A Week In the Life of The Grill ‘Em All Truck
I recently went out to LA to spend a full week in the burger trenches with Matt, Ryan and the rest of the Grill ‘Em All Truck staff, seeing what it’s like first hand to be a real Grill ‘Em All Ghoul.
2251 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Remember that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning to find gads and gads of presents under the tree with your name on them? The level of excitement achieved is a life defining moment. For the rest of your life, you will never feel that way again but you’ll try as hard as you can to somehow get a little goose bump covered slice of that sensation. I can only imagine how much fun a parent has watching their kid work up that much glee. While I don’t have an ankle biter of my own to taste just such an experience, but I do have Chef Ryan Harkins.
On my 2nd day in LA hanging out with the Grill ‘Em All guys, I accompanied them to Charlie’s Fixtures. At this point, they’ve been open more than 20 years and are one of the largest restaurant fixtures and equipment supply stores in Southern California. Owned by Charles Lao, who was raised in the Philippines where he earned a college degree in mechanical engineering. After moving to LA, Charlie studied the food service business for years working for an equipment dealer. In 1989, Charlie’s Fixtures opened and has become THE go to spot for cooking and restaurant supplies in SoCal. They carry everything from kitchen, janitorial, fixtures, tabletop, large and small cooking equipment and much, much more. Sound familiar? It’s a foodie haven and been featured on numerous TV shows. Watching Ryan walk into the place gave me a vision of a child’s Christmas morning.
While my culinary training extends as far as a bus boy for a restaurant in my hometown and 2 different fast food restaurants, but I could still see why all the hullabaloo. From knives to brushes to wash tubs to flat top griddles to sauce guns, this place is a restaurateurs cookware nirvana. My favorite part, the GIGANTIC whisks that looked more like Nomadic battle scepters. These are clearly the most HEAVY METAL-esque item available in fine cookware. “Fear not fair Maiden, I will smote thee whipped concoction with my whisk of steel.” Thankfully Matt was able to keep “the kids” on a short leash to keep us on the mission of getting kitchen supplies.
1001 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
When the idea of lunch came about, I throughout a suggestion; Philippe’s, one of my FAVORITE places to eat in all of California. My idea was met with a “OH HELL YEAH” and the car was pointed down town, filled with 3 dudes looking to stuff their faces with dripping meat.
Philippe’s opened just after the turn of the century, in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu. His claim to fame? Inventing the “French Dipped Sandwich.” Like all great food creations, it started by accident when Philippe accidentally dropped the French roll, intended to hold thinly sliced beef, into a roasting pan. The customer, a cop, asked to have the sandwich regardless and thus was born a new revolution in sandwiches, “au jus”. Philippe sold the restaurant in 1927 and it stayed there until 1951. The construction of the 101 Highway forced a move, landing the restaurant into it’s current two-story location in downtown Los Angeles.
Inside you’ll find long lines of people, all queued up for the same thing, a bite of hot, juicy sandwich history. Get in a line, peruse the menu and be ready to order when it’s your time at the counter. It’s a busy place and although the menu is large, you really only need to know one thing, get a dipped sandwich but do NOT exceed more than double dip. A triple dip will leave you with an extremely soggy mess. If that’s how you like it, you might as well just get soup. Choose from beef, pork, ham, lamb or turkey and pair with a selection of delicious sides. Your order will be up soon and you can gather around one of the family style picnic tables to enjoy. Do NOT skip out on the house made mustard, it’s amazing but be warned, not only is it addictive, it’s hotter than the surface of the sun!
Matt and Ryan’s eyes were clearly bigger than their stomachs when they ordered 3 sandwiches, 5 different sides & sodas. Me, I kept it simple, a beef sandwich, double dipped and small bowl of chili on the side with a house made lemonade to wash it down. Detroit natives will under it when I say the tasty Philippe chili tastes like our beloved coney chili. It’s a not-to-thick concoction made without beans that is savory, peppery and delicious. Perfect share as a start for a couple spoonfuls or to dip into with crackers. I’ve been there many times and never before ordered cheese on my dip but this visit was to be different as I asked for mine with blue cheese. Was it good? Oh yeah, it was great but what really made it great was the way the hot mustard and the savory cheese combined together around the juicy beef. Philippe’s is a true winner.
The Verdugo Bar
3408 Verdugo Road
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to do something and the Verdugo Bar in the Glassell Park section of Los Angeles, CA knows this as fact. Slightly off the beaten path, this large lounge, complete with a massive out door gated patio, describes itself using only 3 words, “beer, booze and beats.” (Reminds of an awesome bar in NYC called Idle Hands!) With the raddest collection of craft beers on draft and in bottles, the Verdugo rocks proudly behind it’s unassuming lit up “cocktails” sign. Hungry? Show up on Wednesday nights when the Grill ‘Em All Truck makes a regular stop to serve up gourmet burgers that pair VERY well with tasty beers. Order your beers at the front bar and head right out back to the patio. The truck pulls right up to the gate for easy burg ordering and retrieval.
FYI – The folks behind the Verdugo Bar are the same one’s that bring you The Other Door in North Hollywood.
I’ve sunk my chompers into nearly every one of Chef Ryan’s regular creations which closes the book on my personal menu discovering ability. Tonight’s service featured only the regular menu items with no special treats available for tasting. While hanging out with Chris from the electro-indie-pop band Electric Valentine, who happens to be a vegetarian, I realized there was one regular menu item that I had not had the pleasure of devouring, the veggie burger.
All of the Grill ‘Em All Truck burger creations are available as a veggie burgers but the one I thought would supplement the best was the Blue Cheer. It’s a burger with maytag blue cheese, cranberry gastrique and munchos. Let’s be honest, a grilled cheese with just those items would be superb so the chances of a veggie burger ruining it were slim to none. Thankfully the Grill ‘Em All Truck veggie patties are excellent! They’re intended for grilling and come with a real char taste. If you like the Blue Cheer because of the toppings, choosing the veggie option is not a move to be frowned upon. Chris and I crushed our burgers out in the parking along with Miles, a fellow burger blogger from 2 Buns, 1 Cow.
A Tour of the Beast
As many of you know, the Grill ‘EM All Truck won the Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race” and with that were able to get a 2nd truck. The original, named “The Beast,” gave birth to “Son of Beast.” While both trucks are significantly different, the quality of the food is not. Either truck will serve you great food, made with love and care in a very clean and well prepared truck kitchen. As the nature of my trip was to learn all the ins and outs of Grill ‘Em All Ghoul-dom, I thought it best to give you a little photo pictorial of The Beast’s facilities. All puns intended, it’s a well oiled machine made for cranking out delicious burgers but making sure burger lovers and metal heads are having a great time while hanging out around it.
Experience Part 1 of A Week In The Life of Grill ‘Em All Truck