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December 21, 2016 - Since we've been in Southern California we have participated in many tours sponsored by the Los Angeles Conservancy, and today's tour was of the iconic Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles.  Clifton's Cafeteria was once part of a chain of eight Clifton's restaurants and is the oldest surviving cafeteria style eatery in Los Angeles.  Founded in 1931 by Clifford Clinton, the name was created by combining "Clifford" and "Clinton" to produce "Clifton's." The design of the original restaurants included exotic decor and facades that were "kitschy and theatrical."  The second Clifton's facility opened in 1935 here at 648 S Broadway.  However, in 1939 its name was changed to "Clifton's Brookdale," and as the sole survivor of the chain, it is now known as "Clifton's Cafeteria," or simply as "Clifton's."

The dining areas and bars are on four floors, although the fourth floor is reserved for private functions.  It was also very dark up there, too dark for non-flash photography.

The current owner is into taxidermy and there are preserved animals everywhere.  He is a collector as well and Clifton's offers a great venue to display all of his pieces.

There is a central three-story atrium filled by a massive reproduction of a redwood tree.

All of the murals on the first and second floors are original, dating back to the restaurant's opening in 1935.

The heart of the operation is the cafeteria, since there isn't any table service here.  It's like a grand buffet with a carving station, a deli for sandwiches, salad bars, soup bars, dessert stations, etc.  Just pick out what you want and then pay for each item at the check-out stand.  Although it's a bit pricey, the portions are large and the quality is very good.  We chose some comfort food today; meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing and Mac and Cheese.  It was a great lunch after a wonderful tour.

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