Colin Heinrich looks on as Angelenos indulge in their obsession with currywurst.
IF THERE’S ONE THING LA does better than class separation, it’s food. When the two come together, it turns a simple spicy sausage into a cultural treasure. Currywurst is simple enough, but the different prices charged at different venues raises an eyebrow.
Read on for 4 places where the food is roughly the same and the atmosphere changes everything.
109 N Fairfax Ave. Under $10 for a full meal.
Right from the get-go, there’s something laughably LA about ordering a Thai-infused German treat covered in a Mexican condiment from a Chinese guy. Did I mention it comes with French fries?
Currywurst is a tiny joint with a no-nonsense approach to their food. You have these options. You will pick one, you will eat it, and then you will be done. I guess a place named after their only dish knows what its customers want, and they do it well enough.
When I was leaving, I wished the guy a good day and he replied with a smirk, “See you next time.” We’ll see, overconfident currywurst guy. We’ll see.
Random thought: Nothing says Germanic gastronomy like a soundtrack of Britney Spears and Spice Girls.
800 E 3rd St (it would be in the arts district). Up to $20 for a meal.
This place is so hip it managed to work an umlaut into its name. Inside, there are enough people taking Instagram pictures of their food that you could probably create a lomographic 3D model of it.
I’m conflicted about Wurstküche. On one hand, yeah, it’s no surprise that PBR is the only American beer on the menu. But the import drafts are varied and great, and it’s the only place I’ve seen where the brats and bocks come in rattlesnake and alligator varieties. Slather on any number of international condiments and you’ll have a good time, if you’re okay with the crowded atmosphere.
Random thought: This place is the Starbucks to Wirsthaus’ boutique coffee shop.
3. Currywurst Truck
Moving target. $10 for a meal.
It’s probably treasonous for an Angeleno to say, but I don’t understand food trucks. Maybe there’s some sort of existential reward in the cat-and-mouse chase for the dedicated follower, but for the more impulsive crowd, a food truck is just a restaurant that’s closed more than it’s open.
I’ve only eaten from the Currywurst Truck once when it had the decency to park directly next to my work. I enjoyed it. Then I went back to work. I found out later that their website lists exactly where they will be at all times and all I could think was, then what’s the point of being a truck?
Random thought: I wonder how much of the price is a novelty tax.
345 N. La Brea Blvd. Over $25 for a meal.
For such a centrally located joint, Wirsthaus is the one that feels the most authentic. It’s also the most expensive.
I don’t know a whole lot about German culture, but I’ll go ahead and assume that the ping pong table in the restaurant represents an age-old tradition of Saxon mealtime competition. Don’t worry about the beer throwing off your game — you’ll run out of money before you drink enough.
But oh, how it’s worth the tradeoff of an empty wallet for a full stomach.
Random thought: A bolder patron would have put double or nothing on his paycheck in a ping pong match against the owner.