Friday December 16, 2011
We're avid supporters of the slow food movement and sustainable food practices here at LocalEats. But when it comes to dining out, eating green often comes with a hefty price tag and at times, a bit of a pretention. Again, not knocking the practices, but the self-congratulatory nature of some self-described farm-to-table restaurants can be a bit much to stomach. And this is precisely why the Oinkster in Eagle Rock (northeast Los Angeles) is such a refreshing concept. The Oinkster, from chef/restaurateur Andre Guerrero, calls its cuisine "slow fast food." They cure their pastrami in house (for two weeks) and slow-cook their pork. They use superior ingredients and generally avoid shortcuts -- condiments, sauces and dressings are made from scratch. But rather than expensive, pretentious and exclusive, the Oinkster is affordable (everything is under $10), and fun. The Oinkster proves that fast food need not be made from lousy ingredients, and that slow food need not be so damn serious -- or only found at upscale restaurants.
All conceptual restaurant talk aside, I had the good fortune of stopping in at the Oinkster following a concert in Eagle Rock. The brightly-lit, kitschy building (formerly a Jim's Burgers) on Colorado Boulevard proved irresistible to my companions and me, completely famished at 11:30 pm. With five or six craft beers on tap, the Oinkster was already putting a life's worth of fast food experiences to shame before we'd even tried a bite of food. Leading off was an excellent hefty pastrami sandwich with caramelized onion, red cabbage slaw and gruyere. The pulled pork sandwich with a Carolina-style vinegar sauce was equally impressive -- and I'm as skeptical as they come, when barbecue makes an appearance outside of the South, save for Kansas City and St. Louis. And then there were the fries, worth a trip alone. These Belgian-style double fried spuds were some of the finest I've encountered in a city not named Brussels. Here's to hoping that slowing down fast food and bringing slow food down to earth catches on elsewhere. They're pulling off the balancing act quite well at the Oinkster.