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VICE Guide To Los Angeles

Where to Eat Late at Night

LA is not a late-night city, what with the 2 AM closing time, the 1:30 AM last call, and lazy bartenders who sometimes even set the bar clocks fast so they can call it at like 1:10. But for you, the champagne and cocaine don’t stop flowing until 5 AM...
January 1, 2000, 12:00am

Taco Zone Taco Truck


LA is not a late-night city, what with the 2 AM closing time, the 1:30 AM last call, and lazy bartenders who sometimes even set the bar clocks fast so they can call it at like 1:10. But for you, the champagne and cocaine don’t stop flowing until 5 AM, and when you stumble out of some C-list celeb’s house in the Hills after your comedown and too many conversations about the dude from

Entourage

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being based on so-and-so, you are starved. Well guess what? There are tons of late-night joints, a lot of them open 24 hours. Just a note: Taco trucks are like a religion for late-night LA, not just for stupid hipsters but also for neighborhood locals who’ve been working their asses off until 2 AM, bar-backing and cleaning up your puke and smashed glasses. There are far too many trucks to list here. Consider the ones we mention the best of the best (at least to our pickled brains).


ASTRO BURGER

It’s super-late, you just won an Oscar and forgot to thank your husband in your acceptance speech, and hot damn, are you craving a veggie burger with grilled onions and fries with ranch dressing. Where do you go? Why, Astro Burger, of course. It can actually be sort of healthy—it’s vegetarian-friendly, with tons of options like veggie Philly cheesesteak and garden dogs, and you can request soy cheese if you like. 5601 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 323-469-1924; 7475 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood, 323-874-8041 (3 AM during the week, 4 AM on weekends).

Bacon-dog Carts

BACON-DOG CARTS

Bacon dogs, or street dogs, are like the world’s ninth wonder. These mobile carts are a godsend at the end of an evening. Freshly grilled onions and peppers, hot dogs wrapped in bacon sizzling on the grill, toasted buns, with plenty of mayo and ketchup if you want it. You have to get the works when you order these (“

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Con todo

!”) or it doesn’t even count. Try looking for one in Silver Lake outside of Zen Sushi, in the parking lot on Cahuenga between Ivar and Hollywood, Downtown, or anywhere in Santee Alley during the day.

BARNEY’S BEANERY

Waaay back in the 90s, this was the late-night place to be. You’d see that cute guy with the long hair and lip ring that worked at now-defunct Warbabies, or maybe the hot chick with the shaved head from the soap plant that used to be on Melrose. Now, it’s more like the guys who greet each other with “DUDE!” and crush beer cans on their heads in a very sincere manner. The extensive three-page breakfast menu can baffle at 2 AM. 8447 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hollywood, 323-654-2287 (until 4 AM).

BENITO’S TACO SHOP

Ay, dios mío

, dry rolled tacos that are delicious when wasted! Carne asada burritos! Veggie burritos that are not truly veggie ’cause the rice is made with chicken stock! The one on Beverly is close to cheap hotels where you might be staying, but it’s a poor substitute for the recently closed one on Santa Monica where all the trannie hookers would hang late-night, stuffing their gourds between stuffing their customers. 7912 Beverly Blvd., Mid-City, 323-938-7427 (24 hours).

BOSSA NOVA

Um, really? You want something sort of healthy late at night? Well, OK. Go to Bossa Nova. The Bossa Salad is a longtime staple and filled with big fresh shrimp. The shrimp appetizer is big enough to order on its own and is just grilled shrimp marinated in Brazilian salsa. If you DO feel like something fried or smothered in cheese, get the coxinha, chicken croquette, or fried yucca. 7181 W. Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood, 323-436-7999 (until 4 AM).

Brite Spot

BRITE SPOT

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Always crowded, diner food, and massive servings. Your bad behavior will be excused, unless you start a food fight. I feel bored even talking about this place. 1918 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213-484-9800 (24 hours).

DAMIANO’S MR. PIZZA

Again, a late-night blast from the past. In the 90s it was all speed-freak waitresses serving a speed-freak/junkie crowd, and when I first heard about it, I thought the “cool kids” were just bastardizing “Domino’s” and was like, “Why do you guys want Domino’s Pizza so bad?” The pizza used to be better, but you really can’t beat hot, oily cheese, crispy crust, and sweet tomato sauce in the middle of the night. 412 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District, 323-658-7611 (until 6 AM).

FARMER BOYS

A cute little diner/chain restaurant with lots of LA County locations. You’ve got your basic juicy burgers, the uniquely California phenomenon known as fried zucchini sticks, fat-ass onion rings, and a drive-thru! 726 S. Alameda St., Downtown, 213-228-8999 (24 hours).

FRED 62

We think it’s pretty dangerous to run a late-night spot where dumb drunks congregate and get their own personal toasters at each table. What’s to stop your table from filling up the toaster with various foods to see if they’ll actually toast? And what’s to stop them from catching on fire? And then you from getting banned? 1850 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, 323-667-0062 (24 hours).

HODORI

If you have no idea what to order in a Korean restaurant, just take a look at Hodori’s picture menu.

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Yuk gae jang

is mouthwatering beef soup,

kalbi

are BBQ short ribs (not the kind of BBQ that comes with sauce, der), and there are actual Koreans who claim the

kimchi

is the best they’ve ever had outside of Grandma’s. Please don’t be mean to the mean serving staff—you’d be an asshole too if you had to put up with drunks yelling, “Who’s Kim Chi???” all the time. 1001 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown, 213-383-3554 (24 hours).

House of Pies

HOUSE OF PIES

What’s funny about this diner is that the sign looks like it says “House of Piss” when you’re really drunk. And guess what? That’s pretty accurate. 1869 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, 323-666-9961 (until 2 AM weekdays, 3 AM weekends).

LUCKY BOY DRIVE-IN RESTAURANT

Craving an LA breakfast burrito? The kind with fluffy scrambled eggs, gooey, melted cheddar cheese, spicy hunks of chorizo, slices of sweet onion, and crispy real hash browns, all wrapped in a gigantic flour tortilla? Go here. People will warn you against going to places that serve more than one type of food (like, don’t mix your Mexican with your Japanese), but everything is equally tasty at this divey, cruddy-looking joint popular with the

cholas

: the pastrami, the chili-cheese fries, and the corn dogs. Wash it all down with a concoction called the Orange Bang. 640 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena, 626-793-0120 (until 2 AM).

LUCY’S DRIVE THRU

Remember when we mentioned

tacos de cabeza

at the start of this guide? Well, Lucy’s Drive Thru is where you can get ’em. If you have no idea what these are, the literal translation is “tacos of head,” and they’re a traditional Mexican breakfast staple. The head of a cow is steamed and the meat is removed and shredded. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, really. You can also get

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tacos del lengua

(tongue), horchata with actual flavor, jalapeños wrapped in foil, and steak quesadillas the size of your face. Tip: Stick to the drive-thru, unless you like the smell of cleaning products and homeless people asking you for change while you grapple with your middle-class guilt over a gigantic burrito. Also, go only when drunk. 1568 W. Pico Blvd., West Pico, 213-384-0721 (24 hours).

Mel’s Office

MEL’S OFFICE

Standard diner fare with standard obnoxious drunkards to match. But hey, when you’re in the neighborhood and you want some fries, or maybe an omelet and a chocolate shake, this place will do. 8585 W. Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood, 310-854-7201. (24 hours)

ORIGINAL PANTRY CAFÉ

The only good time to come here is when you’re wasted. Otherwise you’ll get pissed off at the service and the cold eggs. But late-night? Aaahhh. Steak and eggs served by criminals on parole. 877 S. Figueroa St., Downtown, 213-972-9279 (24 hours).

TACOS ARIZAS TRUCK

So, there’s this “What taco truck is better?” war between Arizas and Taco Zone. Cheerleaders for Arizas claim the chuck chicken and

carnitas

are way better, with fiery salsa and a Mexican coke (sugary and guaranteed to add to your hangover). Like most taco trucks, you get better service if you order in Spanish. And they cook with lard, so keep this in mind if you’re all high-and-mighty about where your food comes from. Corner of Sunset and Logan, Echo Park, 323-555-1212 (late night).

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TACOS EL GAVILAN TRUCK

We’re not quite sure what you’d be doing in this neighborhood at 3 AM unless you’re buying heroin, but it’s worth a special trip—especially since it has security to protect your drunk ass. Tacos el Gavilan has some of the best

champurrado

(a hot-chocolate drink made with

masa harina

) in town. Corner of Broadway and Slauson, southeast LA (until 3 AM).

TACO ZONE TRUCK

If you like your tacos cheap (a buck and a quarter), authentic, and with lots of free toppings like cilantro and onions, make sure to check out Taco Zone. You can get

suadero

(delicious cuts of beef brisket) in addition to the standard

carne asada, cabeza, lengua,

and

tripas

. Just keep in mind that you are eating food off a truck with aluminum siding, my friend, a truck that may or may not spend its downtime parked in someone’s backyard. So you uptight prisses don’t complain about how dirty it is. Wait, how about you uptight prisses don’t even go? Alvarado and Montana, Vons parking lot, Echo Park (late night).

TAMALE GUY

Tamales for $1! At 2 AM! As many as you want! Gooey cheese and

relleno

, all homemade and stored in the nice guy’s cooler. He’ll come into the bars and start waving them around, but it’s always such a delight to step outside and hear “Tamaletamaletamale!” Outside Little Joy and the Short Stop, Los Feliz