11 In 11: Nocturnal Edition
Well it happened again. A group of completely normal individuals thought it would be a good idea to traipse around the city of Los Angeles for 11 plus hours, eating food and drinking alcoholic beverages at 11 (or more) different places. This annual event, 11 In 11, is the brain child of Mark Flaisher and Golden State owner Jason Bernstein. Typically, these people get together from 11 AM until 11 PM, everyone has a few cocktails at the last stop, then go home and crumble into a pile of sodium infused, alcohol soaked slumber. Last year was 11 In 11: China Edition (seen here via Man Bites World, Eater LA and All Kinds of Yum). This year? Jason was a little busy running a restaurant, so he asked Jeff Miller of Thrillist and me to step in and help do the organizing. We, being somewhat less normal individuals, thought it would be a good idea to have 11 In 11: Nocturnal Edition, in which we start the whole thing off at 11 PM, showcasing the unsung nightlife diversity of our great city. Here's what happened (with amazing photographs provided by The Great Pelcinary: Dara Hashemi).
Stop 1: Animal
Our massive group of 30+(40+?) people dominated the restaurant, filling up the large central table, as well as the entire counter and much of the standing room. Beautifully balanced pork belly sliders arrived, beer was drunk and Pelcinary, our native Angeleno now just visiting from New York, made sure to place an order for crispy chili lime pig ears. All the food was a smash hit.
Stop 2: Masan
This isn't the first time I've subjected my friends to this Korean live seafood specialist. Keeping with the spirit of 11 In 11, we gave warning to as few of the restaurants as possible. At Masan, that meant having to wake up the hostess, who was sleeping her way through the boredom of a completely empty restaurant. Boy were we a surprise. Squirming octopus tentacles, freshly killed uni, sea quirt-filled monkfish stew and several beers and shochus still arrived quickly, and were eaten to a soundtrack of scattered screams and laughs, which seemed to pop up randomly like some kind of depraved version of Whack-A-Mole. The most frightening dish to the group was probably the octopus tentacles, which move around on the plate and try to latch onto the insides of your mouth if they're not chewed quickly enough. Well, it was either those or the sea squirts; small filter-feeding pods that explode with a burst of iodine-tinged ocean jus once bitten. For videos of the insanity, click here, here, here and here.
Stop 3: HMS Bounty
With last call rapidly approaching, we kept the caravan moving quickly and settled into the HMS Bounty for a few drinks. There, I revelled with such delightful food people as Bricia and Fernando of Pal Cabrón fame, the Gluster himself Javier Cabral, chef Kris Yenbamroong of Talesai, H.C. of LA/OC Foodventures, fellow Squid Inker Emma Courtland, Matt from Dig Lounge and Neil from Food Marathon. We also noticed there was a picture of the bar, in the bar, and that both the photo and reality versions had the same guy sitting in the same seat.
Stop 4: El Taurino
This is where things started to get a little messy. Half of the group ordered their food at the truck outside, while the rest of us ordered from inside the restaurant itself. They got their food about a half hour before we did, then decided to fit in an extra stop at Nak Won for a little Korean BBQ. But this is what happens when you go to a busy post-last-call restaurant after last call. Nonetheless, the food was delicious and much needed (that alcohol has to soak into something, right?).
Stop 5: Original Tommy's
Is it the best burger in the world? God no. But it's a nostalgic pick, a place to eat after a party in high school, where molten sludgey chili dissolves into the bun, dances with yellow mustard and completely overwhelms the underwhelming burger patty. Do I love it? Yes. Should I? No. No I shouldn't.
Stop 6: Pal Cabrón
One of the major benefits of doing 11 In 11 in the middle of the night is that there really isn't any traffic. So we made the relaitively quick jaunt down to Bricia and Fernando's place, Pal Cabrón, where we were given micheladas, beers, clayudas and (my favorite) cemitas made with beef milanesa and head cheese. If you haven't ever had a cemita and you aren't on a diet, it's time to go eat one.
Stop 7: The Pantry
Yes, the Pantry is an isntitution of late night dining in Los Angeles. Too bad the food was terrible (though I heard that some people liked the pancakes). I simply stared at the brittle, re-heated bacon and drank two cups of coffee.
Stop 8: The Standard
I love Jeff Miller anyway, but sometimes there are extra perks when you have a friend that works for something like Thrillist. You see, at 6 AM, restaurants can (legally) start serving booze again. We thought it would be great to have a drink and watch the sunrise, but since it rises in the east, we figured we could use a rooftop. A few weeks ago, with just a few emails, Jeff had secured the normally closed roof of the Standard Hotel downtown. The bloodys were fine, but the view was spectacular. Very nice way to watch the city unfold in the morning. (For rooftop shower video, click here.)
Stop 9: Sapp Coffee
It's my New Year's Day ritual to have my first meal at Sapp, where the boat noodles are legendary, and things like rice soup, jade noodles, crab fried rice and Thai iced teas have been known to prepare even the most demolished creatures for a day of borderline functionality. This also came after a decent human drop off, leaving us with somewhere in the ballpark of 15-20 remaining all-the-way-ers.
Stop 10: Huckleberry
After our Thai breakfast (my kind of breakfast), we went to Huckleberry and comingled with a bunch of regular people just having breakfast on a Sunday morning. We'd have seemed normal if we didn't reek of booze. This also wound up, surprisingly, to be the least satisfying stop of the day. While my donut was perfectly fine, the coffee was all luke warm and many people left dissatisfied with their pastries. My mom also showed up, but had nothing to do with anyone's dissatisfaction.
Stop 11: Bay Cities Italian Deli
For this one, we called ahead, and for just thirty bucks we had a party sized godmother with the works waiting for us upon our arrival. It was a lovely, albeit enormous, Italian sandwich. Always good to end the food part with something you know you'll enjoy.
Stop 12: The Joker
This night (morning?) ended where many of my post-college night ended-- at The Joker in Santa Monica. It's divey, filled with morning drinkers, inexpensive and appropriately dark inside. Most stayed for a celebratory cocktail, but some (me) just kept on drinking and waited to see what the day would bring next (the beach in malibu with friend Meg, then dinner with Jeff's parents). All in all, it was a wholly successful adventure.
Special thanks to all the restaurants, bars, bloggers and adventurers that made this happen. See you next year.
11 In 11: Elsewhere on the Web