Kid Hit Menu Items: Intelligentsia might be able to make you a steamer or a small hot chocolate for the kids, but its neighbor, Sunset Junction Coffee Shop, takes things a step further in this department. The kids’ menu — if you go for such things, since the concept runs counter to some parents’ eating out philosophy — contains tried and true classics, and is basically perfect. One of my kids goes for the eggs, toast + bacon combo (at $6, it’s the highest priced kids’ menu item), while the other is an animal face berry pancake fan ($4, about the price of a small pastry in a fancy coffee place or bakery). Or if I REALLY indulge his wildest dreams, the youngest gets mac n’ cheese for breakfast, a decision which might mean some teasing from his older brother. (Note: You really might want to rethink your eating habits when a 7-year-old criticizes your lack of variety.) Anyway, breakfast is served all day, and the kids lunch menu is available in the a.m.
Adult Perks: Although a self-described “contemporary take on the East-coast style diner,” we’re suckers for Sunset Junction’s version of a West Coast greasy spoon favorite. I order one of the veggie Benedicts and share the hunk of salty, crispy, so-many-reasons-they’re-not-good-for-you hash browns on the side. Since I’m not a ham fan, the entire Benedicts section of the breakfast menu with various toppings, such as avocado, asparagus, or artichoke, is a big bonus, as is the Susina croissant some of the renditions come served on. Because it’s a diner/coffee shop, I can’t help but want a mug of coffee, so then I feel like an idiot paying $3 for this item when Intelli is steps away. Handle that dilemma however way you see fit. Last time I succeeded at having coffee at home beforehand, and abstaining once at the restaurant counter.
Pros: In our quest for restaurants that don’t conform to family-friendly stereotypes, I sometimes overlook the basics. Sunset Junction is a perfect case in point. Especially because our children, and the eldest in particular, is straight up a coffee shop/diner/luncheonette kid. He’ll take Denny’s or Old John’s on West 67th Street over fancy brunch almost any day (unless Canele sticky buns are involved). Sliding around slippery Naugahyde booths, not worrying about staining any décor, drinking OJ, peeling back the foil lids on no fewer than four Smucker’s single-serve jelly containers to eat along with his Grandslam or similar breakfast is heaven.
Cons: Parking is kind of a drag (see below). SJCF doesn’t hit the farm-to-table-esque ingredients standards some other area restaurants aspire to. Square One it is not in this respect. Sometimes that’s OK, as long as a business isn’t posing as something that it’s not. That said, I’m still stuck on the East vs. West Coast hash brown provenance situation, as well as diner vs. coffee shop semantics. (Growing up here, we referred to these types of places as “coffee shops.” Thoughts???)
Changing Station: No, but a single stall bathroom. Gosh, I realize in the years since I started this site, I’m so out of that mindset!
High Chairs: No need. Comfy booths all the way, unless you’re seated at one of the tables with chairs or at the counter.
Parking and Access: Since the area is crammed with super popular businesses AND “just driving around the block” isn’t so simple by Hyperion south of Sunset, it can be a bit tricky to nab a metered space, or a spot on the adjacent residential blocks. Ideally someday we’ll stop being part of the problem and ride our bikes here when the boys are old enough.
Other Tidbits: Given its overt kid-appropriateness, I’m kind of surprised at how many Silver Lake parents I’ve talked to about Sunset Junction Coffee Shop who say, “You know, we still haven’t been there!” On the other hand, that was us until just a couple months ago. The restaurant occupies an odd spot that was one of several Eat Wells around town, and then another failed Kokomo Café offshoot. Hopefully Sunset Junction’s Susina connection gives it some longevity, because in this day and age of competing restaurant “concepts,” American staples with a contemporary flair still do have their place. We’ve seen a lot of retro modern coffee shops/diners/whatevers with younger owners who know their market come and go in our time. For the most part, they’ve stayed. (I’m thinking Swinger’s, Fred 62, the 101.) This location on a heavily pedestrian block, however, has proved to be puzzling. The previous updates tanked, and while Sunset Junction chases some trends, here’s hoping it sticks around for our casual dining, lazy morning purposes, even after the Edison bulb craze has moved on.
3916 W Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
Cuisine: American/Diner/Coffee Shop
Hours: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., daily