Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Woody's Family Restaurant

El Segundo, CA

Review by Diana

It's counterintuitive, but Los Angeles is a burger town. They are obsessed with them and argue the merits of one over another like other towns discuss barbeque or moonshine. Being from the east coast, I find LA burgers chewy and dry. In a previous review of Fatburger, the unfortunately named franchise operation, I noted that the dime-thin burger was seasoned with sour flavors like mustard and vinegar. If you're not into that, you can always try something called a "smörgasburger," a plain burger with access to a "fixings" bar -- the predecessor to a salad bar. There, you will find all the usual condiments like ketchup, mustard, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, etc.

According to the signs, Woody's invented the concept. You order as you walk into the place, you pay and they give you a receipt with a number. When it's ready, they call out your number, you pick up your tray, then go get your condiments and such. Sounds common enough, but they claim to have been there for 38 years, so they might have.

The building looks like it's a franchise shack, but it isn't. It's actually a single store, run by people of East Indian descent, and the symbol is a gleeful, beer-swilling, lederhosen and tyrolian hat-wearing short fat Teutonic guy. It's as incongruous as a big town in California that is into nasty beef patties.

It reminds me of college food. Not the cafeteria, but there was usually a deli or if you are of a certain age (i.e. -- in college when the drinking age wasn't 21), you recall campus bars that offered buffet fare. It's like that; my college experience included a "rathskeller" where Fridays featured this type of lunch set-up and 10¢ beers served in a plastic cup from a skanky keg. Nostalgic, actually.

Being LA, the weather is nearly always balmy. There is a covered patio to eat outside if you'd like. After a long plane flight, it was nice to sit outside, even though the parking lot was just over the cinderblock wall. The weather really is beautiful there.

The "smörgasburger" was less than $6, including waffle-cut fries, refillable drinks (again, the college motif -- soda dispensers here are identical to ones in numerous cafeterias), and that fixings bar. Though they give you a polystyrene plate, the silverware is actually made of metal. It really is like a college cafeteria, and though I still don't understand the LA burger, I did like Woody's. Even though it wasn't Teutonic in the least. That part still confuses me.

(I have a confession to make ... I was meeting a friend for whom I'd packed a picnic meal for later, but I had no flatware. I thought I'd pilfer a couple of plastic forks, knives and spoons here, but of course they didn't have any ... so I "borrowed" them. After the very successful picnic was over, I washed all the cutlery, put it in a plastic bag, walked from the motel to Woody's, then put the bag in the mailslot. It was about 5 in the morning -- I'm sure you can figure out what went on in the interim ...)

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