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Gastropubs in LA - maybe it's time to start a list?

Japan has its izakaya culture. Until recently, LA had very few representatives of this type of gastronomy, and even fewer that would be considered of its own culture. Gastropubs are now showing up around town, and seem to be a zenith between very good drinks and very good food - typically offering fare and smaller plates for sharing/snacking, but a full meal can be compiled as well. I really like the combination along with the more relaxed feel of a pub and I'm guessing a lot of other hounds do as well.

Westside Tavern was kind of a letdown for me - not because they weren't good - I just felt that it was another restaurant - with an abundance of floor space - whose name suggested otherwise. The drinks are pretty good, the beer list is so-so, and the food was good to very good, but again - more like restaurant food than what I think of as from a gastropub.

Father's Office is probably the mother of LA's gastropubs. Love them or hate them, they set a pretty high standard long ago (in LA timeline terms). I personally love their beer selections, respect their menu and have learned to tolerate their way of doing things. Sang Yoon is obviously doing things right though - he now has FO2 in Culver City/Palms which has let me put some bad memories from the original FO in the past. IMHO, it's more laid back, and the it's just plain easier to access in terms of parking and floor space. Thank you, Servorg, for encouraging me/challenging me to give them a try.

I've found A-Frame to be the anti-FO because it's more open-collar in terms of the food, the drinks and particularly in terms of navigation. Roy Choy and David Reiss put their heads together on this one and I think the resulting product has a nice feel to it. The food has a Kogi/Chego feel to it, but a more refined and better executed. The beer list is far more abbreviated than FO, but it's still a very good one.

I've only visited a few, so I'm curious as to what's on your list...

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Father's Office Bar
1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

Westside Tavern
10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

A-Frame
12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA

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  1. Chez Melange and their Bouzy Gastropub.
    Redondo Beach

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    Chez Melange
    1716 Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

    1. Not to split hairs, but what is exactly a gastropub? I mean, is it (in the UK/Euro sense) a watering hole where a majority of patrons are there to drink (primarily beer, lager, ale, or mead), yet they serve food? Because I think a majority of the people at Westside Tavern go there to eat.

      I bring this up only because I need to know if any laid-back restaurant with a full walk-up bar can qualify as a gastropub.

      That having been said, I offer to the mix:

      Arsenal (on Pico)
      Village Idiot (on Melrose)
      The Golden State (on Fairfax)
      Bar C (Little Tokyo)
      Wurstkuchen (Artists' Loft District)

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      Village Idiot
      7383 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

      The Golden State
      426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

      5 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        >>Not to split hairs, but what is exactly a gastropub? I mean, is it (in the UK/Euro sense) a watering hole where a majority of patrons are there to drink (primarily beer, lager, ale, or mead), yet they serve food? Because I think a majority of the people at Westside Tavern go there to eat.<<

        Great question. I don't want anyone to split hairs. I think a place like Westside Tavern has a name that evokes a place where people gather to eat and drink. I know wiki is not the end-all of encyclopedias/dictionaries, but here's their view:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tavern

        It's pretty darn close to what most would consider to be a pub, and thus a close relative of a gastropub. Maybe their name is a misnomer, but I took it for face value. Whatever the case, they're still pretty good, and I'd have no problem returning for - as you mentioned - primarily for the food, regardless of their megabar.

        I think also that a recently new trend for places like Britain is for pubs to serve food that actually is palatable. From what I understand, pub food was pretty atrocious (and still is in many places), but with the recent focus on elevated cuisine in a handful of pubs, the "gastro" has been added to differentiate those who do versus those who don't take much greater care in their menu offerings.

        If you've ever been to The Prince O' Wales in PdR, they are more alike a typical bar or pub that serves food - okay at best. I don't think they qualify as a gastropub to most. They couldn't hold a candle to a "gastropub" like Father's Office or A-Frame. Still, they have their place in the scheme of things...

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Great topic, and I like this addition of "elevated cuisine" as opposed to just a focus on food. I mean, plenty of people go to beer-soaked "The Boat" or to Bahooka in the SGV just to eat, but they're pretty far from gastropubs (whatever they are). I'm also wondering if the clientele also matters, or music/noise level. There's also an intimacy factor - a big, comfortable space with a long bar, extensive beer/wine list and "elevated cuisine" could just be a good restaurant, not a gastropub. Seems the pub aspect of the place has to almost be integrated into the entire restaurant.

          Places that come to mind would be Lazy Ox Canteen downtown, maybe Magnolia in Pasadena.

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          Lazy Ox Canteen
          241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

        2. re: J.L.

          > Not to split hairs, but what is exactly a gastropub? I mean, is it (in the UK/Euro sense)
          > a watering hole where a majority of patrons are there to drink (primarily beer, lager, ale,
          > or mead), yet they serve food?

          Actually what you describe is what the British call a 'pub with food'. Gastropubs became popular in the UK in the mid 90's, and were pubs with a focus on food (and real ale and wine as well) where 'punters' (patrons) came principally to dine.

          I've not been to Waterloo & City, but Village Idiot, Father's Office and Golden State are close to the spirit of the original gastropubs. Lucky Baldwin's is more like a traditional pub.

          1. re: Peripatetic

            waterloo & city is damn good. be sure to try their truffle oil pizza.

            1. re: Peripatetic

              Adding Waterloo and City - Hound cookie monster posted a great write up:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7563...
              http://www.waterlooandcity.com/

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              Waterloo and City
              12517 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

          2. What about Ford's Filling Station?

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            Ford's Filling Station
            9531 Culver Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90232

            8 Replies
            1. re: Servorg

              For that matter if you translate "gastropub" into Japanese doesn't it come out as "Izakaya"? Musha, Raku, Nanbankan Place Yuu, Furaibo, Robata Ya, etc. all would qualify in my personal dictionary.

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              Raku Restaurant
              11678 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

              Musha
              1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

              Musha
              424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

              Furaibo
              2068 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

              Place Yuu
              2101 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

              Nanban-Kan Restaurant
              11330 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

              Raku
              424 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

              Robata Ya
              2004 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

              1. re: Servorg

                Totally agree - throw in Izakaya Bincho and Torihei (looking at its "bones" tells one it's primarily a yakitori place, but ultimately serves the same purpose). And looking at this expanding category, the izakaya is but one facet because of the Japanese take on the menu and drinks, and of course the personality of these places.

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                Izakaya Bincho
                112 N International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                Torihei
                1757 W. Carson Street, Torrance, CA 90501

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  It's all good. I keep hoping that one of these days we can get out to the Valley and try Laurel Tavern (which also needs to be on this list for sure).

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                  Laurel Tavern
                  11938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                  1. re: Servorg

                    I agree gasto but I wish they would elevate their beer list just a little bit.
                    Not to say it's bad at all but there is nothing terribly exciting on it either.

                    1. re: burntwater

                      I agree burntwater. I have had good food (great pork belly skewers) at Laurel Tavern and just ok beer. They limit their list to ONLY California brews which would be ok except that they did not have offerings from some of the better local Cali breweries like Russian River B rewing Company, The Lost Abbey or The Brewery!

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                      Laurel Tavern
                      11938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                2. re: Servorg

                  Far Bar in Little Tokyo has a big Japanese beer selection (mostly in bottles). I've only had the sushi rolls which were pretty good, I go more for the beer - had a really interesting oyster stout there and the owner is working hard to expand the Japanese beer on draft selection.

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                  Little Tokyo Restaurant
                  150 E Bonita Ave, San Dimas, CA 91773

                  1. re: maiweezy

                    I've had the Oyster Stout myself and thought it was pretty good.

                    Vendome (Toluca) carries the largest selection of Japanese craft beer that I know of.
                    They carry every bottle they have at Far Bar. In case your ever in the mood to have some at home

                    1. re: burntwater

                      Vendome (Toluca) is also ridiculously overpriced.

              2. Blue Palms ?

                It could be boarder line, it depends on how subjective you are about the quality of food they serve. Beer wise they are better then FO.

                6 Replies
                1. re: burntwater

                  I started to add (did add but then took it down) a website I found for a Blue Palms Brewpub, (which is on Hollywood Blvd.) but it's not at the La Cienega address shown at the link in your post. Do you know if that is the correct location for the Blue Palms you posted about?

                  ADD: Maybe it relocated? http://www.bluepalmsbrewhouse.com/pag...

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                  Blue Palms
                  6124 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

                  1. re: Servorg

                    No the La Cienega is not the right location. It's on Hollywood Blvd right next to the Henry Fonda theatre.

                    http://www.bluepalmsbrewhouse.com/pag...

                    While we are at it The York in Highland Park probably qualifies as well.

                    1. re: burntwater

                      Thanks. I am going to change the address in the place link then and add the website to it.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Your welcome..

                        I'm going to throw a few more names in the air and let the chow experts see which ones they think should stick as gastropubs.

                        Stout in Hollywood
                        Tonys Darts Away in Burbank.
                        Library Ale House in Santa Monica
                        Beechwood BBQ in Seal Beach

                  2. re: burntwater

                    Blue Palms has one very good sandwich called the "el fuego", which was borrowed from a San Diego borderline gastro-pub Liar's Club (now closed). Sliced steak, cheese, aoli, and a generous handful of raw jalepenos and other assorted peppers. Seriously spicy! They have a decent burger and fries but I wouldn't repeat order anything except for the el fuego.

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                    Blue Palms
                    6124 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

                    1. re: maiweezy

                      Liars Club, RIP I don't know why or how they thought they were going to make it in Alpine.

                  3. In addition to some of the others named above (Village Idiot, Lazy Ox) I would say Bowery Bar, Wurstkuche, and Umami Burger (Los Feliz).

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                    Wurstkuche
                    800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: aching

                      Love, love, love Wurstkuche in Downtown. Great dogs, great beer, great ambience. Try the mango jalapeño gourmet hot dog.

                      www.gourmetmiser.com

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                      Wurstkuche
                      800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                    2. The Factory Gastropub, Long Beach

                      Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach as mentioned above.

                      For details on The Factory, see Yelp.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mlgb

                        Next time you come back the place link will show up if you search for "The Factory" - for the moment here is the URL to the place link (with website): http://www.chow.com/restaurants/92058...

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                        The Factory Gastropub
                        4020 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807

                      2. To include OC, SideDoor (at Five Crowns) in Corona Del Mar. I've had some of my best meals of the year at this place. Wonderful charcuterie, prime rib chili cheese fries, chicken pie and a good beer selection.

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                        Five Crowns
                        3801 East Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

                        1. Haven Gastropub, Orange

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                          Haven Gastropub
                          190 S Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

                          1 Reply
                          1. Fine list, Bula:

                            Not much for pubs, since I don't drink, but I love the hamburgers at Thompkins Square and they have a large selection of beers on tap.

                            1. Also in OC - The Crow Bar and Kitchen. It has been billing itself as a "gastropub" since it opened a few years ago (with a little blurb on the website about how it was inspired by the gastropubs of UK) and I think it does a fairly good job at meeting the criteria.

                              1. For me, I've always associated the term "gastropub" as much with atmosphere than mere technical specifics. A place with amble, comfortable environment, where every plate or dish is heightened by the presence of beer, wine, spirit, or cocktail. Food that's smart but relishing a backlash attitude towards the hoighty-toighty.

                                Throwing shouts for: Lazy Ox Canteen, Animal, Golden State, Blue Palms, and even the often misaligned Gorbals into the mix.

                                Of course, I don't think you can cover these type of establishments while ignoring much of the places in K-town, where pub-eating is culturally engrained:
                                -Dan Sung Sa
                                -Biergarten
                                -Bicycles and Gogi (a new place I've come across doing a twist on smoked bbq meats like ribs, chicken and sausage, marrying flavors you'd find in Korean meats).
                                -Don Dae Gam (I know this is technically a kbbq joint, but I'm including it based around the principle of its prices being accommodating and their updated "anju" (to eat with alcohol) menu. Also, can't fathom eating sizzling pork pieces, and spicy octopus dishes without washing them down with some low-quality Korean suds.)
                                -Honda Ya (Yes, I know it doesn't rival the likes of Izakaya Bincho but I find its location more than adequate when I don't feel like dealing with the clusters of people at Wurskutche.)

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                                Dan Sung SA
                                3317 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

                                The Golden State
                                426 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                Blue Palms
                                6124 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                Lazy Ox Canteen
                                241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                Lazy Ox Canteen
                                241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                Biergarten
                                206 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004

                                The Gorbals
                                501 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                Don Dae Gam Pork BBQ
                                1145 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                Bicycle & Gogi Restaurant
                                1144 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                1. The Yard in Santa Monica is a true gastropub. And in my mind, one of the best.

                                  1. Okay, so this is in no way, whatsoever, scientific. These are just my thoughts.

                                    A "gastropub" is an establishment that allows you to eat and drink deliciously close to your home while wearing flip-flops and cargo shorts.

                                    Obviously the most famous gastropubs on earth--St. John, Anchor & Hope, Spotted Pig etc. --not only require more formal dress but are garnering Michelin stars. Though the orginal idea, I think, was to cook great for the people who came to your local, pub.

                                    In this way, yogachick nails it with The Yard. I'd be hard pressed to figure out a place I've eaten so well, yet so comfortably. Yes, flip-flops and cargo shorts while nibbling on pig ears.

                                    To me, the gastropub represents egalitarian epecurianism. Don't get me wrong, I love to dress up and (well, it is nice when the ladies dress up too) go out to a dapper dinner, but this trend represents everything that is right about the foodie world. It's like the guy that goes to the opera in jeans. He doesn't care about appearances, he just cares about the music--like I just cared about the pig ears.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: ellaystingray

                                      I've been to the Spotted Pig many a times in flip flops minus the cargo shorts.....

                                      1. re: burntwater

                                        "...minus the cargo shorts....."

                                        That must have produced a few gasps in the Gastropub... ;-D>

                                      2. re: ellaystingray

                                        Very well said - I am so with you on the shorts... :)

                                      3. Would you include Lucky Baldwins as a gastropub? They have one of the best tap selections in the LA area, but the simple eats are comfort food at best, so I'm not sure if the die-hards would disqualify this as a gastropub and stick with calling it a British pub, which really is all it calls itself anyway.

                                        I second Tony's Darts Away. If Wurstkuche qualifies for this list (which I agree it should), Tony's should too.

                                        I'll also throw Boneyard Bistro out there. I know people are sharply divided on the quality of food and service, but at least they attempt more interesting grub to go with their recently expanded tap selection.

                                        -----
                                        Boneyard Bistro
                                        13539 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

                                        Lucky Baldwins
                                        17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                        Wurstkuche
                                        800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                        Darts Away
                                        1710 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506

                                        1. THE YORK in Highland Park is a great one to add to your list.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. What about The Fat Dog in Montrose (and soon to be on Fairfax, too)?

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                                            Fat Dog
                                            2265 Honolulu Ave, Montrose, CA 91020

                                            1. Along with the already stated Laurel Tavern and The Yard, I'd throw Beechwood into the mix. They also have a restaurant side, but most people seem to come to the bar/lounge area.

                                              -----
                                              Laurel Tavern
                                              11938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                              1. I'm adding a link to a current enquiry about izakayas around LA:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/769442

                                                Just tried Izakaya Sasaya on Santa Monica Blvd in West LA last night, and found the food and drink to be gastropub-worthy.

                                                http://www.izakaya-sasaya.com/

                                                1. New addition to the scene is Tripel in Play del Rey. The space is incredibly small, but warm and perfect for the upscale beer and a burger vibe. And speaking of the burger, it was exceptional. On my top 5 in LA list at the moment. The other items I sampled on the menu were equally good, including a great chicory and fennel salad. Strongly recommend this place.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                    Sounds great. I added a place link (even found a website for it). Thanks for sharing.

                                                    -----
                                                    Tripel
                                                    333 Culver Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90293

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      I'll second the mention of the Yard. That place is excellent, with a very neighborhood feel, and I'm always happy to be going there.

                                                      I'll mention right now that The Lab - south of downtown, sandwiched right in between USC and the 110 - which is a gastropub, is absolutely abysmal and should never be patronized at any time or for any reason.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        Tripel and Hudson House share the same owner/chef combo. Pretty good food, nice selection of beers - crafts, ales, stouts etc and some nice cocktails. Tripel is pretty new so it kind of has some kinks but not many. Pretty good overall.

                                                        -----
                                                        Tripel
                                                        333 Culver Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90293

                                                        Hudson House
                                                        514 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                                                    2. Hudson House in Redondo Beach.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: gph2os

                                                        Added Place Link (including website with menu and prices)

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                                                        Hudson House
                                                        514 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

                                                      2. The Six (on Pico in West LA)
                                                        The Bottle Room (Whittier)

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                                                        The Bottle Room
                                                        6741 Greenleaf Ave, Whittier, CA 90601

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ilysla

                                                          Six place link

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                                                          The Six Restaurant
                                                          10668 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                        2. The Back Abbey in Claremont. Went there about 2-3 years ago. Good beer selection and burgers, but portions are small, maybe even smaller than Umami Burgers, and service is slow.

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                                                          The Back Abbey
                                                          128 Oberlin Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

                                                          Umami Burger
                                                          850 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                          1. I would advise against using the term 'gastropub' to any visiting Brit. In London, the gastropub thing is so over that it would be akin to suggesting a 'cool discoteque.'

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: farmertomato

                                                              We still consider orthodontics as a viable option for a nice smile here in the States as well, but I guess a visiting Brit might have a problem with that as well? ;)

                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                Aren't you confusing "gastropubs" with "gastropods?"