We’ve all been there. An idea so simple, so right, that it’s hard to believe it’s new. The components of its DNA are frustratingly obvious. It raises questions such as: Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner? Why didn’t I think of this? But when you’re devouring a spoonful of creamy mac and cheese or savoring perfectly crunchy organic wings, you’re happy someone already thought of it. In the case of elevated original family recipes served to the sounds of R&B in a convivial Skid Row space, that someone would be Comfort LA. The name doesn’t automatically conjure up sights and images? Let me explain: Think wafting aromas of cornbread, communal dining tables and a delicious menu of soul food staples including candied yams, chicken and waffles, and collard greens. Carefully put together by chef Jeremy McBryde, the menu is a collection of family recipes and flavors from his childhood in native Cleveland, cleaned up and served hot. “It’s an extension of us. When you come here, we want you to feel like family,” McBryde explains.
It’s an invitation that has not gone unaccepted. From its first iteration as a weekend pick-up window in the Arts District on, Comfort LA experienced instant popularity among late night revelers who quickly spread the word. “I guarantee that at 2:58 a.m., we will get four to five orders and people in here. People calling us, telling us they’re on the way,” says business partner Mark Walker. The late hours have certainly bolstered business — and they were by no means accidental.
An Arts District resident himself, Walker realized the void in memorable late-night meals in Downtown after his own cravings left him feeling uninspired. But after tasting McBryde’s catering at an event, Walker reached out and the two never looked back. This symbiotic growth has now evolved to a restaurant open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, with a catering roster of clients including Soylent, Hulu, Haute Look, Nickelodeon, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
So what should you try? The organic chicken wings are a must, delicately crunchy, not too oily, and served with a side of “That Sauce,” Comfort LA’s top secret condiment. Don’t pass on the complementary yet individually rich Clean Mean Greens and Cousin Kina’s Mac N Cheese. The house fries are highly recommended as a shared item or starter. The corn bread is served two ways, Original Down Home Cornbread or Auntie Myrtle style, which comes filled with meat. Luckily, you can sample a heaping portion of each as a plate.
Depending on the time of day you visit, the vibe may be quiet or lively, but to McBryde, it’s zero frills and all the same. “It’s dope. It’s a melting pot. It’s an experience that people come for. We provide an outlet for people to come eat good and chill.”
Written by Ivan Navarro
Photographed by Jack Strutz