It’s a hot Sunday noon, the Hollywood farmers market is shoulder-to-shoulder, and the swell of the heirloom-tomato-crazed crowd spills over into … not Kitchen 24, actually, where, despite its location just around the corner from the market, the only produce on display seems to be the massive, leafy stalks of celery protruding from the Bloody Marys that occupy at least one table out of two. To be fair, Kitchen 24, a design-intensive 24-hour diner in what has come to be known as the Cahuenga Corridor, is probably at its best after midnight, when the tuck ’n’ roll booths are filled by the likes of Audrina Patridge and Lindsay Lohan, and the alcohol-spiked milk shakes start to feel a bit wicked as the hour approaches last call. The menu is thick with things like Monte Cristo sandwiches, tuna burgers garnished with Japanese pickled ginger, sweet-potato fries and bowls of herby mac and cheese designed to soak up excess vodka absorbed elsewhere on the Corridor — the aptly titled Bartender’s Banquet, which involves a strawberry-whipped cream waffle and an oniony scramble of bacon, eggs and sprouts, would seem to spell out the intent in capital letters, as would a slab of salmon wrapped in hash browns, plopped down on a bed of spinach and smothered in hollandaise. This space, once home to Shelley’s Manne-Hole, a 1960s-era jazz club where a legendary Cannonball Adderley live album was once recorded, has that kind of pedigree. The Adderley mention may seem superfluous, but my best friend in high school used to play that album so incessantly that I still wake up at 3 a.m. sometimes, muttering, “I’d like to dedicate this one to my brother Nat.” There is valet parking, which on this overcrowded block is all but essential after dark.
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