At Tony's Darts Away, all 38 draft beers have one thing in common: they're from California. Tony Yanow, the bar's owner, chose to work with local brewers not only to ensure quality, but also to cut down on the waste associated with shipping. As for the high number of taps, Tony explains his reasoning in a video on his website. "If I have a big selection of beer, it means I can satisfy anybody who comes in. I think that's a really important thing: To give people beer they like, not beer I like." Because they carefully source every brew, Tony and his team can help customers find the best ones to suit their palates. For example, they might tell you that an oatmeal stout is softened by nutty, earthy notes, or that a bock is dark with a strong and malty flavor. The bartenders also know which beers should be guzzled from pint glasses and which savored from snifters. They'll never serve beer in a bottle, however. This practice helps the establishment minimize waste and lets bottles stick to their most important job: storing the Lilliput navy.
Chef Randy St. Clair complements the beer selection with meat and vegan sausages, which he serves on warm, locally baked buns. To continue the all-California theme, St. Clair uses local ingredients whenever possible.
Though leather and brick are its primary textures, Laurel Tavern is not a rough-and-tumble biker's hangout. Rather, it's a stripped-down gastropub with an industrial feel, emphasized by Edison light bulbs that jut from the walls to illuminate the blue stools by the bar until 2 a.m. every night. Before then, the staff fills glasses with a selection of 16 craft beers, the majority of which hail from Californian locales. A no-nonsense menu complements the drinks with burgers and upgraded examples of pub fare. Meat dishes include pork-belly skewers and chorizo fondue, whereas grilled artichokes and shishito peppers make for crispy vegetarian eats.
With a partially outdoor bar and a spacious dining area and lounge, NEOMEZE is hip without being overbearing. Coalesce with its angular aesthetic sipping a cold Summer Sky martini with Skyy vodka, cucumber, strawberries, and lemon juice ($12) or a glass of the house beer, an amber bock ($7). Get your grub on with a geometric Watermelon Neo, a starter of stacked watermelon, feta sticks, and herbs ($8), or a Greek salad with Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and lemon cilantro vinaigrette ($8). Substantiate a wayward soul with the Mediterranean burger topped with red onion, feta cheese, and tzatziki on olive ciabatta ($12), or rosemary grilled-lamb lollipops with roasted cipollini onion puree and green apple slaw ($17).
Kings Row Gastropub ups the ante on typical pub fare with gourmet cuisine and craft beers. Begin menu endeavors with a starter of crunchy tacos barbacoa, complete with avocado salsa, cojita cheese, and grilled jalapenos ($11). The wood-grilled, dry-aged burger, smothered in onion confit, blue cheese, white cheddar, and thick bacon, recalls the days when every burger had a wood-burning stove ($15), and the duck sliders accent exotic patties with hoisin-shiitake mushrooms ($14). Sumptuous versions of hearty Old World classics abound as well, including oxtail osso bucco with turned potatoes and carrots in a red-wine bourguignonne ($19), and tagliatelle tossed with house-cured pancetta, fresh peas, parmesan, and a fried duck egg ($15).
Greg Daniels' introduction to the culinary world wasn't a romantic one: he started working at a fast food restaurant at age 15, followed by a stint as a bartender. Nevertheless, these jobs ignited a passion for cooking that would guide his entire life. The Le Cordon Bleu graduate now works as the executive chef at Haven Gastropub, where he has designed a menu of gourmet American and European comfort foods inspired by his travels to England, New York, and San Francisco.
The eatery is an across-the-pond extension of the gastropub movement, which began in London in the 90s. Gastropubs differ from traditional pubs in that they specialize in high-quality eats and permit only the most beautiful drinking songs. Haven, for example, serves lamb burgers on rosemary brioche buns, fries sprinkled with house-made truffle salt, and whole roasted suckling pigs.
Of course, the "pub" part of Gastropub still implies a lively bar. Bartenders pour more than a dozen draughts as well as a selection of bottled beers, red and white wines, and craft cocktails blended with house-made mixes.
Steingarten LA?s dining room, awash with muted golden tones and dominated by a kaleidoscopic art piece, doesn?t immediately scream German biergarten. Its menu, however, astutely outlines the restaurant?s integral blend of hearty Old-World fare and contemporary California cuisine. More than 20 varieties of sausage?including traditional bratwursts and spicy lamb links as well as game offerings of wild boar and berry?sit beneath toppings of pickles or house mustard. Each of the 8-ounce burger patties is made from grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free beef, and can be custom-built with toppings such as smoked mozzarella and applewood bacon. True to form as a German-inspired eatery, Steingarten accents their food with exhaustive drink lists, including a beer list with German, Belgian, and American craft brews on tap. Creative cocktails include a white manhattan, made from clear American whiskey, and a cocktail of the month that has been aged in a used whiskey barrel.
With a drink in hand, patrons can stroll over to Steingarten?s intimate outdoor patio flanked with high stone walls and trellis-climbing ivies. In one corner, rosy cushioned benches surround a slender fire pit that flickers subliminal messages from behind a glass enclosure. The ivy motif also manifests in wrought-metal curlicues on each door and over the beverage fridge that takes up an entire wall at the bar.