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A graphic showing Armon’s food, interiors, and and menu.
Armon’s serves Thai food alongside breakfast classics in Eagle Rock.
Lille Allen/Eater

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Eagle Rock’s 60-Year-Old Diner Serves Breakfast Basics and Killer Thai Food

Order corned beef hash with chicken tom kha at Armon’s, Eagle Rock’s diner of choice for 60 years

Expect the unexpected at Armon’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop. Physically unaltered since 1962, the diner’s space boasts classic vintage motifs: an L-shaped counter, stacks of Kellogg’s cereal boxes arranged above gurgling coffee machines, midcentury modern wood paneling along the kitchen’s walls, and a board with rotating daily specials like menudo or chicken-apple sausage with eggs. But the menu has evolved over time to reveal surprising specials and no-fuss American classics with a welcome twist: a touch of familiar Thai and Chinese dishes.

While Thai and Chinese cuisine aren’t synonymous with American diner food, Armon’s demonstrates how Americans of all backgrounds have put their own twist on the genre. When owner Pat Chinda took over the restaurant in 1996, the Glendale resident began adding her home recipes to existing offerings after catching curious looks from customers who saw her staff eating dishes like pork fried rice or tom yum during lunch breaks.

Corned beef hash with eggs and potatoes at Armon’s.
Corned beef hash.
Lisa Kwon

“Customers kept coming in and asking what we were eating,” Chinda says. “Then little by little they kept asking, ‘Can I have that?’ So then we put them all on the menu.” Among those dishes were tom kha gai, tom yum, and chicken soup with rice noodles. Chinda even exhibited some creativity with the Dr. Special — an aptly named hangover cure with an origin that Chinda admits she has forgotten — which arrives as a plate of rice, stir-fried chicken, bell peppers, onions, and Thai chile peppers. Drenched in a gravy made with oyster sauce, it has become a hit among regulars who enjoy a spicy breakfast to clear the morning haze.

“It’s been a tradition to go there every Sunday,” says Maricela Mendoza, an Eagle Rock resident who first tried Armon’s with her mother in 1998 after they saw crowds outside the diner for several weeks. “[American] breakfast was our go-to, but then when my husband saw they had Thai food, he stuck to that. Now every week, I’ll have my omelet and he’ll have his Dr. Special.”

The Dr. Special — rice, chicken, veggies, and more — at Armon’s.
The Dr. Special.
Lisa Kwon

Armon’s history spans 61 years, much of which Chinda admits wasn’t recorded. Lore has it that the diner was originally named after a French woman when it opened in 1962, and some longtime customers recall numerous owners throughout the decades. Chinda recalls her predecessor was a Thai woman named Sunya who took over in the early ’90s. In 1996, Sunya asked Chinda, a server at the time, if she wanted to take over ownership of the restaurant as Sunya wanted to move back to Thailand. Looking to try something new, Chinda accepted.

Since the loss of other longtime neighborhood diners like Nickel Diner and Brite Spot, Armon’s has become a gathering place for Angelenos in search of family-owned greasy spoons. At its can’t-miss corner of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard, the vintage diner sits on one of the most quickly changing streets in the neighborhood, not far from high-profile openings such as Dunsmoor, Capri Club, Viet Tapas Bar, and Queen St. Armon’s is a frequent delight for those who seek hidden legacies and for the no-nonsense customers — Occidental students looking to ease their stomachs after a night’s excess, or locals seeking a quiet place to eat before beginning their work shifts.

“Some people come every Monday or every Friday, and some people come Monday through Friday — every morning at 7 o’clock — to have their same breakfast food,” says Chinda.

Nothing can cure a hangover or malaise like Armon’s corned beef hash. Pan-fried until it’s as thin as a pancake, the dish arrives with crunchy hash browns, runny eggs, buttery toast, and a choice of crispy waffles or fluffy hotcakes. It’s not uncommon to see a table of two sharing a plate with Chinese-style chicken fried rice.

Unique to Armon’s is its orderly spread of Tapatío hot sauce, Kikkoman soy sauce, ketchup, and Sriracha that sits at each table — a reflection of a home pantry where breakfast extends beyond omelets and pancakes. Sitting in a largely Filipino neighborhood, the restaurant was one of the few — if not the only — that thought to offer long-grain rice with a plate of eggs and bacon, completing what resembles a traditional Filipino breakfast. The restaurant has also perfected its homemade salsa, a ripe, piquant combination of Thai and Latin flavors made with serrano chile, tomato, yellow onion, and tomato juice.

“Every time we serve a meal with salsa, the customer hasn’t even finished their order but they finish the salsa first and then ask for more salsa,” Chinda says. “Imagine how crazy that is, because we serve every meal with salsa.”

The counter, stool, and booths in the dining area inside Armon’s.
Inside Armon’s.
Lisa Kwon
Behind the counter at Armon’s.
Main counter area.
Lisa Kwon

Regarded by many as inimitable, Armon’s salsa is delicious atop the diner’s Denver omelet, the tom yum for a spicier kick, or the chicken-apple sausage and eggs special.

Today, Armon’s thrives under the same core six people who worked for Sunya before Chinda and her husband took over. On busy weekend mornings, when a crowd forms next to the outdoor tables, Chinda joins her cooks Isaac and Chavez (who asked that their last names not be published) in the kitchen, the latter of whom brought his cousins Pepe and Jose to Armon’s in the early ’90s to work as bussers. Under Chinda’s ownership, everyone has kept their positions. Then in 2000, Chinda’s sister-in-law May Vannapaitoonsri joined to help cook and serve, rounding out the team that has stayed together for more than 20 years.

The Dr. Special, corned beef hash, and hotcake on a dark wooden table at Armon’s.
The Dr. Special, corned beef hash, and hotcake.
Lisa Kwon

But Chinda is looking forward to retirement; after all, the original plan was to run Armon’s for five years. Twenty-seven years later, she still shows up to work almost every day, fueled by the praise from generations of families, college students, and new Angelenos exploring Eagle Rock. For now, Chinda says, she has enough drive left to keep going.

“So far, I guess it’s not too bad,” she says wryly. “That’s why I keep it going for 27 years.”

Armon’s lovers need not fret when Chinda finally decides to step away from her restaurant. Though she sees herself at the helm for at least five more years, she already has plans for her nephews — or someone else who currently works at the diner — to take over, just as how she herself was chosen to be part of Armon’s lineage of owners.

For now, Armon’s remains an inspiration for those in search of LA’s greasy spoons that reflect this culturally diverse neighborhood. Built with a small-town spirit, the restaurant welcomes anyone who wants to broaden their idea of breakfast. “Even though the neighborhood has other up-and-coming restaurants, we still just want to go there because their food is good, the girls are nice, and we see the same cooks and busboys,” says Mendoza. “It’s my exact idea of a family restaurant.”

Armon’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop is located at 5056 N. Eagle Rock Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041. It is open from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

Seating inside Armon’s.
Tables and counter seating inside Armon’s.
Lisa Kwon
Booths and stools inside Armon’s diner.
Booths and stools inside Armon’s.
Lisa Kwon
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