First Meal at Clifton’s


The first meal I ate in L.A. as a 13-year-old adolescent visitor, fresh from the Midwest and just off the Super Chief, was at Clifton’s elaborate and colorful cafeteria on Broadway at 7th Street downtown. Like any other small town kid, I was dazzled by the Santa Cruz mountain lodge setting with its tree trunk chapel, tumbling waterfall, towering faux trees and a gigantic moose head and the big bear holding a fishing pole. There was a line clear down the block in those days when civic figure Clifford Clinton had already greeted up to 10,000 patrons daily through the ‘Great Depression’ and WWII. In hard times, the policy was ‘dine free if not delighted.’ The ‘30s profit margin had been less than a penny per patron but nobody was turned away hungry. Times have changed and so has the overhead, but Clifton’s is still Clinton family-owned and operated, and the décor is still a feast to the eyes as 1,500 or so appetites arrive daily still seeking  generous portions of comfort dishes at small prices in a unique, nostalgic setting. 
The comfort food display of pot pies, roasts and more, tastes as good as it looks. In the cafeteria tradition, desserts are at the start of the tray line and all sweet temptations are made fresh daily on the premises. If you have kids or grandparents in tow, or if you never quite made it downtown to Clifton’s, nothing is forever. Now is the time; all day, every day, any day.
Even Starbucks’ endless chain is getting the economic message, so starting March 3, the premium-priced coffee houses will serve a choice of two light breakfasts with a tall coffee or coffee latte for $3.99. Pass the cream!
High on the list of home-style restaurants the Palate enjoys is the Magnolia Grille at 10530 Magnolia Blvd. in NoHo where the food and ‘tude’ are equally good whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Popular priced dishes include crab-stuffed halibut and tasty BBQ salmon or meaty baby back ribs. The meaty sandwich menu is a winner as presented on fresh baked rolls and breads. Everything is prepared to order and served with a smile in the cozy dining room, and there’s even a pet-friendly mini-patio. The Grille staff puts in long hours 7 days a week from 6 a.m. ’til 10 in the eve.

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