This is one of the last remaining old L.A. eateries in the downtown area. In years gone by, Angeleno families would make a trip here for dinner as part of a special Sunday outing. If you’re looking for a square meal while making the rounds of downtown points of interest, it will not disappoint you. Located right in the heart of Broadway, the clientele is mostly Latino. During the week it is primarily shoppers and workers from the nearby stores, but there are more families on weekends. The decor is cornball tropical island complete with faux streams and brooks. If you were taken here as a child, there were memorable choices, such as the Jell-O with whipped cream topping or the pineapple upside down cake. Heavier fare includes the standard mashed potatoes and gravy, roast beef, fish, or chicken. Of course this is just a sampling of the many dishes offered, past and present, at this venerable dining spot.
Once part of a chain of Clifton’s restaurants, this is the oldest surviving cafeteria style eatery in Los Angeles and the largest public cafeteria in the world. Founded in 1931 by Clifford Clinton, the name was created by combining the first half of “Clifford” and the last half of “Clinton” to produce the name “Clifton’s”. The design of the restaurants included exotic decor and facades that were “kitschy and theatrical”
The second Clifton’s facility opened in 1935. In 1939 its name was changed to “Clifton’s Brookdale”, and as the sole survivor of the multiple branches over 79 years, it is now known as “Clifton’s Cafeteria” or more familiarly simply as “Clifton’s”. Located near Los Angeles’ downtown theater district, it has remained in operation for 74 years.
The restaurant chain was noted for each facility having its own theme, and for helping out those who could not afford to pay. This approach to business reflected the owner’s Christian ethos—he never turned anyone away hungry and maintained a precedent set by the first restaurant on Olive Street, known as “Clifton’s Golden Rule”.
In 1946, Clifford and his wife Nelda sold their cafeteria interests to their three younger Clinton children, and retired in order devote their attentions to a Meals for Millions, a non-profit charitable organization he founded in the wake of World War II to distribute food to millions of starving and malnourished people throughout the world. Clifton’s Brookdale was sold to nightclub operator Andrew Meieran on September 21, 2010. Meieran intends to preserve the food and unique atmosphere of the establishment.
648 South Broadway, Los Angeles CA 90014 Open Daily 6:30am-7pm