by Dan Johnson
It is incredibly easy to get a hangover in Downtown Los Angeles. Pick your poison. From the cocktail to the four dollar tall boy, a robust variety of dives and “speakeasies” and pubs and rooftop status decks offer any number of suitable methods to earn a hangover. Your enabler friends down the street will likely be on hand to ensure your personal morning after hell. Jason’s Wine & Spirits will even deliver a hangover to your loft apartment.
In my ripe old age I have come to appreciate the hangover. Each morning spent riding out a skull splitting headache and choppy seas of quease is an opportunity to rehearse death. Every hangover is a split bill toeing an ugly line between regret for past actions and an ego-slaying existential crisis in which the questions “what have I done?” and “how do I get past this?” ring with special clarity.
Food bloggers have gone to great pains to chronicle the best “hangover remedies.” Unfortunately, most of those greasy spoon prescriptions are the sort of trendy early morning spots where people with well-balanced lives congregate to order a life-affirming ten dollar sandwich and sweep their judging gazes over us bourbon stinking heathen.
Enter J&P Deli on 6th St. between Hill St. and Broadway—your new hangover breakfast destination!
You have walked past this spot countless times and still haven’t seen it. That’s the magic. Most rational people would unconsciously blot out any side-eye image of this bustling Lotto shop with its generic signage prominently and inappropriately advertising “candy” in a way that would make Hansel & Gretel uncomfortable.
Everything about this shop says, “you should not be here.” This suits my hungover needs perfectly because I made mistakes last night and now I have zero interest in being seen by human eyes or the scrutiny of the sun. The two table dining area stuffed in the back of the store by the coolers is a fluorescent-lit safe haven for all of those still reeling from the night before (or the previous five decades, for that matter).
$5.50 gets you a large coffee and a breakfast bagel sandwich. Disturbingly, I had to specify no mayo on mine. Mayonnaise isn’t a likely companion for eggs, bacon and cheese. Future customers should be on guard for other irrational meal choices hidden throughout the menu.
I chose a table beneath one of the homemade signs admonishing customers who leave their scratcher shavings on the eating surface. In retrospect, I should have chosen the outdoor table. Though immediately accessible to the huddled masses walking down 6th St., that option is well outside ear shot of the cooking area where soon-to-be-diners will hear a disconcerting collage of microwave noises and coughing.
The end product is a clear cut beneficiary of a radioactive heating box. There is ample egg and bacon stacked beneath a melted sheet of Kraft singles. It is nothing special, especially when you wash it down in a torrent of weak coffee.
This is the meal you deserve, you alcoholic sacks of shit. There is nothing nice about this breakfast bagel. This is not a reward. This is bare bones sustenance intended to mitigate a headache and settle your stomach. This is exactly three dollars and ninety five cents worth of dubious nutrition. This is an excuse to stare at other forlorn people at the bus stop across the street and commiserate. This is your culinary opportunity to appreciate life’s down swings. Eat it.
I can’t pretend to have enjoyed J&P’s Deli. It was not soul enriching. It was barely filling. It was absolutely average in every sense of the word. Yet, this entrenched mediocrity feels poetic and apropos given my current condition.
I award this 6th St. hovel the senior superlative “Most Likely To Make You Miss Two Bits” and a conditional “1” on the binary given that you are in the throes of a hangover.