Located just over the West Seattle Bridge, Luna Park Cafe is a throwback to the 1950's.
"It's like this cool diner in the middle of West Seattle that's kind of like a hidden gem," explained DJ Rabiola, Luna Park Cafe's self-described 'door guy'. "We've been a diner since 1989, but the building itself has been here since [right after World War II]. So it's a legit diner. It wasn't built to be this way. It already was this way. It adds so much more nostalgia to it, it gives it that authentic feel."
Rabiola boasts perfectly-quaffed hair, like something straight out of "The Jersey Boys". He, and the rest of the staff here, greet guests in a friendly, 'known you forever' way. Fitting since this spot has been a West Seattle staple for more than 20 years, though some of the memorabilia adorning the wall dates back decades more.
"For West Seattle [Luna Park Cafe] is like a piece of history. We're a little museum for West Seattle and just for the Luna Park Neighborhood in general," said Rebecca Reis, Luna Park Cafe's general manager. "People love coming in and seeing all the different stuff we have. All the different lunch boxes, jukeboxes, pictures and memorabilia we have from the neighborhood."
"We actually get people who come through the door sometimes who are like 'Hey we thought you guys would like this', 'This was in my grandmother's house', 'I found this in the basement'," added Rabiloa. "We have so much stuff here that's a part of old school West Seattle. And if you notice a lot of stuff is getting torn down and we're still standing here."
Luna Park Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Here, it's not uncommon to see staff greet customers by name, which makes sense, since many of those folks have worked here for years.
"Everybody here is like a big family," said Rabiola. "We have the regulars and people that just keep coming back. We all get along. So it just makes it a nice place to come enjoy your food. You get fast, friendly service and there's great, great diner food. It's just amazing."
Rabiola recommends the breakfast options (served all-day), especially the Italian Hobo, but admits there's one item Luna Park Cafe is really known for: the milkshakes.
"Everyone comes in and gets the shakes. We're making shakes at like, 7 o'clock in the morning sometimes," explained Rabiola.
"From open to close we serve tons of milkshakes all day long," added Reis. "We definitely go through gallons and gallons of ice cream a day. What's great about it is you can choose whatever flavors you want. You can choose your own concoction. That's something you can't do everywhere."
At Luna Park, the milkshakes are made with local ice cream and mix-ins like hand-crushed Oreos or freshly peeled banana (no added milk here)! Guests are encouraged to mix and match flavors to make their own creations, but if you're looking for a real house-favorite, check out the hot fudge shake.
"We have a real hot fudge warmer back there that keeps the hot fudge warm and hot," explained Reis. " We mix your ice cream first then marble swirls of hot fudge throughout. So there's actual chunks swirled through the vanilla ice cream. If you're having it for here, we always dip your glass in the hot fudge, so there's hot fudge trickling down the sides, which is always a fun visualization for people."
"Everything is made with love here," said Rabiola. "Everything is made with love and it's done to perfection."
I got the chance to make (and try) Luna Park Cafe's famous hot fudge shake for myself. Check out the video above to see more!