Legendary L.A. eatery Clifton's Cafeteria is back! (but is called Clifton's Republic now)

If you have never been to Clifton's in downtown Los Angeles, you are in for a real treat. In a time of depressing homogenization, Clifton's stands (way) apart. Sure, it's a fun portal to an era when cafeteria-style dining was popular. But it's really about the bananas design and the sheer scope of the place. To say Clifton's is kitschy doesn't begin to capture it. It's more like if uber-kitschy, ur-kitschy and mondo-kitschy had a baby. First, a little history:

Formerly called Clifton's Cafeteria, the 16,000-square-foot cafeteria and dining emporium located on Broadway near Seventh Street first opened in 1935. Founder Clifford Clinton fed up to 10,000 people per day at the cafeteria and became known for giving meals away during the Great Depression

10,000 people a day! I was going to write about the unforgettable design elements, but this guy from discoverlosangeles.com kinda nails it: 

How magical would it be to instantly trade the sidewalks and steel of an urban downtown for a woodland utopia? Clifton's spanned 16,000 square feet of faux redwoods, frolicking forest creatures, scenic murals, a brook babbling with limeade and a 20-foot waterfall cascading over artificial rocks. To say that Clifton's was unique is like saying LeBron James is a pretty decent basketball player. Imagine a larger-than-life diorama designed by Walt Disney on a Pine Sol-fueled bender.  

Hard to beat that. According to Eater Los Angeles, Clifton's will be re-opening in phases starting later this month. And they have some big plans:

Clifton's will first reopen the stunning Pacific Seas tiki bar and gradually restart service at three remaining spaces with brunch, new food menus, and entertainment in the coming months. The reopening starts with a residency by the circus burlesque dance troupe AirOtic beginning this Friday, May 10.

I don't know where you find a "circus burlesque dance troupe" but that is chef's kiss perfect.  

There's tons of great pics on-line but I really dig this one — Guillermo Del Toro meets Velvet Elvis. 

Previously: Eating at all of LA`s grand old restaurants and dives, one at a time