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A little bit hippie, a little bit Gen-X, a whole lot of delicious.

Remember the 90s? Long hair on guys wasn’t an ironic statement. MTV played music videos. It wasn’t that long ago, yet we can still identify even the smallest nuances that made the 90s a unique time to be alive.

A little java hut in Waterford, MI called L.A. Cafe is one of the few restaurants we’ve seen that reaches back to that not-so-distant decade for inspiration.DSC_0017

For this vibe to work, it’s all about subtleties. Some of the tables are plastered with pictures of 90s celebrities, the music selection always seems to lean towards artists that probably played at Lollapalooza or Lilith Fair, and in the corner of the coffee bar is an old iMac computer for patrons to connect to the (world-wide) web. Some of the servers wear tie dye, Chinese paper lanterns hang from the ceilings, and peace signs are abundant- reminding us that much of the 90s aesthetic was created by channeling the 60s.

So why “L.A.”?  Because the place looks and feels just like a coffee hut you would find in Venice Beach. Their bold yellow and black signage, the unorthodox, triangular building, the colorful wall tiles and bamboo shades all say “you may be in Michigan, but let’s pretend we’re in SoCal.” 

The place is refreshingly well-lit with lots of sunlight and the high seating around the windows and low chairs in the middle of the cafe make it a really comfortable place to eat and a great venue for their Saturday open-mic nights.

L.A. Cafe markets itself as healthy eating.  They offer tons of vegetarian options, lots of teas, homemade soups, and “better” meat selections (like their great turkey burger).

Come winter time, try one of their espresso or coffee drinks (the Peppermint Whip: Coffee, Hot Coco and Peppermint) or try a refreshing Italian creme soda in pretty much any flavor imaginable.

For food, I’ve been to L.A. Cafe so many times that I can safely recommend anything on the menu.  During breakfast visits, Ash sticks with the pancakes (pecan are always good) and I usually go for what they call the Scromlette- a giant omelette with your selection of veggies/meat/cheese and a gigantic pile of hash-browned potatoes.  For lunch try one of their grilled sandwiches- the High-Plains Drifter (Turkey, sprouts, guacamole, provolone) or the Good Mother (a plethora of veggies between two slices of bread). Don’t leave without getting a cup of vegetarian chili.

Final thoughts:

  • L.A. Cafe is a diamond in the rough.  Don’t be turned away by its odd location.  If you’re going to be in the area (Clarkston, Pontiac, Waterford), don’t pass this one by!
  • Free Wi-Fi!
Visit L.A. Cafe
5815 Dixie Hwy
Waterford, MI 48329
248-623-1610


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