2005 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Even out of some bad, you can almost always find some good. We were going to be making a few pre-planned trips up to LA in the coming weeks, so I did a little research to see what restaurants we should try to hit while we were up there. Not to get too personal, but it was time for Katie's Grandfather to move closer to his family, so we were getting the house ready for his big move. I was being rewarded by Katie for helping, as she promised to take me to any restaurant I wanted after we were done boxing up and throwing away a lot of junk. Visiting Oinkster was definitely going to be the highlight of this trip for me.
I had seen Oinkster on Diner's Drive-In's and Dives. about three years ago. The same episode has aired a few other times that I have seen, and I knew I wanted to eat here. Oinkster comes to us from Andre Guerrero, a fine dining chef that has brought us Max and Senor Fred's, both in Sherman Oaks. Oinkster is Chef Guerrero's version of a fast food concept, which uses high quality ingredients, almost all of which are made on the premises. Whatever he's doing must be working, because within the last month he opened a second location in Hollywood, on Vine near Melrose. Our work at Papa's was done for the day, so we made our way to Eagle Rock to try Oinkster.
This original location of Oinkster is located on busy Colorado Boulevard in the trendy section of Eagle Rock. A lot of the customers here look like they just came from an H&M photo shoot, but the vibe here was pretty laid back. Oinkster is housed in an old A-frame building that reminded me of the old Wienerschnitzel's or Tastee-Freez's that we grew up going to. We arrived at about 5PM on a Sunday, and it was busy, but not out of control. We waited in line for about five minutes, then placed our order at the counter. The menu here is full of American classics, all of which are priced under $11. We had no problem finding a seat on the patio out front, and waited patiently for our food to make its way out to us.
The first item to hit our table was Oinkster's shake of the month, which I had learned about prior to our visit on their Facebook page. This shake is known as, E.T's Shake ($6). Since it was called this, of course it had to have crushed Reese's Pieces, Reese's peanut butter, and a chocolate ice cream base. Oinkster uses local legend, Fosselman's Ice Cream to make their shakes. This Alhambra ice cream company has quite a following, and we look forward to heading to their place soon. As for this shake, I thought the chocolate and peanut butter combined nicely here, but I would have liked this shake to have been a little thicker. It was very runny when we got it, and I kind of like to struggle to get the shake up the straw. Not bad though.
Katie and I kind of went a little overboard with the amount of food that we got here, but I definitely planned on taking home leftovers. The first of our three sandwiches was the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich ($8). The pork on this sandwich is very special. It is brined with soy sauce and honey, then roasted and smoked for 12 hours. The result is one of the most tender pork sandwiches I have had. Joining the pork on the roll was a red cabbage slaw, caramelized onions, and a Carolina BBQ sauce. I liked the crunch from the cabbage, the sweet onions, and the bread allowed the pork to be the star of this sandwich. If I had to come up with anything negative to say about this, it would be that it needed a little more BBQ sauce, but the pork was moist enough that it really did not need it. A great sandwich.
As hard as it was for me not to scarf down all of the pork sandwich, I left half for lunch the next day, so I could conquer this Royale Burger ($11.25, with cheese added). They hand press their one-third pound patties, using only Nebraskan Angus beef. This burger is then topped with pastrami, bacon, chili, dill pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, and 1000 Island dressing. This burger was one of the best I have had recently. You can tell this is high quality beef. The bacon was nice and crisp, the produce was fresh, the pastrami is unbelievably good, and the chili added flavor and moisture to this burger. This is everything that you look for in a burger. Katie could tell how pleased I was with this, as I was too busy trying to finish this, before she asked for another bite.
After the greatness of both the pork and the burger, I was thinking our hot streak was going to come to an end, but the hits just kept on rolling with this Oinkster Pastrami ($10.50). The care that they use to make their pastrami is evident as soon as you taste it. They cure their pastrami for two weeks, it's rubbed with a bunch of spices, (pepper for sure), and then smoked over applewood. This sandwich comes with the same red cabbage slaw and caramelized onions, but Gruyere cheese is added to this one. Some might think that the pastrami here is a little too seasoned, but I liked the big flavor of this pastrami. Again the cabbage and onions balanced out the meat a bit and the cheese added a nice creaminess. Another winner in my book.
The only thing that I found average about Oinkster were these Belgian Fries ($3). Yes they are hand cut, twice fried, and made using fresh potatoes, but I just expected a little more from them. They were not as crisp as I expected, and just kind of blah. Not awful, but just kind of boring. I should have gone with their chili fries or the piggy fries, which resemble a certain hamburger chain's animal style fries.
I was so pleased with our trip to Oinkster, that I did not even mind giving up my Sunday to help pack up Katie's Grandfather's house. That's how good this restaurant is. Oinkster really reminded me of The Hat, but with way higher quality ingredients, and attention to detail. Not saying The Hat is bad, but Oinkster is a whole lot better. I was also pretty happy with the prices here. They were not overly out of control. The service was pretty good on this visit. The guy that took our order, also brought out our food, and made sure we had everything that we needed. He seemed like he really cared about our happiness during this visit. Oinkster was so good, it might be hard for us to try other places on our next few visits to Papa's house.
Out of five tennis balls, (because I recently learned that Lindsay Wagner, also known as the Bionic Woman once lived in Eagle Rock, and in the opening credits of the show , she crushed a tennis ball with her hand), five being best to zero being worst, Oinkster gets 4 tennis balls.
For more information about Oinkster, go to their website here: http://www.theoinkster.com/index.php#home