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Phil's Diner Cheeseburger: An excellent burger and awesome onion rings, $8.50

Opened in the 1920's, the original Phil's Diner was set up in a small train car located on Chandler Blvd, a few blocks from where it is located now. During the early '80's I'd eat there regularly, usually having the Idiot's Mish-Mosh (eggs and potatoes and a whole bunch of other stuff). The place was always packed, and its small size meant you got up close and personal with your hungry neighbors. At the time the place was decidedly not some trendy eatery, with great gobs of goo coating the single exhaust fan behind the flattop. But it was a local landmark. During that era, "Phil" was an Asian man whose attitude provided half the reason I'd want eat there.

The place was closed down in the 90's and the train car languished in disrepair. Thankfully its been rescued and moved a couple of blocks to its current location on Lankershim in the NoHo Arts District. Opened in April, the new owners have cleaned it up, added a proper hood over the cooking area and a few tables outside. Voila, a trendy neighborhood eatery! The inside it still tiny, with so little room behind the counter that two people can only pass each other with great difficultly. Of course that makes it fun to watch.

The food itself was pretty excellent. The burger bun is as good as it looks, and the onion rings were fantastic. The service was a bit slow, especially since it wasn't very busy, but was very friendly. Even though it's been opened only a couple months, it's clear the place now a part of the neighborhood, with customers being greeted by first name and stories of home life being exchanged while their order is being prepared. Really glad it's back, even if it's more a re-creation rather than the actual original.

Oh, and yes they still serve the Idiot's Mish-Mosh.

Words and picture by DB.

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