The lower cost alternative to the Restaurant at the Getty Center.
The Restaurant at the Getty Center is a class joint. I love eating there.
But one does not always have Restaurant at the Getty Center money. Sometimes, one must eat with uh…well…how should I put it? With more value in mind?
Growing up in the Washington D.C. Area, I am well used to Museum Food. Growing up in the seventies as I did, Museum Food as not a word used with a lot of endearment.
Of course, being the little ankle-biter I was, I loved it. It was Pizza, Burgers, Fries and Sodas…everything my Godfather was trying to shake me out of. My Parents couldn’t stand it either, until they found something in the underground passage connecting the West and East Wings of the National Gallery of Art.
It was an Eatery (turns out it’s called the Cascade Cafe), and not just any eatery, but one that had handmade soups, salads, food that was, as we say, a cut above. As I grew older, and as my trips to the Smithsonian continued, this place would be the go-to place for my Parents when it came to on-campus eating.
Of course, I hated it. It was too fancy. They didn’t always have something I liked, but I got through it better than I remember. And looking back, I have more of a fondness for that place as an adult.
So imagine my surprise when I walked down into the Cafe at the Getty Center, and saw my old childhood resurrected before my eyes.
The vibe is exactly what I remember from that place at the National Gallery of Art. It’s a cavalcade of different types and tastes and styles. You can get what you want here.
I’m sure there’s probably a seven year old that’s reading this right now, that disagrees with me, but…c’mon. Cut Mom and Dad some slack. (And you can see now, I side with the adults in these arguments now.)
The process here can be a bit intimidating. You’ll find yourself strolling the grounds, and suddenly hit with pangs of hunger. Of course, it’ll be about 12pm when these pangs will hit, so you’ll be trying to get yourself some food when everyone else has thought of the idea as well.
Odds are as it’s the closest, you’ll try the Restaurant at the Getty Center first, and when you see the line there (as well as the prices), you’ll head downstairs to the Cafe.
You won’t be disappointed in the Cafe at the Getty Center in the least, but the line to get inside that greets you? Yeah, a little disappointed.
If you’re anything like the crew I’m with, you’ll probably pause for a time on the stairs to decide whether to head back up or go down and joint the line. (Getting in the way of all the other guests of the Getty in the process.)
But head on down. Get in the line. It’s not so bad.
You’ll probably be in line…ten minutes tops. And don’t be fooled, there may be a line, but there will be PLENTY of seats inside the Cafe at the Getty Center. You won’t have to wander long to find one. While you’re in line, you’ll have time to peruse the Menu, and make some decisions before you get up in there.
So get in up there, and enjoy.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, they do have some standards, but like a real restaurant (and yes, they are a real restaurant) they’re taking what they have on hand, what they can get that day, and making stuff unique for the day. Which is good news for you, because, it’s actually pretty damn good.
First, you’ll have to make a decision about what station you’ll go to before. Because, after you survive the line to get inside the Cafe at the Getty Center, you have to then pick a Station which will have it’s own line to get your food. Good news is, the lines there aren’t so long. (Which is one of the reasons, I think they made you wait so long outside, so the Station lines wouldn’t make things ridiculously chaotic.)
So we have the Deli Station (very popular) where you can make your own Custom made deli sandwiches featuring house roasted meats, cheeses, toppings and sauce. Selection of fresh breads include a gluten friendly option.
Next is the slightly more adventurous, but still delicious Global Station, daily specials including a full entrée selection, farm stand vegetable sides and two made from scratch soups. The soups I’ve had there, have been pretty damn amazing, all things consider.
The Fiesta Station has tacos, burritos, fiesta bowls and quesadillas. A variety of meats are available as well as vegetarian tofu.
The Grill Station is probably where the seven year old me would have gone. It’s Fresh Grilled Burgers, Seasonal Melts, Hot Dogs and Vegetarian Sandwiches French Fries, Onion Rings and Sweet Potato Fries are available. See what I mean?
My Parents would have opted for the Classic Hand Tossed Salad Station, which features one daily creation of tender greens and seasonal vegetables with House roasted meats and house made dressings.
And finally, there’s From the Oven, which is something my seven year old self would have liked, because it’s all personal pizzas, made with homemade sauce and hand tossed dough. Featuring a selection of four cheese, pepperoni and a fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza.
Now, of course there is nothing that’s stopping you from Station Hopping, which is what I did. I grabbed a bowl of soup form the Global Station, then bounce over to the Pizza Station, satisfy my childhood yearning and grab a table.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: There will always be a line. Again, they’re just regulating the number of people who go inside, so that Stations don’t get packed, and you can turn away from them with plate of hot food and not smash into somebody. Simple.
PARKING: The Getty website has a post discussing its own parking options, so:
Parking is $15 per car, but $10 per car after 5:00 p.m. for the Getty Center’s evening hours on Saturdays (when we are open until 9:00 p.m.), as well as for all evening public programming, including music, film, lectures, and other special programs held after 5:00 p.m.
Parking is based on availability. Parking reservations are neither required nor accepted.
Street parking in the surrounding neighborhood is restricted.
For more parking information, see frequently asked questions.
Parking for Visitors with Disabilities
There are designated handicapped-accessible spaces on the entry level of the parking structure.
Parking for Electric Cars
Parking with plug-ins for electric vehicles is available.
Parking for Oversized Vehicles
Parking for vehicles between 6’10” and 12’6″ tall and of standard car length and width is available on level P1. There is no parking for RVs, motor homes, limousines, and other larger vehicles.
Parking for Tour Buses and Other Group Vehicles
See Tips for Groups for information about accommodations for groups of 15 or more.
Cafe at the Getty Center, The
1200 Getty Center Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Tel: (310) 440-6810
Tuesday-Friday: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Saturday: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm