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How do you say “goodbye” to a city? How do you wave bon voyage to a booming metropolis? This is a dilemma that puzzled my friend Philip on the eve of his departure from Los Angeles for a two-month stay in Slidell, Louisiana.
My suggestion was to… you know… not. If I were him, I’d pack my bags, call a Lyft, and spend the entire drive from my house to LAX on Twitter reading about the fall of American democracy or Ariana Grande or whatever. I could use a few months of not thinking about Los Angeles. But Philip is a sentimental guy and I’m inclined to enable this sentimentality, us being best friends and all. So I suggested we send him off by doing what we do best — chopping it up over good food in the city that raised us.
For Philip and me, an LA food odyssey doesn’t mean racing around to the city’s five-star restaurants. Those joints have their place in the food scene, obviously, but that’s not what gets us feeling nostalgic (or full). We wanted to flip the script — go cheap, ditch the chains, see some sights, and find the food that helps define our diverse, eclectic, ever-changing city. Here are the details from Philip’s epic full-day sendoff tour.
Breakfast At Arthur’s Restaurant, Journey Through East LA
Our food tour began in the small LA gateway city of Downey. In the southern suburbs of Los Angeles, far from the notable establishments that populate “Best of LA” lists, lies a hidden gem of a breakfast joint known as Arthur’s Restaurant.
Downey isn’t a particularly significant city. Once upon a time, it was the birthplace of the Apollo space program, which seems dope until you realize they tore that facility down and replaced it with a Benihana and a Walmart. Now all Downey has is the oldest operational McDonald’s, which some consider “something” but I most certainly don’t. In any case, Downey does have Arthur’s and that’s the reason we went.
Arthur’s itself is totally unremarkable. It’s got the look of a 70’s roadside diner, with hardly a barrier between the kitchen and the dining area. The barstools are all intimately close to one another — providing you with the unique experience of hearing the people beside you chew. One wall contains a giant mirror that gives the illusion the restaurant is much bigger, but it’s a lie. Arthur’s is smaller than an average Taco Bell.
In short, Arthur’s is small, cramped, always crowded, closes at noon, and has a drive-thru for some reason despite being a straight up breakfast restaurant. And yet, I literally couldn’t love it more. It’s got some of the best breakfast in all of Los Angeles and most people don’t even know it exists. I shouldn’t even be telling you it exists, God knows there aren’t enough damn tables already.