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Wednesday Food: 20 Hours in LA

I was able to devote only a tiny chunk of time to exploring the food and drink of Los Angeles. Starting from West Hollywood, where my host lives, we looked for a low-key restaurant with a welcoming beer selection.  The Golden State was more than sufficient.  They feature a brief but desirable beer list and a casual menu of inexpensive street food– sandwiches, salads, gelato.  I had a well-seasoned spicy pork hot dog with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and a side of jalapeno coleslaw.  To drink I enjoyed a Trout Hop Black IPA, from Grand Teton Brewing.  I’m a bit embarrassed to say I had to go all the way west to enjoy a beer I could have been imbibing all along in Chicago.

After dinner we walked the few blocks to Surly Goat on Santa Monica Blvd.  Opened earlier this year, it’s filling the “beer bar” niche for West Hollywood, whose residents previously had to venture elsewhere for their comprehensive craft beer drinking.  There, at long last I sat down with a draft pour of Pliny the Elder.  Like so many things that we hear about and anticipate for months or even years, my expectations had become too high.  Don’t get me wrong, it was good.  Really good.  Great, even.  But mind-blowing?  Delivering of the prodigious effect I had hoped for?  Not so much.  Maybe I should have saved it for Pliny the Younger.

After a quiet breakfast at my friend’s house we drove east to explore Silver Lake and Echo Park.  For a few hours we scrounged bookstores, thrift stores, and the wares of Origami Vinyl.  Then we stopped for appetizers and beer at Good Microbrew and Grill.  The sampler appetizer platter was average Tex-Mex bar food and all our first choice beers were out of stock.  But sitting in the bright November sun so particular to Southern California with a Maui CoCoNut Porter, I couldn’t have been better situated.

For a quick happy-hour drink with an old friend, the Belmont Cafe wasn’t bad.  The patrons were more of the sequined, smoky-eyed, glamour-seeking variety than I’m accustomed to but hey, it’s LA.  And nothing warms you to a city you have long despised better than good friends, a satisfied belly, and half-priced Johnny Walker.


November 24, 2010 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. Don’t forget the tasty Clos Normand fermented cider at Surly Goat! ;) It was lovely to have you in town darling.

    Comment by Hillary | November 24, 2010

  2. Good: not.

    Comment by k-sky | November 24, 2010

  3. I think Pliny the Younger fits that description for me, if I ever get to have it. The first time I had the Elder, I wasn’t expecting it to be at the bar I went to, so I was caught off guard and didn’t have time to think about my expectations before having it.

    Still, I don’t think it’s the best IIPA that I’ve ever had.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | November 24, 2010

  4. Pliny the Elder is fine, but I wouldn’t rate it amongst the best things brewed by Russian River. Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in Santa Rosa, you may be shocked at how shockingly “meh” their bar is. Pretty decent calzones, though. But anyway . . . this year’s Pliny the Younger was very good, but also something one could very easily psych oneself up about a bit too much.

    Have you checked out Wurstküche downtown? Love that place.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | November 25, 2010

  5. 2: seconded.

    Comment by jms | November 25, 2010

  6. I’ve always thought I was weird because of this, but in my limited experience with RR, I’ve enjoyed Blind Pig the most. My ability to have RR beers is mainly due to trips to Philadelphia, which has one bar (Monk’s) that has a connection with Vinnie or something. I visited southern California two summers ago but was pretty unlucky about finding any until the end of my trip.

    I’m sort of keeping an eye out for a northern California conference, so I can try to get a paper accepted and then meet some of my friends at RR.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | November 25, 2010

  7. Dave and jms, I wouldn’t go back to Good and probably wouldn’t recommend it, but in defense of my host all I specified was that she take me some place close by with a sunny patio and a solid beer. On that front, it fit the bill.

    Brad, thanks for the Wurstküche tip. I’ll definitely take advantage on the next trip.

    Dave, I’ve been to Monk’s only once and really enjoyed it. What do you think?

    Comment by ebolden | November 26, 2010

  8. I think Monk’s is awesome. I’ve only been two or three times, but it’s one of the best beer bar experiences I’ve had.

    The major downside is of course the price, but not living in Philly, this doesn’t bother me. The last time I was there was with my roommate in college, and we ate and drank for 3 hours before an Andrew Bird concert. I forget exactly how much it was, but we went all out, pairing dessert with a beer and everything.

    Comment by Dave Mesing | November 27, 2010

  9. If you find yourself in northern California for fun or for work, I very highly recommend you check out The Trappist in downtown Oakland. I like it better than the other specialty beer joints in SF (don’t get me started on Monk’s Kettle). The guys who run the place are great, and it’s just a a nice vibe all around.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | December 1, 2010

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