The Amazing New L.A. Diner That Promises Smoked Meat and Pastries All Day
Introducing All Day Baby, from the team behind Here’s Looking At You.
Los Angeles has no shortage of diners. But none of them have buckwheat waffles with two-year-old shaved country ham (aged by Ori Menashe of Bestia, no less), conchas stuffed with Thai coffee-flavored jam, and shrimp and grits made with shrimp bolognese. Then again, not so many of them come from Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta, the team behind globetrotting Koreatown favorite and 2017 Best New Restaurant Here’s Looking At You.
Now, the chef-partner duo have opened their second restaurant, All Day Baby, an aptly named soon-to-be all-day spot on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake that’s loosely modeled after a diner. Here, a diner means a light-flooded corner space, a menu of comfort-food classics with a twist, and a pastry case loaded with inventive sweets courtesy of pastry chef Thessa Diadem.
"All Day Baby serves Silver Lake first and foremost," Ta says. "I’ve always envisioned it as a space that’s meant for grown-ups and young families in the neighborhood who care about quality and convenience." They intentionally avoided the avocado toast and grain bowls prevalent at other daytime spots, and veered away from counter service. "We wanted to make it about dining, and creating moments around the table," Ta says.
The menu leans toward the South, with dishes like a hot catfish sandwich, country-fried skirt steak, and the aforementioned shrimp bolognese and grits. Ta grew up outside of Atlanta, and Whitener spent summers with his family in South Carolina. They’ve invested in a heavy-duty smoker, which is responsible for turning out massive beef ribs to be served with horseradish confit and black pepper, and whole chickens cooked in homage to legendary 82-year-old Texas pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz. (They’re served with two sauces from across the Southern condiment canon: an Alabama-style white BBQ sauce, and a Texas-style fermented chili-based hot sauce.)
That said, "Jonathan was for sure born and raised in Southern California," says Ta, and his Mexican-American heritage shines through in other dishes. "He’s inspired by beachside diners with fish tacos and Mexican breakfasts," she says. That same smoker is also put to use on a slab of pork belly, served with tomatillo salsa, pickled vegetables, and fresh tortillas procured from a vendor in Little Oaxaca. "It’s our take on a carnitas set."
And then there are Diadem’s tempting, slightly whimsical desserts. There are hazelnut blondies and sticky buns with Asian pears and pecans, plus three different composed ice cream sundaes. When asked why she and Whitener wanted to dedicate precious floor real estate to Diadem’s pastry case, Ta replied: "She deserves it. This is her passion. It’s so in her wheelhouse—I gotta give it to this woman, her fan base is crazy." The team plans to invest in a professional dough laminator so Diadem can start a croissant program.
The sweet theme extends to drinks: milkshakes and malts are available straight and spiked, and fountain drinks include an "Orange Bang" cocktail with tangerine, coconut cream, and rum. There’s a cocktail list as well, with tongue-in-cheek tweaks to classics like "Mom’s Cosmo," with Meyer lemon vodka and cranberry liqueur, and "Dad’s Coffee," with rum, amaretto, Cointreau, and a pat of butter, in a nod to Bulletproof lovers everywhere.
Like any siblings, Here’s Looking At You and All Day Baby strive to differentiate themselves. "Anyone who dines at both places will be able to see that they’re related, but they have their own personalities," Ta says, praising Whitener and Diadem’s ability to keep the food distinct to the voice and vision of each. "At Here’s Looking At You, the ingredients may be unfamiliar, but when you taste it, you know what it is," she says. "All Day Baby is more about thinking you recognize a dish, then having it show up with one element that’s a bit of a surprise. People have expectations, and we need to meet them, but we also want to meet them with something unexpected."
The restaurant has barely been open for a week, and is currently only operating from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., though it will be expanding from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., to stay true to its name, later this year. The full menu is currently available all morning, though Whitener and Ta have dreams for the future. "When we open for dinner, every night we’ll have a special, and we’d love to pay homage to other diners," says Ta. "I love going to other parts of the country and seeing what their version of a diner is."