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Here's What Downtown Legend Clifton's Cafteria Looked Like In Its Heyday

The soon-to-reopen 1932 restaurant was a swingin' spot 75 years ago.

Clifton's Brookdale exterior, circa 1936
Clifton's Brookdale exterior, circa 1936
Dick Whittington Photography Collection, USC Digital Library
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Since the legendary Clifton’s Cafeteria remains very much closed at the moment (despite the gorgeous neon signage now lighting up the front), Curbed thought it wise to wax nostalgic about its past.

Head right over to explore the wild, woodsy interiors of Clifton’s in its 1930’s and ’40’s prime. For those with a memory for such things, recall the multi-layered dining room interior, beset on all sides by large fake trees and faux rocky outcroppings. Bands would play in the corner, serenading diners as they moved from the cafeteria line to their seats.

Over at Collectors Weeklythere’s an even bigger Clifton’s Cafeteria deep-dive from last year, complete with photos, history and scans of old menus. It’s pretty fascinating stuff, as the absurd Clifton’s take winds from a 1938 car bombing assassination attempt (yes, really) to a now closed Clifton’s outpost at a West Covina strip mall. It’s all fascinating stuff, and hopefully enough to keep nostalgic diners at bay as they wait for the eventual reopening downtown.

Clifton's Republic

648 South Broadway, , CA 90014 (213) 627-1673 Visit Website