New: Clifton's The Pacific Seas Debuts

The sumptuously detailed ode to Polynesian style is inside the downtown cafeteria.

Finding two restaurants that exist within the same company is the norm, pretty much, even if they only have but a few elements in common.

But should one of those locations close, and the other remain open? You might never see any trace of the shuttered spot again, except for framed menu or placemat inside the restaurant still in business, a small but nice nod to the eatery that's no more.

Clifton's Cafeteria, though, is no ordinary restaurant (and we don't even have to trot out the fact that a towering, multi-story faux redwood stands within its historic walls). It's a place rife with history and memory and turkey and gravy and stories that stretch back decades. And, as of now, it even has another long-gone Clifton's inside it, an establishment that bid LA goodbye in back in the middle of the 1960s.

It's The Pacific Seas, the tiki-detailed destination that once was its own cafeteria, with its own themed vibe, on Olive Street, just a few blocks from the current Clifton's and its Broadway address.

In fact, The Pacific Seas arrived on the local scene back in 1931, a few years ahead of Clifton's Brookdale, the woodsy establishment recently reimagined by owner (and lover of retro restaurants) Andrew Meieran. Original founder Clifford Clifton was the proprietor of both, a man who had both a strong sense of serving the community and a dash of cinematic showmanship.

Those once-quieted seas are now rolling again "deep within the historic building" via the new but oh-so-vintage bar that is a lush ode to the "Golden Age of Travel."

This ode may be seen via the numerous design elements inside the low-lit space, from the palm-lovely island murals to the rattan-esque furniture, to the menu, which includes dishes like a Pineapple Hoki-Poki Platter, Lobster Dynamite, and Zombie Fish, a red snapper served whole with teriyaki sauce lending the zing.

The fanciful drinks recall bars like Bahooka and Trader Vic's, so count on classic Mai Tais and tried-and-true grogs, as well as posh sips developed in-house.

But will one require a compass to find this mythical tavern inside the capacious Clifton's Cafeteria? A "secret staircase" is part of the route, and an Art Deco Map Room, but finding The Pacific Seas within Clifton's should not be your first consideration. Rather, you might consider seeking out a reservation, as advance word has been strong and the cozy bar isn't nearly as large as the restaurant it is tucked inside.

The hours are also a bit different from Clifton's Cafeteria, so check the winds and weather — er, rather, the web site — to see if The Pacific Seas is open at the hour when you desire to sail for it.

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