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Turtle racing returns next week with the grand reopening of Brennan’s Pub

The newly reopened Brennan's, Brennan's Pub
Photograph: Courtesy Brennan's Pub

It’s like they always say: “Slow and steady wins the race, especially if you’re a turtle on a back patio in Marina del Rey.” OK, so we’re paraphrasing, but it holds true for the beloved turtles at Brennan’s Pub, home of its famous weekly turtle racing. With nearly a half-century of events under its belt, the Brennan’s turtle race is one of L.A.’s most bizarre and longstanding bar traditions, and one fans thought they might’ve lost when Artisanal Brewers Collective acquired the property earlier this year. Fortunately, the beer-focused restaurant group is keeping the races alive when it reopens the fully renovated pub next week.

Starting on Tuesday you can return to the bar, now gussied up with marble bar tops, more seating, more color, new plaids, more windows and an overhauled patio—which, of course, is where you can find those turtles. No longer just a cement racetrack featuring bench seating, the new Brennan’s patio appears more of a beer garden, with greenery, bulb lighting, high tops and trellised picnic tables.

Photograph: Courtesy Brennan’s

For those internally screaming, "Please, won’t someone think of the turtles??" just know that the under-new-ownership Brennan’s has swapped the event from weekly to monthly. This gives the little speedsters more time between races to relax and recuperate, which they’ll be doing in an updated and larger sanctuary. You can catch the first race on Tuesday night, December 19, then every third Thursday of every month from 9pm, on.

The Collective’s had a busy year acquiring a number of properties, namely a block of bars Downtown; just last month, they flipped gastropub Beelman’s into an all-vegan, Asian-inspired pub. Next up is, of course, Brennan’s, which now features a 16-tap lineup of rotating beers, many of them local—an ABC calling card. Because this is still an Irish pub, after all, you’ll always be able to find an Irish dry stout and an Irish red on draft, as well as a new roster of whiskey-leaning cocktails. The new food menu—created by ABC culinary director Trevor Faris—includes shrimp cocktails, smoked oysters, chicken liver mousse, steamed clams, pizzas and a number of vegan-friendly options.

Generations of Angelenos have fallen in love with Brennan’s Pub’s bizarre but wonderful tradition, which still benefits local animal-protection organizations. Maybe it’s time you finally checked it out for yourself; you may very well get sucked into the cult of regulars. After all, beginning next week, this could be you:

Brennan’s Pub reopens on December 19, at 4089 Lincoln Boulevard, serving from 4pm to 2am, daily. 

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