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.
Nottingham-born chef Brendan Collins never forgets where he came from: he named his British gastropub Waterloo & City after a London train line he often rode as a boy. In the kitchen, he melds his British sensibilities with a repertoire of French culinary techniques and butchery training to create upscale pub dishes using a bounty of seasonal, local ingredients. Driven by a belief in using every part of the animal, he pairs standard cuts of lamb and Angus beef with charcuterie he creates in-house, such as head cheese with English mustard and smoked tongue and carrot terrine . Waterloo & City’s décor also speaks to its English roots. Recycled church pews painted in vibrant colors line the lounge, and guests in the dining room kick back in taupe suede banquettes and black, high-backed wooden chairs that complement bright lime baseboards. Antique mirrors and framed vintage photographs float around a central 30-foot copper-topped bar, where bartenders infuse each beer with a Cockney accent.
The chefs at Prohibition Burgers & Beer named their gourmet burgers and sandwiches for notorious mobsters, celebrating the roaring '20s and the criminals that were famous for disguising themselves as sandwiches. They top beef and veggie burgers dubbed the John Dillinger, Frank Costello, or Fat Tony with ingredients such as smoked bacon, golden apples, and jalapeño cream cheese; and craft salads and sandwiches with names such as the Bonnie and Clyde and the Bugsy Siegel. Servers pair dishes with bottled beers and wines, as well as 14 imported European beers and American microbrews on draft, which they also serve atop wooden paddles in tasting flights. To further satisfy their customers, Prohibition also offers weekend brunches and tasting dinners.
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.
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.
The Fat Dog is a welcoming Hollywood gastropub that exploits the canine theme both in its tasteful dÌ©cor and in its playfully named drinks and menu items. Paintings of English bulldogs hang in the dining room above black booths and long, wooden communal tables flanked by low stools. (Guests can even study the breeds of the American Kennel Association, pictured on the wallpaper in the bathrooms.) There‰Ûªs also a full bar and a pooch-friendly patio. Casual sandwiches like the braised short rib French dip and generous sirloin burger with manchego cheese pair well with the array of domestic and imported craft beers, while more sophisticated dishes like beet salad with chÌ¬vre and hazelnut vinaigrette or honey-lavender roasted chicken are a good match for the well-edited, worldly wine list. Comforting desserts like banana cream pie and crafty, canine-conscious cocktails like the ‰ÛÏChocolate Labtini‰Û� provide a sweet finish.