Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My 5-cents on Nickel Diner

I've read so much about Nickel Diner and in particular its bacon donut, so I made my way to downtown LA for brunch one Saturday afternoon.

After parking on the street about 2 blocks away and walking through dilapidated hotel-turned-apartments, we found the place and put our name on the list. The decor and the people are retro-hipster cute, which is kind of fun.We waited about 15-20 minutes before finally getting a table.

When we sat down we were served these tiny red velvet donuts.
Didn't taste much red velvet and wasn't too crazy about the icing. It was not bad.

Apparently Nickel Diner doesn't do fresh squeezed juices - my default 'brunch' drink. Boo. But they do have a selection of interesting sodas.

I ordered the 5th and Main, which is a "spicy pork bbq hash"
The pork was tender and the sauce was only slightly spicy. I wish there had been more sauce though, as the meat itself without the sauce was rather bland and there wasn't enough sauce to go around. The dish definitely has potential though, maybe ask for extra sauce.

My companion got the vegan ranchero (tofu ranchero)
It tasted ... vegan and healthy. Don't know why he ordered this ...

He also got the vegan chili.
It was okay, didn't do much for me. A bit spicy, but it needed something extra (like meat? not necessarily meat, but something :P ).

Moving on. Naturally I had to try the iconic bacon donut.
Yeah, it was good. That's about it, though, it didn't do much more for me. The donut itself was a bit heavy and super sticky and sweet that the bacon flavors didn't come through as much. I would've liked it better if it was a lighter fluffy donut.

To get another shot at a satisfying dessert, we went with a ding dong.
This was more like it. This reminded me of Cake Monkey's. Rich chocolatey cake with icing dipped in chocolate - yummy!

Overall, Nickel Diner was not bad. But not great enough to make me do this drive for brunch regularly. I think it's more of a neighborhood place, and if it's in my neighborhood, then yeah, I probably will frequent it. As it is, I have John O' Groats/Hugo's or Auntie Em's and many other places near home/work, so I don't really see any reason to trek down to downtown. Thought the bacon donut would be a reason to, but it really isn't.

Nickel Diner
524 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 623-8301
Nickel Diner on Urbanspoon



if it's a weekend, Canele's brunch is 100x better.

Right Way to Eat

Not bad?? and not great enough?



totally agree:


That's too bad. You're the first "middle of the road" review I've read for this place.

Maybe the bacon donut love caused too many people to overreact at how great this place was, when really it was only masking mediocrity.


Thanks for sharing the pic of the vegan tofu ranchero, I've been curious about it. I'm a vegan who actually enjoys "vegan and healthy" tasting, but that dish doesn't look very exciting or appetizing. I think you just saved me a trip :)


Bacon + donut = victory. When I ate at The Nickel in December, it was one of my favorite L.A. breakfasts, primarily due to the pork hash, with potatoes that practically caramelized in pork fat. Too bad you didn't have a better experience.


You had me at Bacon Donut.. but then I saw the veggie and bean dishes... and you lost me again! haha


Kat: haha it wasn't me who ordered all those vegan stuff!
The bacon donut's not as good as I had expected, but if you're up in the area you should just try it. Some ppl swear by it.


you should definitely come back for dinner. I love their dinner menu, tried most everything on there without a miss. but then again, i do live in the neighborhood. :)

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