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Los Angeles: Wurstküche

Once, back in the late ’80s, after a loft party in L.A.’s downtown Arts District, a friend and I returned to her car to find the window smashed and a brick on the back passenger seat. Hilariously enough, the only thing missing was a gym bag containing a loofah, a threadbare towel, and a pair of flip-flops. In the intervening years, developers have worked hard to gentrify the area: Between stretches of blight are luxury loft apartments and the occasional outdoor café. Tucked in the middle of all this is Wurstküche, a new sausage-and-beer joint, just a few steps from the scene of the crime.

Wurstküche (“sausage kitchen” in German and pronounced “vurst-COOK-huh”) feels like the perfect bridge between the old no-frills neighborhood and the future one that doesn’t quite exist yet. You enter into a tiny front room with a squat, sausage-filled deli counter, a grill, and a handful of metal bar stools, and then, a surprise: After walking down a long, narrow hallway, you come to a high-ceilinged dining hall with exposed wooden beams, concrete floors, a door-and-sawhorses communal table, traditional café seating, and a long blond wood bar offering 24 kinds of draft beer. Owners (and first cousins) Joseph Pitruzzelli and Tyler Wilson are young—27 and 22, respectively—and none of the sausages they serve are made on the premises, but their stripped-down menu has an enthusiast’s sparkle: Along with classics like a spicy Louisiana hot link and a nutmeg-infused bratwurst, the sausage list includes a number of backwoods combinations: rattlesnake and rabbit; buffalo; duck and bacon; and alligator andouille. The crisp, hot Belgian fries come with small pots of sauces—Thai peanut, tsatsiki, and blue cheese with walnut and bacon are among the choices—along with regular condiments.

The demand for their food has made it impossible for the cousins to fulfill one wish: to designate the small front room for eating and the cavernous back room for drinking. The other quashed dream has been harder to accept—the city refused their request to stay open 24 hours a day. “We’re not too excited that we can’t sell sausages at 3 A.M.,” says Wilson.

Wurstküche 800 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles (213-687-4444; wurstkucherestaurant.com)



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