As one of the best performing arts centers in LA, the Bootleg Theater is a hotbed for music, dance, spoken word and all-around creativity. Make sure you're fueled before and after the show with our picks of the best eateries and bars in the area, from a vegan restaurant with quality craft beers to a wine bar featuring Mediterranean bites. You just might be giving your meal a standing ovation, too.
This vegan-friendly bar/restaurant along Sunset Boulevard has taken over what was once an old Vaudeville theater, redesigned to feature lofty, vaulted ceilings and light fixtures that might have come from a dressing room. The emphasis here is California-made, namely wine, spirits and beer. Where tap dancing routines may have once been, an impressive fleet of 72 beers on tap—all from California brewers (save for one monthly featured out-of-state brewery)—are at your beck and call. Beer enthusiasts can grab a seat at the communal table or expansive bar. Snag a spot outdoors if you don’t mind the hum of Sunset; inside, head for a booth or the real aesthetic draw: the massive indoor brick fireplace, which sets a romantic dinner atmosphere in the spacious back room.
El Compadre serves up homemade tortilla chips and salsa that rival any you'll find south of the border, and their flaming margaritas are a must-try. The moody lighting, mouth-watering menu and live mariachi make the El Compadre experience a spicy one. There's also no better spot to relive a Dodgers glory (or hash out what went wrong) than the bar here—two big TVs play everything Dodgers-related, and vocal fans hang at the bar with micheladas and lots of opinions.
RECOMMENDED: Cheap eats in LA: Where to dine and drink near Dodger Stadium
Whether you're in need of an afternoon snack, a casual dinner or a late night bite, Taco Zone is a Mexican food fan favorite. From burritos to quesadillas, what sets these authentic meals apart is the salsa. And at $1.50 per taco, it's hard not to wait in the late night line that wraps around Echo Park. Just make sure you hit an ATM before, because this fun food joint is cash only.
Echo Park could use more simple, well-priced, truly-neighborhood restaurants, and owner Jason Michaud's Red Hill fills this need. It's properly casual—not much is over $15—and when the menu hits, it soars. The fried cauliflower mingled with pine nuts and a lovely chile aioli, for example, is a favorite, as are the freshly made pastas, including a plate of buttery cappellacci with chicken liver and lobster mushrooms. The menu strikes out, though, when dishes stray too far from its own rustic simplicity, as was the case with the lardo beignets with mustard seed that sounded more interesting than they were. Aside from the very slow, albeit friendly, service, Red Hill might be everything the neighborhood wants it to be.
You'd probably never notice this bar was here—only a tiny sign and a few locals coming in and out of the closed door on Temple might tip you off. The place has a laidback, discreet vibe and regular live music acts—not to mention an impressive beer and wine selection. Liz, the owner, is a perfect mix of sweet and aloof, and always has tamales on hand (from the delicious Tamales Alberto nextdoor) on Thursday evenings. Thursday is also the Old Time Jam, where you can bring in your instrument and play old-timey tunes with other musicians at every level. Lately, the spot has become more popular and is getting a bit crowded... it looks like the bar's hush-hush days are numbered.
Revamped, refurbished and under new management, this former dive bar brings a little bit more joie de vivre (and upgraded digs) to Echo Park. There are concrete floors, a pool table, newly lacquered parquet wood bar and very clean bathrooms. For locals, this watering hole might be the best pickup spot on the Eastside. When the bar’s coveted seats (14 in total) are taken and the only two booths in the joint are at capacity, standing room allows for old-fashioned mingling in the fairly small space and a game of pool—get your name on the signup chalkboard early. The drink menu is straightforward—full bar with standard bottle selections—with eight beers on tap, including a brew called the "Glutenator" ($12 for 22oz) for gluten-free imbibers. Don’t ask if they make "cocktails"—you’ll be met with a blank stare before the bartender turns to take someone else’s order.
This cozy beer and wine bar in Echo Park offers a well-culled selection of (often local) beers, red, white and sparkling wine, as well as small bites—think olives, pita and hummus, etc. Exposed brick, a wood bar and tables and soft, yellow glass light fixtures give this place a comfortable feel without sacrificing style. The music here comes from an old-school record player and an ever-changing vinyl collection, which adds to that warm, homey feeling. For smokers, there's a small wood patio out back. Weekends can get crowded, but weekdays are usually pretty mellow—except for Tuesdays, when Origami Vinyl hosts its Record Club at around 9.
This beer store and bar offers a gigantic selection of brewskies, from West Coast microbrews to rare Belgian ales and small production specialty bottles. (There's also wine, and a pretty good little selection, but we rarely see anyone drinking it here.) There are refrigerated cases from which you can grab bottles to go, or get one opened at the bar (for a small corkage fee) and hang out with a plethora of Eastside beer nerds. There are always local brews on tap, and the space hosts special events such as a beer and cheese tasting with Stone Brewing's master brewer. Join the "mug club" and corkage fees are waived for a year, with each pour you buy going into your very own mug (well, more like a stein) that's kept behind the bar. The staff are super knowledgeable and friendly—no beer snobs here—and the atmosphere is cozy, with communal benches, comfy plush chairs and a smoking area outside. There's also a decent pizza place next door, to help you soak up all that delicious booze.