so i think we can all agree that eddie murphy's "coming to america" is a classic, right? yes? the humor in it never gets old, we still marvel at how versatile eddie and arsenio hall were throughout the entire film, and we quote lines from it all the time. my co-leader loves this movie as much as i do, and so when i saw that there was going to be a temporary pop-up restaurant in hollywood modeled after "mcdowell's" from the movie, i immediately tagged her in it and made plans to go. it was at a place called fat sal's, and it only going to be open for two days with one of those days being halloween, and so we decided to hit it up on opening day.
after i dropped off the bean at school, i headed over to her house and we sat in all of the typical l.a. morning rush hour traffic for a solid hour before pulling into a small strip mall on the corner of fountain and highland. we'd anticipated having to stand in line with other movie fans, and we were surprised to find that not only was the place still empty but that the signage was still being hammered into place. but we didn't care - we were at mcdowell's!
from where we were standing we could see a flurry of activity inside, with staffers running around trying to get ready for what was sure to be a long day of craziness. the door opened briefly and a couple of other curious passersby walked over and chatted briefly with one of the guys inside. we decided to head over and see what we could find out too, and he was super friendly and handed us a couple of fun stickers and told us to be sure to come back when the doors opened at 11. it was only 9:30 at the time, and so we decided to head off in search of the nearest starbucks.
the old lady was such a huge rugrats fan back in the day.
i recognized this as the shop owned by actor danny trejo, who you'd totally recognize from tons of movies. here he offers up coffee and all sorts of fun donut flavors like horchata, a coconut-themed "coco loco," and the "nacho," which has jalapeños, cheddar cheese and hot sauce. we didn't stop in this time, but i made a mental note to do so another day with the hub or the old lady.
we got back to mcdowell's at about 10:30, and wouldn't you know it - we went from being the first ones there to joining a line that was already wrapping around the corner.
the glass windows around the restaurant opened up and we could see the movie playing on big screens inside and the staffers behind the counter dressed in the same outfits as those worn in the movie.
and look - there were rose petals on the ground:
we couldn't believe that the owner hadn't had the forethought to make merchandise available for sale. a few of the staff was wearing these black tees with the mcdowell's logo on the front and this gem on the back:
we took advantage of the few photo ops available.
the inside of the restaurant was decorated just a bit.
and the menu consisted of just three things:
i'm pretty sure his name wasn't actually sal, but he seemed to be the guy in charge and so that's how we referred to him during our chatter. we asked him to take a picture with us, and he was more than happy to do so.
finally we were at the front of the line, and the monitors at the registers had the "soul glo" commercial from the movie on continuous loop:
i'd spotted a familiar face as we waited outside - the old lady's boss at work, who also happens to be my longtime lash extensions lady. i knew she was planning on being there as well, and she'd brought one of the other girls from the shop with her. we saved seats for them, and they were happy to join us once they finally got through the line to place their orders.
speaking of the old lady, i'd tried my hardest to talk her into coming with us. it was one of her days off, and while she usually loves to join me in my l.a. shenanigans she had less than zero interest in this one. she's never seen the movie and figured she wouldn't get any of the references anyway, and so she opted to sleep in and hang out at home with mollydog.
this is the "sexual chocolate shake" - dark chocolate milkshake with cherry pieces (which i'd wished i knew about before i took a big long draw on the straw. i can tolerate a lot of things as long as they're covered in chocolate, but cherries are one of my very least favorite flavors on the planet), topped with an entire slice of chocolate cake with whipped cream and a hershey's kiss.
the "zamunda fries" were really good. french fries topped with blackened chicken, onions and peppers, two kinds of cheese and a super tasty habanero aioli. it had a kick to it, but it was super delicious.
the third item was the "big mick." this is, of course, mcdowell's version of the big mac - except that it's served in a sub roll and has a nice serving of fries inside the sandwich. it looks like a hot mess, but man, was it good. and one was enough to split between the two of us and still leave us totally stuffed.
as we sat there munching and chatting we heard a bit of commotion near the door, and if you look really closely you'll catch a glimpse of jaleel white - none other than steve urkel from "family matters" back in the day.
he came inside, chatting with anyone who came up to him, posing for selfies, and made his way up to the counter to pose for a few pictures.
when we finally finished our meal and left the table to make way for the bazillion other patrons who were waiting for a seat, we found him outside just hanging out with a couple of guys. we asked him if we could take a picture with him, which he was also more than happy to pose for. he was such a friendly guy, wished us a happy halloween and waved as we walked away.
that was actually my second run-in with him, but who's counting? heh.
only in hollywood, people.