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.
Gus’s Drive In
1657 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
On the 7th day God rested and so did the Beastie’s. Sunday is Grill ‘Em All’s day to rest up for a week full of burger crushing. Both the Beast and Son of Beast have the day off to rest in the commissary while Chef Ryan, Matt and the rest of the crew enjoy a burger free day of rest…unless I am in town. Sunday was the one day where Matt, Ryan and I could have a big ole bro hang without having to run around taking care of business. That morning, Matt awoke to a fine Sunday morning breakfast feast I picked up and brought to his house.
In between the glitz of Hollywood and the hip hang outs of Downtown Los Angeles is the neighborhood of Westlake. It’s some what of a residential no mans land located near MacArthur Park in an area that in the 1920s used to be a home to the city’s affluent. By the 1960s nearly all of its Caucasian population had fled the area making way for a large in flux of Korean, Filipino, Mexican, Salvadorean & Guatemalan people. Modern apartments were created from the once elegant mansions, now subdivided to hold more residents.
It’s an area of town that doesn’t boast any fancy restaurants or many of them at all. Other than a few scattered fast food chains and few take out spots, there really isn’t a lot to choose from. But there is Gus’s Drive In, located just a few blocks off both of the 101 and the Harbor Freeway on 3rd Street. Gus’s is a classic short order diner complete with patio, dining room and as in its namesake, a drive-thru. They offer fresh, fast and quality food with a friendly smile. Their menu offers a selection of breakfast items including everything from omelets to breakfast burritos as well as salads, sandwiches, Latin cuisine, crispy chicken, dinner plates and of course, burgers!
My intention was to pick up some breakfast burritos as in my opinion, no trip to LA is complete with out properly made breakfast burritos but something else caught my eye. A list of 13 different burgers, several of which were recommended on various food review sites I had been checking out. Thus the Grill Em All no burger Sunday mandate was broken.
Gus’s 1/4 cheese burger is a classic California style flat patty with 1000 Island dressing and lettuce served on a sesame seed bun. If you’re in the mood for the type of burger that defines the style, this is your burger. You could go to one of the many LA burger chains but why not try something local, fresh and in my opinion, better. Gus’s uses just a little bit of the tangy sauce so as to not let the griddled beef patty win the taste war. A thin slice of cheese balances out what I consider a damn good fast-food style burger.
After Matt and I tore through a burger to split we moved onto the reason for the seasoning, a breakfast burrito with chorizo, beans, cheese and home fries. If you want a properly done breakfast burrito, you have to hit a taco stand or a place like Gus’s. Anything fancier won’t do and anything from a chain just won’t get close. The huge and greasy breakfast burrito was pretty damn good although a little heavy on the beans. I’d suggest Gus’s burrito, with bacon, ham & sausage, as the way to go. Take a quick trip to Gus’s pepper and salsa bar to top your burrito and you are good to grub.
It’s a pretty standard menu without a lot of surprises other than one, which you have no choice, you must get; Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries. Go ahead and re-read that, it’s not a type-o! Gus’s takes their long cut crispy, golden fries and tops them with a non bean coney style chili thats heavy on a tangy tomato base. Thin strips of cheese are melted a top as well as thinly sliced pastrami. Wow! It almost acts like a bacon but gives the dish a very unique taste. Be warned, the portion is INTENSE. This is withoutadoubt a reason to stop-by, dine or Drive-In!
Matt and I headed downtown to grab Ryan from the train before our afternoon beer drinking session and they decided to show me a little local color. Right across from the downtown train hub is Olvera Street. It’s also known as El Pueblo Historic Monument and houses 27 historic buildings built to resemble a shopping plaza in Mexico. The original Pueblo was built in 1781 and now houses a number of outdoor cafes, taco stands, entertainers merchants and vendors selling all kinds of Mexican goods and souvenirs. Olvera Street has no entrance fee and is open daily from 10 am until 7 pm. Matt, Ryan and I took a stroll through the entire area, spending a significant amount of time looking at lucha libre masks, acting like 11 years old’s exclaiming “oh! That one is cool!”
The next day was filled with meetings and a random Paris Hilton sighting (I swear she was eyeballing my bacon hash) while I was having lunch with Thrillist LA and with that, a week with 2 of my favorite bros on the planet came to end.
We crushed some burgs, drank up some beers and had a ton of laughs. I got a deep inside look at what it takes to make the burgers that get crushed by you Ghouls and am completely impressed what these two native Clevelanders have built into a really awesome business. I met some cool people, found some cool new bars and put together the world’s first BanHemoth. We decided to end my trip in proper fashion, throwin’ back some beers on the patio at the world famous Rainbow Bar and Grill.Where rockers from the 70s, 80s, 90s and today still gather to drink, eat and act like it’s still 1984.
Cheers gents. TAKE IT TO THE FACE!
The matching shirts and colors were completely unintentional and in no way a show of support for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jan. 24, 2011
Part 1 of A Week In The Life of Grill ‘Em All Truck – The Other Door
Part 2 of A Week In The Life of Grill ‘Em All Truck – Charlie’s Fixtures, Philippe’s & Verdugo Bar
Part 3 of A Week In The Life of Grill ‘Em All Truck – Century Media & The Anvil
Part 4 of A Week In The Life of Grill ‘Em All Truck – Grill Nom All & The BanHemoth