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For A 'Speakeasy-Style' Secret Deli, Tinfoil Is Surprisingly Down To Earth

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There's something inherently eye-roll-inducing about a restaurant with a secret menu. Of course, there are exceptions (love you, In-N-Out) but places that work hard to maintain an "underground" vibe tend to attract the kind of people who are in it solely for the Instagram. (No, your shadowy, hidden "lounge" is not a speakeasy. Prohibition has been over for 84 years. It's just a bar with bad lighting and a lot of guys in felt hats).

When I heard that Tinfoil, a liquor store in Highland Park, was not-so-secretly serving cured meats and sandwiches out of its back room, I assumed it would be overrun by the felt-hat crowd making the arduous journey from Silver Lake to Vogue's new favorite neighborhood. What I found at Tinfoil, though, was a surprisingly low-key deli where the "speakeasy-style" pretense is just a fun precursor to the food itself.

The latest project of Nighthawk Breakfast Bar restaurateur Jeremy Fall, Tinfoil is located on Figueroa Street, next door to Highland Park's vegan brunch mainstay Kitchen Mouse. While weekend lines for tempeh and and millet toast at Kitchen Mouse spill down the street, Tinfoil is easy to miss; from the outside, it looks like just another convenience store, albeit one with an impressive stock of over 1,000 drink varieties. Walk in and ask the cashier the secret question (it's Do you have any birthday candles?, but keep it on the low) and you'll be buzzed through a nondescript white door and into the back-room deli. And unlike many cooler-than-thou establishments that insist on extracting a password, Tinfoil's friendly cashiers will help you out even if you don't know the code phrase.

Tinfoil's sandwich menu is short and sweet, featuring old-school pastrami and corned beef alongside lighter options like smoked turkey and roasted chicken. The sandwich counter serves up one great veggie option (roasted jackfruit and red onion with bourbon BBQ), plus a side salad of beets, strawberries, goat cheese and arugula that more than holds its own, but the meat-centric Tinfoil isn't trying to lure away Kitchen Mouse's vegan clientele. Before you balk at the $28 price tag on Tinfoil's 24-inch sandwiches, keep in mind that the six-inch options, most of which cost just $8, are more than enough to satisfy. (I was so full after finishing my six-inch "RIP Elvis," made with bacon, sriracha peanut butter and banana, I had to take an hour-long nap in my car. You know, like adults do.)

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One of Tinfoil's 24-inch sandwiches. (Photo courtesy of Tinfoil)
In addition to its not-so-secret sandwich counter, Tinfoil offers several fridges' worth of craft IPAs, hard-to-find spirits and a soft drink selection to rival Galco's, the Highland Park fixture that serves up 700 different flavors of soda. If you're in the mood for some '80s nostalgia with your roast beef, pop the top off a Cherry Coke in its signature magenta can; if you're willing to embody the full L.A. stereotype, grab yourself a kombucha or a cold-pressed juice. Say what you will, but coconut water pairs nicely with ham. Life is about balance, right?

Tinfoil is planning to add some new options to its menu this summer, but the deli's charm lies mainly in its simplicity; all secret code words and "speakeasy-style" affectations aside, the best way to enjoy Tinfoil is to grab a seat by the window with a cold beer and a turkey sandwich and watch the street traffic go by.

Tinfoil: Liquor & Grocery is located at 5900 N. Figueroa Street in Highland Park. (323) 507-2301. They are open daily from 11a.m. to 10p.m.

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