The T.V. Cafe, open 24 hours, on the corner of Olympic Blvd. and Alameda has been a truck stop diner for many, many years. When I was a kid it was one of the last "Sambo's" restaurants before they went bankrupt. For the last twenty years as T.V. Cafe it has served all types of Pachucoville residents, but the majority is mostly working class Raza who during the day have lunch, or at night are stopping in on the way home from a club.
Growing up in So. Central, I would pass that corner on my way to my aunt's in Boyle Heights or my uncle's in El Sereno. I remember when I was like 6 or 7 seven years old asking my mom about it when I saw the little kid as the logo when it was part of the "Sambo's Restaurant" chain. She told me that people were mad because it made fun of black people by calling them "Sambo" and showing a little kid with pancakes and syrup, and something about Aunt Jemima. At that age I didn't get it completely, but I knew peeps could get upset about stuff that others thought was ok to make fun of. We never stopped to eat there, even when it briefly turned into a Denny's.
In my late teens my friend Manglor, a photographer, moved into some lofts on Molino off of 4th street. This was during the Al's Bar era of the area. After one night of partying at Manglor's he suggested we go try the best vegetarian burrito in the world. So we piled in to the Fox and rolled up on T.V. Cafe. I have not stopped going there for the #31 veggie burrito since then.
Manglor was also a fan of the "Works Burger." Over the years friends of mine like Johnny Blaze, love the breakfast that is served most of time at anytime. I have also tried their cocido and it's pretty damn good. What seals the deal with T.V Cafe is their hot sauce. It is hot and tasty. Not for the weak.
As the gentrification of downtown continues to ooze east, we'll see how T.V. Cafe handles the changes. During the day the corner is bustling with semi trucks and all sorts of commercial traffic. The Los Angeles Produce and Flower Marts are just two of the large industries orbiting Olympic and Alameda. There is also large swap meet/insta food court growing up down Olympic. In the last ten years, American Apparel opened their main factory and Farmer Boy's opened up down Alameda, and also open 24 hours, has given T.V. Cafe a higher profile.
I go there to get away from B.H. There is always a family there eating when I get there. I sit alone and watch TV or listen in on conversations. I was once there for a small earthquake that made the lights sway above our heads. We all looked around and after a few Chingaos! Agus! and an Aye Carey! we all went back to our food.