Midnight Snack: Swingers with Erin La Rosa

Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Erin La Rosa, who as a staffer on a TV show works many long nights, took us to her favorite 24-hour diner.

It's a tale as old as the city itself: Beautiful girl moves to Los Angeles with little more than a dream and the moxie she rode in on. The 21st century version is a little different than in years past, as this beautiful girl is an aspiring writer, rather than an aspiring actress. West Hollywood resident Erin La Rosa works late nights as an executive assistant on a television show, in hopes that someday she will write for one. We caught up with Erin at Swingers - the after hours eatery of her choice - at the end of one of her long work days. We gabbed about everything from the local cuisine of her native Florida to vegetarianism to Bon Jovi drag queens.

Marcos: So, tell me, what exactly is it you do that keeps you from eating dinner at a decent hour? Are you in some sort of vampire-related field of work?

Erin: Actually, I am. I work as a minion on a new TV show called "The Secret Circle." It's the companion show to "The Vampire Diaries." I'm the executive assistant there, so my day is essentially filled with phone calls, e-mails, scheduling, taking notes and running errands for my boss. Andrew, if you're reading this, please don't fire me.

Marcos: What's your favorite place to grab a little nosh when you get out of work late?

Erin: That would be here at Swingers. It's open 24 hours. I like to people watch here.

Marcos: Who's the most unexpected person you've ever seen here?

Erin: I thought I saw Bon Jovi here once. I was in line for the bathroom, and I was kind of hungover, so I was staring at him with glassy eyes while pouting my lips because I thought, "Well, this is my shot with Bon Jovi." Then I looked closer and it was actually just a drag queen with a feathered wig. She was eating an ice cream sundae.

Swingers

Marcos: Honest mistake. So, what do you usually order when you come here?

Erin: I usually get the mac and cheese - which is great - but tonight I've opted for the pumpkin pie and chocolate ice cream, which ended up being a wonderful combo.

Marcos: A little something to remind you of the holidays maybe?

Erin: Definitely. I'm spending Thanksgiving in Los Angeles this year, so I have to remind myself that fall is approaching somehow, since the seasons never change here.

Marcos: Where are you from originally? What's the cuisine like there?

Erin: I'm from Clearwater, Florida, which just so happens to be the other Scientology capital of the world. I'm not a Scientologist, but apparently I like living in places with a high concentration of those who are. As for the cuisine of Florida, it mainly consists of deep-fried everything. We originated such delicacies as deep-fried butter and deep-fried Snickers bars. You could probably deep-fry my arm and eat it if you wanted to. That's pretty much all I grew up on. That's healthy, right?

Marcos: I've heard that people who live in Florida eat gator on a frequent and habitual basis. Is this true? Have you ever had it?

Erin: I have had gator. I've also been tricked into eating other things too, like squirrel, rabbit and frog. My dad used to love to trick my siblings and I into eating things that would horrify us. I was actually raised on a farm, so I have a few stories. The worst being the time I unknowingly ate my pet pig Wilbur. He was so adorable. He lived in our backyard and used to push around a football with his nose. One morning I got up and we had, among other things, bacon for breakfast. When I finished, I announced to the room that I was going outside to play with him. Then my Dad said, "You can't play with Wilbur." When I asked why, he said, "Because you just ate him."

Marcos: That's awful! That is the saddest story.

Erin: I didn't eat pork for years.

Marcos: I completely understand why you're a vegetarian now.

Erin: My family traumatized me into it.

Marcos: What's the weirdest, strangest or grossest thing you've eaten because you were so hungry and it was the only thing around because you got out of work so late?

Erin: Because my job is so time consuming, I've become a person who doesn't food shop for myself. Now I'm resorting to just sort of picking through baking soda and moldy cheese in my fridge. I think the weirdest thing I've done so far is take this box of stale saltines I had sitting on top of my fridge, and dip them into the only other things I had in my kitchen at the time, which were ranch dressing and ketchup. It tasted pretty good at the time, but looking back, it sounds really sad now that I say it out loud.

Marcos: What have you eaten that you didn't think you'd like just by hearing what it was, but then ended up liking after you tasted it?

Erin: I think the first time I had escargot - which I knew was snails - I immediately thought, "Well, snails are slimy and crawl in the dirt, and that's disgusting." Then I ate them, and they were covered in butter and lemon and I slurped them up and it was maybe one of the best things I've ever had.

Marcos: What do you consistently crave when you get out of work that you can't have because it's not open?

Erin: There's a Thai place called Galanga Thai on Santa Monica and Martel that has the best spicy pad kra prau, but they're never open when I get out of work and am in need of food. I haven't had it for months now, because of my job, but I think of their delightful Asian cuisine every day.

Erin, pie and ice cream

Marcos: That must be so frustrating!

Erin: It's so frustrating that I take it out on Swingers and eat massive amounts of pumpkin pie and chocolate ice cream.

Marcos: What do you like most about the ambiance of this place?

Erin: I like that you can stay here for hours and possibly fall asleep on the table in your own vomit and nobody would really care. Jokes!

Swingers, 8020 Beverly Blvd., 323-653-5858

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Eating your rural pet is a real rite of passage.