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Is the Nickel Diner in poor taste?

September 2, 2008 | 11:29 am

What do you make of the Nickel Diner, located in the heart of downtown's skid row, whose menu includes "Smac and cheese" and 5- and 10-cent "bags"? Jessica Gelt took a peek and came away less than amused:

This kind of flippant riff on the history of this area of town could be excused if that history were a distant memory and downtown was a kind of CityWalk mock-up of its former self. But that's not the case. As Times columnist Steve Lopez pointed out in a series of stories about skid row, the area is still awash in desperation and filled with hopelessness in large part because of an epidemic of drug use.

The Nickel Diner is located along the stretch of Main south of the super-trendy Old Bank District; as soon as you cross 5th Street, the fedora-wearing hipsters and poncho-clad hippies give way to the homeless, drug users and beggars, one of whom sat mere feet from the diner itself when I visited, watching well-heeled professionals come and go.

Check out the rest of Jessica's thoughts on the diner in our food blog, Daily Dish.

--Veronique de Turenne