The City of Angels might be best known for its celebrities, but look beyond the glitz and glam to discover more than 100 unique neighborhoods, each offering up quality (and affordable!) beds, breakfasts and beer for all.
by Justin Shady
Los Angeles isn’t famously beery, but Eagle Rock Brewery (Glassell Park, eaglerockbrewery.com), officially green-lighted last November, and its 15-barrel batches are rising to stardom. Need proof? Stop at Verdugo Bar (Eagle Rock, verdugobar.com), one of just a handful of locations that serve the brewery’s beer. Tucked away in a part of town rarely considered by locals, it’s the best L.A. bar you’ve never heard of; the dark hardwood interior and curved bar are supercool, as are the beats coming from the DJ booth. Good Microbrew and Grill (Silver Lake, goodmicrobrew.com) has one of the largest beer selections in the city with more than 200 in tow; oddly enough, it’s also the smallest bar in town with just four bar stools. More off the beaten path lies 1739 Public House (Los Feliz, 1739publichouse.com), a quaint neighborhood-style pub displaying more than 64 different taps, all of them—from Pabst to Green Flash to Chimay—priced at $6. Hollywood lays claim to the Blue Palms Brewhouse (Hollywood, bluepalmsbrewhouse.com), suddenly on every beer lover’s radar with more than two dozen obscure, off-beat taps (think Rubicon ESB and Biere d’hives spiced sour), plus Stone’s Vanilla Bean Porter on cask. Further west you’ll find The Village Idiot (Central Los Angeles, villageidiotla.com), a Brit-style gastropub that features impressive selections of beers, bombers and blends alongside an elevated-pub-grub menu of dishes like Brussels sprouts with smoked bacon and a ricotta-thyme tart. If you’re looking to drink as close to the beach as possible, go no further than Library Alehouse (Santa Monica, libraryalehouse.com). Perched just a block from the ocean, this Santa Monica hot spot serves nearly 30 microbrews from the likes of Anderson Valley and Mad River. The space is small and at times there’s a wait, but you won’t mind once you’re tipping back a Belgian as the sun sets on the Pacific.
Touted as the world’s best dive bar, the cozy, 70-year-old Backstage (Culver City, backstageculvercity.com) offers karaoke three nights a week. In a city full of performers (the bar is across the street from Sony Studios), you’ll always share the stage: The environment is less American Idol and more raucous sing-along with cheap beer. Still, the drinks don’t come cheaper than at Ye Coach & Horses (Hollywood, yecoachandhorse.com), a dimly lit hole-in-the-wall boasting $2 beers during happy hour. To swap your pint for the occasional glass of vino, drop in at 3rd Stop (Beverly Grove) for its vast selection of both. Belgian fans won’t be disappointed, nor will anyone with an appetite for pub-style appetizers like thin-crust pizza and Kobe beef sliders. Authentic Irish pubs may be a dime a dozen, but Tom Bergin’s Tavern (Mid-Wilshire, tombergins.com) is an original. Founded in 1936, it was one of Bing Crosby’s favorite watering holes; Bergin’s also claims its horseshoe bar was the inspiration for the one on “Cheers.” The exterior of The Joker (Santa Monica, 310.264.9856) isn’t exactly alluring: It’s a windowless haunt, but this cash-only corner bar feels like home to Midwestern transplants. The beer’s cheap, the pool table’s ready, and the bar’s so unassuming, you just might spot a low-lying celeb. The Bigfoot Lodge (Atwater Village, bigfootlodge.com) takes its old hunting lodge look seriously: The walls are appropriately log-lined and riddled with stuffed forest animals that stare down thirsty customers.
The best food in L.A. isn’t always splayed on pristine white tablecloths; sometimes it’s parked curbside. Scattered throughout the city, food trucks offer everything from Korean barbecue at Kogi (various locations, kogibbq.com) to the street sushi of Fishlips (various locations, fishlips-sushi.com). If you’d like to sit, opt for Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood (Hancock Park) for its heaping helpings of South American delicacies that’ll leave you with leftovers for the next two days, or the classic French Bistro Church & State (Downtown, churchandstatebistro.com) for its gourmet cheeses, iced oysters and wine-and-dine atmosphere without the prices of Paris. Named its best-known dish, LA Paella (Beverly Grove, usalapaella.com) is the place to set your sights on for high-end Spanish cuisine and pitchers of sangria. And if you think you can take it, start your morning off with a breakfast of grilled peanut butter crunch French toast from The Griddle Cafe (West Hollywood, thegriddlecafe.com), followed by a visit to Roscoe’s House of Chicken ’n Waffles (Mid-City, roscoeschickenandwaffles.com) for, well, chicken and waffles, and if you’re lucky, a glimpse of Snoop Dogg. Your stomach will love you; your arteries will not.
The Culver Hotel (Culver City, culverhotel.com) isn’t just a place to rest your head; it’s a piece of movie-making history. Built in 1924 by Charlie Chaplin, the six-story hotel would go on to become the temporary home of the Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz” when it filmed just down the road at MGM Studios in 1939. The Chateau Marmont (West Hollywood, chateaumarmont.com) stands out on the Sunset Strip, but French-inspired castles have a tendency to do that anywhere. Every room in the Marmont is a home of its own, featuring a full kitchen and living room. For added privacy, book a private poolside bungalow. Located in the heart of Hollywood, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Hollywood, hollywoodroosevelt.com) hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929; today, it’s a Spanish-meets-Mid-Century-styled sleep spot that hosts the possibly haunted Marilyn Monroe suite and the see-and-be-seen Teddy’s Lounge.
For good laughs at reasonable prices, visit the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (Hollywood, ucbtheatre.com) and iO West Theatre (Hollywood, west.ioimprov.com). Both spots offer cutting-edge improv comedy from up-and-coming talent at a fraction of the price of your average comedy club. Skip Rodeo Drive and shop the Melrose Trading Post (Fairfax District, melrosetradingpost.org), an outdoor flea market vending everything from used furniture to one-of-a-kind works of art. It’s open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. If you have tykes in tow, visit the Noah’s Ark permanent exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center (Brentwood, skirball.org), an 8,000-square-foot gallery that has recreated the Ark and its numerous animal inhabitants from recycled objects and found materials. If you find yourself sans kids, stop by Largo (Beverly Grove, largo-la.com) for musician/producer Jon Brion’s weekly Friday-night residency. A host of musicians and comedians have been known to join Jon on stage; you never know who you might catch. •[Photo, top: Tiffany Chan]