April 27, 2017

Kid-Friendly Eats: The Nickel

Want to know how long we’ve been downtown? We moved in a few months before The Nickel Diner opened on Main Street in 2008. I remember owner Monica May’s reaction when my then-two-year-old son and I walked into the Nickel for the first time: “There are kids downtown?” They didn’t even have high chairs on hand since it never occurred to them that families would be part of their customer mix.

Today the Nickel is stuffed with families every weekend, and yes, they have high chairs. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find something on the menu that your kid will want to eat, from dutch babies for breakfast to mac and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, and burgers for lunch and dinner. The restaurant’s decor is authentic retro with painted menus on the walls dating back to the 1950s and red leather banquettes.

There’s been some controversy in the past over just how kid-friendly the Nickel really is. Mayim Bialik was almost tossed out of the restaurant after her kids ran amok during a visit, an incident that she tweeted (and that Monica proudly owns up to). But our experiences have been nothing but positive: the staff knows my kid by name and we even had a meal comped once because, as Monica said, my kid has grown up along with the restaurant.

The Nickel Diner
524 S. Main Street, Los Angeles CA 90013
213-623-8301; 5cdiner.com
Breakfast & Lunch: 8 am-3:30 pm, Tuesday-Sunday
Dinner: 6 pm-10:30 pm, Tuesday-Saturday
CLOSED Mondays

Kid-Friendly? Couldn’t be more kid friendly unless it were a Chuck E. Cheese.
Prices: Most menu items are in the $8-$15 range.
Menu Highlights: Dutch Baby, $7.75; scrambled eggs with salmon, leeks, roasted tomatoes, sour cream and chives, $10.25; mac and cheese, $7.50; Nickel burger, $8.75. Desserts are a strong suit, with items like bacon donuts made on the premises.
Special note: This place gets jammed on the weekends, particularly on USC game days, so get there at opening time if you can.

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About Alisa Rivera

Alisa is a writer whose work has been featured in the Oregonian, the Syracuse Post-Standard, Latina magazine and other publications. She has also had her short fiction published in the Berkely Fiction Review and Iris: A Journal About Women. Alisa and her husband, James Hightower, have been happily raising their son, Nathan, in downtown Los Angeles since 2008. You can learn more about Alisa's work at www.alisarivera.com.