In the heart of Koreatown, you’ll find, well…. Korean food. Ethnic neighborhoods are given their obvious namesakes based off of the people occupying the space, and K-town is no different. The selection of Korean barbecue spots and boba shops are endless if you’re into that sort of thing, so the assumption is what you see is what you get.
But you have no idea just how wrong you are. Nestled in a tucked away parking lot on Western Avenue and West Sixth Street is a cozy restaurant that’ll leave your waistband feeling equally cozy, if not more so, when you leave.
Beer Belly | Photo by Eat Your Heart Out LA
The name should speak for itself, but Jimmy and Yume Han’s Beer Belly restaurant came to fruition from Jimmy’s passion for craft beer with an appreciation for equally crafty and innovative food. Head chef Wes Lieberher came into the picture due to Jimmy’s fandom for the chef’s old stomping grounds, the Grindhaus food truck, where they paired together exotic sausages and sauces.
In an overall sweep of the menu, Wes’s menu is everything savory and succulent, meant to be the perfect complimentary food to any of their rotating craft beers, both bottle and on tap. What seem to be staples throughout Wes’s menu is pork and duck – fatty, yes, but undeniably flavorful, especially coming from the head chef. From fried duck livers to homemade duck sausage, the bird’s the word on this menu.
Pair the duck French dip with some duck fat fries and there could be no better match. The sandwich is served on a roll with sage-roasted duck breast, provolone cheese, horseradish aioli with duck au jus on the side. For $14, the duck sandwich is sizeable and packs in the flavor.
Duck French Dip | Photo cred: Beer Belly
The duck breast felt more like pulled pork in taste and tenderness, complimented by the cheese and horseradish, which makes the sandwich by itself pretty good. The game changer at this point is once the sandwich is dipped into the au jus that just adds juiciness to the duck breast and reasserts the savory duck flavor.
The duck fat fries are $6 and come out golden and crispy and dusted with sweet onion sugar and duck skin cracklins. Not to be ignored however, is the raspberry mustard served on the side, which nicely counterbalances the richness of the fries.
Duck fat fries | Photo cred: Bun Boy Eats LA
Not to be outdone by the duck, Beer Belly’s pork items are equally present in fries, pork belly chips and bacon. The Beer Belly grilled cheese is a monster in flavor, but in price at $11. What they call a “quad-deck 4×4,” the sandwich is essentially two sandwiches made into one, with four different cheese, bacon and then drizzled with maple syrup.
Beer Belly Grilled Cheese | Photo cred: Bun Boy Eats LA
A meal at Beer Belly wouldn’t be complete without sampling a craft beer, and the selection offered made it hard to pick one. Luckily for us, the gastropub offers a beer sampler hand-selected by beer manager Ric Syberg.
Beer Belly Flight | Photo Cred: Guzzle & Nosh
Our personal favorite among the five was a local brew, the Ohana Blonde Ale that was a nice compliment to our meal. The LA brew carried a very hoppy flavor, yet remained light and crispy to help wash down the hearty duck (or pork) filled dinner.
The rotating craft beers come from all over the country, from locally to as far north as Portland, to all the way east from Delaware. Pints average about $7, while cans and bottles can range from $6-30, depending on the brew and size. Beer Belly also offers a variety of wines, sodas, cider and tea.
Hopefully a visit to Beer Belly won’t leave you comatose over such a meal, but we’re sure that while your pants might hate you afterward, your soul will certainly be singing.
National food days might be our new favorite kind of holiday, especially when they involve fancy carbs and unpronounceable cheeses. Take a cruise through Silver Lake or Santa Monica, and you are bound to see a place (or food truck) dedicated to the nostalgic favorite. So in light of National Grilled Cheese Day, we have put together a list of the best places to celebrate. Go classic and channel your inner kid, or celebrate your pristine palette with something on the gourmet side. Cut down the middle or across?
Clementine of Century City has an aesthetic as adorable as the fruit they’re named after. They pronounce April as the month of artisan breads and cheeses. Even better? They hold a contest all month, choosing an Instagram each week with the best picture of their grilled cheese. The winner receives free grilled cheeses for four people. More info here.
More known for it’s fries smothered in blue cheese, or the assortment of sliders that pair perfectly with their happy hour beverages, Pete’s Cafe & Bar’s grilled cheese and tomato soup combo will bring you back from the modernized luxe pesto and cured meats selections, and have you promising to stick with the classics (at least for the day).
While the most common lobster grilled cheese is typically consumed by late night weekenders at LA Cafe downtown, near-by Artisan House brings a much different interpretation with fresh goat-butter poached lobster and brie. This is one delectable masterpiece that can’t be missed.
Of course a shop called Say Cheese has a grilled cheese. Try their California Melt on rosemary bread, or the Charlemagne with turkey and cranberry spread. And while you’re there, peruse their selection of market cheeses to attempt your own specialty concoctions at home.