It’ s not as if Echo Park’s Dinette, a new sidewalk eatery from Gareth Kantner (Cafe Stella), is the first business in the area to court a hipster clientele—Sage Vegan Bistro, Xoia, Red Hill, and Masa are all nearby—but it is the first one on its block (Sunset Boulevard just west of Echo Park Avenue), and it’s definitely not trying to fit in. Essentially a kitchen in a glass box, the small, gleaming space is aesthetically jarring next to the 99 Cents Only Store and El Clasico Tattoo shop it’s wedged between and (like it or not) probably a sign of what’s to come in this slowly gentrifying section of the neighborhood.
Along with the architecture, the menu also appeals directly to the often overlapping tastes of L.A.’s hipster and foodie sets. Naturally, there’s fancy avocado toast to be had—sorry, but we can’t deny that the freshly baked and grilled bread piled high with chopped avocado and delicate shavings of salt are delicious—and pretty, savory tarts topped with a colorful assortment of veggies and herbs. But there’s also a curry bowl and spaghetti and meatballs to keep things eclectic.
“What is Dinette? It’s whatever the f— I want it to be,” Kantner says and laughs. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s Asian. It’s Italian. It’s a TV dinner. It’s just good food—good comfort food.”
The pastries, which temptingly line the windows, also fit the comfort-food bill while displaying considerable artistry. One of the most impressive selections for miles, the French and American treats are made by Kantner’s mother Karen, a former Parisian who wakes up every morning at 3 a.m. to bake scones studded with salty chunks of bacon, giant meringues, and an array of breads and fruit-filled bars. There’s also cake—a deep, dark devil’s food made with Mast Brothers chocolate, and another called Crack Cake, a super-moist white cake iced with sugary, almond-extract-accented frosting. The recipe is from Kantner’s Missourian aunt Jane, and as the name suggests, it’s rather addictive.
The rest of the menu includes salads, pizzas, and tartines. Espresso drinks and house-made sodas are also offered while breakfast options include buttermilk waffles and egg dishes. According to Kantner, hours–currently 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday–will be extended to 8 p.m. soon, and menu additions, like pork chops with succotash, should be expected.
“I want Dinette to be a nice place for people on the go,” says Kantner. “This is good food without a plate.”