If you’re looking for bar food that’s crunchy, soft, warm, cold, roasted, gourmet, fried or animal-free, Los Angeles’ gastropub community fills the bill by providing far more than run-of-the-mill bar bites. A select number of the area’s more applauded pubs and taverns are operated by some culinary geniuses that provide incomparable experiences for those seeking more than a social outlet to drown sorrows or celebrate an accomplishment. The sustenance menu at many of the region’s food bars actually rivals some pretentious dishes served in fancy restaurants. Though the selection is extensive, here are a few gastropubs in LA worth visiting.
12217 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Open seven days a week, this pub in West LA grills its main attraction directly into its name with confidence and proof of performance. Bar Food is where beer, wine and whiskey consumers mosey in seeking more than just a buzz. The pub’s affordable lunch menu includes dozens of comfort food items, including Guinness beef stew, fish cakes and toasted chicken sandwiches. Conscientious grubbers tend to gravitate toward the eatery’s dinner menu, which displays such delectable items as mussels with garlic and wine sauce; Thai bangers with all the trimmings; and spicy salmon sushi. Newcomers may want to consider visiting this appetite-inducing bar between its 5 and 8 p.m. happy-hour window to sample some of its wares, especially its juicy bar burger and fries.
Ford’s Filling Station
9531 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Inspired by a good experience while visiting a gastropub in London, renowned chef and restaurateur Ben Ford decided to erect his own shingle in a progressive town known for motion picture and television production. In 2006, the son of actor and producer Harrison Ford created an establishment that is warm, inviting and delightful. Amid soft lighting and dark wood, the main room boasts many artifacts and memorabilia from Chef Ben’s adventurous life. The lunch menu offers unique items, ranging from crispy pig ears to pulled pork panini. The pub’s brunch menu highlights an array of items for beef, pork, fish and chicken consumers, in addition to offerings that appeal to vegetarians. With food prepared and presented to perfection, go ahead and splurge on the dinner menu that includes pork meatballs with roasted oyster mushrooms.
Blue Dog Beer Tavern
4524 Saugus Ave.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Inside this 1940’s era bungalow is a big party that takes place each day of the week. In addition to making available some of the more popular beer selections from the world over, this talked-about gastropub offers a food menu designed to satisfy everyone’s taste buds and dietary sensibilities. Whether you’re looking to sink your teeth into a gourmet burger or prefer a vegetarian dish, this valley hot spot covers your culinary desires. If you’re not sure what to order, consider choosing from its list of appetizers that include such standard bar foods as chicken wings, hummus and deep-fried jalapeno slices. For anyone nagged by the demands of a sweet tooth, check out the bar’s chocolate cream cake. For those who dare, go ahead and order the “Son of Batman,” a huge cheeseburger that’s topped with six items that could produce a gastric flash. Blue Dog Beer Tavern’s main menu also includes all vegan salads.
42 S. De Lacey Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
The United Kingdom’s 90’s idea of sticking a gourmet chef inside the kitchen of a beer and wine joint to raise the quality level of food preparation is alive and well in this 21st century eatery. It is here where chef Greg Daniels pushes the limits by creating specialty dishes patrons will not find at any other pub in this huge metropolitan area. “It comes down to offering great food to our guests and surprising them every time they visit us,” Daniels said. Guests snack on truffle fries, slurp Hungarian goulash, savor the delicacy of braised beef tongue and carve into the tenderness of a porcini-dusted pork chop. The chef is quick to remind his guests that the pub’s mission is to prepare high-quality items at tavern prices, while promoting local or organic produce and sustainable seafood. The pub, open seven days a week, also makes certain its meat and poultry are raised humanely.
The Library Bar
630 W. 6th St., Suite 116-A
Los Angeles, CA 90017
This pub is the only one in LA where you can eat and drink to your heart’s content and say truthfully that you spent your time away inside a library. Surrounding a full-service bar is a collection of books, publications and other materials patrons can read while satisfying their hunger pangs. Aside from an expansive catalog of beer, wine and cocktails from which to choose, this downtown location presents an old school menu that features pork belly skewers, burgers and peppered steak fries. The Library Bar is a nice after-work getaway to wind down before heading home. Open seven days a week, this gastropub attracts hipsters and trendsetters looking for something different to do in an atmosphere like none other. Free movies are run on Sundays, a day when popcorn and beverage specials are reduced to $2 per serving.
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Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.