There are a lot of ‘bests’ at The Burger Lounge, a restaurant in a mini-mall on Sunset at Alta Loma. The best hamburgers in Los Angeles (moist and delicious), the best booths in the city (comfortable and private) and the best manager (Matthew Perrye, a friendly and likeable guy who, if he were an actor would be cast as the best friend). I asked Matthew a few questions. He answered them with charm.
You came from Chicago. Was Los Angeles what you expected?
It was 50/50. Most people have ideas of what Los Angeles is like before arriving here. Going out every night to fabulous places, posing for photo shoots, bumping into celebrities everywhere. I expected people were shopping or at the beach all the time. (I brought a ton of board shorts.) Being from Chicago, which is also a major city, my expectations were perhaps less than someone from a smaller place—like, say, Kalamazoo, Mich., for instance. However, moving here, I found everything bigger and more intimidating than I anticipated. There was so much going on. Once I started making friends and began working, the city became a lot smaller and a lot more comfortable. The board shorts didn’t hurt either.
I live and work in West Hollywood, so that's my life and it’s what I know. I go to a lot of the same restaurants and bars, see a lot of the same people out and about, so it is less intimidating and less giant. More manageable. But it took a while.
What do you like most about the city?
I love the weather. The dry heat. Being into physical activity and fitness, I like the wide range of options open to me. There are many gym choices with different price points. Something for everyone. All types of fitness classes that put a new twist on traditional working out. Los Angeles has its own version of pilates, yoga, cycling, urban sweat lodges all for the health and body-conscious person.
I was listening intently to Matthew and at the same time admiring his forearms. I have never dieted nor exercised in my life, and at this point of the interview I put down my hamburger, half-finished, as though I was through with my meal. I nodded in agreement with everything he was saying and sucked in my stomach as much as I could. He continued.
I also like living in the ‘bubble’ that is West Hollywood. It makes everything more ‘city-like.’ I can walk to the gym from the restaurant. All my friends are nearby, and so is the gym. I wish Los Angeles was more of a walking city like Chicago or New York City. Walking is good for the legs and the butt.
So is the gym, I thought to myself, but said nothing, smiled wanly and looked wistfully at my unfinished hamburger. I asked Matthew another question.
What’s the thing you most dislike about the city?
The ‘WeHo bubble.’ [Laughs] I love it and I hate it. Love it because of the reasons I just gave, but hate it because as the groups of friends I made got closer, it seems like I can never escape ‘drama.’ I am not fond of drama. I like a laid-back life.
I also hate the traffic and congestion and gridlock. I try and take as many side streets as possible. I have lived here for six and a half years and know side streets really well. I have become a sort of alley cat, I guess. It’s crazy how consistent traffic is here. There is no rush hour in the morning and none at night. It’s rush hour all day long, except late at night.
You share the name of a famous actor. Do you ever take advantage of it in making reservations or in some other way?
When I first moved to L.A. and wanted to try all the restaurants here, I did use my name to get same-night reservations at places that were new and popular and trendy. I didn't feel bad about it because technically I am not lying—Matthew Perrye is my actual birth name. The actor lacks an ‘e’ at the end of his Perry. That’s not my fault!
Where in the world would you most want to visit?
I have a friend who moved to Australia, so I would love to make it there and see the country. And her, too, of course. Greece as well, specifically Mykonos. I also think Spain would be fun to visit and explore. I have been to Italy and I have been to France. Both were amazing and made me fall in love with Europe. Definitely Paris again!
What is currently on your IPod?
I listen to my playlist in the car and at the gym. It’s a mix of my current favorite songs. Right now the playlist is “Clarity (Zedd Union Mix)” by Zedd. “Roar,” “Dark Horse (feat. Juicy J)” and “Walking on Air” by Katy Perry. “Black & Gold (Marcussen)” by Sam Sparro. “Get Loose (Tiesto Remix)” by Showtek & Noisecontrollers. “Alone” by Armin van Buuren feat. Lauren Evans. “No Church in the Wild” by Kanye West and Jay-Z. “Springen” by Makj. “Slow Down” by Selena Gomez. “Counting Stars” by One Republic.
What the hell? I thought to myself. I don’t know most of those, so I picked up the half-hamburger I had abandoned in the hope of impressing Matthewduring the gym talk. I greedily took a large, juicy bite. I don’t think he even noticed. So much for impressing him!
What is your ultimate ambition?
I am taking my real estate license exam in December and hope to become successful in that field. I also want to find a guy that I really like and have a great relationship and eventually get married and have one or two kids.
Your favorite meal?
Any Asian food. I love Thai, Japanese, Chinese.
Your favorite TV show?
Scandal. Best show on television right now. The best! Amazing story line, plot, characters, writing. Shonda Rhimes is a genius, and that show is super addictive. Everyone I know who watches the first episode becomes obsessed and hooked on it.
I finished my hamburger—not even a crumb left on the plate—and asked Matthew the last question.
Boxers or Briefs?
Boxer briefs. Being a gay man in West Hollywood, one always needs to wear cute underwear.
He flashed a huge, stunning smile, whisked my plate away and went somewhere backstage. I waited a while for my heart to slow down. I considered going to the gym (Equinox is just across the road), but decided it wasn’t a good idea on a full stomach so went home and tried to download “Get Loose” by Showtek & Noisecontrollers. I failed to do so. I flopped onto my bed with a box of bon bons and the latest copy of Vanity Fair (with Jay-Z on the cover).