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eating at the bar

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Has there been a discussion here about eating at the bar? In LA, I have eaten at the bar at: Hal's, Joe's, Ita-cho (when on Santa Monica), Sasabune, Katsu, Campanile (grilled cheese Thursdays), Authentic, Swinger's--

I've registered the possibility at Lucques, Water Grill, Kate Mantilini (god forbid), the Standard--

I love eating at bars, alone and in company, and would appreciate suggestions, questions, declarations and speculations about the same.

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  1. The bar at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena is the most comfortable place I know in Pasadena to have a high quality meal when dining on my own.

    1. I'm with you on eating at a bar or counter. I remember a particularly wonderful experience in the mid-80's eating alone at the bar of the Cayote Cafe in Santa Fe. The bartender couldn't have been more helpful in suggesting things to try, both food and drink, and the experience would not have been as wonderful as it was without his guidance. Another reason for sitting at a counter is when it adjoins an open kitchen. I love to sit at the counter at Chinois on Main, for example, where I can get a terrific view of the cooks preparing the various dishes. I also like sitting at the counter next to the rotisserie at Vincente, especially when the chef, Gino Angelini, is hanging out there, so that I can chat with him about the food.

      1. I second, or third, that emotion! ...and would love more suggestions here. Border Grill was fun for anojitos (sp??) and Flint's for a nice juicy burger with little fried onions and a wise cracking bartender.
        I'd have to say the service is more personalized and intimate!

        1. d
          Deborah (again)

          Your responses remind me of some other sublime bar/counter experiences: a trip last spring to San Francisco, second visit to Boulevard and first alone. Before I had a stunning rabbit-- each leg and arm and chew and crunch distinct and none omitted. Odd thing, while I had a fabulous time at the bar (open kitchen, exactly right Tom), well attended by all, I can't now recall the food. Although I remember my great enjoyment--

          Same trip, en route to the airport, I took a taxi from the hotel to Swann's Oyster Bar, calibrating the time, traffic, and terrible waste it would be to waste a single opportunity to eat well in SF (especially by eating badly at SFO): lunch hour crowd squeezed over to make room for me and my luggage and my coat (maybe it was early spring) and I submitted to the barman's dictat that departure time equalled soup. I adore soup (another topic: Daily Soup and the soup place at Chelsea Market: why only in NY?) but it turned out not to be the thing there really; I got a crab cocktail as an afterthought (quicker than shucking oysters). Straight up, fresh, but crab wasn't really meant to end up in cocktail sauce, was it? Great experience overall, did the trick, but I'm sure I could do better there with advice and opportunity. I did deeply appreciate good wine options, presented straightforwardly and absolutely in character and without quotations at what in too many cities would be a what-have-you-got-on-tap only joint. That (with emphasis) is a chowhound way to go. Where and when can one find something like that in LA? (don't answer).

          1. The decore, waiters and menu (other than prices) haven't changed in ages.
            Meat is grilled over charcoal behind the bar.

            2 Replies
            1. re: John_Z

              sort of like old original joe's in the tenderloin in san francisco-but i;ve always eaten ata table here

              1. re: adamstoler

                Musso and Frank will not serve you at the bar. They only let you drink at the bar which is a crying shame. They will serve you in the boring counter on the other side which is not the same.

            2. Ciudad, downtown, has a tremendous "happy hour" from 4-7pm at the bar. Their mojitos (best in town!) go for $2 a glass, as do their sangria...Better yet, the appetizers are a microscopic $1.50-$3 including delicious steak pablano sandwich wedges, cumin fries, etc...

              1. for a greasy down home Mexican food experience, go to the Santa Fe Bar & Grill on 7th & Santa Fe in Downtown L.A.. Though the area may scare most away, you can have tacos, burritos, nachos, fries and whatever else they feel like making that day. Wash it down w/ 1.75 bottled Budweisers! (they also have many other beers -imports/domestics.) The food is cheap and bueno (watch out for the green salsa, very hot).........
                This place is not for the meek.......also has .25 pool tables and a jukebox that has everything from Tom Waits to Tito Puente. Go with adventurous friends!

                For the more aristocratic go to the Dal Rae in Pico Rivera (www.dalrae.com)........its a throwback to the wiseguy days (think Goodfellas - the movie) a mobster style steakhouse w/ a killer peppersteak.......you can eat a full meal in the bar and smoke while you do it!!
                these guys seem to have a way around the smoking laws.......(must be "connected") very nice atmosphere valet parking.....excellent food.........
                medium pricey.