Cliftons Cafeteria is one of the most interesting places to eat in downtown Los Angeles, California. This eclectic eatery is a unique place to visit. The food, served cafeteria style, is just one of the reasons Clifton’s is worth checking out. What makes this place stand out is the decor which changes depending on what part of the building you are in. This place has made a positive impact on many in California. In the 40’s there was a pay what you can policy and if you couldn’t afford to pay that was okay. Over 10,000 were served food here daily.

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eat in downtown los angeles

My first visit to Clifton’s Cafeteria was for an after party following a Last Remaining Seats screening. The party took place in the private speakeasy type bar on the bottom level called the Shadowbox. If you ever get the chance to go check it out please do! I knew that I wanted to come back in the future to see more of the restaurant.

clifton's cafeteria

Last month I was spending the day in Los Angeles and had time for lunch at Clifton’s. I was so excited to get to check out their food and explore the building. Since this is a cafeteria style restaurant you will want to make sure to grab a tray. The desserts are so adorable and oh my goodness they were tempting. However, my friend and I had plans to check out California Donuts later so we didn’t get any. I thought the Panda cupcake was darling!

food at clifton's cafeteria

There is a nice variety of food to choose from. I rarely find meatloaf so I could not pass it up. My meal of meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, and brussels sprouts were delicious. The prices are very affordable which can be hard to find in downtown. Regardless of everyone’s eating preferences, there is something for everyone to enjoy here.

clifton's cafeteria downtown los angeles

There are a few different levels of the building that are worth exploring. I love the main room with the tree in the middle. There’s even a fireplace at the bottom of the tree. I also really liked a more formal room that reminded me of a parlor and looked like a great spot for a tea party. Another space I liked had a waterfall and big daisy. The atmosphere makes this place a fun one to check out.

Did you know that Clifton’s Cafeteria has also made appearances in film and television? Parks and Recreation, Mad Men as well as Gangster Squad have filmed there. I always think it’s really cool to check out filming locations. Even better when a filming location is a really cool building with amazing food.

Street parking can be hard to find around Clifton’s. I would encourage you to park at Pershing Square and walk from there. Nearby places that I suggest checking out while you’re in the area are The Last Bookstore, The Bradbury Building, and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. The Broad Museum & Walt Disney Concert Hall are also worth checking out while you are in the area.

About The Author

Michelle Ares is the founder and creative director of LA Dreaming. I have a passion for Southern California and love sharing my adventures and experiences with you. I love to travel, find new places to check out, and watch movies. You can follow me on Instagram @la.dreaming

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