10 Great Los Angeles Bars With Truly Excellent Food
|Fried chicken at The Prince|
You have out of town guests staying with you for the weekend, and you want to show them something uniquely L.A.? Take them to The Prince. It's got Hollywood street cred (with cameos on Mad Men, The New Girl, and Chinatown), it looks mid-century swank (with red leather banquettes, a horseshoe bar and funky carved lights), and it serves Korean food. No kidding. The thing to get here is the deep-fried chicken -- fried Korean-style, with no batter. A whole bird is spatch-cocked and served with Korean chili paste and picked radishes, all crispy skin and moist meat and salt.
Pair it with some kimchi fried rice, maybe a seafood pancake, and some galbi for a full meal. The Prince has beer and soju but also a full bar, and during Happy Hour ('til 8pm) all drinks are half off; be aware that like most Korean establishments in town, you've got to ring the tableside doorbell to get service. Bonus: This may be the one bar in town in which you can snack on spicy sea snails. How's that for "Welcome-to-LA" impressive!? 3198 1/2 W 7th Street, Los Angeles; (213) 389-1586
6. Villains Tavern
Villains Tavern Salad at Villains Tavern
The first time you drive up to Villains Tavern, you think you're lost: it's out in some weird Gotham City no-man's-land that is kind of Little Tokyo and kind of Downtown L.A. and kind of the "warehouse district" but seems way too dark and scary and then BAM you arrive. And there is this strange place that looks like a circus-tent-slash-New-Orleans-Victorian bar and you're like "what is this place," but then you get one of their incredible cocktails (like the Bluebeard: Jameson, blueberries, lemon, cranberry and egg whites) and you're like "OK, I can get behind this."
And then you look at the menu and order some things that sound interesting and then you are totally pleasantly surprised when a burger with bacon marmalade, spicy roasted corn on the cob topped with cayenne and cotija, and a bowl full of Bourbon-bacon caramel corn make their way to the table. And you eat your above average meal while listening to above average live music and drinking above average libations and you think "I'm in heaven" but then you look around at all the red lighting and steampunk décor and you wonder if maybe you're just having a really good time in hell. 1356 Palmetto St., Los Angeles; (213) 613-0766.
5. Library Bar
Erin Lyall Bacon-wrapped dates at Library Bar
Hidden behind Sixth Street Tavern, Library Bar has a speakeasy-ish vibe: dark, book-lined, candlelit, sultry. Cocktails, wine, and beer are top notch -- muddled, mixed and poured by well-trained (and well-dressed) bartenders. Yet the beautiful people populating the mirrored bar and the leather couches are looking good and eating well - dipping into garlic fries, pork belly skewers, chorizo sliders.
The bacon-wrapped dates are salty and sweet, oozing sharp blue cheese hot from the oven. There are deviled eggs, roast artichokes, and edamame tossed with lime juice and flakes of sea salt. Go big with a burger or pork belly sandwich, or go decadent with grilled cheese made with buttered raisin bread, apricot jam and three kinds of dairy. Just wipe your fingers before you start thumbing through those hardcovers on the shelves behind you. 630 W 6th St #116A Los Angeles; (213) 614-0053.
4. The York on York
Adam O'Connor The York
The York just might be the Cheers of Highland Park. It's the perfect neighborhood spot: there's usually a game or an old movie on the TV, and there's usually no trouble finding a seat. Local artists hang their work up by the bar, and it's the kind of place where the bartender won't just remember your name -- she'll remember your drink.
But next time you pull up a stool for a beer (and they have a serious selection), do yourself a favor and pair it with an impeccable burger, juicy and oozy with melted cheese, or a bowl of mussels -- spicy, garlicky, and served with grilled bread. Fries are crisp, hot, light on the grease, and ideal to share with friends (for a slightly more "healthful" snack, go for the fried garbanzos, tossed in cayenne and lemon). On weekends you can brunch to cure your hangover with croissant French toast or eggs Benedict -- just don't be surprised if you find yourself hanging out there all day. 5018 York Blvd., Highland Park; (323) 255-9675.