After the show we went down the street to one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in my life, Jay Burger. Jay Burger was not much more than a large griddle, with a small bar around it and few tables, all barely covered and open walled. Even though its physical presence was modest, Jay Burger lived large in everyone’s minds. I had seen music videos shot there, the ground sprayed wet and glistening with a rapper and singer miming there music to a camera that was impossibly low to the ground, looking up at them, the small burger shack in the background. I once saw an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm that had been filmed there, a testament to the adventurous nature and love of food found in some enterprising production shoots.

A Jay Burger cheeseburger was like a chance to travel through time.  The combination of burger, melted cheese, chili and egg between a buttery toasted bun came from an unheard of craft burger future where ingredients from different cultures and geographies came together in a symphony of harmonious taste and texture.  The burger itself tasted of the past – it contained all the years of cooking and sweating that the large griddle had endured, rich with a patina of grease and work.

That night our ragtag group was stumbling towards Jay Burger, looking for a friend who had disappeared. This friend was a massive guy, hard to lose in any location let alone late in the night in a barren stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard.  When we all arrived at Jay Burger it was raucous, the place alive with late night eaters energized with greasy calories. At last we saw our friend, emerging from the 7-11 gripping a small horde of tacitos.  Even though he had just eaten enough tacitos to satiate most normal sized humans, one look at the burgers that everyone was eating and he ran across the street to buy some of his own.  We all laughed and talked while we ate our burgers, ribbing a friend that was visiting from San Francisco who had ordered a pattie melt, which was a clear violation of the orthodoxy of a place like Jay Burger. As we all reminded him, it wasn’t called Jay Patty Melt.

We again lost our large friend before we finished eating. Losing a large male friend isn’t really cause for great alarm, as we were all quite sure he could handle himself no matter where he ended up. Of course on the walk home we found him, sound asleep on a small patch of dirty grass in front of an apartment building. About a year later, Jay Burger closed after having a public spat with the landlord who remodeled and took away their storage. Jay Burger was replaced by a taco stand, like most of the burger shacks in our area.

Photo by Los Ojos