If you’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough, you may remember Duke’s Coffee Shop and the Rock n’ Roll Denny’s. Late-night eateries where rock musicians like Axl Rose held court while filling up on
groupies biscuits and gravy after their Sunset Strip performances. Now the concept of late-night breakfast in a rock ‘n’ roll setting has returned courtesy of Jeremy Fall’s brand-new Nighthawk Breakfast Bar. It won’t be a rowdy scene with dancing on tables but rather a chill place where a DJ will be playing classic rock and hip-hop and you can grab a bite pre or post-show. The bar-staurant opens tonight at 10 p.m. in the space adjacent to Sadie’s off Las Palmas Avenue, with its own separate menu and entrance.
The “diner” vibe isn’t Grand Slam Specials and surly waitstaff, but something more refined and fun. Once you sit down you’re greeted with the morning paper and a cup of coffee for goodness’ sake. And check out this menu. We’re talking breakfast bành mí , drunken French toast, and breakfast street tacos by Spago alum, Chef Greg Schroeppel. And did I mention that tower of bacon that comes with beer? “You’re not just going to get eggs and bacon,” says Fall. “It’s just taking those breakfast staples and modernizing them. Instead of just doing Eggs Benedict, I had this idea to do Eggs Benedict Poutine—taking fries and doing the Eggs Benedict on top. It’s food that we have our own signature on. It’s not food that you can find at Denny’s or IHOP.”
But the best part of this breakfast bar concept, in my opinion, is the fun cocktail offerings by Sadie’s Giovanni Martinez.
He created diner-inspired comfort cocktails like hot coffee cocktails, Orange Julius drinks, boozy floats, and spiked cereal milk. “I don’t think anything that we’re doing at Nighthawk is meant to be taken that seriously,” says Martinez. “You’re meant to come here, hang out, listen to good music. It’s supposed to feel like a diner…. To create too intense a menu takes away from that.”
Not to say this isn’t the place for the cocktail lover. “I want to mesh in cocktail culture because drinking during the day is a little bit frowned upon,” says Fall. “It’s essentially a bar with breakfast food…. It does have a major bar component.”
Cereal Milk Cocktails: Martinez infuses the milk with cereal Momofuku style and matches it with the perfect spirit to complement the cereal’s flavors. Honey Nut is paired with bourbon, Cocoa Puffs with brandy, and Fruitty Pebbles with gin. “It’s comfort food, it’s childhood in a bottle,” Martinez says. And the milk bottles are huge at 12 ounces. “Personally a glass of milk is never big enough for me,” he explains. “And a nice ice-cold cereal milk just goes down so fast.”
Orange Julius Cocktails: Former mall rats will appreciate the selection of Orange Julius-inspired cocktails for which Martinez dug up the original recipe. The original is spiked with gin, the one with strawberries has gin and orange flower water, while the tropical pineapple Julius is made with rum. “I think the Orange Julius is going to be a pretty popular drink,” says Martinez. “I put it on the menu because I was thinking diner theme, like fresh OJ. The second I thought of it everyone went, ‘Mmmmmm!'”
Boozy Floats: Fans of Sadie’s may remember back in the day when Giovanni had these on his menu. Especially that Fernet and mint chip with Mexican Coke! “It’s an idea we’ve been playing with for years. It was intended to be a seasonable thing for the summer. And then I felt like I never had the right occasion to bring it back, and this is perfect.”
Hot Coffee Cocktails: There won’t be a full-on coffee menu like say, at Intelligentsia with its single-origin options. But in addition to regular espresso, Americanos, and lattes, there’s a Mexican Coffee available as well as an Irish Coffee, made in the style of Dead Rabbit’s in New York. Martinez hopes to expand this menu, so be on the lookout for a Spanish Coffee in the future.
Heads-up that Martinez is also planning to add a secret cocktail menu item, which “may or may not include milkshakes, that may or may not include an entire piece of pie in it.”
There aren’t any brunch staples like mimosas and Bloody Marys, however; although they are available at the full bar. “We’ll have brunch cocktails to be ready to be made but I think the idea is more to be inspired by breakfast, not just try to completely replicate it,” explains the bartender. “Because as cool as breakfast sounds, for me, I love a Bloody Mary at brunch but I can’t conceive of drinking one at 11:45 if it’s my fourth drink.”
Nighthawk opens tonight; starting hours are 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. However, nightowls will be pleased to know that there are plans to expand its kitchen hours to 4 a.m.
Nighthawk Breakfast Bar, 1638 N. Las Palmas Blvd., Hollywood