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Critic's Choice: A nip in the air, a sausage on the plate

November 24, 2012|By S. Irene Virbila | Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic
  • Wurstkuche has locations in Venice and downtown L.A.
Wurstkuche has locations in Venice and downtown L.A. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

It's late November, and only in last few days has the weather cooperated to give us a taste of fall, and with it, a hankering for hearty cold-weather foods. I'm thinking oxtails braised in red wine (which I made this weekend), a steaming bowl of udon, steel-cut oats — and sausages in all their porky goodness. Just imagining the sizzle of the grill gets me hungry. OK, Jody Maroni was selling sausages on the Venice boardwalk for years. But it took two young guys opening Wurstküche in 2008 to usher in L.A.'s current penchant for all things sausage. Now we have Currywurst on Fairfax and Berlin Currywurst in Silver Lake, beer gardens and pubs and food trucks that specialize in rustic sausages, including, of course, the Let's Be Frank truck for dogs made from trimmings of grass-fed beef.

Gorge Charcuterie & Wine Bar

Gorge chef-owners Elia Aboumrad and Uyen Nguyen have impressive résumés. Aboumrad was Joel Robuchon's sous-chef and Nguyen was pastry chef at Guy Savoy's Vegas restaurant. At their new restaurant, Gorge, they specialize in charcuterie — and St. Honoré pastry. Aboumrad makes a wicked house-dried saucisson sec. But on blustery days, her Toulouse-style pork sausage or her duck sausage with mushrooms and puréed potatoes fits the bill. She supplements the menu with daily specials from her repertory of sausages and charcuterie. A real gem for the neighborhood.

8917 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-6328, Sausage and charcuterie, $18 to $25.

Wurstküche in Venice

When Tyler Wilson and Joseph Pitruzzelli opened Wurstküche in 2008, they had a mission: to bring the sausage culture they loved in Germany to L.A. There's now a Venice locale that recalls the original arts district restaurant and serves the same menu, which includes several vegetarian options. The best sausages feature tamer combinations: rabbit with veal and pork, the all-pork bratwurst and the "Austin blues" made with hardwood-smoked pork and plenty of hot peppers.

625 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, (213) 687-4444, Also at 800 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles. Sausage sandwiches, $5.75 to $7.50.


Chef and owner Bernhard Mairinger has sausages custom-made for him at Continental Gourmet Sausage in Glendale. Tender weisswursts come slow-simmered in milk. Juicy bratwursts are served with sauerkraut, while the typical wieners come with fresh horseradish and a roll. The most unusual is käsekrainer, similar to Polish sausage but infused with Swiss cheese and accompanied by mustard and freshly grated horseradish. The restaurant is open all afternoon, so you can pop in for a sausage snack.

9669 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 271-7274, Sausages, $8 to $12. Three-course sausage and beer menu, $35; five courses, $45.

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