the grub street diet

Darrell Britt-Gibson Wants His Own Cooking Show

“I’ll go against anyone in a battle of the breakfast taco.”

Illustration: Maanvi Kapur
Illustration: Maanvi Kapur

Plenty of actors try to avoid being recognized. Not Darrell Britt-Gibson, who this year has been in Judas and the Black Messiah and Silk Road, and is one of the stars of the new Netflix film trilogy Fear Street. “I don’t exist without people enjoying the work that I do,” he says. “If you’re an actor and you get annoyed by fans approaching you, choose another line of work — don’t go to a restaurant on Melrose at noon and be mad when people say they like you.” With or without his fans, Britt-Gibson would rather slide into a diner booth or drop into his favorite Thai spot. Speaking of, he could really use your help figuring out where, exactly, that Thai spot is. Keep reading to see if you know it.

Monday, June 28
A “typical” day is not something I’m accustomed to, but when it comes to breakfast food, there is always a bit of a regimen. When I wake up, I have a smoothie with bananas, peaches, and mango, and then I have my oats. My oats are gluten-free, because I’m fancy now. I don’t eat bread. I would say I have a “gluten intolerance,” but honestly, I think it’s psychological. So let’s just say, I’m a “gluten avoider.”

What you need to know next is that I’m very self-sufficient in the kitchen. I binge-watch all the food shows. I’d actually like to have my own food show.

For lunch, I make my breakfast tacos. They are unmatched. I’ll go against anyone in a battle of the breakfast taco. The heart of my breakfast taco is scrambled eggs. I scramble the best eggs. I’ve been told that. At first, I didn’t want to buy into the hype of my own scrambled eggs, but it’s just my reality now.

I try to order breakfast tacos when I’m at restaurants, but it doesn’t usually go well. If you don’t ask me how I want my shell, I automatically know you don’t care about me. For my tacos, I crisp the shell, add avocado, tomatoes, all the accoutrements, drizzle a little bit of oil, add a little bit of rice and a little bit of cilantro. Then I just throw it all together. The last person I made these tacos for was my mother, because once I’m in the kitchen, and my apron goes, you’ve got to be a special person to be on the receiving end of that.

My grandfather’s food was the best food ever. He would see something super random and it would inspire him. Like, once we were at the Cheesecake Factory. He ordered these avocado egg rolls, and we spent the whole next day recreating those. All day long, we were in the kitchen together, tearing it up. I remember thinking that was so cool of him. I hold that particular memory close to my heart. It’s a day I could have lived in forever.

I grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, so you would think I’m into crabs. But I don’t eat shellfish. I don’t eat pork either. It’s like I am low-key kosher. I’m allergic to dairy; I don’t eat chicken anymore. But I eat well, don’t worry.

Tuesday, June 29
Breakfast meeting at CJ’s Cafe on Pico. It’s like a diner. I’m a big fan of diners. I like hearing people’s conversations, the forks and knives scratching. It’s therapeutic. A diner, more than a restaurant, feels like people are being their true selves. At a restaurant you can present as someone else. At a diner, you have to be authentic. I get a couple scrambled eggs and some good ol’ breakfast potatoes.

Lunch is a weird meal for me because I’m always out. I love to be out and see a hole-in-the-wall and try it out. That’s how I discovered My Two Cents, also on Pico. It’s a Black-owned restaurant with soul food. The catfish there is amazing. Great vibe. Love their Greens. It feels like home. Serious comfort food.

I’ve been recognized there before and I have only positive feelings about it. It’s never a bother.

It’s my mom’s favorite thing when someone recognizes me at a restaurant. It makes me so excited when that happens in front of her. I understand how blessed I am in those moments.

Wednesday, June 30
Back at another diner for an early lunch. I ask the server if they prefer the pancake or the waffle. They say pancake so I go with that. If a diner has fresh-squeezed orange juice, it’s a good sign and this one does. I order some avocados on the side. The best conversations happen at a diner. People at a diner are so honest. Even the staff is honest. It’s like, “Our bacon? Trash. Don’t even try it.”

I’m a massive Thai food fan. A good pad Thai is all I need in life. I have yet to find my true, true winner in L.A. Well, that’s not actually true. But it’s complicated! So here’s the deal. It was a restaurant in Thai Town and it was the best food ever. It was a late night. I blacked out. All I can recall is there was a yellow awning with red and black writing on it; it sits on a corner of a shopping strip, I believe. If you know what this restaurant is, you’re my best friend. Please help. Leave the name of the place in the comments if you think you know it. Finding this restaurant is my life. Acting is cool, but hunting down that restaurant is now my life’s mission. Equality for Black people, and LGBTQ+ people, and all marginalized people, is number one. Taking care of my family is number two. And finding this Thai restaurant is number three.

Summer Buffalo on Melrose is a good Thai spot in the meantime. They have this crisp fried filet of sole, with a sweet-and-sour sauce, on a bed of something. Yeah, I just got chills. It’s so good. I got a tear in my eye.

Thursday, July 1
I have my smoothie and oats at home and try to figure out where to have a lunch meeting later.

I lose it when I’m hungry, I’m not one of those people who can skip a meal. My insides will scream. I have to eat. I’m also not one of those people that’s like, “Let’s just get a green shake!” I don’t want meal replacements. I want to sit down and eat. Decide to hit up Rize by the beach. They have drunken noodles that are so good.

I’m fully in love with eating outside — now more than ever. COVID did that to me. You’re outside and you’re so connected to the universe. Food tastes better outside. Mother Nature is wrapping her arms around you while you eat! I don’t even like going into restaurants now. But this can cause problems, because for dinner, I met a friend at Soulmate in West Hollywood and it was indoor dining only. Now, the fish was great but — let me repeat — I do not like indoor seating. Again, the sea bass was great. I would have ordered another one. It was very good. It was on a bed of quinoa with a green purée. But I hated being indoors. I kept longingly looking up thinking: Can’t we cut the roof off of this thing?

Friday, July 2
Breakfast tacos at home with someone very lucky.

Lunch sounds a lot more pretentious than I am. However, the Waldorf Astoria has a rooftop restaurant that is surprisingly very good. You think of hotel food as frozen French fries and a not-great burger, but they have a spicy ahi-tuna tartare that comes with tortilla chips on a bed of avocado, with a sauce that … oh my goodness. They have salmon that I get with a side of broccolini. When salmon is that special, I’m like, oh someone in there can cook.

For dinner, I hit up a great place, the Sunset Restaurant in Malibu. This is an amazing place. Such a vibe and ambiance, with your feet in the sand and the waves crashing. This restaurant has an order of fish tacos that are unlike any others. Normally with fish tacos, two come on the plate, and you’re like, “Okay I’m going to be hungry in 12 minutes.” But these?  It feels like the whole fish is in the tacos. You might need two hands for these tacos.

I’m not a big drinker but tonight I order a glass of wine. I’m like a fake wine connoisseur, because I know nothing. I like a red with a light body but not too heavy. That sounds like I know something. I swivel the glass. I do a little smell. A little sip. I watched Sideways once so I think I get wine.

Late at night, I steam some rice; I scramble a couple eggs. I put it in a bowl, toss on some cantina salsa, avocado, mash it all up. And we’ve hit lift off. I’ll sleep like a beautiful Black angel.

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Darrell Britt-Gibson’s Grub Street Diet