Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Four Great Places to a Get Drink in Hollywood on a Sunday Night

The portion of Sunset Boulevard around Highland Avenue used to be so seedy. I drove through here a couple years before the entertainment complex at Hollywood and Highland went up and remember plenty of wig shops, graffiti, and homeless people. Aggressive redevelopment anchored by the Kodak Theater has helped push out the neighborhood's grittier elements, replacing them with gaudy, overwrought tourist attractions like the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and not one but two wax museums. But no place in the world tries to be more things to more people than Hollywood, and its bars are no different. To enjoy this once-forgotten, now fresh again part of Sunset Boulevard sans the crowds, visit on a Sunday and stop in at these four completely different bars.

- Sunset & Cherokee at 1652 N. Cherokee Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. Phone: (323) 462-9621

Boardners in Hollywood, California
Boardners in Hollywood, California
Boardner's has been in business since 1942. Enter and walk down the tight passage between the dark grey granite bar on your right and the booths on your left. The black ceiling, black leather booths, black metal chairs with black cushions, subdued lighting and ornate lamps make you feel like you're in some Raymond Chandler detective story. Red neon signs advertise Oscar's kitchen, open until 9:30PM. Try the build-your-own B52 burger if you're hungry or the chicken quesadilla for something tasty and light. Food is half off all day Sundays. Down a narrow hall at the back is Club B52 and the outdoor patio. Sit on one of several couches, talk with locals under disco lights, or just listen to chill music while admiring the massive candelabrum dripping wax into a water fountain. Enjoy the $14 Caribou Lov (Malibu Rum, pineapple juice, and Bacardi 151) on a warm summer night, or spring for a $650 bottle of Dom Perignon Rose to celebrate your movie script getting picked up.

Full Bar
Food (half priced all day Sundays and 4pm to 8pm Monday through Friday)
Open Monday through Thursday 5:30pm to 2am. Open Friday through Sunday 4pm to 2am

The Power House - 1714 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. Phone: (323) 463-9438

Power House in Hollywood, California
Power House in Hollywood, California
A welcome oasis in a desert of velvet ropes, manufactured glitz, and pretentious wannabes. Christmas lights hang all year around just inside the entrance. The Sunday night crowd is mostly 30-and-40 somethings wearing old jeans, witty T-shirts, and worn flannel. It's dark, so try not to stumble on a concrete floor so old the top layer has been worn through in places. Look up and count the missing ceiling tiles. Pull up a stool and enjoy $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap at the kitchy Formica bar with fake wood grain. The green vinyl booths look new enough, but the brick wall they're against looks like it was built when Greta Garbo first strutted down Sunset. Throw darts at one of two dart machines in the back while listening to the juke box and munching on the bar's freshly made popcorn. For just a second, I'm back in Pittsburgh.

Full Bar

Hollywood Happy Ending - 7038 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. Phone: (323) 469-7038

Hollywood Happy Ending
Hollywood Happy Ending
Two words: college bar. Beer company and sports team pennants are strung from post to post at this brightly lit bar and restaurant. The attractive, preppy, barely post-fraternity and sorority crowd gets loud, lively, and flirty. One of those machines with a controllable, drop-down claw is at the back, but it's filled with water and live lobsters instead of teddy bears. Try your luck for $2. Don't like cheap cans of PBR? The bartenders pick a hot blonde from the crowd to spin the Wheel of Specials hourly so $5 Irish car bombs are just a lucky turn away. Enjoy a full food and drink menu. There's even a popcorn machine.

Live music lovers will definitely want to come Sundays for the Frank and Todd Show. I saw these two amazingly talented acoustic cover artists mash-up The Momma's and The Poppa's California Dreamin' with Kanye West's Heartless and never heard a bar crowd cheer so loud at the end. When they closed the show with a fully beat boxed version of It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time, I knew I found the band for my someday wedding. Frank and Todd play every Sunday night from 9:30PM until midnight.

Full Bar
Nightly Events
Open Monday through Saturday 11am to 1am. Open Sunday 11am to midnight.

The Woods - 1533 North La Brea, Los Angeles, CA. Phone: (323) 876-6612

The Woods in Hollywood, California
The Woods in Hollywood, California
Formerly the tiki-bar Lava Lounge, the owners redecorated this cozy bar into part Minnesota hunting lodge and part forest. The small vestibule just after the entrance is lined with wallpaper depicting fishing, hunting, and other summer outdoor scenes. Step into the bar proper and look up. The black painted ceiling is pierced with twinkling pinhole stars. Did you find Orion, or were you distracted by the elk antler chandeliers? The big frosted glass window behind the bar is painted to look like a field of thin, dead trees against a white winter sky. Dark brown seats against a wall of sawn wood blocks face small tables carved to look like cut tree trunks. A DJ spins chill out music in a black corner, only soft blue and red light from his mixing board betraying his hidden redoubt. It was summer when I walked in, but Grey Goose straight up sounds real good right now. In fact, make it a double. Winter's here.

Full Bar
Open seven days a week 8pm to 2am

Special thanks to local resident and my guide, Paul Fontana.