Tulip Cafe: Grilled Combo & CA Landmark No. 567

Welcome to Free Lunch, "Where You're the Reviewer."

This week's installment takes us back to downtown Los Angeles—see our previous lunches in the area at Wurstkuche and gram & papa's—to visit St. Vincent Court, a picturesque alley that's rich with history and located just a stone's throw away from the Jewelry District. Chances are that you've walked right by the alley on more than one occasion and have not realized all it has to offer.

We took KCET.org commenter (and KCET donor!) Michael Kurland to visit this charming hideaway in the heart of downtown to enjoy a meal at Tulip Cafe, which serves Mediterranean-Middle Eastern fare. But rather than diving into the restaurant review, I'd like to take a quick detour first to talk about the historical importance of this location.

Take a look at this amazing panorama of early Los Angeles, looking south on Broadway from Bunker Hill. The photograph dates back to 1869 and includes St. Vincent's College, number 55 in the far background of the image.

Early Los Angeles panorama, south on Broadway from the courthouse on Hill Street, 1869. The numbered areas listed include #55 St. Vincent College (photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Digital Collection).

St. Vincent Court's was designated as a California Landmark in 1957, because it's the onetime site of St. Vincent's College, the first institution of higher learning in Southern California. Founded by Vincentian Fathers in 1865, the school originally occupied the Lugo House, but two years later it moved to this site. The campus encompassed Broadway, 6th, Hill, and 7th streets, the entire block being used for athletic fields, etc. It is now known as Loyola-Marymount and is located in Playa del Rey. Here's a photograph of the actual college circa 1887:

View of St. Vincent's College, circa 1887, located at Hill and Broadway, between 6th and 7th streets. (photo from the Los Angeles Public Library Digital Collection).

Plaque located at St. Vincent Court commemorating it as a California historical landmark.

The urban, outdoor cafe feel of St. Vincent Court reminded Michael of San Francisco or even New York. I'll let you be the judge of that, but it's definitely a different vibe than we're accustomed to here in L.A.

Free Lunch reviewer Michael Kurland.

On to the food! Michael started out with shepherd salad before attempting to eat the grilled combo—beef gyros, shish kebab, chicken shish kebab served with bread, salad, fries and bulgur. Despite his valiant effort, he soon realized that it was too much food for one sitting. As he walked away with the leftovers, he thanked us for providing him with two free lunches.

Shepherd salad.

Michael's lunch, the grilled combo plate at Tulip Cafe.

That's it for this week, but we'd really like to hear from you. What do you think about this week's video?

Please post your comments below, and by doing so you'll become eligible to participate in Free Lunch. Also, if you have some restaurant recommendations for us, please add them to this discussion.

Keep on Lunching!

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Tulip Cafe
628 Saint Vincent Court
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-5621 ‎


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Thank you very much KCET for the free lunch, dinner and lunch! It was a pleasure!


This is in my old neighborhood! I spent many a quiet afternoon in St. Vincent Court. Trying to recall if they had wifi available circa 2005....


Looks great! Love middle eastern cuisine, had some similar fare at Long Beach's Baba Ganoush, so I love this kind of food and would like a free lunch there!


This looked great! I would LOVE a free lunch from KCET!!