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Off Duty: L.A.'s Animal Guys

Animal_Jon and Vinny Set photo640.jpgEach week in our new Off Duty series, we'll talk to some of our favorite chefs and industry folk around the country to find out their secret late-night spots where they like to grab a bite and a pint when their kitchens are finally closed. Next up: Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from L.A.'s carnivorous nirvana Animal and avant seafood "shack" Son of a Gun.

Jon Shook:

What places do you like to hit up when your kitchen's closed?
I like Greenblatt's, a Jewish deli in our neighborhood that's open until 2 a.m. I've probably been going there for at least nine years and I've been in L.A. for ten [years]. I have no clue how I heard about it. It's your quintessential, pastrami, corned beef sandwich on rye bread with thousand island. It's not unbelievably special but I think that's some of your highest quality food at that time of night.

They have potato pancakes and matzoh ball soup and everything you'd think of getting at Canters but I don't think Canters is as good as Greenblatt's. It's as old [as Canters] -- don't quote me on this but I think it's 40-50 years old. [Ed note: It's five years older than Canters and opened in 1926]. It also has an extensive wine list.

A deli with a wine list? That's interesting. What's your favorite thing to order when you go there?
I pretty much get the same thing every time I go there, which is pastrami on rye with Thousand Island or I'll get corned beef, depending how I'm feeling. Always on rye with Thousand Island dressing, though. I'll get it with pasta salad every single time. I've only eaten the [pasta salad] when I'm starving. When you're starving and exhausted, it's delicious.

Any fun anecdotes about your late-night trips there?
I'll just say at 1 or 1:30 in the morning, anywhere adjacent to Hollywood, you're bound to see some of the craziest shit you've ever seen. There's tons and tons of interesting characters/street riders in and around Hollywood. Every time you go there, there's some weird person. I don't want to sound crazy and tell you some story because it might make me sound nuts but you do see all kinds of weird people there -- it's right off of Sunset Blvd near the Roxy. You have wasted people, girls with their titties hanging out, guys wasted from West Hollywood, getting into fights.

Have you ever been during the daytime? I imagine the crowd is totally different.
Yeah, it's full of old people that have been going there for 30 years. Jewish mothers there with their daughters. You should check it out.

Vinny Dotolo

What's your favorite late-night joint?
[I like this place] Dino's Chicken & Burgers that's open kind of late. It's got this vinegar, spicy chicken and they also put French fries in their vinegar sauce and it's out of this world. I don't want to know where the chicken is from -- it's bright orange, almost like tandoori chicken and it's roasted, not fried.

The place itself is a shack and kind of bright inside. There are windows outside where you can order from and you can eat standing up outside -- they have a counter around the perimeter of it. You can also eat inside sitting down at one of four tables that are kind of like old McDonald's-style booths. It's a far stretch from Beverly Hills.

How did you discover Dino's?
I think Jon turned me on to it a couple of years ago -- he found out about it from a friend and we went and tried it and were like, "Wow this shit is really good and crazy cheap." It's six dollars for half a chicken and fries with vinegar sauce.

dinos_offduty.jpgWhat do you like to order there? I assume the chicken?
Yeah, I haven't even tried the burgers even though it's called Dino's Chicken & Burgers.

What are your typical nights like when you go there?
A lot of times when I go after work [with colleagues], there are usually a lot of war stories about what your past experiences were as a cook or what you have going on that night. A lot of shit-talking and relaxing, laughing, having a good time.

Have you run into any interesting people there late at night? Any surprising celebrities?
No. Definitely not.

It's not like Pink's.
It's definitely not. Pink's is terrible. That's just a tourist trap. Going to Pink's is just as bad as going to New York and eating at Bennigan's in Times Square.

Greenblatt's is located at 8017 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA. It's open daily from 9 am - 2 am.

Dino's Chicken & Burgers is located at 2575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA and at 6135 Pacific Blvd., Huntington Park, CA. It's open daily from 6:30 am - 10 pm, Mon-Thur; 6:30 am- 11 pm, Fri & Sat; 7 am - 10 pm, Sun.

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David Chang

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