10 Best Sausages in Los Angeles

Picnik in Pasadena
Picnik in Pasadena
Rachael Narins

Three things go into making a great sausage: lots of flavorful ingredients, a decent amount of fat and proper cooking. When you bite in it has to absolutely pop. The bun should also have substance yet be neither sweet nor overpowering. As for toppings, we're still suckers for sauerkraut, mustard, peppers and onions.

To find the best sausages in L.A., we embarked on a culinary research adventure that over the course of six months included visits to 18 establishments and the consumption of more than 40 sausages. We stuck with European-style sausages, and mostly Eastern European, since we'll leave Spanish chorizo and Portuguese linguiça for another time. Also, we didn't bother sampling poultry or seafood sausages because it seemed unfair to compare chicken to pork (and we are deeply biased against chicken sausage unless it's for breakfast). We were looking for — but didn't always find — house-made, or at least proprietary, and always-on-the-menu sausages. A restaurant also got bonus points for having a good vegetarian option on hand.

Many food comas and sausage overloads later, we're ready to count down the best of the wurst. And we promise that after that comment, we will refrain from any more sausage puns for the duration of this list. 

Links n' HopsEXPAND
Links n' Hops
Rachael Narins

10. Links n' Hops
Links n' Hops is quintessentially Los Angeles. It's the spot where you can buy classic or exotic (think, hickory smoked alligator) sausages, served on fluffy Mexican bolillo buns at a Syrian-American owned sports-focused beer hall in Atwater Village. The links on offer — many of which come from the dominating team at Masterlink Sausage and Meats in Fullerton —  can be sublime or somewhat bland. Our tie for the two best are the deeply flavorful smoked Polish or the Hungarian Debreziner, both of which are juicy and done right. You might also want to bite into the perennially popular Smoked Portuguese Hawaiian, but maybe stay away from the buffalo and the duck. Sip your beer slowly to help make up for the interminable wait, watch the traffic go by and enjoy the fact you just got a hearty meal for under $15. 3111 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90039; (323) 426-9049

Wurstkuche
Wurstkuche
Rachael Narins

9. Wurstküche
As a pioneer in the hipster-downtown-sausage arena, we would be remiss to do a sausage list and leave out Wurstküche. They don't make many of their limited selection of sausages, but what they do offer is well above decent. Additionally, the Belgian fries (double fried!) are hot and crisp and the staffers are pros at keeping the long line moving. While the place is known for having exotics like rattlesnake and bison, the single best item is the heavily spiced Louisiana Hot Link followed closely by the Hot Italian, a taut-skinned pork mix that brings the burst. 800 E. Third St., Los Angeles; 90013, (213) 687-4444

Red Lion Tavern
Red Lion Tavern
Rachael Narins

8. Red Lion Tavern
We love the Red Lion Tavern for being a very WYSIWYG kinda place. It's classic, country German with a whole lotta oom-pah. We also love that they have an owner in common with Continental Kitchen in Burbank, who supplies some of their selections, and where you can purchase the sausages to cook at home. If you have trouble choosing which sausage to order, your best bet is the mixed platter, with a selection of faultless bratwurst, knackwurst and lightly smoked bockwurst. Second runner-up is the fragrant Nürnberger Bratwurst, made heady with earthy marjoram. One taste might take you back to the old country, even if you've never been there. 2366 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, 90039; (323) 662-5337

Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory
Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory
Rachael Narins

7. Jeff's Gourmet Kosher Sausage Factory
At Jeff Rohatiner's Pico-Robertson shop the range of flavor profiles is broad, but the meat is always Kosher. The sausages are made in house and for the most part are exceptional, but it's the South African boerewors that should get you to press your way through the crowd. This is a masterful version of a rare but sought after sausage. It's made with coarse ground beef and a hypnotic blend of spices, including clove, coriander and nutmeg. One will never be enough. For those of you looking for something else, the garlic-heavy Russian is split, grilled and served on an onion-poppyseed bun. 8930 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90035; (310) 858-8590

10 Best Sausages in Los Angeles

6. Phillip's Barbeque
The smoke that wafts enticingly across the Leimert Park parking lot lures you to Phillip's screen door. Inside that door is a tiny hall plastered with menus and accolades, ending at a window where a disarmingly friendly person will take your to-go order. If you have made it this far, go ahead and order the pork ribs and the small ends. When you've done your duty, add an order of their haunting house-made beef sausage. Slathered in a thick sauce, the dense link is served smoked, sliced and with a few pieces of white bread. Whether you bring it home or loiter in the lot and just dig in, you'll find the taste is tangy, meaty and otherworldly. 4307 Leimert Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90008; (323) 292-7613



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