Retro style at Cole’s Diner

118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Cole’s Diner brings a dose of old-fashioned goodness to Main Street, Los Angeles. It originated as a public feeding house for the working class of downtown in the 1900s. Known for its wide variety of specialty French dip sandwiches with sides, such as soup, coleslaw and french fries, and a hidden speakeasy nested in the back, Cole’s caters to the interests of every age group.

While walking down Sixth Street, I was greeted with an almost impossible to miss neon sign that reads “Cole’s French dipped sandwiches since 1908.” The vibrant neon sign points to a staircase that leads you down to the saloon. When I walked in, the bar staff received me. I was allowed to seat myself anywhere I pleased. The walls were covered with photos that tell the story of the Pacific Electric Railroad workers, as well as the famous singers and actors that ate there.  This was cool because though there are tons of restaurants that celebrities eat at in LA, most of them don’t acknowledge the ones who ate there. Along with these images, the dim lighting, wooden chairs and stools and red booths also contributed to the saloon-like feel of the restaurant.  

Not much time passed before a friendly waiter dressed in a vintage vest and slacks welcomed us to the diner, gave us a menu and asked for our choice of drinks. The simple and straightforward menu, which listed French dips, sides, salads and drinks, was easy to comprehend compared to flashy menus in other restaurants. When ordering the French dip, I could select either the “skinny dip combo,” half of a sandwich and a side, or the “big dipper,” a full sandwich and side. The waiter suggested that the “big dipper” option, so we could share the large portion. The prices vary with the type; we chose the USDA prime beef dip with tater tots. The total for this alone was $12.86 which wasn’t so bad when it was split between two people.

About 15 minutes later, we received our sandwich, dip and a large spicy pickle on a silver tray lined with a newspaper and a woven basket filled with hot tater tots. The chefs precut the sandwich, making it easier to be shared. When dipped, the perfectly toasted Italian bread didn’t soggy and held its crunch. The seasoned beef was tender, the salty and zesty flavor of the dip was perfect, and the salted tater tots were fried to a golden brown color and were extremely crispy.

I‘m glad we made the decision to order the “big dipper” and share because it is cheaper than what we would pay if we both ordered the “skinny dip.” The sandwich and side between the two of us were very filling. The portion size, the fresh ingredients and the presentation make it worth trying out as well. The food truly lived up to its reputation of having the best French dip in Los Angeles, the service was fast and the location and interior gave us a trip back in time.

By Sara Corona, Scene editor

Photos by Sara Corona

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