Trigger warning: having a frank conversation about Downtown.
Unlike most of Downtown, Cherry Pick Cafe is overwhelmingly pleasant.
8.72 never was your only choice for hot tips on places to dine in DTLA. What sets it apart is an iota of honesty about a city center that feels like it’s on the brink now more than ever. Unfortunately, that means I’m beholden to a certain unpopularity by which I tell people things they don’t want to hear.
Given the choice between doing literally anything else and writing about mostly uninspiring food options in Downtown Los Angeles, I’ll take the former. Nowadays, I’ve noticed a whole host of social-media friendly outlets that are incredibly eager to tell you, the new Downtown resident, just what it is that is totally awesome about #DTLA.
We call it “tastemaking,” “influencing” and “the decline and fall of western civilization.”
I prefer to think of my gig as “scouting.” I will go experience this thing and tell you what I think. Not what you should think. That’s up to you to decide for yourself.
While some people balk immediately at the idea of not having every single opinion pre-calculated for them, others seem to enjoy this bargain. Because I will take the proverbial culinary bullet for you. I will sit in dingy rooms listening to drunken men shout things at one another in foreign languages while my heart fills with dread at the thought of another colon bomb coming to my table with a long strand of split-end hair in it.
Now that I am no longer in the employment of the LA Downtown News and am thus unburdened with the responsibility of spending my week day mornings figuring out new and inventive ways to make events I will never attend seem exciting and relevant, I can reveal the great secret to you:
The thing I enjoy most about my life in Downtown is the occasional and much-prayed-for moment of goddam peace and quiet.
I’m Grade-A, tip-top, best-in-class at filtering out the stupid shit that mars my day to day life.
The guy outside with a spike in his arm. The absolutely bat shit lady with aggressive tendencies that no one from the green shirts to the State of California will deal with. The gigantic billboard trucks that seem like they were built off of Cold War era military technology designed to disrupt the circadian rhythms of the Soviets. The loud-as-fuck 818 teenagers who walk abreast of one another on the sidewalk so no one can pass by. The gaggles of pre-pubescent skateboarders who front like they haven’t actually been punched in the face before. The landlords that leverage community fabric to carve another buck off the bone of the neighborhood I live in presumably to the benefit of their gated estate in whatever community they choose to inhabit. The drug dealers who have grown so brazen beneath our esteemed City Attorney. The people who swear up and down that a new development will change Downtown for the better (in two years, after said development has amputated a block of city sidewalk on either side of the project). Politicians of any station in life who have weaponized insincere smiles. The list goes on.
More irksome than the taggers or the Bunker Hill bros or the pushy junkies or the people on Facebook who block me before I get a chance to block them are the elite set of skull-destroyers on all sides of the social gamut who insist that we cannot speak ill of Downtown.
That’s not how I understand the First Amendment. Nor does it seem like a good choice here where, to quote Warren Zevon, “my shit’s fucked up.” I’m beginning to think that people who chide others about thinking poorly about a Downtown that is unthinkably unhinged need to put down The Secret and do some thinking themselves.
What I appreciate most about Cherry Pick Cafe is that, as the name suggests, I get to cherry pick what I think on while I’m inside.
The café is secluded. You can see it plain as day from the street. Yet, it’s not bustling. Because it’s centered between a trans-Pacific oriented tourist hotel, a senior center and the Junipero Serra State Office Building.
It’s nice to know we’re still naming things after Father Serra. He’s a great and shining example to all Californians of the utter failure with which best intentions translate into reality here in the Golden State.
But, again, I don’t have to worry about Junipero Serra and his shit because I have the Cherry Pick Cafe’s impressive collection of kitschy coffee house décor to anesthetize me. Yes, those are jars of potpourri and pine cones. Yes, I am enjoying them. Yes, I like these design elements when they’re not used as a substitute for passable food and actual customer service.
Speaking of passable food, my omelet, which is delicious. It is robust and cheese-strewn. It comes with a vinaigrette tossed salad and four wedges of toast. None of which are difficult to get down.
It’s a post-dated Christmas Miracle! A joyous dining experience melded with good food that costs under eight dollars and seventy-two cents. I feel like the universe has rewarded me for surviving All Star Weekend and Night on Broadway with a quiet place where I can go to sit in the far back and be left alone to enjoy an omelet that comes on an actual plate as if they’re not expecting you to steal it!
I hereby award Cherry Pick Cafe a coveted “1” on the binary and thank whatever ambivalent deity it is that safe-guards our entropic existence that we are finally done with the jaywalking bull shit.