for a historic kitschy atmosphere and a cheap meal, give Clifton's a shot!
Coming to this cafeteria as a young child brought excitement to me .........Gosh I could choose from any dish. This was an important outing for me and my family we spent many times eating enjoying each others company. We would usually eat upstairs. Just the idea of going out and having a family diner may this place a very special place.
Favorite Dish: I can't really say that I have a favorite dish it's all good. I loved the mashed potatoes and gravey, the deserts were awsome....what great times I spent there with my family.