If some young indie director finds himself location scouting for his next mumblecore flick he could do a lot worse than George’s Coffee Shop, a cramped and unassuming Korean-American diner tucked away in a sleepy Culver City strip mall. With its weathered 1970’s sign and it’s outdated décor, George’s is the quintessential LA greasy spoon that has changed little but its prices (paced with inflation of course) since it first opened. Similar to its kindred sibling across town, Tokyo 7-7, George’s menu is filled with a few unique ethnic quirks that make it much more than the apparent sum of its parts. The diner is run by an older Korean couple, both of whom seem to have developed a harmony with the often hectic weekend breakfast crowd. They sling plates and clear tables with an efficiency and calmness that speaks to how long they’ve been at it for. Don’t take personal offense when the no-nonsense waitress/matriarch approaches your table holding her pen and note pad with a demeanor that suggests she may hail from somewhere north of the 38th parallel, that’s just the way it’s done at George’s.
Most of the stuff on the menu is classic artery-hardening diner fare: chewy pancakes, crisp home fries, goopy American cheese omelets, which are surprising tasty considering you’d probably spend the same amount at Burger King, albeit without the heaping side of self-loathing afterwards. In fact, an order of pancakes with bacon, eggs and a cup of decent coffee will end up costing you less than $5. A small price to pay when you discover the effect it has on the hangover you get after a night of two-for-one drinks at the Tattle Tale Room next door.
What really makes this diner notable, though, are its Asian dishes: galbi short ribs, udon soup and fried rice, all seemingly tacked onto the cramped menu as an afterthought. By far, the best of these is the bulgogi omelette: sweet and savory marinated beef wrapped perfectly into a thick blanket of egg. It is packed with flavor and is surprising light for a dish that seems likely to be laden with grease. Sure, it may not be the best bulgogi you can find, but substitute the home fries and toast for a generous scoop of white rice and their secret homemade kimchi, pungent with garlic and ginger, and you may have one of the most delicious and affordable breakfasts this city has to offer. If you’re even more adventurous you can ask for a personal jar of their blended salsa, heavily spiked with cilantro and serrano chilies. It’s a perfect companion for their breakfast burrito that is so dense with egg, meats and potato that you may forget that this is the same diner that was serving you kimchi a few minutes earlier. But why not, it’s LA, when it comes to food here it pays to embrace the unexpected.
George’s Coffee Shop
5439 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230