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Dec 28, 2010 05:41 PM

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...

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

Westside Tavern
10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA

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  1. Chez Melange and their Bouzy Gastropub.
    Redondo Beach

    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)

      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:

        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.

          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:


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

          2. What about Ford's Filling Station?

            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.

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

              1725 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

              424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

              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

              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.

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

                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).

                  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!

                      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.

                  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?

                  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.


                    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.

                    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).

                    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 jalapeƱo gourmet hot dog.


                      800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013