It's a business strategy that might seem odd: an eatery that's only open three days a week, and two of those days only from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. A restaurant that's not really a restaurant at all, but a window to the street in an industrial part of town with a few picnic tables out back. A menu with one dish and a few sides. Welcome to Comfort L.A.
Comfort L.A. has been operating for the past few months on Seventh Street as a late-night purveyor of fried chicken, mac and cheese, rice and beans and collard greens. It's open only on Friday and Saturday nights, 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., and Sunday afternoons from 3 to 8 p.m.. Some nights it serves fried chicken, some nights it's chicken and waffles. But the point, says owner Mark Walker, is to create community around food that people crave.
Walker has lived in the Arts District for years, and he says he felt the neighborhood lacked cheap, good food that was easy to get, especially late at night. So he partnered with chef Jeremy McBryde to set up shop in a building that's really no more than a kitchen with a window to the street. At night, the picnic tables in the back parking lot fill up with post-party diners, and the scene becomes a bit of a party itself. Both Walker and McBryde act as joyous hosts, greeting you like family, introducing you to other diners, sitting down to hang out when there's a lull in the cooking.
The cooking is pretty great, too. Chicken and waffle enthusiasts might be underwhelmed by the slightly floppy, cinnamon-flavored waffles that come under fried chicken wings, but the wings themselves are crisp and just oily enough and fantastic. Mac and cheese is old-school, the kind made with real cheese. “Clean mean greens” are tender and funky and just tangy enough.
There's also a “ginger aide” made with Kool-Aid and tons of fresh ginger. It's delicious.
You can catch Comfort L.A. at this weekend's Street Food Festival, or late nights on Seventh Street. The ordering window is a little hard to spot — just look for the party in back, and someone will be glad to help you out.
Comfort L.A., 1801 7th St., downtown. Comfort L.A. on Instagram.