Dan goes on an adventure around Los Angeles, starting at the airport. Where is he going? He doesn't know. He doesn't have a plan. The one thing he does know is that he's going to attempt to travel through time to eat a piece of coconut cake from Patys Restaurant, which he should have eaten three years ago. With an Atlas Obscura article as his guide, what could go wrong?
This episode originally aired on July 16, 2018, and was produced by Dan Pashman, Anne Saini, and Aviva DeKornfeld, with editing help from Rob McGinley Myers and mixing by the Reverend John DeLore. The Sporkful production team now includes Dan Pashman, Emma Morgenstern, Andres O'Hara, Tracey Samuelson, and Jared O'Connell.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Morning Blues" by JT Bates
- "Marimba Feels Good" by Stephen Sullivan
- "Loud" by Bira
- "Trip With You" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
Photo courtesy of Dan Pashman.
Dan Pashman: Hey, guys. So I'm in L.A. right now, and I'm actually right outside of my hotel, right by L.A.X., Los Angeles International Airport. And well, before we get to today's show, you know, a lot of times people write to me and they say, "I'm starting a podcast, Dan. Can you tell me like, what kind of microphone do you use? What kind of recorder do you use? How do you get good sound in your podcast?". Well, I'm gonna let you in a one secret. Always record near an airport!
Dan Pashman: Hi. How are you? Yeah, just a guy on the side of the highway talking to himself into a microphone. Nothing you haven't seen before. So, what's going on here today? I have a day to kill in L.A.. I came out here for some Sporkful tapings. I have an extra day and I have decided to go on an adventure. And I've decided to take you with me. Where are we going? I don't know. I don't have a plan. That's why it's an adventure. But here's what I can tell you. I'm going to find some good food and I'm going to make some new friends. And I mean, I think it would be fun if at some point things got a little weird, right? I mean, it's an adventure. Okay? So I have taken the liberty of Googling weird L.A. just a minute ago, and the first result is from Atlas Obscura. Great website. Love Atlas Obscura. They highlight all different kinds of obscure locations around the world! [PLANE TAKING OFF]
Dan Pashman: Atlas Obscura. And this is 166 cool and unusual things to do in Los Angeles, California. Okay, let's bring this up here. Number one, the Echo Park Time Travel Mart. Nonprofit Time Travel Mart sells goods you would need for a trip through the fourth dimension. Wow. Well, that's very weird and it sounds kind of delightful. So, I guess, let's head in that direction first. After that, though, I don't know where the road's going to take us, but there is one place we have to make sure we hit up, Patys Restaurant in Toluca Lake near Burbank. Longtime listeners, you will remember that I interviewed Andy Richter a while back, Conan O'Brien's sidekick, and we went to Patys. It was his choice. It's one of his favorite spots and it's an old school L.A. diner. Been there since the sixties. I walked in. I got there before Andy. And I remember seeing on the counter at Patys, this beautiful coconut cake. Bright white, shining like a beacon, and it was huge. One of those diner sized giant triple decker cakes with a bright white frosting and the coconut shavings all on the outside. It looked ridiculous and I am a sucker for a good coconut cake. Okay? One of my favorites.
Dan Pashman: So I said, I'm definitely going to get that when this tapings over, right? No question. Andy Richter arrives, we sit down, we order a meal, we have a nice conversation. But I mean, I ate an omelet and hash browns and english muffin and coffee and all that. And at this point, I wasn't feeling so hungry anymore. And I said to myself, you know, Dan, you don't need that cake. Don't get the cake. And I left. Well, you can see where this is going. A few hours later, I end up back at my hotel furious with myself. Why didn't I get the cake? I didn't have to eat the cake just then. I could have put it in my bag. I could have it right now in my hotel room. It was haunting me. What a mistake!
Dan Pashman: Two days later, I go to visit my friends Kenny and Missy. And it didn't occur to me until I got to their house that they lived right down the street from Patys. So I said, "Listen, you guys," I told him the story of the coconut cake. I said, "I've got to run down the street. I got to get the coconut cake." So I walk down the street, walk in the door of Patys. I don't see the cake there on the counter. I said, "You guys have a coconut cake?", "Nope, not today." I was beside myself. And so, you know, that's unfinished business for me here in L.A. So I'm going to go to Patys today, and I'm going to find that coconut cake! [ANOTHER PLANE TAKES OFF] I'm going to find that cake.
Dan Pashman: Okay, here comes my Lyft. Looks like my driver's name is Yehiel. [CLOSING A CAR DOOR] Hi.
Yehiel: Good. How are you doing?
Dan Pashman: All right. [GPS GIVING DIRECTIONS]
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful. It's not for foodies, it's for eaters. I'm Dan Pashman. Each week on our show, we obsess about food to learn more about people. And I'm in a Lyft riding through Los Angeles. And my first guest on the show today is Yehiel. Hey, Yehiel.
Yehiel: Hi. How are you?
Dan Pashman: Good, good. So we're going to Echo Park, I think.
Dan Pashman: What did you have for breakfast today?
Yehiel: I normally eat waffles with banana.
Dan Pashman: Okay. Well, are they like homemade waffles or like the frozen waffles?
Yehiel: No. I buy them at Costco.
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Yehiel: You know, it's not the homemade.
Dan Pashman: Yeah. Yeah.
Yehiel: But for me, it's a healthy waffle that has a lot of fiber in it.
Dan Pashman: Right. And you eat waffle every day for breakfast?
Yehiel: Every day.
Dan Pashman: How long have you been doing that?
Yehiel: Maybe for the last five, six years.
Dan Pashman: Really?
Dan Pashman: And you have it exactly the same every time.
Yehiel: Well, you know, I sometimes mix the banana with ginger.
Dan Pashman: Ooh, that sounds nice.
Dan Pashman: Are you a person who likes routine? You like to do the same thing?
Yehiel: That's a good question. [LAUGHS] Uh, I'm very conservative. When I see something that works for me, I'll stick with that.
Dan Pashman: And what do you think that says about you?
Yehiel: It's really it's really hard for me to explain in English, but, you know, how you like things to be, you know, like I want it to be.
Dan Pashman: What you said ... you said it's hard for you to explain in English. What language do you speak?
Yehiel: Oh, I'm from Israel.
Dan Pashman: What made you want to move here?
Yehiel: Oh, that's a long story.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS] Well, the GPS says we have 17 minutes till we get.
Yehiel: I'm sure. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. You hear about the Yom Kippur War?
Dan Pashman: The Yom Kippur War. Yes. 1973.
Yehiel: Yeah. ‘73. Yeah, I was in that war. I was a tank mechanic, so I was eight months straight in the army. After the war, I said, you know, enough is enough. So I learned that in New York, and I was three weeks in New York. It was the wintertime.
Dan Pashman: How old were you?
Yehiel: I was about 25, I think. And then I said, you know, I'm coming to Los Angeles and I'm here since then. What else do you want to know?
Dan Pashman: So this place I'm going to, it's called the Echo Park Time Travel Mart. It's a store where you buy things that you can use if you're going to travel through time.
Yehiel: Oh, okay.
Dan Pashman: If you traveled through time, where would you go?
Yehiel: Where would I go?
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Yehiel: I was already there.
Dan Pashman: Right. [LAUGHS]
Yehiel: And I'm not kidding.
Dan Pashman: Where?
Yehiel: You heard about the Kotel in Jerusalem, right?
Dan Pashman: The Kotel? That's the Western Wall? Yes?
Yehiel: You ever been in the cave under the Kotel?
Dan Pashman: Yeah. That's, like, the single most amazing thing I ever saw when I was in Jerusalem.
Yehiel: You know, that's going back 3000 years ago.
Dan Pashman: Right. That's true.
Yehiel: So ...
Dan Pashman: Yeah, it's like, you know, you go there and there's these tunnels that are underground. You know, Jerusalem is so old that people come ..
Yehiel: That's 3000 years.
Dan Pashman: And they build a new city on top and then that city gets destroyed. And over a thousand years, they build a new city. Then a new city ... And if you go down in the tunnels ...
Dan Pashman: You can see these giant rocks that the Romans, when the Romans were trying ...
Yehiel: Before the Romans.
Dan Pashman: There, they were trying to destroy [Yehiel: Yeah.] the buildings in Jerusalem. And they took the rocks and bricks off the top of the building and threw them down to the ground, the ground of 3000 years ago, which is now three stories underground.
Yehiel: That's back in time.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Dan Pashman: If you were going to travel back in time, what food would you pack to bring with you?
Dan Pashman: Matzos? [LAUGHING]
Dan Pashman: You don't have to go back to Moses crossing the desert, Yehiel. You can go back to a different time.
Yehiel: You know, people eat matzos during the whole year.
Dan Pashman: Well, yeah, I — look, I like matzo. I'm not gonna knock matzo.
Dan Pashman: I think it's a delicious cracker. I just — like, you know, you're traveling through time, Yehiel. You don't know exactly where you're going. You're in an unknown situation. You're a man who likes control. You like predictability, you don't like surprises, you like routine. You're not going to bring waffles and bananas?
Yehiel: No. And I tell you why.
Dan Pashman: Please.
Yehil: Matzo doesn't rot. You know, banana will rot. Waffle will go bad because it has to be in the freezer. And the matzo will stay for you even you take it to space.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHING]
Yehiel: How about that?
Dan Pashman: That's a good answer. That's a good answer.
Dan Pashman: Yehiel, thanks so much for joining me on The Sporkful.
Yehiel: Thank you as well. You know, it was a pleasure.
[OPENS AND CLOSES CAR DOOR]
Dan Pashman: All right, here we are. The Echo Park Time Travel Mart. Wherever you are. We're already then. [LAUGHING] All right. It's got a small storefront with big display windows at either side of the door. One of the display windows has a giant caveman statue. Well, I don't know if it's giant. More like life size, caveman size, as I would imagine a caveman or person. A mannequin in the window, dressed like a caveman. It's like a mini convenience store. Metal shelves. Just a couple of short aisles. All right, let's go inside. [OPENS DOOR]
Dan Pashman: The slushie machine is out of order. It says, "Come back yesterday." These seem to be some foods from the past. Mammoth chunks. Bold mammothy flavor. 100 percent wooly mammoth meat. May contain up to 30 percent mastodon meat. Well, typical. Well, let's see there are in the cooler here — oh, this looks like this is for the future. Jupiter Farms Robot Milk, 100 percent non-organic, fresh and wholesome qualities and 2830. Time travel sickness pills for prevention and treatment of acute chrono dysphoria, parallel dimension, the shifts in time tummy. All right, I'm going to get these time travel sickness pills just in case.
Dan Pashman: Hi, I'd like these Time travel sickness pills, please.
Cashier: Yeah, no problem.
[STORE MUSIC PLAYING]
Dan Pashman: I think I'm going to attempt to travel through time here in this episode. So I'm gonna attempt to do — I have to right a wrong of a time when I ... I went to buy a piece of cake at a diner in Toluca Lake, and I failed to buy the cake when I should have. And I'm gonna just to go back there today. And I'm going to attempt to ... I'm going [COUGHS]. I'm gonna attempt to have to eat that cake. [LAUGHS] That's what time travel is for, right? You go back, you change your mistake. All right. That's what I'm gonna do. All right. We'll have a great day.
Cashier: Yeah. Yeah, thanks for coming by.
Dan Pashman: You probably already know how my day is going to go.
Cashier: Looks really good.
Cashier: There's going to be a cake, a slice of cake in your near future.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS] Do people make that joke all the time?
Cashier: Even cornier jokes than that.
Dan Pashman: What's the corniest joke people will make when they come in here?
Cashier: They like walk in and be like, "Oh, it's nice to see you again," but that's my line.
Dan Pashman: All right. Take care.
Cashier: All right.
Dan Pashman: That didn't actually take too long. Still pretty early in the day. Let's take another look at this Atlas Obscura list of weird stuff to do in L.A.. Next up on the list, underground tunnels of Los Angeles. During Prohibition, corrupt city officials ran drinking dens under the streets of downtown L.A. These 11 miles of service tunnels became passageways to basement speakeasies with innocuous fronts above ground.
Dan Pashman: King Eddy Saloon, which has been around since 1906, fronted as a piano store with a secret speakeasy in the basement. Now an official saloon once more, its basement still remains part of the tunnel system. I mean, if I can go through some cool tunnels and end up at a saloon, that's pretty good. It says the tunnels have been used by police to transport prisoners, bank security, to move large sums of cash safely. And it's been used by both coroners and mobsters to store bodies. Oh, officially, the tunnels are closed to the public. So I guess I'm going to have to be a little discreet. But here we go. I'm going to try to find these tunnels. I'm gonna try the entrance to the tunnels, and I'm going to follow them to the King Eddy Saloon.
Dan Pashman: Now, looking at the map here, it's not too far. I could get a Lyft. It's about two miles, but I think I'm going to walk it.
[CHURCH BELLS RINGING AND CITY SOUNDS]
Dan Pashman: Another audio recording tip. Hang out by church bells. All right. So. they done?
[CHURCH BELLS RINGING]
Dan Pashman: Argh! I'm walking away from the church bells. Stop! [LAUGHS] So a little update since the last time we spoke, we were on Temple Street in downtown L.A. and I see the Hall of Records building, which looks kind of like a giant fortress. It looks exactly like how where they would keep the records, like in Blade Runner. And I'm going to — let's see. I'm gonna pull up the directions now. To explore the former highway of the L.A. Underground, you must slip behind the Hall of Records on Temple Street and locate an easy to miss elevator. I'm heading behind. Let's look back here.
Dan Pashman: All right, I'm behind the Hall of Records. There's some big metal rusted out outdoors back here. Let's see. [DOORS CLANGING] This door is locked. There's a small park back here. There's like some grass and benches. And I see — hang on. There's a little structure over there. Let's check this out. Okay. I think, as I approach, I think these are looking like elevators. I've never seen elevators that you enter directly from the outdoors. But I guess, when you live in a place where it never rains, that's something you can do. Yup. These are elevators. Let's give this a shot. Let's see where these elevators go. There's one, two, three or "M". I'm going to try — I'm gonna hit them all. I'm gonna hit all the buttons. And I'm gonna see what we see. This elevator looks like an elevator from a horror movie. It's completely rusted out. There's graffiti everywhere. Not even, like, nice graffiti. Just like vandalism.
Dan Pashman: Okay. First floor. Let's see what we see. [ELEVATOR MOVING] Is this seriously a actual government building? This looks like the hospital from Stranger Things. I'm going to get back in the elevator. [ELEVATOR MOVING AND DINGS] What the hell is this place? It literally looks like an abandoned hospital. The walls aren't just peeling. Like you can see the metal mesh. You can see inside the walls, the walls themselves. There are giant holes in the walls. Restricted area, authorized personnel only. All right, there's like a rope. Like those dividers they have at the airport to make the lines when you're lining up. And there's a thing barricading this hall, But I'm going to go down here and check it out. Okay. I just came around the corner and there's a hallway that just like, the hallway just ends with a concrete wall. It's like they sealed it off. I’m gonna try to open this door. Okay ... [OPENS DOOR]
Dan Pashman: Coming up, the search for the tunnels continues. Stick around.
+++ BREAK +++
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. You know, people always ask me, "What are some of your favorite things to eat? What are some of your favorite restaurants? Where do you eat when you travel?" Well, there are two ways for you to get that information on a regular basis. First, follow me on Instagram, @TheSporkful. You can do it right now, while you're listening. And second, subscribe to our newsletter. With that newsletter, you get to find out, not only what I'm eating, but also what the whole Sporkful team is eating every week. We share recipes we’re cooking, dishes we’re enjoying, and also just random articles we’re reading, and shows we’re watching. It’s a lot of fun, I think it’ll make your life at least 1 percent better. So, you should subscribe right now. Go to sporkful.com/newsletter.
Dan Pashman: Okay, back to the show …
Dan Pashman: I'm gonna try to open this door. Okay. [OPENS DOOR].
Dan Pashman: Where are these tunnels? I feel like ... hang on, I'm going ... I'm going to Google ... Oh, no service down here. Of course. Of course, they shut off service in the haunted building. They don't want you to be able to escape.
Dan Pashman: I'm going back to the surface. Try to get reception. [ELEVATOR MOVING] [OPENS DOOR] All right. All right. I'm on this. I'm reading through this. Press two to go down. Okay. I went down to level three. I went too far. Ride an escalator up a level and straight ahead are the tunnels. I'm going back. [ELEVATOR MOVING]
Dan Pashman: I'm turning left. I found the escalators. I am so freakin' excited right now/ terrified. I'm in. I'm in the tunnel. It's just concrete. Concrete floors, concrete walls. You could get seriously lost in here. It just keeps going. There's fluorescent lighting ahead and huge pipes above my head. Pipes big enough for people to move through, like the infrastructure of a city. There's some people coming along this way that look like they're law enforcement. So I'm going to turn around and walk back the other way. Because that — I'm going to try not to get arrested. Oh, my God. You guys, the coolest thing just happened. I turned back the way I came and I walked away from the cops and then I turned back. And just as I was coming back, I heard those voices. And it was those two cops that I'd walked away from, and they turned to walk in the opposite direction from me. Just like in the movies where like I ... I walked away from them and I hit around the corner. And then when I turned back, they walked in the opposite direction. They're chatting with each other. They didn't even see me. All right, I'm going back in. Back to the bowels. [SCARY SOUNDS] It's a nice, scary sound. It is really cool to be down here and think about like they're transporting mobsters, criminals, and giant piles of cash. The mayor is transporting the liquor stash during prohibition. All happening right underneath the city. I'm like just a few feet underneath the city.
Dan Pashman: This is actually reminding me of what Yehiel, the Lyft driver, said before. He was saying he went back in time when he went underground by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Like you dig back beneath those sedimentary layers, it's like I'm literally going through the past, walking on these paths that all these secret things happened in Los Angeles right underneath people's feet.
Dan Pashman: [OPENS DOOR] All right, I'm back above ground. I walked a lot in those tunnels. I went a long ways in one end and came to a dead end. I went way back. I went back in a whole other direction. I came to some basement record keeping room that I don't think I supposed to be in. Turned back, walked down another third long tunnel, and I kept just kept going and going. You thought you're getting to the end. You get to the end and there's a bend and it's another long tunnel with no end in sight. And I went for a while, but I finally decided that I should turn back before I went so far that I could not escape. So I am back. I am out. And I have decided to walk to the King Eddie Saloon on street level. While we walk, let's read up a little bit more on this King Eddy Saloon. Let's see. The interwebs tells me that it opened in 1906 and it's the last of the old bars near L.A.'s Skid Row. They say writer Charles Bukowski hung out at the King Eddy — was hugely popular for its first 50 years. It made it through Prohibition. And it was a key location, a prime location, because the old streetcar line ran right past it. But then when L.A.'s streetcar system started dying out, the whole area began to decline.
[TALKING IN THE BACKGROUND]
Dan Pashman: So I've made it inside the King Eddy. It is — it's a dive bar. And I don't mean that term to have judgment or hipster baggage. The walls are black. Very little decoration. It's very spare. They have a few beers in cans. No beers on tap. The tables are kind of chewed up a little but fine. Perfectly nice. There's an ATM in the corner, couple of TVs, some Christmas lights. I will say I don't feel like I'm being transported back to 1933, maybe more like 1983.
Dan Pashman: Mr. Hayward? Mr. Hayward, my name is Dan. Nice to meet you, sir.
Mr. Hayward: What is this here?
Dan Pashman: This is a microphone. Is it okay if I use this in your vicinity?
Mr. Hayward: I guess so. What do you want to know?
Dan Pashman: How long you been coming to this bar?
Mr. Hayward: First time, 1967.
Dan Pashman: 1967.
Mr. Hayward: I first got out of the service, came down. I got a job for a coat and tie. I walked in the first time with a coat and tie, everybody looked at me. What are you doing here?
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHING]
Mr. Hayward: So I went to other places.
Dan Pashman: And until you weren't wearing a coat and tie anymore and that's when you came back?
Mr. Hayward: I haven’t worn a coat and tie in ... well, since the early '80s.
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Joel: This is someone you want to talk to. I'll do it. I don't mind. But this guy has way more history than I.
Dan Pashman: This is the guy I want to talk to?
Joel: Yeah. This is Pancake.
Dan Pashman: Pancake?
Joel: Pancake is. Is the. The real mayor of L.A.
Dan Pashman: But you're a pancake?
Mr. Pancake: I am Mr. Pancake, sir.
Dan Pashman: Mr. Pancake. Sorry.
Mr. Pancake: Yes, sir.
Dan Pashman: I'm Dan. It's nice to meet you.
Mr. Pancake: You too, Dan.
Dan Pashman: So how long you've been coming to this bar?
Mr. Pancake: Since the '80s.
Dan Pashman: And what drew you to it?
Mr. Pancake: Well, my dad used to come here in his lifetime. He was born in 1919.
Dan Pashman: So your dad was a regular in this area?
Mr. Pancake: His spirit is still here.
Dan Pashman: Wow.
Mr. Pancake: He knew then.
Dan Pashman: What are you drinking, Mr. Pancake?
Mr. Pancake: Well, this H2O. Two hydrogen, one oxygen.
Dan Pashman: Got it. [LAUGHS]
Mr. Pancake: For now.
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Mr. Pancake: Well, I'm getting ready to get ready to leave now, but I'm employed right here. I'm like ... I'm a community organizer, but I do some accounting in the area also.
Dan Pashman: So you seem like the kind of guy who likes to be in the center of things.
Mr. Pancake: Yeah. Well, not the center of things. a part of process. I'm a initiator.
Dan Pashman: Yes.
Mr. Pancake: Through conversation.
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Mr. Pancake: I would say this in closing that King Eddy’s, to me, is not just an organization, a business. It's an organism, cause it requires people. It's about the people here.
Dan Pashman: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Pancake.
Mr. Pancake: You're quite welcome, Daniel.
Dan Pashman: What's your name, sir?
Dan Pashman: You're the bartender?
Dan Pashman: What can you tell me about the history of this place?
Joel: The building itself goes back to, I believe, 1903. When Prohibition kicked in, they turned the bar into a piano store and through a secret door you could actually access the basement where the speakeasy was.
Dan Pashman: Are the tunnels still underneath this place right now?
Joel: They are, but everything is blocked now. So there is no access to the town hall. There's access to the basement, which still has some of the old murals from the prohibition time.
Dan Pashman: Is it possible — can I see the murals?
Joel: Umm … sure. Yeah.
Dan Pashman: All right.
Joel: Yeah, man.
Dan Pashman: Thank you. Do I just —
Dan Pashman: Do I need to — can I just go down there and check them out.
Joel: Yeah. Let me open for you.
Dan Pashman: Oh, all right. Thank you.
[TALKING IN THE BACKGROUND]
Dan Pashman: All right. The bartender, Joel, is leading me to the back of the bar.
Joel: Be careful, because we have no insurance.
Dan Pashman: Okay. [LAUGHS] We're going down like a dark stairwell.
Joel: This door had a sliding window and you ... [KNOCKS] knock on it and we're not sure if we had to pay to get in or give the secret password to it.
Dan Pashman: So this is like ... there's like a brick wall here and it's been painted over, but there's still like a boarded up little window here. So you bang on this door right here? We're like underground.
Joel: And then the window will slide and then some opening through here ...
Dan Pashman: So we're in a room underground. Now this is like storage for the bar, basically.
Dan Pashman: But wait, was this the speakeasy?
Joel: Yes. The stairs that we just walked into, that was one way to come in, and that was through the piano store. That boarded door you see over there, that was the one that led to the tunnels that run along Main Street.
Dan Pashman: And now, so this is this basically feels like the basement of someone's like an unfinished basement of someone's house. You see the pipes, there's random tables, there's the old bar stools and old sinks and things, but… Oh, wow, look at this. There's like these paintings of, like, old stone pillars painted on the walls and all these pictures of casks of alcohol pouring out pints of beer and things.
Joel: Yeah, so this was the ...
Dan Pashman: And these paintings, these murals go back to Prohibition.
Joel: Yes. Correct. You see the little hole in this wall?
Dan Pashman: Right. There's like a boarded up wooden wall here. But there's one hole about the size of a liquor bottle.
Joel: Yeah. So this is where you will get your drinks from there. I mean, this was a very high end speakeasy, you know? So ... And it was full service with waiters and waitresses and maitre' d and you name it. So, you know, tables were set up and everything. So, you know, once a waiter had your drink order, the waiter will come in and request a drink.
Dan Pashman: So we're right underneath — I mean, this is like downtown L.A. is right over our heads.
Joel: Yeah, pretty much. And there is a really cool thing that I learned when I went on a tour. There is a company that does a tour of underground L.A. On that wall, you see that tree over there?
Dan Pashman: Yeah. It's a painting of a tree, like where the Smurfs would live, or like the Keebler Elves tree, except sort of dark and demented. All the branches are kind of like, gnarled and twisted.
Joel: So apparently the branches are actually — I mean, the tree, itself, is a map. So the branches are the, you know, ways for you to navigate underground.
Dan Pashman: Wow.
Joel: So those are supposedly tunnels.
Dan Pashman: So it's like a secret map.
Joel: Yeah, pretty much. I'm assuming that it will actually probably help them to in case the place got raided, you know, and you needed to leave right away. Just try to not get stuck.
Dan Pashman: All right, Joel had to go back upstairs. He's got to work the bar. But I'm just down here, still in the basement. Just amazing to stand in this room to see these murals. I sort of picture — the map is over, like in a little kind of corner area, like a little alcove in the basement. And I kind of imagine like some couches and tables there. You can kind of feel it. [MUSIC PLAYING] Like, I can picture the people in here. I can picture them dressed really nicely, sneaking in, a little music playing. [MUSIC PLAYING]
Dan Pashman: All right. I think it's time for coconut cake. [CLOSES A DOOR] [WALKING UPSTAIRS] Thank you. That was really cool.
Dan Pashman: All right. I'm outside Patys. I am here. I'm here for the first time in years. I am actually, like, truly nervous. Like, what if ... what if they don't have it again? You know, like, I figured that it was just bad luck that one day they didn't have it. But what if it was good luck the day they did have it? And I'm going to know the second I walk in, because I remember exactly where it was displayed right on the counter, right next to the register, right when you walk in. It was — I mean, that first time I came in, ot was a first thing I saw when I walked in the door. [SIGHS] All right, I'm going in. Oh, my God. They have it. They have the coconut cake. Holy smokes. It looks just the way I remember it. Bright white, huge. It's not a triple decker. It's double decker, but each each deck is like a cake. It's like a double cake. It's at least six inches high covered in frosting. You see the coconut flakes.
Server: You need a menu?
Dan Pashman: I do not need a menu. Thank you.
Dan Pashman: Because I know exactly what I want. I've come a long ways for a slice of that coconut cake.
Server: Slice of coconut cake.
Dan Pashman: Please. Yes.
Server: And you want some coffee, iced tea?
Dan Pashman: Coffee would be great.
Dan Pashman: That'll go well. Right? Don't you think?
Server: Thank you.
Dan Pashman: And could I get ... Well, I'm gonna ... Can I get a second slice of coconut cake to go, please?
Server: Okay. So one for here and one to go?
Dan Pashman: That's right. Thank you.
Server: Thank you.
Dan Pashman: All right. Oh, my God. It's cut. Oh! it looks even better than I imagined.
Dan Pashman: Thank you. I'm going to go with a sip of coffee first. Something a little hot and bitter. I think that's going to accentuate the creamy coconut sweetness. Oh, and just look at it. There are flakes of coconut all over it. Oh, thank you. The slice to go is here. Thank you. [PHONE RINGING] Oh, wait. It's my wife, Janie. Hold on. Hello?
Janie Pashman: Hi.
Dan Pashman: Hey. You're on speaker phone at Patys Restaurant in Burbank, California.
Janie Pashman: [LAUGHS]
Dan Pashman: Remember when we came to visit Missy and Kenny?
Janie Pashman: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: And I was like, Oh, you live right near Patys restaurant. I just was there the other day, and I didn't get the slice of coconut cake that I meant to get. And then I felt very upset.
Janie Pashman: Right.
Dan Pashman: So can I walk in the street and get it? And Kenny and I walked down here and ...
Janie Pashman: They were out, I think?
Dan Pashman: Yeah. And how did it feel about that?
Janie Pashman: Like in tears.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS] Well, guess what I'm doing right now?
Janie Pashman: [LAUGHS] You're eating the coconut cake?
Dan Pashman: Yes. And I am about to take my first bite. Hold on. Please just stay right there on the phone. I'm going to take my first bite right now. Hold on. Mmm! It is so good. You'll be happy to know that I ordered a second slice of Coconut cake to bring home to you.
Janie Pashman: Okay, great. Are you by yourself?
Dan Pashman: Not now that you're here.
Janie Pashman: [LAUGHS] Why don't you call Kenny? He's like three blocks away.
Dan Pashman: I was going to, but I didn't know when I'd be arriving. And the whole thing's been kind of last minute, and I've been running around L.A. like a mad man. I traveled through time. I've been writing wrongs from my past. It's been really great.
Janie Pashman: Okay, great.
Dan Pashman: If you could travel through time and right a wrong or do something differently, what would it be?
Janie Pashman: I don't know. I think I need a little more time to think about that.
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Janie Pashman: It probably wouldn't be like a food day.
Dan Pashman: No, probably not. You'd probably like kill Hitler or something.
Dan Pashman: All right, well, you go kill Hitler. I'm here with my cake.
Janie Pashman: Okay.
Dan Pashman: All right. Well, I'm getting on a plane in 12 hours. I'll be home soon with cake. Love you.
Janie Pashman: Okay. Love you. Bye.
Dan Pashman: The cake is so light. Ooh! This is worth the wait. And you know what I'm realizing as I sit here? You know, time travel is a bad idea. Well, you shouldn't go back in time and change the past, because this cake tastes better because I waited so long. I had to go through that experience. I had to feel that heartbreak for this to feel so victorious. Mmm.
Dan Pashman: One final note. When I got back to my hotel after the adventure, I was really drained and full. [PILL BOTTLE SHAKING] didn't really feel my best. And then I remembered my time travel sickness pills. [CRUNCHING SOUNDS] Oh, they're like gummy mints with a hard shell. Hard shell gummy mints. The mint is soothing to my stomach. I do feel better already. What do you know? They worked.
Dan Pashman: If you want your own Time Travel Sickness Pills, the Time Travel Mart has an online store. And actually, the whole place is a fundraising front for a great non profit called 826, which is national and offers free writing programs for students. So go buy something and support their work at TimeTravelMart.com.
Dan Pashman: Next week on the show, we’re live on stage in Brooklyn with Vanessa Pham, the cofounder of Omsom, and Chitra Agrawal, founder of Brooklyn Delhi. Both women run packaged-food businesses that are bringing Asian flavors to a mainstream American audience. So, what are the challenges of doing that? It's a great conversation. Listen next week to find out.
Dan Pashman: And don’t forget to check out last week’s show with Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everyone Loves Raymond, and host of Somebody Feed Phil. Finally, subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss an episode and what I and the others on the Sporkful team are eating. Do that at sporkful.com/newsletter. Thanks.