Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Corey Podell, Stephanie Allynne, and Courtney Pauroso, actresses and Groundlings members, took us to their regular post-stage spot.
As I sit down to The Village Idiot bar with my conspicuous yellow legal pad, men swarm me. Normally, this is a good thing. This time, not so much. As I try to take a picture of my Ginger Spice cocktail in the roomy darkness, an older barfly asks me what Iʼm doing.
"Iʼm writing a feature on late-night food for KCET. This one is about where the Groundlings go to eat after their shows."
Just then a few Groundlings from the ʻCamp Sundayʼ troupe walk past.
"The Groundlings donʼt come here!" The man is drunk, spitting out accidental pieces of
self-righteousness. "They go to Frankʼs. You heard of Frankʼs, right?"
I shake my head.
"You donʼt know Frankʼs? What kinda reporter are you? Youʼre the worst. I know a guy
who writes for TIME."
A man on my other side says, "I donʼt know him. Iʼm just here waiting for drugs. I hope they come."
"What kind of drugs?" I have to ask.
So, the first thing I learn about The Village Idiot is that itʼs home to colorful locals. And that drug transactions may occasionally take place. At 11pm on a Sunday, the restaurant/bar is sprinkled with a variety of beautiful Hollywood types, tattooed hipsters, and every single member of the Groundlings Sunday Company. With high ceilings, chalkboard menus, and deer antler wallpaper, the Village Idiot is hip yet comfortable. Nobody seems to be trying too hard.
Stephanie Allynne, Corey Podell, and Courtney Pauroso sit down with me. Stephanie orders a Ginger Spice cocktail too. A Village Idiot speciality, it mixes ginger liqueur, mint, bitters, and lemon juice with a dash of cayenne sprinkled on top. It burns the throat in the best way.
Laurenne: Having just rehearsed all day and performed a long show, I must ask: Are you guys tired?
Courtney: Not at all.
Corey: We are always so packed with adrenaline after our shows.
Stephanie: Sometimes I am so pumped after a show, I just spend an hour driving around LA. Itʼs actually beautiful when thereʼs no traffic.
Corey: We should be tired, but itʼs nice to be together after a show and decompress. We like to talk about how everything went and what worked.
Laurenne: How was tonightʼs show?
Corey: It was fun. The audience was more into smiling than laughing, but we had a lot of fun. Speaking of food, Stephanie had to eat big pixie sticks on stage.
Stephanie: Yeah. It was gross. Pixie sticks arenʼt as fun when youʼre an adult. Iʼm not hungry.
Laurenne: Do you go out after every show?
Corey: Yes. We divide our time between the Village Idiot and the Dark Room. We have pitch meetings on Wednesday nights and shows on Sunday nights, so there is always someone who wants to head out afterwards for "a drink," which is never "a drink." We always come here because the food is really good, and itʼs convenient, but the Dark Room just started serving food and itʼs cheaper.
Laurenne: So this place isnʼt really the best for those on a budget?
Corey: We usually get small stuff. Fries or sides. You wonʼt see us getting the hanger steak or real dinner items.
Courtney: A lot of drinking and a lot of shared food. Itʼs more about socializing and less about getting a good dinner at 11pm.
Corey: We eat so much during the day. Thereʼs actually a person at Groundlings whose job it is to get us really good snacks. So weʼre surrounded by food all day. Itʼs really hard. By the time we get here, I feel too guilty to go for a hanger steak.
A very handsome waiter takes our order. I get a rosé, which makes me feel French and summery. Courtney, a vegetarian, orders the vegetable pie. Itʼs a homey specialty with a gourmet spin, its thick flaky crust filled with corn, cherry tomatoes, poblano chile, romano beans, zucchini, okra, and basil. Corey, to feel less guilty, opts for a plate of brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon. The very handsome server says his favorite item, since heʼs not on a diet, is the pub burger with its balsamic onion relish.
Laurenne: So you guys share food together after the show, you write together all week, and you do a show every Sunday. Do you ever get sick of each other?
Stephanie: Not of each other.
Corey: Not really, no.
Stephanie: Iʼve stopped going out all the time afterward.
Laurenne: Do you ever feel like youʼre missing out if you donʼt come here after the show?
Stephanie: Nah. Itʼs so constant. Thereʼs always someone going out, and you can just pick it back up again when you feel like it.
Laurenne: Man, being a Groundling sounds pretty fun.
They stare dreamily at each other, three young working Hollywood actresses who share
each otherʼs food, wigs, and words throughout the week. After the beautiful veggie pie,
the delicious guilt-free brussels sprouts, and the answers scribbled on my yellow legal
pad, our extremely handsome waiter leads us to a spot at the bar. It is still pretty packed
at midnight. The famous selection of imported ales bring in a constant flow.
Unfortunately the man waiting for cocaine is gone. Iʼm disappointed I didnʼt get to see
the transaction go down. Maybe next Sunday.
The Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046