What you’re getting: Takuma’s Special Burger
If you haven’t noticed him, Takuma is the burger wizard that posts up outside the Thirsty Crow. He’s got portobello burgers, sweet corn nuggets, and even takoyaki. The real treat, though, is his Special Burger, with basil & Gorgonzola, arugula w/ balsamic glaze & fresh tomato. And the final touch? He blasts only the finest of tunes, which means you'll be singing along to "The Power of Love" while your face is totally stuffed.
What you’re getting: Grilled cheese
So you found the photo booth and now you think you know all the secrets that No Vacancy has to offer. Well you don’t, because you probably didn’t notice the sandwich & burger pop-up right by the exit of the bar. Sure, he’s got pork belly and fried chicken, but the gooey, perfectly-cooked grilled cheese is the move. (And also only $5.)
What you’re getting: A Cole’s French dip
There’s only one outside thing this secret speakeasy in the back of Cole’s allows you to eat at its bar: a Cole’s French dip. True, you can also get them next door at Cole's, but this one is wayyyy secret-y, and you'll miss out on '20s-era jazz and insanely great mixologist-chosen cocktails if you get it next door. You don't want to do that, do you???
What you’re getting: The Beaudry
An old-school sandwich counter tucked behind the bar here has tons of delectable sammiches, but the go-to is the Beaudry -- roasted turkey, mortadella, fresh mozzarella, giardiniera, and arugula, which goes great with a $5 Anchor Steam. And also a second $5 Anchor Steam.
What you’re getting: The pork belly sandwich
There's food there, too? Yep: head over to the back bar to party with some of the sandwiches, especially the pork belly w/ ponzu glaze, tropical salad, and spicy aioli.
What you’re getting: Hot link sandwich
If you’ve been to 4100 Bar on a weekend, you’ve seen Rich working his magic on the grill outside the door. You’re welcome to eat inside the bar, which, really, you should do, since the picklebacks are in there. His hot link sandwich will only run you $4, and his BBQ sauce is something to write home (or a Thrillist story) about.
What you’re getting: A gyro
Surprise: Downtown’s coolest old-school barcade wants to keep you fed -- there's a spot behind the back patio where local food carts roll through, and the Gyro guys are doing special things back there. Bring it inside for the perfect recharge before you figure out how to get those big heads in NBA Jam.
What you’re getting: Burgers at the Bar
Chef Trevor Rocco has laid out plans to prepare new burgers every single Wednesday at Cooks County, and they’ll be served exclusively at the bar. Be prepared for treats like the BLT Burger w/ pickled green tomato, butter lettuce, bacon, and aioli, and the Ham & Cheese burger w/ house-cured ham, gruyere, whole grain mustard, and cornichons.
What you’re getting: The Original Ramen Burger
The Original Ramen Burger stand is directly next to Lock & Key -- it’s literally a hole in the wall. The buns are made out of griddled ramen noodles and topped with shoyu glaze and arugula. Gimmicky? Kind of. Delicious? YUP. And for heaven’s sakes, add bacon and a fried egg.
Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.
Wilder Shaw is a writer and comedian who doesn’t think it’s too much to ask for there to be a pork belly sando pop-up in his bedroom. Help him achieve that goal on Twitter at @WilderShaw_ and Instagram at WilderShaw.
1. The Thirsty Crow2939 W Sunset, Los Angeles
2. No Vacancy1717 N Hudson Ave, Los Angeles
3. The Varnish118 E 6th St, Los Angeles
4. Good Times at Davey Wayne's1611 N El Centro Ave, Hollywood
5. 4100 Bar1087 Manzanita St, Los Angeles
6. EightyTwo707 E 4th Pl, Los Angeles
7. Cooks County8009 Beverly Blvd , Los Angeles
8. Lock & Key239 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles
The Thirsty Crow is the kind of place you'd think your grandfather used to frequent. It's a bourbon-centric bar located in the former truck stop-style drinkery called Stinkers', whose owner capitalized on the elevated tastes (read: above the PBR/Jack Daniels paygrade) of his guests. He gutted, renovated, and re-concepted Stinkers' into The Thirsty Crow, and decked it out with a brand new... vintage feel. The shelves are stocked with over 40 small-batch distills, the music comes from an all-wood, all-vinyl juke box, the bar is lit by antique fixtures, and the walls are lined with weathered photographs. New construction, old-school flavor... like I said, there's no way your grandfather used to come here.
Located in a restored Victorian house built in 1902, No Vacancy’s Prohibition era-inspired ambiance (there’s a secret entrance) and rotating, 12-item cocktail menu mimic its 20th century-born home. The three-story bar hosts cocktail connoisseurs in its various, dimly lit rooms, which are decorated with red leather and dark wood accents. At the bottom of a red carpeted staircase, a brick-walled courtyard is home to baroque fireplaces that set the tone for the live entertainment -- jazz music, burlesque shows, and tightrope walkers alike.
In the back of Cole's -- specifically behind an oak door that's marked with a framed picture of a cocktail -- is The Varnish, a tiny bar from the vaunted mixologists behind New York's Milk & Honey and Little Branch. The bar is an intimate, Prohibition-era hideaway with cozy wooden booths, soft jazz playing in the background, and expertly-made top-shelf cocktails. Order the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, or go off-menu and let the bartender make you something unexpected.
Straight out of The Brady Bunch set, this 70's living room-themed Hollywood bar is decked out with hammocks, an Airstream Trailer, and a DJ spinning Bee Gees-esque beats. It's hard to tell what's cooler: the epic secret entrance through a refrigerator door or the no-cover. Weekend nights usually draw the biggest lines, but Good Times is open on weekend afternoons, aka the perfect time to kick back on the patio and order up some Tex-Mex street food and craft cocktails.
Only in my dreams exists a bar that never closes, but 4100 comes close. Open every day of the week, 52 weeks of the year, 4100 is dedicated to providing Silver Lake with cheap beer, mules in copper mugs, and a neighborhood, dive bar feel… every damn day. The long, red-accented, tapestry-covered bar is dimly lit with leather booths and bar stools, so no one will even be able to see you shooting that pickle back. Stop by on a weekend, where the owner will grill you up a hot link sandwich for a mere $4, right outside the door (his BBQ sauce is something to write home -- or a Thrillist story -- about).
Make sure you bring quarters to this spot in Little Tokyo, essentially an arcade for the 21+ crowd. The great drinks and old fashioned games frequently draw crowds, but they stay all night to sip on the delicious craft cocktails.
Whether you're stopping in for hash or pancakes at brunch, heartier fare like bone marrow or duck sausage at dinner, or just want to get down with half-price drinks during the near-daily (Sunday-Thursday) happy hour, Cooks County is the county you want to be in.
On such a bizarre stretch of Vermont that the only way to describe it is "across from the Vons", Lock & Key is a speakeasy totally hidden behind this unassuming/terrifying unmarked red door. Knock on said door and a dude wearing a bowler and ascot will answer and let you in. PRO TIP: Don't ask him if he's in Mumford & Sons.