Culver City’s the Corner Door feels like a neighborhood place where everybody knows—or should know—your name. A cozy culinary and libation retreat where exposed red brick meets dark wood paneling under Edison-approved lighting, and the drinks and bites are reliable and flavorful. Restaurateur newbies, Anthony Falati and Todd Jerry, pegged Beau du Bois from M.B. Post to head up the beverage program, which sees featured craft cocktail specials as well as a set list of classics, eight beers on tap (along with bottled brews) from California and Colorado breweries and a decent selection of Italian, French, New Zealand and domestic wines. Chef Luke Reyes—formerly of the Tasting Kitchen and Chimu—churns out a great selection of hearty, traditional American fare cuisine to match.
Good for: Happy Hour is in swing Saturday through Thursday 5:30 to 7pm when cocktails are under $7 and glasses of wine, $5. Catch a football game or stop by for a weeknight outing over cocktails, beer or wine to pair with cider-glazed chicken wings or the fistful fried chicken sandwich. Swirl and sip on something young, vibrant and Spanish—try 2010 Vega Sindoa Tempranillo—or get your Don Draper on (the Old Fashioned is a house classic). If cocktails are't your pre-game, there’s the ironic Anti-Mixology ($6), which gets you a High Life and shot of whiskey.
The scene: There's generally plenty of seating amidst an exuberant atmosphere of Culver City and Westside locals—a smartly-dressed, casual hipster crowd, animated with conversation and out later than expected for dinner. Perfect for a first date and also for small and large groups, who can gather around the communal table adjacent to the bar. (Call ahead for a reservation.)
The playlist: If your bar mate has a good ear for music, he'll be crying, "Another great song!" as the Animals, Talking Heads, the Pixies, Bill Withers and David Bowie play on.
The bartender says: As the seasons and availability of ingredients change, so do the drinks. Since Beau knows gin (his fave), sample any of their gin-based concoctions.
Drink this: The menu boasts five house classic cocktails and five original, while nightly specials keep things interesting. Start with a drink that says everything about LA—Fortune & Glory is made with gin, orange, cantaloupe, absinthe, orgeat ($12). Then, try the Miner Incident mixed with bourbon, apricot liqueur, lemon, honey and Thai chiles ($12) whose kick happily lingers after a refreshingly balanced sip of apricot and bourbon. This drink could do well with a perfectly cut piece of ice rather than the old ice-bin ice; either way, it goes down fast and smooth. If you're looking for beer and are willing to pass on class, order a California-brewed can of Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout ($5) or any of the red wines by the glass—smart food-friendly wines like Manzoni 2007 Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Pinot Noir ($14).