Clifton’s Cafeteria

Had a day off on Monday and went to Long Beach for lunch with my pal Steve Harvey of “Only in L.A.” fame (subject of a future column) via Metrolink and the Blue Line, the only way to travel. After lunch we paid our respects at Acres of Books, the used bookstore that’s closing, probably in mid-October (and subject of another future column). Discounts are now up to 30 percent but most of the best books have already walked out the doors.

On the train I read more of “The Distant Land of My Father,” the novel everyone in Claremont is supposed to be reading, although I have yet to hear anyone around town mention it. (This book, you won’t be surprised to hear, will also be the subject of a future column. No shortage of column topics here.)

Anyway. On the way back, I got off at the Seventh Street Metro station in downtown L.A., walked four blocks or so east to Broadway and took a little break at Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria.

Many of you will know Clifton’s. It’s the old-school eatery there since the 1930s and still chugging along; even though all its other outposts have closed, they’ve hunkered down here. Inside it’s the same forest-like scene you remember or have read about, complete with a waterfall and redwood trees. If you’ve never been, you owe it to yourself to visit at least once in your life.

I’ve been there maybe a half-dozen times over the years, but I had my first actual meal there a couple of months ago when I was downtown for a Last Remaining Seats screening at the Orpheum, and truth be told, the food is only so-so. The setting more than makes up for any shortfall in the taste department, though. Plus they have all the comfort food items you could ask for, even Jell-O with fruit inside.

Usually I go in the middle of the afternoon and just get a cold drink and a slice of pie or maybe a fruit salad, something to relax with, and that’s what I did Monday: a slice of cheesecake with chocolate, a bowl of orange slices and a lemon Ole. It all hit the spot, as did the kitsch. When you’re in a restaurant with its very own waterfall, it’s hard not to leave happy.

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