Memorable Moments in an Alien World

{March 17, 2012}   The Rewards of Loitering

I am slowly attempting to get to know the hot spots in LA and acquaint myself with the hidden gems in the second largest city in America. As I moved to LA for work, I have spent the majority of my time completely immersed in my job and I haven’t set much time aside to explore Los Angeles.

But my soul NEEDS to seek out and explore my new city, so I am trying to make more time to find the spots that make Los Angeles, well, Los Angeles.

On one such Saturday I decided to take my mother (who was out visiting) to a diner in downtown that I had heard about on “Hidden LA.” I am always up for an adventure and I felt certain that this place wouldn’t disappoint. Centered in Downtown, on Skid Row, the Nickel Diner sounded adventurey – an established place in a part of town in which people usually don’t stop to brunch.

And it didn’t disappoint. Once we walked inside, the environment was warm and comfortable and had the ambiance of stepping into a grand diner from the 60s or 70s. The walls were ornate and beautifully decorated with carved wood and gold, given the impression that skid row itself, once was a beautiful and wealthy area of the city.

At this point I must confess to you that there was only one reason I HAD to try out this diner. It was rumoured (and found true!) that they served maple bacon donuts. I don’t care how much you judge me (or my clogged arteries!) I simply HAD to know what that was like.

It was glorious.

My mother and I both immensely enjoyed our food and after I paid the bill, I saw a woman taking pictures of her son and husband. Having experience in always being the one with the camera, I thought it would be nice to offer to take a picture of their whole family. Half-expecting to be blown off or given a “who-the-hell-are-you-to-interrupt-MY-time-with-my-family” look (after all, I am in LA), I approached them and made my offer. To my surprise, they were all very grateful and in 10 short seconds, I had taken the picture and was on my way out the door.

As I stepped outside, I glanced around looking for my mom. I found her sitting in the car, giving me a look that the tint would not allow me to accurately interpret. As I made my way to the car, a black woman paced behind me, humming something indiscernible to the brickwall of the diner.

Once I got in the car, I heard the story that brought me up to speed on the meaning of that cryptic look from my mom. Apparently, when my mother exited the diner she waited outside for me. The same woman who was humming to the side of the building when I walked out, was present with my mom.

This lady paced back and forth, closer and closer to my mom. Then she cocked her head to one side and in a loud sing-song voice began to proclaim in straight-up off-off-off Broadway musical-style, “I think we should rob somebooooody toooooday.”

At first my mom darted a side-glance in the singing robber’s direction, thinking that she may be talking on a Bluetooth. But as you and I know, if you are wandering around Skid Row singing about robbery to the side of a building, it is improbable that you are connected to a mobile device. And let’s be honest: that’s a GOOD thing.

So this is the take-away from my experience at the Nickel Diner:

1)    INCREDIBLE and UNIQUE donuts to delight your palette

2)    The ambiance is wonderful and can be described as warm with an old-school elegance

3)    Great service and endless refills of coffee

4)    If you loiter outside, undesirable adventure may await

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