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photo credit: Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image
8.1

Clark Street Diner

$$$$

If you have ever cried to a friend at 1am, it is possible you are familiar with the 101 Coffee Shop. Or as fans simply called it, "The 101."

The same holds true for late-night lovers, breakfast devotees, and anyone on a practice team at United Citizens Brigade. On the ground floor of Hollywood's Best Western Plus, the iconic diner was once an all-hours gathering place. To seek refuge in the 101's well-worn, tan leather booths was an LA rite of passage, right up there with inaugural parking tickets and client service jobs. So, when the decades-old restaurant closed permanently in 2020 and LA bakery, Clark Street, announced it was taking over, we felt worried—and very much protective. Would they destroy it? Rip out everything we loved, like the Flintstone-esque stone wall, or sticky carafes of maple syrup? Thankfully, the answer is no.

Hours have been reduced (Clark Street Diner is a daytime spot, open from 7am to 3pm) and the menu has been halved, but this Hollywood icon remains the quirky '60s-themed diner we hold dear to our hearts—but now, with better bread.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

In fact, you might not even notice a change. The signature midcentury modern color palette remains intact—Formica still tops every table, the same orb-like fixtures light the restaurant. A wraparound mirror hovers above the bar, reflecting the diner and its hungry patrons. And behind it, you'll see many of the original 101 staff—servers, cooks, and food runners who were hired back for the reopening.

There are differences, however. Look a bit closer, and you'll notice the subtle changes: a new, gleaming pastry case packed with croissants, chocolate chip cookies, and sticky cardamom buns. Shiny espresso machines that use House Roots beans and premium blends from Devocion. They also sell extremely cute bucket hats.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

As you can imagine,  Clark Street Bread excels at baked goods and pastries. Avocado toasts are served on inch-thick seeded sourdough loaves. Breakfast burritos come wrapped in a wonderful, spongey Tehachapi grain tortilla and stuffed with bacon, onion, cheese, potatoes, and gloriously yellow eggs. And if you're in the mood for something hefty, get the patty melt. Butter-slathered slices of Jewish rye are pan-fried then smothered in freshly ground beef, swiss cheese, and grilled onions. Oops, we were drooling? We didn't notice.

Don’t skip out on the pastries either. Although not formally on the menu, these are what made Clark Street famous—the delicious, sugar-dusted building blocks of its Los Angeles empire, which now spans Echo Park, Brentwood, and the Grand Central Market. Swedish vanilla buns are intricately folded, the dough twisting and weaving to create a Princess Leia-like treat. Kouign-amanns come spun with a crispy skirt of caramelized sugar. And biting into the overstuffed cardamom cream bun is almost too pornographic to write about. Grab a baguette before you go. Whether you eat at home or hurriedly in the car is up to you.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

There are millions of ways to mess up a revival (just look at Fuller House). And while Clark Street is not the late-night haven the previous tenant was, this legendary Hollywood diner is still all the things we loved about the 101. Except now, with improved bread, coffee, and quite frankly, merch. After all, what other LA restaurant can say it starred in a Megan Thee Stallion music video? The answer is none.


Food Rundown

Assortment of Pastries

As with the quest to find the perfect The Godfather meme, there are no disappointing options within Clark Street's pastry case. Between chocolate chip cookies, strawberry danishes packed with fruit, and the mysteriously elusive hot cross bun, everything is baked with an almost scientific ratio of sugar, butter, chocolate, and whatever else they decide to put in there. If we had to pick a favorite, it would be the kouign-amann, a half-croissant, half-cake confection that's become the stuff of legend among the Infatuation LA team. It's a classic treat, a flaky pastry we've been fans of since their original Grand Central Market hall.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

Toasted Almond Flour Waffle

Dense, chewy, and crispy around the edges, just the way a waffle should be. The fact that it’s gluten-free is simply a bonus. The ends are a bit brittle, evidence that it's been freshly pulled from the waffle maker. Order with a side of fruit to make this dish truly come alive.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

Breakfast Burrito

In the great, big world of LA breakfast burritos, does Clark Street's reign supreme? Probably not. Although unrevolutionary, this loaded burrito is still super satisfying on a Sunday morning, when you're hungover and running through every life decision you've ever made in your head. We love the chewy, pan-fried Tehachapi organic grain tortilla that reminds us of a fresh dumpling wrapper. We also love the runny eggs and the cheese that oozes out with every bite.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

Patty Melt

Stop right here, this is the star of the show. Who knew we would fall in love with a patty melt? It’s a massive sandwich—two thick slices of Jewish rye, a sizable slab of freshly ground beef, swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and grilled onions that taste so, so sweet. You might need a nap afterwards, but damn, it is worth it.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

Challah French Toast

The only real disappointment for us. Maybe we’re just not French toast people, but the bread was too soggy and eggy to enjoy it.

Chocolate Shake

Would any diner trip be complete without a milkshake? The ones at Clark Street are, as it's referred to in the business, "Very Extremely Thick," and made with Fosselman's ice cream, a renowned dessert shop in Alhambra famous for their old-school, decadent scoops. There are various flavors here, but c'mon. Unless you're a dog or a person who lies about not liking chocolate for attention, order the chocolate shake.

Jakob Layman

Clark Street Diner review image

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