Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Jordan Morris is a performer, writer and podcaster who's made a careful study of the best burgers in LA -- this is one of his choices.
Gastropub meets cavernous warehouse at the newish Rosewood Tavern on Fairfax and Rosewood: Shiny blue tiles reflect the lively crowd at the long communal table, and the high ceilings lend themselves to an old timey bar with a sliding ladder. It's perhaps the tallest bar in LA and, yes, it gives new meaning to "top shelf."
As I'm scribbling failed "top shelf" jokes on my notepad, Jordan Morris walks in, his curly hair flopping about. The mop makes him look like a thin Seth Rogan or a thin Will Ferrell or a thin Jonah Hill, so I'm pretty sure he'll be funny. And, oh, he is. After a dinner together, my face hurts from smiling. One of the original sketch writers at LA's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and a recently unemployed producer/writer/host on the just-canceled "The Daily Habit" on Fuel TV, he's often out eating late on the busy Fairfax strip. I convinced him to sit with me and talk douchebags and Ultimate Frisbee.
From the extensive list of brews on tap, Jordan goes straight for a Napa Smith Pilsner.
Laurenne: What's special about that one?
Jordan: It's light and refreshing! Actually, there's nothing really special about it. That's one of my secret shames. I haven't read Infinite Jest and I have very pedestrian taste in beers.
Laurenne: So what's a good beer for you then?
Jordan: Miller High Life.
Laurenne: That's very classy.
Jordan: Actually, on special occasions, I treat myself to a $15 scotch.
Laurenne: Oh yeah? When is it a special occasion for you?
Laurenne: What kind of scotch?
Jordan: The $15 one. I mean, if it's fifteen bucks, you know it's good. The MacPhail's Collection Highland Park 8 is pretty good.
Boasting ales, chops, and fine scotches, the menu lists more single malts than entrees. I order the Farro Salad, with lentils, grapes, mixed greens and goat cheese. Jordan goes for the All-American Pub Burger, medium rare, no tomatoes.
Laurenne: You don't do tomatoes?
Jordan: Nope. It's the texture.
Laurenne: How about mushrooms?
Jordan: No way. It's like biting into a finger. Gross.
Laurenne: What do you normally order?
Jordan: The burger. I'm sort of an LA burger connoisseur. The "best burger" conversation comes up a lot, and you need to have a working knowledge of the burgers around here. Or maybe that's just an excuse I use to eat junk food.
Laurenne: So where's the best burger in LA?
Jordan: Golden State. Best burger in LA.
Laurenne: Wow. Better than Father's Office?
Jordan: I know I should be strung up in a town hall for saying it, but yep. Hands down. Irv's Burgers is a close second. And then this place. I have West Hollywood Burger Pride. I would have a little parade for it if it wouldn't be so confusing.
Laurenne: Besides the burgers, what makes this your late night spot?
Jordan: Walking distance, scotch, tasteful rock music, and low douche factor.
Laurenne: What constitutes a douche for you?
Jordan: Let's see...Guys are douches if they dress like they bought the whole outfit off the mannequin, wear expensive watches, talk with their hands, and talk really loudly.
Our food arrives, served by a sweet girl with amazing grammar. She is not a douche. The blend of farro, lentils, and goat cheese sings in my mouth. The burger wears thousand island and comes with some very crispy fries that I steal. Once you talk douche with someone, you can share fries.
Laurenne: So why are you always here late at night?
Jordan: I just ended a 6-year run with "The Daily Habit," a show on Fuel TV. It was a big job, and I worked really odd hours.
Laurenne: And now what are you going to do?
Jordan: I don't know. It's weird. I guess I'm going to be unemployed.
Laurenne: I can assure you you're gonna love it. But you're always performing, right?
Jordan: Yes, I'll start performing in January with my new sketch group at UCB. It's called Up! Up! Up! And then I have my podcast, "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" with my best friend Jesse Thorn.
Laurenne: I like your enthusiasm for exclamation points!
Jordan: We just recorded our 200th episode!
Jordan: Yeah. It's so fun. Jesse and I met at UC Santa Cruz, and now our lives are a bit different. He has a wife and a kid. And I'm, uh, single with a cat. So, this podcast gives me a weekly date to fuck around with my best friend. It's something people respect, and I'm proud of it.
Laurenne: You guys met at UC Santa Cruz? I hear they have an awesome football team.
Jordan: I think you mean Ultimate Frisbee. Jesse and I were both RAs at the Performing Arts Hall.
Laurenne: Did you guys ever have to break up anything crazy or send people to the hospital?
Jordan: I don't know if you heard "Performing Arts Hall"? The most people did was play their hand drums too loudly.
Laurenne: Ha! And then you came to LA?
Jordan: UCB saw us perform in the SF Sketchfest, and they called us to be a part of the LA UCB when it opened.
Laurenne: Wow. You were there since the beginning? You're an original. How many sketches do you think you have written?
Laurenne: I'm going to venture to say that you might be good at writing sketches. Not so good at eating burgers.
Half of Jordan's burger sits untouched amid crispy fries.
Jordan: Well, it's really good, but I'm watching my figure. I've also cut out all sweets.
Laurenne: So are we not getting the Bourbon Bread Pudding then?
Jordan: Nah. I keep getting auditions for the 'chubby guy' or the 'fatso.' I'm toning it down.
Jordan leaves to go cuddle with his cat, Bug. And I drive home with a smile on my face. That guy is so funny. Saturday Night Live better call him soon. Hey, Lorne Michaels: this guy has 200 sketches and knows about burgers. And he's not a douche.
[Photos by Hagop Kalaidjian]
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