Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wurstküche (Los Angeles, CA)

800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tue 06/23/2009, 08:20p-10:40p

Wurstküche means "sausage kitchen" in German, and I think that descriptor sums up the place nicely. Opened in November 2008, the restaurant is the brainchild of two young (first) cousins: Joseph Pitruzzelli and USC alumnus Tyler Wilson, aged 27 and 23, respectively. I'd been curious about the place ever since it debuted, and finally made it out after being invited by Selina, a reader of this blog. Joing us were her brother Peter and a bevy of her girlfriends.

Wurstküche Neighborhood Wurstküche Neighborhood
The restaurant, situated in a former print shop, is located in Los Angeles' historic Arts District, an area along the eastern side of Downtown, bordered by the Los Angeles River (which places it a stone's throw away from R23, and right down the street from Crazy Gideon's). Not surprisingly, given that it was formerly known as the Warehouse District, the Arts District is filled with older industrial and warehouse buildings, many of which have been transformed into trendy lofts, shops, and eateries over the course of the area's gentrification.

Wurstküche Exterior Wurstküche Exterior
It's pretty hard to miss Wurstküche, given its unique sliding red and yellow doors, not to mention the huge mural (dogs attacking birds?) painted next door. You'll also notice a few people milling around outside, inevitably waiting for their friends to show up (and yes, I was one of those people).

Wurstküche Menu Wurstküche Menu
The line to order should be just about out the door, so this gives you plenty of time to peruse the menu shown above (click for larger versions). Wurstküche's web site describes it as a "purveyor of exotic grilled sausages," and with roughly two dozen cased meats on offer at any given moment, that's certainly a true statement. However, I'd wager that the beer, 24 on tap and even more in bottles, is almost as big of a draw (note the presence of Pabst Blue Ribbon--one of my dining companions stated that the PBR was for the hipsters, because it's "ironic").

Ordering Area: Sausage Case Ordering Area: Fancy Sodas
Ordering Area: Grill Master Ordering Area: Beer on Tap
Once inside, you'll find yourself in a small front room, the centerpiece of which is the refrigerated sausage case. Disappointingly, none of the sausages are made at the restaurant; the rattlesnake one comes from Utah I've heard. While waiting in line (and you will wait, thanks to the single queue), you can watch the lone grill master cook said sausages, and pick out a beer (or soda, if you swing that way). And about that beer, I find it rather strange that you're served your first glass here (as in the last photo), but subsequent servings must be handled elsewhere--weird. This peculiar setup may be due to the fact that the cousins originally envisioned this front room solely for eating, and the voluminous back room solely for drinking.

A Long Hallway
Just make your way down this rather long hallway...

Dining Hall
...To find this, a dining-cum-beer hall. Note the exposed brickwork, high ceilings, bare wooden beams, concrete flooring, and long communal benches--très chic?

One side of the room is dominated by a lengthy blonde wood bar, offering 24 kinds of beer on draught.

Order Numbers
Food is brought to your table from the antechamber documented above, Carl's Jr. style. We had a group of about ten people, so a problem with this setup is that food can be brought at vastly different times; by the time I got my sausages, several of my dining companions had already finished their meal!

Houblan Chouffe Franziskaner
Now, for the beer. I started with a Houblan Chouffe [$8], a Belgian Indian pale ale from one of my favorite producers, Brasserie d'Achouffe. I'm not usually huge on IPAs, but this was good I'll admit, with far more floral, wheat, and herbal notes than I'd expected; it was like a IPA-Tripel hybrid in a sense. Though the bartender would disagree with me on this point, I still prefer the brewery's La Chouffe bottling. For round two, I went with the Spaten Optimator [$6], a Doppelbock from Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu of München. It was a hearty beer, but not too heavy, with lovely chocolate and dark fruit notes. In addition to these two beers, I also sampled some of my dining companions' selections, including the Franziskaner Hefeweizen [$5.50] and Unibroue's La Fin Du Monde [$7.25], a Belgian-style Tripel that one member in my party likened to "soup."

Sausage Fest
Feeling ambitious, I went for three dogs. In hindsight, I could've easily done one, probably two more.

Bratwurst [$6.00] | fine cuts of pork, coriander & nutmeg (with sauerkraut)
I started with the classic: a pork bratwurst, with coriander and nutmeg, topped with kraut. I first noted the sausage's casing, which had an absolutely fantastic snap and crunch to it. The meat itself was very fine, very flavorful--savory, yet perfectly complemented by the tangy sauerkraut. Of this troika, the brat was the most traditional, but also the best.

Austin Blues
Austin Blues [$6.75] | hot and spicy, tri-pepper & hardwood smoked pork (with spicy peppers)
Figuring that this was going to be a piquant sausage anyway, I decided to top Austin Blues with spicy peppers. That was a mistake. The peppers turned out far too vegetal for the dog, distracting me from the pleasant spicy-smokiness of the sausage. Texture-wise, the sausage didn't have quite as much bite as the Brat, and had a chunkier consistency as well. My least favorite of the trio.

Buffalo, Beef & Pork with Chipotle Peppers
Buffalo, Beef & Pork with Chipotle Peppers [$7.75] | smoky chipotle flavor (with caramelized onions)
The meat, an amalgam of buffalo, beef, and pork, was difficult to describe; it had a slight tang to it, and a pleasant smokiness from the chipotle. In terms of body, it was very chunky indeed, almost breaking apart instantly upon mastication; the casing was nothing spectacular. The star of the show here were the caramelized onions, which were simply superb, adding a much needed bracing pungency to the sausage.

Though I don't have a photo, I did get to try Wurstküche's vaunted Belgian Fries, and they were wondrous indeed, with a medium thickness, just the right amount of crunch, and the perfect amount of saltiness. I also had them with two of the housemade dips, Curry Ketchup and Pesto Mayo, but the fries easily stood on their own. And if you're wondering about the name: "French" fries were actually a Belgian creation, mistakenly attributed to the Gallic people.

So, in the end, I had one exemplary sausage in the Bratwurst, and two other competent ones, along with some terrific beer. I can definitely see the appeal of this place, though the long waits and odd setup are going to keep me away somewhat. That's not stopping others though. Business is booming, and the restaurant is reportedly grossing $50,000 per week. Those are some pretty serious numbers for a "hot dog" joint, and I wonder how long they can keep it up. Wurstküche: a fad, or here to stay?


Blogger H. C. said...

The fries are my favorite part of wurstkuche -- they could be friteskuche as far as I'm concerned ;) the chipotle aioli and blue cheese-bacon-walnut dips are magical... oh yea, and the truffle oil too.

Thursday, July 09, 2009 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger gourmetpigs said...

I've always wondered what KevinEats eats besides Urasawa and Cut ;)
Could it be Wurstkuche and Pho?

But I agree with H.C. Truffle glazed fries are the bomb.

Friday, July 10, 2009 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger MyLastBite said...

Love their Duck and Bacon with Jalapeno Pepper Sausage. : )

Friday, July 10, 2009 1:48:00 AM  
Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

The question is...Let's be Frank or Wurstkuche?? We were supposed to check this place out after Rivera the other day, but ended up going to K Town..

Friday, July 10, 2009 8:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how were the buns? stay together for the length of the dawg? was the meat noticeably tastier than a chain like jody maronis? is it a destination place..or is there anything else nearby to go?


Friday, July 10, 2009 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Princess Kitty said...

OMG.. I wanna go, I wanna go!!! This place looks so cool!!! My daddy would love this place.. he loves brat!

Friday, July 10, 2009 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

HC: You know, I think you might be right about "friteskuche." ;)

Fiona: Let's not forget Tommy's.

Jo: I was considering that one as well. I'll keep it in mind for next time!

Danny: I liked Wurstkuche's brat, then Let's Be Frank, then the other stuff at Wurstkuche.

Paul: The buns aren't like normal buns (like a loaf with a slit cut out), so they stay together quite well. Can't comment on Jody Maronis, as I've never been there. It's somewhat of a destination, because it's a rather unique concept; there are other eateries nearby though.

PK: It is a really neat place, though I don't know if you'd want to go with your dad. ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2009 2:55:00 AM  
Blogger thngotiatr said...

Not sure if its because my palate isn't that well developed but having tried the rattlesnake and rabbit I wasn't that impressed. I was hoping for bold flavors that would jump out with the blend of jalapenos. But what I got was an ever so slight gamey sausage on a great bun. Maybe it was because I've never had rattlesnake before? Additionally, the duck and bacon with jalapeno was surprisingly dry for having two very fatty ingredients. Nonetheless, the fries and dipping sauces were pretty good and they do have a pretty good variety of beers and sodas.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 3:11:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yeah, I suspect that most of the more exotic varieties are more for novelty than actual tastiness. I've actually never had rattlesnake before, but I hear it tastes like chicken (i.e. not that distinctive).

Monday, July 13, 2009 1:42:00 AM  
Blogger gourmetpigs said...

I've tried the exotics here and you're right, they're not /that/ distinctive.
Particularly since they're full of spices and other flavors.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Just reread your post on Wurstkuche. I'm going to make it a point to get the rattlesnake one next time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 9:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for the great review. heading over tonight and now know what to expect. danke.

Friday, July 17, 2009 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Bitte schön--you're quite welcome. Let us know how it turns out for you.

Friday, July 17, 2009 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

So after going to Wurstkuche, do you understand why I differentiate between sausage joints and hot dogs places?

Monday, July 20, 2009 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yes, the distinction has definitely become clearer. How have you been enjoying the dogs in NY? Been to the iconic Papaya King yet?

Monday, July 20, 2009 2:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Blog Master said...

Wurstkuche and it's jackass owners Joseph Pitruzzelli and Tyler Wilson are the worst thing that has happened to the actual artist in the Los Angeles Arts District since it's inception. Wurstkuche Sucks! No respect for their artist neighbors.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012 10:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Blog Master said...

Wurstkuche Sucks!!

Wurstkuche Restaurant is nothing more then mediocre sausage at double the price! Way over rated and priced for the Yuppie crowd, Wurstkuche has been a curse for the surrounding artists in the Los Angeles Arts District since they arrived.




Tuesday, May 22, 2012 3:34:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Wow, you'd think a group of artists could come up with a less hideous web site.

Sunday, May 27, 2012 3:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Blog Master said...

A 'Hideous' web site is a perfect reflection of Wurstkuche and it's self centered arrogant yuppie owners since they were definitely the most hideous neighbors any artist could have in what was supposed to be "the arts district", a creative environment.... at least until Wurstkuche arrived!

Sunday, May 27, 2012 2:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Blog Master said...

Please take note of your own photos on this page. "Where's the beef" as the saying goes??? There is more topping then meat because Wurstkuche doesn't have a real chef nor do they have clue how to cook sausages properly. Fab Hot Dogs is run by Joe Fabrocini, a class A Italian chef. But even Pinks or Visious Dogs serve sausage as well and blows Wurstkuche away in price and quality and is actually worth standing in line for. Wurstkuche has mediocre sausage for double the price and is not worth the drive or the wait in a long line, a line they have designed on purpose just for show.

Sunday, May 27, 2012 3:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I see is toppings on a bun! Where's the sausage?

Monday, November 26, 2018 7:16:00 PM  

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