I went to Wurstkuche the other night. I have been here no less than 5-6 times and it never disappoints. Even when it appears impossible you will ever find a place to sit or get your food in time, miraculously, you do. Wurstkuche ("sausage kitchen" for you non-German speakers) is tucked way out in the Arts District of LA. Somewhere on the border of the Warehouse District, Little Tokyo, and Skid Row. The first time I went it took me 10 minutes longer than necessary to find it. But when you do, come with an appetite for exotic sausages and truly the best Belgian french fries in LA. (That's right, I said it). When you have have a choice of more than 8 dipping sauces to dunk your fries in, life can be pretty good. This night we tried the chipotle ketchup, curry ketchup, Thai peanut, chipotle aoili, and blue cheese walnut. The last one was too chunky and a bit flavorless, but the others were lip smacking delish.
And you have a delightful and difficult zoo of choices when it comes to the sausages....buffalo, alligator, pork, duck, rattlesnake, rabbit...and some traditional options such as kielbasa, spicy Italian, bratwurst, chicken apple, and others. There's even vegetarian options for you non-zoo folks (I've never understood this, but I'm cool with your decision to protect furry creatures). I'm partial to the buffalo chipotle sausage...smoky and salty. I order mine with grilled onions and drown it in yellow mustard for that extra heartburn effect. No worries, as you have about 65 European brews to cool the belly. I studied briefly in Scotland, so I always go for the cider.
We went on the night of Art Walk. I suppose I'll have to dedicate an entire blog to this amazing art scene. When you go, you need to be prepared to GO. It's an event, and damn crowded, so go with an open mind, some patience, and maybe a friend or two, because navigating a large group through the crowds can make even your mellow boyfriend downright grumpy. I don't recommend it. We, being 5-6 of us, decided it was too late and we were too stuffed to even think about the crowds, so we wandered over to Little Tokyo. On the way we passed a small vintage shop throwing itself an opening party, and we were all invited in for free beer, vintage clothes (think 80s, not 30s) and models vamping it up for the photographer.
We stayed for a beer and wandered further to one of my favorite little spots - the Far Bar. Not that far from anything, really, except the street. You find it as you walk along 1st Street. Look for a crack in the wall. I'm serious...it's a tiny alley between two buildings that opens up into a small courtyard and bar. They have twinkly lights above, a screen projector at one end, and pretty decent DJs. Great place during warm weather to catch a drink. Be patient with the service. They try hard and are quite nice but take their time getting back to you.
As I drove home that night, I accidentally made a left turn down the main drag of Art Walk. I wasn't thinking and cursed myself since the traffic was bad. But then something hit me: there were hundreds, maybe a thousand people out on the street that night. People were smiling, wandering in and out of the galleries and shops, stopping at the many food trucks for a bite to eat, laughing and chatting with the locals. And I was struck by something - downtown is COOL. It's no longer a forgotten armpit or where you go for work. It's where you GO. As I drove slowly down the street, I was amazed at the vibrancy. The pulse. The cool factor. Downtown is a destination again. And I saw all types - Westsiders, Eastsiders, downtowners, artists, spectators, vendors and bums. Everyone was mingling, taking it all in, enjoying the scenery and vibe that has grown from the dark streets again and is clearly flourishing. Downtown's historic core can offer what no other suburb of LA can - the gritty history. Scrape some of the dust and dirt off that building and you reveal a gem. Wander in the open doors on the ground floor and watch it unfold into a gleaming, art deco lobby, fit with marbled floors, golden accents, mirrors, and the new wave of hip hangers on.
My skin tingled. My heart smiled. LA is cool again.