Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wurstkuche: Los Angeles

Andrew took me to Wurstkuche last Thursday evening, located at 800 E. 3rd Street in Los Angeles, CA 90013 (phone: 213-687-4444). It was a strange, but fun, experience. First, it is located in a warehouse-type building. My first impression was that we were headed toward the receiving entrance of an industrial establishment, 
as opposed to an upscale restaurant. Second, there was a line out the entrance down the street which was moving at a glacial pace. Third, as we got toward the end of the line a group of of six or eight people with cameras, lights and microphones rushed past as, bumping me in the process and I heard one exclaim, "They're holding hands." They ran across the street toward a couple eating at an outdoor table, then the lights go on and the cameras start to roll. Quickly, the male at the table stands up and starts to push one of the camera-men. People in the line around us start to yell, "Cheaters, cheaters." I was thinking TMZ and a celebrity couple, but I've since learned that Cheaters is a reality tv show that takes tips from spouses and others who suspect that their partner is cheating on them, have them followed by a private investigator, and then expose the cheating partner on camera in the compromising situation. Fourth, I started to look around at the people in line and I whispered to Andrew that I felt like Toto, "I'm not in Kansas anymore." It was a youngish-20s crowd. A guy behind us in line was wearing something that would have seemed at home in Alice in Wonderland. He was wearing a multi-hued felt-type coat with purple and scarlet colors and a hat with similar colors that covered his ears. There were others in line wearing un-Kansas like clothing, but that one particularly stood out. Fifth, the menu was decidedly different. Mostly sausages and "biers," as in Pabst Blue Ribbon, the only one of the 49 beers that I'd heard of before. The sausages, which are arrayed in a glass case near the ordering counter,
 are broken into groups of "classics," "gourmet" and "exotics." Classics include bratwurst and bockwurst, but you can't justify eating one of them on your first visit. Gourmet was a little more interesting, with pretty mundane Louisiana hot link and kielbasa, to Filipino Maharlika (sweet pork) and Austin Blues, which I got, which included hot and spicy, tri pepper and hardwood smoked pork. Then the exotics, of which I got two, the Rattlesnake and Rabbit with Jalapeno Peppers and the Duck and Bacon with Jalapeno Peppers. Looking on line, I think just about everyone tries the rattlesnake and rabbit. Based on some experience with eating rattlesnake and the cost of procuring it, my guess is that the rattlesnake portion of the sausage is very small, just enough to put the name on the label and make it exotic. Each sausage is placed on a bun with two toppings: caramelized onions, sauerkraut, sweet peppers and spicy peppers. I didn't understand this until after we left, so I only ordered one topping on each and would very much liked to have had more on them. They also had various mustards on the side: whole grain, Dijon, spicy brown, honey mustard and American yellow. As we were taking ours for takeout, to eat on the road, we didn't get any mustard, which also would have added to the culinary experience. After ordering, we walked down a narrow hallway and into a cavernous warehouse looking eating area, 
with cement floors, brick walls, long cafeteria style tables and wood benches, where we waited for our food. It was packed and the noise was deafening, I had to get my ear near Andrew's mouth to hear him over the din. Once we had our order in hand, we left out the back door and got to the car where we took our first bites. I didn't mention the Belgian, double dipped, fries. 
We got a large, with two dipping sauces, bleu cheese walnut and bacon and chipotle aioli. Those fries are the reason to go back. Best fries I've ever eaten. I guess they are fried twice, and they must just soak up the grease because they are heavy and moist and crispy on the outside, with a nice layer of seasoning. Both dipping sauces were yummy, but did not come close to being enough for the whole order. But no problem, these fries don't need dipping sauce, they are quite amazing on their own. As I've hinted, the sausages were good, but not "drive to LA for." An extra topping and mustard would have greatly enhanced them. I got sweet peppers on the rattlesnake and rabbit, 
caramelized onions on the duck and bacon 
and spicy peppers on the Austin Blues. 
Each had a nice, grilled bun, and they each had a different flavor. None stood out. I need to try them again, on-site, with more condiments. But what I'll be going back for is the Belgian fries. 


  1. The place could be renamed "Heart Attack Hall" or "Coronary Palace." Personally, I thought the VERY LITTLE BIT of leftovers that made it home were pretty divine.

  2. Looks good, I will have to find that place next time I am in LA