CicLAvia 2012: Where to booze and cruise in Downtown LA

Gearing up for CicLAvia 2012? We've got your guide to Downtown's bars and restaurants to pit stop.

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Now that your bike is fixed, you've found a group to meet up with and you've printed out your CicLAvia route map—where are you going to quench your thirst? We suggest you check out these bars along the route. From Downtown's Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Pershing Square to Boyle Heights and MacArthur Park, you'll be wheelin' from dive bars and cocktail dens to karaoke bars and dance clubs. Bikes + brews = booze cruise.


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The Edison

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This 11,000-square-foot power-plant-turned-Downtown hot spot deftly melds industrial architecture and Art Deco chic. Restored artifacts are casually displayed; silent video montages, projected on the wall, revisit the early work of film legends; bartenders handcraft classic cocktails. But nothing's stuffy here—it's a scene almost every night of the week—with DJ's, a live band on Thursdays and party lounges with names like Tesla and Generator, paying homage to the building's past. The dress is "Old-World style," code for look smart—no flip flops, tennis shoes, baseball caps, T-shirts...you get the idea.

  1. 108 W 2nd Street, #101 (In the Harlem Place alley)
Book online

Wurstküche

  • Price band: 2/4

Cousins Tyler Wilson and Joseph Pitruzzelli have the uncanny ability to transform a triangular space into a Wurstküche, contemporary "sausage kitchen," each one outfitted in industrial, geometric furniture—crafted by Pitruzzelli himself—and a DJ booth. The cousins' crew will gladly grill sausages like Polish-style Kielbasa or more adventurous Rattlesnake & Rabbit to pair with a "groot" worth of skin-on frites. In case you didn't know, that amounts to a lot of fries. Wurstküche primarily pours Belgian and German beers from (surprisingly) brand-free tap handles. Try the notoriously tart Duchesse de Bourgogne or sweet Aventinus Eisbock that packs a punch.

  1. 800 E 3rd St
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The Varnish

  • Price band: 3/4

Classic craft cocktail aficionado Sasha Petraske is a big deal in New York—he opened one of the city’s first serious cocktail bars Milk & Honey—so when he teamed up with downtown nightlife operator Cedd Moses (Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar, Seven Grand) and barman Eric Alperin in 2009, he launched one of Los Angeles' first sophisticated bars, now considered the godfather of LA's craft cocktail movement. The Downtown speakeasy sits inside Cole's, past a discrete rear door, marked only by a drawing of a coupe glass. Standing at the bar is not permitted, so snag a vintage booth and take in the live piano music; but, of course, the main draw here is the drinks. You can't go wrong with a classic Old-Fashioned or Aviation.

  1. 118 E 6th St
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Honda-Ya Izakaya

  • Price band: 2/4

You know you're in for a good night when you enter the smoky room filled with platters of yakitori grilled over an open flame and bottles of Kirin crowding the table. The Japanese pub offers sushi rolls, tempura and dozens of other bar eats to soak up all that beer.

  1. 333 S Alameda St
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Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso

  • Price band: 2/4

Less wine bar than Eastside party, this Boyle Heights bar across from Mariachi Plaza pays homage to the nabe's Chicano roots with Mexican-themed movie posters, regularly featured and rotating art from local Latino artists and live mariachi. There's also a live DJ and burlesque show every week.

  1. 1835 E 1st St
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Golden Gopher

  • Price band: 2/4

Mr. Downtown, aka Cedd Moses of The Varnish and Seven Grand, is behind this Downtown haunt that’s a perfect mix of high and low, where you can come for a quick PBR or stay with a fancy, well-made cocktail. Prices are reasonable, the jukebox is stocked with oldies-meets-Coachella, and an old school arcade (think Pac-Man) allows for friendly drinking games. Do note, however, that dress code is enforced. A dive with a dress code, how very LA.

  1. 417 W 8th Street
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Mas Malo

The follow-up to Silver Lake's Malo, the Downtown sibling is decked out in a sleek Art Deco room that serves an all-day brunch of updated Mexican-American comfort foods like chicken pozole, vegan menudo and the signature ground beef and pickles taco. Drop in for happy hour during the week from 3-7pm for $4 bar snacks and margaritas. Night owls can linger in the downstairs bar outfitted in swingin' '60's style.

  1. 515 W 7th St
Book online

The Grand Star Jazz Club

A jazz club in Downtown's Chinatown? A neighborhood fixture since 1946, the bi-level restaurant turns into a karaoke bar and disco party almost every night of the week. Check the calendar for special live DJs and regularly featured karaoke.

  1. 943 N Broadway
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La Fonda on Wilshire

  • Price band: 2/4

If dive bars and cocktail dens bore you or if you're looking for a special night out, head over to MacArthur Park's La Fonda for a live mariachi show while dining on fine dining Mexican food and drink. Mariachi perform Wednesdays to Sundays, while Fridays and Saturdays see post-show dancing to Latin beats like merengue and salsa.

  1. 2501 Wilshire Blvd
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Tapas and Wine Bar C

  • Price band: 2/4

Grab a posse of revealers and head to this unassuming Little Tokyo bar where the pours are strong—watch out for the potent Galvatron which will instantly grow hair on your chest—and the bartenders are dressed in maid outfits. Yes, the bar has a fetish costume-theme, so leave your inhibitions at the door...or take another shot.

  1. 428 E 2nd St
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Redwood Bar & Grill

  • Price band: 2/4

Dress up in your best Jack Sparrow at this pirate-themed dive bar where there's live music and dancing. Happy hour is nightly from 3-8pm. When late-night snack attack hits, order from the complete menu of greasy grub of fish and chips, burgers and nachos.

  1. 316 W 2nd St
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Standard Biergarten

  • Price band: 2/4

The weekend pool parties are legendary, but the Standard Downtown has managed to carve out a corner of their rooftop for Bavaria's sake. A gigantic birdhouse that feels like it belongs in a fable dispenses tickets—each good for a pretzel, wurst or strudel from a wagon that resides at the other end of the Astroturf. Fichus trees frame yellow patio furniture but don't block the prized views of surrounding Downtown. Trade in tickets for grilled bratwurst, a large pretzel and a stein of schwartzbier, and perch yourself at a high-top communal table.

  1. The Standard Downtown LA, 550 S Flower St
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Villains Tavern

  • Free

Located in Downtown's burgeoning Arts District, this burger and beer den hosts a steady stream of blues, rock and bluegrass musicians that perform inside the steampunk space almost every night of the week. The best part? No cover.

  1. 1356 Palmetto St
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Caña Rum Bar

  • Price band: 3/4

Downtown nightlife entrpreneur Cedd Moses' experiment wth a private bar charing $2,200 in annual dues didn't exactly come at the right time, and so the precious cocktail museum that was the Doheny soon morphed into something more Latin and vibrant. Caña Rum Bar features 140 gourmet rums for cocktails that include mojitos, Tiki drinks and margaritas. The sense of exclusivity isn't gone, but the $2,200 membership is. It's now only $20.

  1. 714 W Olympic Blvd
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Las Perlas

  • Price band: 2/4

This Downtown den is dedicated to tequila (a mix of Highlands and Lowlands) and mescals (there's Illegal and a bang-up selection of Del Maguey) in-between. Stop in for a cocktail at the bar or grab a cue stick and head for the poolroom. DJ's and dancing give way to lines at the bar and a bit of a wait for your drinks. If tequila's not in the cards, there are plenty of draft and bottled cervezas from local brews to foreign imports. Go for a "featured beer" if you're unsure of where to start.

  1. 107 E 6 St
More info

Hotel Figueroa

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This striking hotel is a dramatic mix of Morocco and Mexico. Built in 1925 as a YWCA, the Figueroa is now more exotic with a potpourri of Moroccan chandeliers, huge cacti and woven rugs. The back, poolside bar is at its atmospheric best after dark after the bar opens at 4pm. And don't think about jumping in the pool, which is reserved for hotel guests only.

  1. 939 S Figueroa St
More info


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