Welcome back to Dining On A Dime a bi-weekly feature in which Lizbeth Scordo surveys LA's cheap eats—often obscure, ethnic, unsung restaurants—proving that dining on a dime is alive, well, and quite tasty in this here city. Where do you think she should go next? Drop us a line.
Yes, we’ve all heard that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but sometimes it seems even tougher to find a cheap breakfast, especially in Los Angeles, the land of berry-ricotta-pancakes, fancy frittatas and French presses. So, I set out to find a breakfast that was delicious but not complicated, and cheap but not a chain. I had no trouble finding it at Olympic Café House of Breakfast. No bigger than a Subway sandwich shop, the place is crammed into a rundown shopping center along a non-descript stretch of Olympic Boulevard. Its exterior sign (which only touts the “House of Breakfast” half of the name) is literally falling apart, and a B rating hangs ominously in the front window. At first glace I can already tell it’s just what I’m looking for.
Finding a seat after 8AM on a recent weekday morning is tough. The three booths are jammed with a family, a gaggle of office workers, and a pack of city parking enforcement offers, while single diners take up the ony two two-top tables. The all-capital-letters menu hanging high above the window for walk-up orders and touts the basics, all right: two-egg breakfasts, a Denver omelette, a short stack of buttermilk pancakes. But there’s also Portugese sausage, Spam and eggs, and -- for the adventurous -- a bologna-and-eggs combo. I keep it simple with scrambled eggs, rye toast and, hash browns (rice is also an option) for $4.65, and start with a cup of Farmer John’s coffee.
The décor is clearly left over from when the place opened in 1971, with a mix of faux-wood-paneled and orange formica walls, vinyl booths in the same color scheme and an odd mish-mosh of family crests hanging above it all. I’m pretty sure they’ve modeled the place after an arcade-cum-pizza-place I frequented as a kid on the Jersey shore, but I could be wrong.
The coffee tastes good and though it comes in a mug fit for a child’s tea set, it stays filled the whole time thanks to a no-nonsense woman donning an apron and Crocs behind the counter. It’s no surprise she doesn’t have time to chat with me, let alone crack a smile, but it’s a different story when it comes to the restaurant’s regulars who get her to perk up just by walking in and out as she chirps, “Hiya, Bob! Seeya, Junior!”
My toast arrives first, followed by the eggs and potatoes a few minutes later. The shredded golden spuds have just the right level of greasiness and the eggs are so flavorful you’d swear they’re the (expensive) free-range, organic, vegetarian-fed kind. But somehow, at these prices, I doubt it. My only complaint is that my toast arrived so early that it’s kind of cold and a bit hard by the time I eat it with my eggs. But I’m not about to complain to my non-smiling no-nonsense almost-friend behind the counter. After all, I’m about to become a regular.
Breakfast Items: $3.89 to $7.09