Chris G’s Best Yelp Reviews: Caffe Primo – 3/5 Stars

Caffe Primo – CLOSED
$$ Coffee & Tea, Italian, Cafes
612 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Caffe Primo downtown looks like a ghost ship of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painting from 1942. Instead of a corner diner, it’s like one of those old-fashioned Italian style ‘caffes’ from the era that serves espressos or cappuccinos in tiny mugs. It is a very big and boxy street corner restaurant encased in large sheets of glass that you can see everything inside of it – and that’s not such a great thing in this case.

The ground level of this restaurant is below the street level of the sidewalk, so when you pass by this place on some streets, you are looking down on this restaurant behind the glass. The way the light hits the building during the day casts a gray shadow under the glass, so everything inside looks like the dim figures from a low contrast ratio television from the 1980s. There are a lot of rows of stark white tables and handfuls of gray melancholy looking people inside. I think they need less glass and more openness to the neighborhood, as this large glass wall makes this place appear like a human zoo. For years I passed this place by when I would either go to the downtown library or gym and never felt it beckoned me to come here.

When I was finally beckoned to come here due to Groupon, I was weary to go through the tiny door. So before I did, I took almost 20 minutes going through all of their Yelp reviews of the vegan wraps and bowls, which is usually what I prefer and decided to play it safe. Nothing about the reviews had stood out as having a consensus about anything particularly outstanding here, at least vegan-wise. I concluded that I should just stick with a salad. Let me tell you – I am glad I did. Their quinoa salad minus cheese was fresh and came with quite a nice portion. It comes with asparagus, avocado, craisins, walnuts, mint, onions, tomato, cucumber in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. And it was delicious.

You wait in the front, order in the front, you get a number. You wait at the table. And you get food. It was absolutely empty when I went and took about fifteen or twenty minutes to get the food. We were in no rush though. Something to note too: Since the size of this place is massive and there are a plethora of seat offerings, the level of stuffiness varies with some of the rooms. The air doesn’t flow to some of the glass-enclosed rooms and feels a bit more warm and humid than next to where the doors are. It might be beneficial to get faux walls to replace these large slabs of midcentury glass.

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