Obligatory Wurstkuche Lunch: Welcome to the Westside!

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I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never been to Wurstkuche in Downtown L.A.  It’s strange because I eat lunch Downtown all the time, I like sausage, and I want to be one of the cool kids.  But there’s always been a burger, banh mi, buffet or baco to pull me from the super popular sausage and beer garden. But once a second branch opened in Venice, I reacted like most people who live or work on the Westside. I headed over right away.

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Having never been to the original I can’t say for sure, but based on reviews and photos it appears as if the entire place with all its Downtown hipness has made the move to Venice.  From the striped entrance to the sausage case and ordering area, to the strange long hallway that feels like it is going to go on forever until it surprises you by opening up into a large cavernous room made up of equal parts high end design and exposed warehouse.

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The butcher paper topped communal tables are there as well with squeeze bottles full of mustards and ketchup, as is the brighter “outdoor” patio, and the DJ booth- which thankfully sits empty during lunch.

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The menu is the same as well.  Classics (like the bockwurst shown above) are $5.75.

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Gourmet sausages (like the Filipino Marharliko) are $6.50.

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And the exotics (like the Duck and Bacon with Jalapeno peppers) are $7.50.  Plus you get your choice of any 2 toppings: hot peppers, sweet peppers, sauerkraut and grilled onions. A good rule of thumb is to go with sweet peppers on the hot sausages, hot peppers on the sweet sausages, and sauerkraut vs. onions just a personal preference thing.  (I’m a grilled onions man myself.)  All the toppings are pretty great, but they do tend to drown out some of the less flavorful sausages, like the bockwurst.)

Stick with the classic or gourmet sausages, and those of us who like to keep our lunches under $10 will still have room for fries ($3.50), which are thick cut, double fried, and pretty delicious.  There are ten dipping sauces to choose from, but everybody seems to recommend the blue cheese with walnuts and bacon.

While Wurstkuche might not blow you away, it’s about as perfectly executed a concept as you’re going to find in this city.  Beer + Sausage isn’t rocket science, especially when you don’t make your own sausages (Wurstkuche doesn’t.)  But they’ve managed to find a perfect bun, a few simple but nicely executed toppings, and damn good fries, all at a price that stops just short of being offensive.  And most importantly, they don’t skimp on the cooking time. All ten minutes of your wait shows up as blackened snap between the pillowy bun and hot, juicy sausage innards.

Now I remember why I never went to the one in Downtown.  I think the backlash kept me away.  ”The lines are too long.”  ”It’s too expensive.”  ”They don’t even make their own sausages.”  And, beer selection isn’t really a criteria for a good Midtown Lunch (although, maybe it should be!)  But maybe Wurstkuche is a lesson in hype surrounding places that are extremely popular and ripe for expansion.  Go at the peak of popularity and your high expectations might drag you into the backlash.  Go once the backlash has hit, and you will find yourself eating an extremely delicious lunch.  Looks like the backlash to the backlash is the place to be.  Welcome to the Westside!  It’s good to have you here.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)

  • What’s better than sausage and beer?  Nothing, that’s what.
  • The fries are really good, and there are so many dipping sauces to choose from.
  • I love soft and pillowy bread.
  • I like the outside of my sausages to be nice and charred.
  • The hot peppers and sweet peppers are both great.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • They don’t even make their own sausages!?
  • They need to lower the price or make the sausages bigger.
  • You can’t even taste some of the sausages underneath all that bread and topping.
  • I like my bread crusty.

Wurstkuche (Multiple Locations)

  • New Venice Location: 625 Lincoln Blvd. 213-687-4444
  • Downtown: 800 East 3rd Street. 213-687-4444

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